by Sandy Garland
Note: Volunteers are needed. Please contact F.L.A.P. at Ottawa@flap.org or call 613 216-8999 to find out how you can help. If you find birds who have collided with windows, please get in touch immediately. If a bird hits one of your windows, please report it to F.L.A.P.
Migratory birds are literally hitting Ottawa this week and the Ottawa Wing of F.L.A.P. (Fatal Light Awareness Program) has been racing to keep up. As Anouk Hoedeman, who organizes the group, said “What a day! Nine dead birds documented downtown, including Hermit Thrush, White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Dark-eyed Junco, then a whole flock out in Kanata. And now our first Woodcock, adding up to 30+ birds for the day. It’s time for Ottawa to adopt bird-friendly design guidelines!”
Anouk rides her bike up and down the streets of downtown Ottawa early every morning looking for birds that have flown into reflective glass or have collapsed from exhaustion after flying confusedly around lit-up buildings all night.The Kanata birds were spotted by Joe Wilson. He arrived at work this morning to find 15 or more dead kinglets and “another 15+ on the ground acting very listless… one just seemed to drop out of the sky.”
Unsure what to do, Joe posted that note on the OFNC Facebook page. Within minutes, Anouk’s husband, Alex DeVries, replied with Anouk’s cell phone number. But meanwhile, Cynthia Paquin, another very active member of our local F.L.A.P. group, replied that she would come right away. She asked Joe to please gather up the birds before gulls or building security got there first.
Anouk called ahead to the Wild Bird Care Centre, asking them to get ready for new patients. Staff at the centre are also participating in F.L.A.P., as they know what a problem bird collisions are in Ottawa. During migration, they see the results – over and over.
Cynthia arrived in Kanata to collect the dead birds and rush the live ones to the Wild Bird Care Centre. According to her Facebook post,“The final tally was: 6 live birds at the centre (a mix of golden-crowned and ruby-crowned kinglets) – unfortunately not all survived the trip to the Wild Bird Care Centre. We’ll get more information soon, but a preliminary exam saw that a few may be releasable today, after a rest.
“The count of dead birds was 10 golden-crowned, 2 ruby-crowned, and 1 red-breasted nuthatch. While scouring the area, Joe and I heard many others in the trees near the impact site – so the total number that impacted the window (and either flew into the trees or were perhaps taken by a gull or crow before Joe found them) is likely much higher.” She found another ruby-crowned kinglet when she checked the building again in the afternoon.
Between the encouraging comments coming from other members of our Facebook group, Anouk thanked Cynthia, Joe, and the Wild Bird Care Centre for acting so quickly “Talk about teamwork!”
She also pointed out that tips on what homeowners can do to prevent collisions can be found here – http://flap.org/residential.php – and donations can be made to F.L.A.P. through the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club.
Anouk also remarked, “Feel free to ask your local municipal candidates if they would support Ottawa adopting bird-friendly building guidelines. Many other cities — including Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco and NY — have had them for a while.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Sopinka
The photo at the right captures only a fraction of the birds that died in one year in the Toronto area. The cause of the deaths? Collisions with buildings.
An incident in Ottawa last spring, in which a number of Bohemian waxwings died when they tried to fly through a glass passageway at City Hall prompted Anouk Hoedeman (of the OFNC’s Birds Committee) to do something. On December 3, she held a meeting to discuss forming a group dedicated to preventing, or at least reducing, such collisions. The initiative will be based on the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) in Toronto, which has offered its support along with Nature Canada and the local Wild Bird Care Centre.
There are two parts to the bird-building collision problem. During the day, reflective glass creates a misleading flight path that birds try to fly through. During the evening, birds are drawn to light emanating from higher windows; this can result in direct collisions or birds flying around the lighted area until they are exhausted. Solutions to these problems exist (e.g., non-reflective glass, turning off lights) and members of the new group are keen on publicizing them to prevent bird injuries.
The Ottawa group is still in the early stages of organization. The success of the FLAP Ottawa chapter will depend on dedicated volunteers collecting and recording information on injured/dead birds.
Want to get involved? Please contact Anouk via email@example.com. The chapter’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday January 13, 2014, 7 p.m., at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden Interpretive Centre.
For more information on the history, mission, and accomplishments of FLAP Canada, visit www.flap.org.