U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Environmental Management (2016) 57:1230–1239

DOI 10.1007/s00267-016-0687-1


US government work


Green roofs on buildings are becoming popular and represent a new component of the urban landscape. Public benefits of green roof projects include reduced stormwater runoff, improved air quality, reduced urban heat island effects, and aesthetic values. As part of a city-wide plan, several green roofs have been constructed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Like some other landscaping features, green roofs on or near an airport might attract wildlife and thus increase the risk of bird–aircraft collisions. During 2007–2011, we conducted a series of studies to evaluate wildlife use of newly constructed green roofs and traditional (gravel) roofs on buildings at ORD. These green roofs were 0.04–1.62 ha in area and consisted of primarily stone crop species for vegetation. A total of 188 birds were observed using roofs during this research. Of the birds using green roofs, 66, 23, and 4 % were Killdeer, European Starlings, and Mourning Doves, respectively. Killdeer nested on green roofs, whereas the other species perched, foraged, or loafed. Birds used green roofs almost exclusively between May and October. Overall, avian use of the green roofs was minimal and similar to that of buildings with traditional roofs. Although green roofs with other vegetation types might offer forage or cover to birds and thus attract potentially hazardous wildlife, the stonecrop-vegetated green roofs in this study did not increase the risk of bird–aircraft collisions.

Included in

Life Sciences Commons