McCormick Place’s Plan to Protect Migratory Birds

Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority Statement Following MPEA Board Meeting on October 30, 2023:


The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) was devastated by the reported bird collision in early October.

MPEA has been a proud partner of the Field Museum’s study of bird collisions since 1978, we have participated in Lights Out Chicago since the program’s inception, we opened the McCormick Bird Sanctuary in 2003 and continue to maintain it, and we installed bird-safe decals to repel birds.

Our participation in Lights Out Chicago has reduced bird collisions by 80%, and we continue to enforce a lights-out policy when buildings are unoccupied by staff, visitors, or clients. Additionally, lighting is set to 25% strength primarily for safety reasons and for security sweeps after events conclude.

Despite our existing efforts, MPEA still intends to do more to protect migrating bird populations. We have accelerated our efforts to identify both short- and long-term solutions. Immediately following the incident, we implemented a new procedure that requires drapes to be closed at night during migration season for windows that have them.

Our leadership team consulted with seven bird conservation organizations and the City of Chicago to understand other measures that can be put in place. The team met with representatives from the American Bird Conservancy, Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, Chicago Bird Alliance, Chicago Ornithological Society, Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), Never Collide, and PETA.

Measures under consideration include:

  • The addition of bird-safe film on the outside of the glass
  • Adding more shades and drapery inside
  • Adding motorized controls for existing drapery
  • Installing barriers outside
  • Adding additional decals

In the long term, MPEA is exploring plans to renovate Lakeside Center. One of the purposes of the renovations is to make Lakeside Center more sustainable and environmentally friendly, including new bird-friendly options for the building.

About Lights Out Chicago

McCormick Place has proudly joined the owners and operators of other large Chicago buildings in switching off or dimming lights as part of the Lights Out campaign. The Lights Out program is coordinated by the Chicago Audubon Society, the National Audubon Society, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and the City of Chicago.

Chicago’s buildings have set an example for the rest of the country by participating in the Lights Out initiative, which has saved the lives of thousands of birds each year. As a result, building owners like McCormick Place have reaped tangible benefits, such as lower energy and maintenance expenses, while helping migratory birds.


About the McCormick Place Bird Sanctuary

2301 S. Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616

The McCormick Place Bird Sanctuary was developed in 2003. It is one of the Chicago Park District’s four bird lakefront sanctuaries. The 6-acre sanctuary contains prairie, shrub, and woodland habitat and a freshwater stone birdbath. The wildflowers and grasses are specially selected for this prairie area. A platform with interpretive signage on the east side provides viewing and birding opportunities into the habitat. The McCormick Place Bird Sanctuary is open to the public from dawn until dusk.


Nearly two decades ago, McCormick Place was made aware that light emanating from buildings all over the nation could play a factor in birds colliding with structures. As McCormick Place is along Chicago’s pristine lakefront, where birds are often migrating, the McCormick Place team continuously works to reduce bird collisions and protect bird populations.

McCormick Place has reduced hazards for migrating birds and has taken critical steps in providing habitat for them, including creating the McCormick Bird Sanctuary, located along the lakefront. With 6 acres of fenced-in grasses and wildflowers, migrating and local birds can find a safe home at McCormick Place.

The McCormick Place team is committed to vital conservation efforts and the implementation of ecologically efficient policies and procedures. These initiatives are part of a more significant effort by our team to take into consideration sustainability and our environment.

McCormick Place will continue to proactively work with the Field Museum, Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, and other organizations from our city to reduce bird collisions and reduce our overall environmental impact.