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.