Ruffled feathers: Condon protests NY tower plans

By 2008, New York hopes to raise a mammoth tower in the space left when the twin towers were razed in 2001. One Virginia nature expert, however, worries that the new structure will invite aviation disasters of a different sort.

"Millions of birds are killed every year by crashing into windows," says Marlene Condon, publisher of The Happy Habitat quarterly. "Obviously we can't design our buildings not to have windows, but we don't need to have almost the entire facade made of glass."

In a nod to America's revolutionary roots, the Freedom Tower will rise a stunning 1,776 feet above the Manhattan skyline, making it the tallest building in the world. Adding to the aesthetic appeal are twisting sides and an asymmetrically positioned spire designed to invoke the shape of the nearby Statue of Liberty.

On behalf of her winged constituents, Condon– who once goaded the Albemarle Fair into dumping its frog and cricket races– set out last spring to educate the public about the dangers the proposed design poses to feathered New Yorkers. She presented her views in a personal essay she read on regional NPR affiliates on September 6.

"The horrendous design of the Freedom Tower demonstrates the dire need for public education about the natural world," Condon laments. "I would hope that our education system will sit up and take heed, from lower school grades all the way up to the college level."

Those birds don't realize just how lucky they are.

Marlene Condon