By Claire Elliott
Every month a dedicated group of OFNC bird enthusiasts meet at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden to discuss bird-related news in the Ottawa region and to plan bird-related events and conservation initiatives. If you have participated in a bird-related OFNC event, visited a bird feeder located in an Ottawa greenspace, or requested help with an ID from firstname.lastname@example.org, there is a good chance you have come in contact with the work of the OFNC Birds Committee.
Weekly Bird Report for Ottawa/Gatineau Region
Every week, notable sightings data is packaged into a report and disseminated on the Ontario Field Ornithologist’s OntBirds email list, the OFNC website, and the OFNC Facebook page. If you are thinking about going birding in the Ottawa region, these reports are a great resource for finding local birding hotspots at any time of year. Due to increasing and widespread concerns regarding disturbance of wildlife and property, the OFNC Birds Committee no longer reports owl sightings on the internet, though reporting of all bird occurrences to the committee is encouraged for the maintenance of local records. Please direct your sightings to email@example.com.
Christmas Bird Count
Since the inaugural Ottawa event in 1920, the OFNC has participated in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Each December, the Birds Committee in partnership with Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais organizes the Ottawa/Gatineau chapter of the count. New and seasoned volunteers are encouraged to participate each year. The 2014 report will be available shortly on the OFNC website. As well, a write-up on the 2014 event appeared on this blog in late December.
The Ottawa Peregrine FalconWatch began in 1997 as an initiative to protect local nesting falcons and promote the recovery of the species. Each summer, volunteers monitor Peregrine chicks and wait for the young to make their first attempt at flight. Once the young birds gain their wings, volunteers ensure the safety of chicks, rescuing them after any crashes, returning the chicks to the nest, or if necessary seeking medical attention for the chicks. A detailed account of the last FalconWatch season can be found on the FalconWatch website.
Bird Study Group
The Birds Committee occasionally offers workshops and talks on bird-related subjects, including bird identification and biology. The most recent Bird Study Group meeting took place in early December covering winter bird field identification skills in preparation for the 2014 Christmas Bird Count. If you would like to be put on the email list for future Bird Study Group meetings, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ottawa chapter of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) was founded in 2014 by Anouk Hoedeman of the OFNC Birds Committee. This group aims to document bird-building collisions in Ottawa during spring and fall migration, while concurrently raising awareness of collision prevention and bird-friendly building design. For her work, Anouk was awarded the 2014 OFNC Conservation Award. New volunteers to FLAP are always needed. Please contact FLAP at Ottawa@flap.org if you are interested in getting involved this spring.
The Ontario Field Ornithologists’ Convention 2014
In October 2014, the Ontario Field Ornithologists held their annual convention in Ottawa. Many Birds Committee members actively participated in this event, leading field excursions and helping to contribute to the 152 species observed over the weekend. Recently, Birds Committee member Bob Cermak was awarded the OFNC President’s Prize for his contribution to the convention for organizing the OFNC-led field trips.
There are six winter bird feeders in the Ottawa/ Gatineau region that are maintained by the Birds Committee. Maps of the feeder locations can be found on the OFNC website. Stop by to enjoy some winter birds!
If you would like to learn more about the OFNC Birds Committee and their past and present activities, you are encouraged to visit OFNC birding and bird sightings webpages. Membership information on the committee can be found in the April-June issue of Trail and Landscape. Lastly, if you bump into any birds committee members at a meeting or on an outing, feel free to ask about the committee and its activities!
The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP Canada) is hitting the streets of Ottawa this spring and needs volunteers to help rescue injured birds and collect dead ones.
At a meeting at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden Interpretive Centre on April 1, Anouk Hoedeman (of the OFNC’s Birds Committee) shared important updates regarding the formation of an Ottawa chapter that will operate under the umbrella of FLAP Canada, in partnership with Nature Canada, the Wild Bird Care Centre and the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club.
The current priority is to save injured birds while determining the extent of bird-building collisions in Ottawa. To do this, volunteers will begin foot patrols of high-priority areas (e.g., tall, reflective buildings) during pre-dawn hours and throughout the day.
If you are keen on participating, please download and read FLAP Canada’s Volunteer Handbook and check out FLAP Canada’s video. This document provides extensive information on how to prepare for patrols, including what to bring, what to wear, how to handle birds, what information to record, etc. However, reading is no substitute for the hands-on training available by volunteering at the Wild Bird Care Centre and by accompanying experienced volunteers on patrols.
There are many factors (including legal requirements) to consider when approaching, handling, and transporting injured birds – and when collecting dead ones. It is important that volunteers follow proper procedures and document the birds they find.
In addition to patrols, FLAP needs volunteers in supporting roles, especially drivers who can pick up injured birds by car from other volunteers, assess and monitor birds, and safely release them when they recover or transport them to the Wild Bird Care Centre for further treatment.
Volunteers need to be properly equipped with the following supplies:
- Flat-bottomed paper bags of different sizes (for injured birds)
- Paper clips (to close bags)
- Unscented, lotion-free tissues (to place in bottom of bags)
- Non-toxic felt pens (to record data on paper bags)
- Cardboard boxes (for woodpeckers and larger birds)
- Duct tape (to close boxes)
- Margarine tubs with holes poked in the lid (for any injured bats that might be found)
- Plastic bags (for dead birds)
- Hand sanitizer (without additives like aloe, which can harm birds) to clean hands between birds
- Large, flat-bottomed shopping bags or roomy backpacks to carry birds (in their individual paper bags/boxes)
Volunteers are encouraged to assemble their own kits, but FLAP Ottawa will also try to obtain bulk quantities of items, and would appreciate donations or information on where to obtain them at little or no cost.
Anouk will be speaking about FLAP’s Ottawa chapter at the next OFNC monthly meeting to be held Tuesday, April 8 at the K.W. Neatby Building, Salon B (960 Carling Avenue). The FLAP chapter will meet on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the FWG Interpretive Centre. Those interested in joining, participating in a pre-dawn patrol or donating equipment are encouraged to contact Anouk at email@example.com.