New Vikings stadium will be bird-friendly

The Vikings' new stadium will shut off the lights at night during migratory bird season in order to help prevent birds from flying into the structure.

In the world of big business and finance, ecology enthusiasts are usually known for protesting – picketing, chaining themselves to trees or bulldozers to prevent construction, etc. However, they do have a lobby that some politicians and business moguls actually listen to.

Thanks to a plea from the Audubon Society of Minnesota, once the new Vikings stadium opens, the lights will shut off at night from mid-August to late October to help prevent the death of migratory birds flying out of Minnesota and heading south for their annual fall migration.

The Minnesota Sports Facility Authority announced that the new stadium will dim the lights in hopes of protecting birds from flying into the 95-foot-high retractable glass doors that will be a key feature to the stadium. At night, the lights inside glass structures create a false perspective for birds, which often fly into them and either die or are significantly injured. When those windows extend 10 stories into the air – typically only the domain of birds – the potential for numerous birds face-planting into the side of the stadium is a legitimate concern.

One of the main reasons why the stadium is seen as a concern is that it is within a mile of the Mississippi River, which is one of the main flyway routes birds use for navigation in their annual migration north in the spring and south in the fall. In 2009, the Minnesota State Legislature adopted a statute that required state-owned or state-leased buildings to turn off their lights between midnight and sunrise during the two migration periods – March 15-May 31 and August 15-October 31. Given the state's contribution to the new Vikings stadium, it qualifies under that statute.

While the new home of the Vikings isn't expected to be a safe haven for the Eagles, Cardinals, Ravens or Seahawks, for those birds that consider Minnesota to by Flyover Country, the Vikings will do their part to be eco-friendly to their legitimate feathered friends.


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    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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