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Flock Of Birds Strikes NASCAR Hall Of Fame, Cause Unknown

Chimney Swift recovering at the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue
Carolina Waterfowl Rescue
Chimney Swift recovering at the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue

More than 300 migrating chimney swift birds hit the windows of the NASCAR Hall of Fame around 11 p.m. Tuesday night. Many of them have died, and it's unclear what caused them to strike the building.

The Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, which later recovered the birds, said 107 of them had died by Wednesday. Ten of them were euthanized upon arrival at the rescue center.

Mark Stanback, a biology professor at Davidson College who studies birds, says it’s odd this happened. He says chimney swifts go to sleep in chimneys by the early evening. Stanback suspects a predator might have disturbed the birds as they were sleeping.

"They would immediately fly up and out," he said. "And at 11 o’clock at night, they would be panicked and wouldn’t know where to go, and they probably would have been attracted to lights, and therefore hit the glass."

The Carolina Waterfowl Rescue said on its Facebook page that 103 birds have injuries to recover from, while another 100 are simply stunned. It flight tested some of the stunned birds on Wednesday and released about 80 of them.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame was just as perplexed as the bird experts, and issued a statement on the incident: "We are saddened by this very unusual and unfortunate event, and are very appreciative of the professionalism and response of our city partners who assisted (Tuesday) last night. Animal Control has confirmed there are not any health issues that might affect the public, our guests or employees."

The NASCAR Hall of Fame added that they would evaluate reducing lighting levels in the evening in an attempt to prevent such instances from occuring again. The reduced lighting plan was enacted Wednesday night following the end of a scheduled event.

"The NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza is a public space that is frequented well into the night, and evening events are a critical component of the NASCAR Hall's success. Finding a balance between operations and safety is our goal," the Hall of Fame's statement said.

Michael Falero is a radio reporter, currently covering voting and the 2020 election. He previously covered environment and energy for WFAE. Before joining WFAE in 2019, Michael worked as a producer for a number of local news podcasts based in Charlotte and Boston. He's a graduate of the Transom Story Workshop intensive on Cape Cod and UNC Chapel Hill.