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© Lora Denis
By day and by night, Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada volunteers diligently patrol the streets of downtown Toronto and other cities, equipped with butterfly nets and rescue supplies. They are on an urgent search and rescue mission.
Migrating birds have been drawn into the city by the promise of a safe place to eat and rest in urban greenspace, or inadvertently lured to the bright glow of city lights during their nightly marathon flights. Now trapped inside a deadly maze of reflective and transparent glass buildings, they risk a fatal collision with windows during the day. Those that manage to survive a collision are often left vulnerable, exhausted, and injured in this alien, concrete landscape.
Since FLAP’s inception in 1993, the movement to protect birds from the nighttime and daytime dangers posed by light pollution and sheet glass has grown. With FLAP’s guidance, other passionate and dedicated groups have started their own FLAP-like bird rescue initiatives in cities across North America. But as our cities grow and our love affair with glass buildings continues unabated, there is a greater need than ever to act at an even larger scale.
FLAP Canada has launched Global Bird Rescue, a weeklong event in the first week of October, to empower people all around the globe to make a difference for migrating birds. Join a united front of partners and participants and add your observations (and your voice) to help grow the movement!
Here are 3 things you need to know about this exciting annual event.
During Global Bird Rescue, participants search for and document birds which have been killed or injured through collisions with glass by walking around the base of buildings and recording their observations on the Global Bird Collision Mapper. Even if you aren’t an expert at identifying birds, you can simply upload a photo with your observation. Every collision reported on the Mapper becomes part of a global, publicly accessible database to help us better understand the issue and to inform effective advocacy and policy efforts.
Bird-window collisions can happen anywhere there is glass. Whether it’s a daily search around the perimeter of your home, cottage, or office, or a more extensive search of collision hot spots in your city, you decide where you search and how much time you spend.
No matter who you are or where you live, you can be instrumental in building a database of bird-window collision observations for your city, province/state, or even your country.
You can participate in the event as an individual, or rally together your friends, family, or colleagues, and participate as a team. If you would like to see if a group has already been started in your community, review our list of team partners here.
Victims of window collisions are extremely vulnerable to predators, and often find themselves in dangerous situations such as being grounded on a busy city sidewalk. The more people who are searching for fallen birds during migration, the higher chance we have of finding survivors quickly and getting them the help they need to continue their migration.
You can be the difference between life and death for a bird that has collided with glass. Read more about what you should do if you find an injured bird here.
Interested how to prevent
My wife and I moved into the Willowdale area of Toronto eleven years ago. We enjoy walking our dog along the trails of the nearby river valleys. Over those few short years, we have noted a decline in both the number of birds, and the variety of species, observed on our walks. The likely are a number of reasons for this decline, but likely glass towers play a significant role.