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.”