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LETTER: How you can help save threatened bird populations

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Dear Editor:

We’ve all experienced it – a sudden, jarring thud against the window, signalling yet another bird collision. If the bird is lucky and not flying at high speeds, it might recover after a few minutes. However, most birds aren’t so fortunate. Shockingly, an estimated 22 million birds lose their lives each year in Canada due to window collisions, surpassing the number of bird fatalities caused by vehicles (14 million). Only domestic and feral cats pose a greater threat to our avian companions.

A recent study published in the esteemed Science Journal confirms our worst fears. Over the past 50 years, the North American bird population has plummeted by a staggering 29%. While habitat loss, pesticide use, and the alarming decline in insect populations shoulder much of the blame, it doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to the issue. We must take action, both at home and in the workplace, to mitigate window collisions and aid in the recovery of bird populations.

The cause of these collisions is deceptively simple, and so too is the solution. Birds cannot perceive windows as barriers; instead, they see reflections of the outside world, glimpses of interior spaces, or even other windows on the opposite side of buildings. Mistaking them for safe passage, they collide with tragic consequences. Our task is to transform windows into visible barriers, sparing countless lives. Not all windows require treatment, though. Begin by assessing each window’s risk level using our Homeowner Self-Assessment – BirdSafe questionnaire.

Once you’ve identified the high-risk windows, a multitude of measures can be implemented to reduce bird collisions. Visit FLAP Canada’s comprehensive guide, “Stop Birds from Hitting Windows at Your Home or Cottage,” for a wealth of practical ideas.

However, to truly protect our feathered friends, we must comprehend the global scale of bird mortalities. Are certain buildings responsible for a disproportionate number of deaths, or is the issue more complex than that? To answer these pressing questions and more, the Global Bird Collision Mapper—a community-science mapping database—is seeking your assistance. Whether you come across a bird casualty or a survivor anywhere in the world, please record the event at Global Bird Collision Mapper (birdmapper.org) and join us in our mission to save more lives.

Together, let’s make a difference.

Peter R Smith & Hugo Troccoli for Sarnia Bird Team ([email protected])

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