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Open vertical pipes are death traps for birds and other wildlife

Audubon California is alerting homeowners and land managers who might not even know they’re killing thousands of birds a year

Audubon California is warning landowners about the dangers of open vertical pipes to wildlife on public and private properties. Exposed pipes – which can take the form of sign posts, irrigation vents, unused chimneys and survey markers – are particularly hazardous for small cavity-nesting 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. It is estimated that many thousands of birds die suffer this fate every year.

“Don’t underestimate the threat that open top vertical pipes pose to birds and wildlife,” says Dan Taylor, Audubon California’s executive director. “Without doubt, thousands of birds are needlessly suffering and dying. Look around your community, home, ranch or farm and you will find these death traps. These can be easily removed, closed, screened or capped.”

Audubon California staff recently pulled down a 20-foot-tall ventilation pipe last year from an abandoned irrigation system in Kern County 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. This incident revealed what Audubon California had long suspected: exposed vertical pipes with open tops pose a tremendous hazard to birds and other wildlife.

“Identify the vertical pipes on your property then cap, close, screen all of them, or if this isn’t possible, remove them,” recommends Taylor. “Also, don’t keep this information to yourself, when you visit other properties, share the knowledge about the dangers of open pipes.”

For more information about how to avoid these hazards and/or photographs of birds found in open pipes, contact Daniela Ogden, or (510) 601-1866 ext. 231.

About Audubon California
Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. With more than 50,000 members in California and an affiliated 48 local Audubon chapters, Audubon California is a field program of the National Audubon Society.

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