You may have read about Lincoln Yards, a very large residential and commercial development that the developer Sterling Bay hopes to build on the old Finkl Steel site on the north side of Chicago, part of which borders the north branch of the Chicago River. At a recent community meeting about the site, several birders noted that the current designs for most of the site show mid-rise and high-rise buildings clad in glass, which creates significant hazards for the birds that use the river for nesting and as a migration flyway.

It’s important to know that the plans are very preliminary and will be changed over time in response to constituent comments. So far, most area residents have been concerned about residential density, traffic and congestion. Please take a few minutes to review the plan and submit comments to Sterling Bay about making the buildings bird safe. The earlier we get involved in advocacy for birds, the greater chance we will make an impact on the final design.

Here are a few bullet points developed by COS member Ted Wolff, birder and landscape architect, that you can put into your own words.


  • Glass-clad buildings along the Chicago River have the potential to be catastrophic for birds who collide with them: Birds do not SEE the glass so fly toward the light and plant reflections.
  • Millions of migratory birds pass through Chicago twice a year, and many of these birds fly, feed and rest along the Chicago River before continuing their journey south.
  • The Chicago River hosts significant populations of breeding and resident birds throughout the year.


  • Commit to meeting the standards outlined in the LEED Pilot Credit 55 - Bird Collision Deterrence and
  • Incorporate other bird-friendly building design measures into the architectural design, such as:
    • coated glass with ultraviolet patterns visible to birds but not humans
    • punched openings and small windows where a glass façade is not required
    • sensitive site planning, so trees aren’t planted adjacent to the buildings
    • inexpensive fritted glass for windows where 100% transparency is not required

The current plan can be reviewed on the Lincoln Yards Development website at:
Comments can be submitted to Sterling Bay at:

Thank you for all you do for birds and Chicago's environment.