Tim Yotter/VikingUpdate.com

Column: Before proof that help is even needed, birds study being funded

The Minnesota Vikings are playing along nicely to help fund a study that may or may not help birds that may or may not need help with their flight confusion.

It has been some time since we’ve heard for those predicting Birdmageddon on the north glass walls of U.S. Bank Stadium, but they aren’t gone and they’re not forgotten.

On Friday, the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority are fully expected to agree to partner on a three-year, $300,000 study to determine if the translucent north face of the stadium presents a deadly barrier for migratory birds along the heavily traveled Mississippi flyway.

The Mississippi River had been documented by environmentalists ever since it was “discovered” by a Spaniard more than 500 years ago as being the primary airborne superhighway for migratory birds that fly north in the spring to have their offspring and travel back south in the fall to chase year-round warm weather (not unlike retired Minnesotans).

The MSFA and the Vikings have agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the National Audubon Society. The purpose of the three-year study will be to design a collaborative, scientific program to design, research, observe, monitor, analyze and assess the potential impact of the stadium on bird mortality due to bird collisions.

As some believe, the translucent north face of the stadium will confuse birds that won’t identify it as a building and they will crash by the thousands into the glass. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of empirical evidence to back up that claim. Buildings have been constructed along the Mississippi River ever since it became a viable source of commerce, much less a part of nouveau urban renewal of river border cities that have created unique obstacles of their own.

Perhaps the abandoned sports venue of the Pyramid in Memphis, which is a daunting structure for the first-time travelers along the Ol’ Mississipp’ should be consulted for similar reports of straying waterfowl dying of unexpected “splat-style” foul play.

Perhaps the Audubon Society is speaking the truth and Green Bay coaches may, at some crucial point of a road loss, accuse the Vikings of pumping in the horrific sound of migratory birds hitting the glass to throw them off their game. Aaron Rodgers looks up at the play clock and sees a goose go red-splat on the glass and misses out on a great audible opportunity.

Until unfounded claims are proven, there is no legitimate reason to believe that birds will become “confused” by the erection of one building along the longest river in North America – much less at the infant end of the flow.

The latest reports out of St. Louis don’t confirm that birds are being garroted as they fly past the Gateway Arch. Considering St. Louis is no longer an NFL town, it’s safe to say Stan Kroenke isn’t kicking in 150-large to conduct a study of headless birds landing on tourists.

How have birds survived this long with that imposing structure coming out of nowhere for the last half-century?

When (not if) the proposed study passes on Friday, all pertinent bird factors will be included – including “any required deterrents” and “management techniques to reduce collisions” – according to the pre-meeting media packet.

The introduction of “bird confusion” to the debate is what makes it an argument that is hard to defend in the real world of community revitalization. To buy into that argument would give Wells Fargo the impetus to appeal its loss in court claiming its “photobombing” the building with large signs is actually saving bird lives, because the glare off the north glass would deter nocturnal flyers from taking a header on The Bank.

With all due respect to the Audubon Society and its good work, if Birdpocolypse is taken at face value, when the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners and Minneapolis City Council start prepping for their 2017 budgets, there had better be a line item funded for the eradication of inner-city feral cats. Food sources are food sources, regardless of species.

3M is locked and loaded for the spendy film to apply to the glass that will magically and inexplicably save the flocks if that turns out to be the needed option. There’s money to be made in this fictional tragedy and we have our best and brightest ready to get a taste.

At a time when flags are at half-staff for issues that truly matter, spending $300,000 to determine if bird lives matter doesn’t seem to carry quite the cache it did when the U.S. Bank design plans were put out a couple of years ago.

That kind of cash could be better diverted to something that can make an actual difference in bringing people together.

If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first unpaid volunteer outside the north end of The Bank with gloves and garbage bags to help prevent 2017 from being the Year of the Cat in Downtown East. I’ll even be the guy who mercifully takes out the injured deemed too far gone for rescue.

I guess I give Minnesota birds more credit than the Audubon Society.

They have the good sense to get out of Minnesota when it starts to get cold.

We stay.

Which species would you deem to be smarter?


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