Project Safe Flight Unwrapped: Fall 2020

Aurora Crooks  |  Jan 15, 2020

Despite difficult and uncertain circumstances this past fall, Project Safe Flight continued forward in its efforts to study bird collisions throughout our city. This community science project, now in its 24th year, relies on the efforts of volunteers, who wake up at the crack of dawn from the start of September through early November to monitor select routes in our city for dead and injured birds that have collided with buildings. Using Project Safe Flight research, we estimate between 90,000 to 230,000 birds collide with buildings each year in our city.
The data these volunteers collect are invaluable, guiding our decisions of where to monitor next season during spring migration and informing our policy research as we delve deeper in our advocacy for bird-friendly buildings. Project Safe Flight research was instrumental in convincing the New York City Council to pass Int. 1482 (now Local Law 15), which requires all new construction and alterations that replace all of a building’s glass to use bird-friendly materials.⁠ Local Law 15 went into effect on January 10th of this year, and now we hope further collision data pinpointing the deadliest structures in our city will convince building owners to retrofit their buildings with bird-safe glass.
This fall, our diverse and intrepid team of 28 volunteers (13 of which were new this year) found 67 different species while monitoring six routes throughout New York City. The most common species found were the Northern Parula (34 collisions), Black-throated Blue Warbler (24), White-throated Sparrow (22), Black-and-white Warbler (19), Ovenbird (19), Common Yellowthroat (17), and Golden-crowned Kinglet (13).
Most common collision victims found by PSF volunteers in fall 2020. Chart: NYC Audubon

Performing 277 unique site visits over the course of an 8-week monitoring period, volunteers found 403 birds in total, with 332 of them being dead and 71 being injured. Looking at the number of collisions by time of year, 141 birds were found in the month of September, while 249 were found in October. The highest concentration of birds were found in the two-week period from October 1st to October 15th, with volunteers finding 164 birds. In Fall 2019, during the course of the entire monitoring season, we found 156 birds in total. So in October of 2020, we found more birds than we did the entire fall season the previous year!
Weekly collisions recorded during fall 2020 PSF season. Chart: NYC Audubon

Looking at collisions by site monitored, Downtown West had the most collisions at 179 (last year’s number was 65), with Downtown East being not far behind at 137 (58). The collision victims found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was 20 (17), while Brooklyn Bridge Park was 11 (16). Our newest routes, Long Island City and the Circa building on the Upper West Side, saw 12 and 44 collisions, respectively.
Collisions by monitoring site. Bigger bubbles indicate more collisions at that site. Chart: NYC Audubon

We thank all of our Project Safe Flight volunteers from the fall season for their diligence and hard work. We could not have gathered any of these valuable Project Safe Flight data without their time, energy, and most importantly, their incredibly kind hearts and deep compassion for birds of all kinds.
Four ways you can help prevent bird collisions. Chart: NYC Audubon

We are always seeking new Project Safe Flight volunteers! Please be on the lookout for upcoming announcements of Project Safe Flight orientations occurring in March, in time for spring migration. Even if you don’t volunteer for Project Safe Flight, you can still contribute to our data by reporting dead and injured birds you find to our crowd-sourced bird collision database at It only takes a minute to record a collision to D-Bird on your phone! For ways to make your building bird-friendly, please visit American Bird Conservancy’s Glass Collisions website. Below you will find a list of all species found during the Fall 2020 season by Project Safe Flight volunteers.

-Aurora Crooks, Conservation Associate
Species Counted:
American Redstart (10)
American Robin (1)
American Woodcock (2)
Baltimore Oriole (1)
Bay-breasted Warbler (1)
Belted Kingfisher (1)
Black-and-white Warbler (19)
Black-capped Chickadee (1)
Blackpoll Warbler (7)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (24)
Black-throated Green Warbler (4)
Blue Jay (2)
Blue-headed Vireo (1)
Brown Creeper (6)
Canada Warbler (2)
Cedar Waxwing (8)
Chestnut-sided Warbler ( 1)
Chipping Sparrow (1)
Common Yellowthroat (19)
Dark-eyed Junco (1)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (1)
Evening Grosbeak (1)
Falcon sp.(1)
Field Sparrow (1)
Flycatcher (1)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (13)
Gray Catbird (1)
Gray-Cheeked Thrush (1)
Hermit Thrush (10)
House Wren (1)
Lincoln’s Sparrow (3)
Louisiana Waterthrush (1)
Magnolia Warbler (5)
Mourning Dove ( 2)
Nashville Warbler (4)
Northern Flicker (3)
Northern Parula (34)
Northern Waterthrush (2)
Nuthatch sp. (1)
Ovenbird (19)
Palm Warbler (2)
Passerine sp. (1)
Philadelphia Vireo (1)
Pine Warbler (7)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (5)
Red-eyed Vireo (1)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (4)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (9)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (3)
Savannah Sparrow (1)
Scarlet Tanager (1)
Song Sparrow (7)
Sparrow sp. (12)
Swainson’s Thrush (4)
Swamp Sparrow (6)
Tennessee Warbler (3)
Warbler sp. (54)
Veery (1)
Vireo sp.(1)
Virginia Rail (1)
White-breasted Nuthatch (1)
White-throated Sparrow (24)
Willow Flycatcher (1)
Woodpecker sp. (3)
Yellow Warbler (5)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (5)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (1)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (6)
Yellow-throated Warbler (1)
Unknown sp. (13)