The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. was the site of a horrifying scene of avian death and destruction late Tuesday night, as 310 birds (later identified as chimney swifts) crashed into the Hall’s window and fell to the ground. The bizarre and disturbing aftermath, with birds strewn everywhere outside, was captured on video by someone who works in the building:
According to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, about a third of the birds were dead when rescuers reached them; an additional hundred were “severely injured with broken wings, legs or other fractures”; and the lucky remaining third were merely stunned and should be released soon.
While all these busted-up birds piled together makes for a freaky sight, the threat of window-on-bird assault is far from uncommon. A 2014 study roughly estimated that building collisions killed between 100 million and one billion birds every year in just the United States. At night, lighted windows can lure birds to their doom, and though the chimney swift normally roosts around dusk, the non-profit Audubon North Carolina hypothesized in a statement why that wasn’t the case around the Hall of Fame:
We suspect these birds faced a “perfect storm” last night. Chimney Swifts were out past their bedtime possibly because they could not find a suitable chimney in which to roost (or experienced some kind of disturbance, causing them to leave a roost chimney), and lights inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame shone brightly, reflected by low cloud cover, attracting and disorienting the birds and leading to collisions.
To keep the birds safer, the organization asked the Hall of Fame to keep their lights off in the evening through mid-November.