Open vertical pipes are bird killers

December 7th, 2011 · by Garrison Frost

Audubon California staff last year pulled down a 20-foot-tall ventilation pipe from an abandoned irrigation system on one of our properties and discovered a seven-foot-long black mass composed entirely of decomposed carcasses of hundreds of dead birds and animals including kestrels, flickers, bluebirds, and fence lizards. The date etched into the concrete at the base of the pipe showed that it had been in place for more than 50 years. The incident revealed what we had long suspected: exposed vertical pipes with open tops pose a tremendous hazard to birds and other wildlife. (photos by Jeff King)

Exposed pipes are particularly hazardous for birds that either fall into these openings, or enter looking for nesting space. Once inside, birds are unable to open their wings to fly out, and the smooth sides make it impossible to climb out. Inevitably, the birds suffer a miserable, unnecessary death from starvation and exposure.  Below is the view of dead birds and animals inside the pipe.

We’ve put together more information on our website about how to avoid these hazards. Our information includes a downloadable fact sheet for landowners and property managers. This is a simple way to make farms, ranches and other open spaces much more bird-friendly.


Categories: Audubon California · Bird conservation · Bird Habitat · Conservation research · How to help birds

3 Comments so far ↓

  • Reed Tollefson

    Please don’t underestimate the threat that open top vertical pipes pose to birds and wildlife. Without doubt, thousands of birds are needlessly suffering and dying. Check out the internet for recent stories and information. Look around your community, home, ranch or farm and you will find these death traps. These can be easily removed, closed, screened or capped.

  • Christer Kalenius

    Lethal. Please can everyone make sure these pipes are removed. If they still need to be used, then at least put wire mesh covers on them so that no birds or animals cam be trappen inside. The same should apply for all chimneys as well.

  • Prish Hackman

    an imperative reason for also all chimneys and smokestacks, ventilation pipes to have a mesh covering or mesh cap to prevent these disasters. We need to do all we can to protect potential victims now more than ever with all the cables humans erect AND now these guillotines of the skies……wind energy! They’re killers and right bang in the middle of migration paths and breeding grounds.