Hundreds of birds await treatment in paper bags after flying into windows in Toronto
The Toronto Wildlife Centre is constantly working to help rescue and care for hurt and sick animals, but lately they've had their hands exceptionally full with injured migratory songbirds that have collided with windows throughout the city.
In September, over 300 birds were admitted into TWC's care after flying into windows. And on Monday alone, 157 wild animals were admitted — the majority of which were migratory songbirds who flew into closed windows.
#DidYouKnow in September over 300 injured migratory songbirds were admitted, like this bay-breasted warbler? Today marks the start of Global Bird Rescue week, a @FLAP event to raise awareness about how you can help our feathered neighbours. Learn more at https://t.co/GWaVC1z2Ip pic.twitter.com/DKUbxCpnXw— Toronto Wildlife Centre (@TWC_Wildlife) October 3, 2022
Photos posted online by TWC this week show rows of paper bags containing the little songbirds as they await care, demonstrating the sheer scale of the problem.
How many dead and injured birds will it take before buildings are made bird-safe? TWC admitted 157 wild animals on Monday – the majority were migratory songbirds who hit windows. It’s time to adopt bird-safe guidelines: https://t.co/qesXBgbcIdhttps://t.co/Qbkp3P6xfL pic.twitter.com/0H8qW2Ih2O— Toronto Wildlife Centre (@TWC_Wildlife) October 12, 2022
According to FLAP Canada, a registered Canadian charity widely recognized as the pre-eminent authority on the bird-building collision issue, around 25 million migratory birds die as a direct result of collisions with buildings in Canada each year.
#DidYouKnow most songbirds suffer from eye ulcers after hitting windows, like this #NashvilleWarbler? These painful sores need treatment to stop scarring and even blindness. Prevent injuries like these by making your windows bird-safe: https://t.co/p0NHYvP1rY #GlobalBirdRescue pic.twitter.com/1tdnIt4Fgw— Toronto Wildlife Centre (@TWC_Wildlife) October 5, 2022
The issue is particularly pervasive in Ontario, where the province's Building Code sets minimum requirements for new construction, renovation and change of use of buildings — but nothing related to design requirements for bird safety.
#DidYouKnow buildings in Ontario are not required to make their windows safe for birds? By adding design requirements to the building code, Ontario can protect thousands of birds each year, like this #RubyThroatedHummingbird who suffered head trauma after colliding with a window. pic.twitter.com/gWn4D2XZFl— Toronto Wildlife Centre (@TWC_Wildlife) October 7, 2022
"Despite the availability of proven, affordable techniques to reduce bird collisions with buildings and a bird-friendly building design standard, there are no provisions in the Building Code to require they are used," says FLAP Canada.
"By mandating bird-friendly building construction measures in the Building Code, Ontario could significantly reduce the number of birds that die needlessly each year."
Fortunately, there are also steps individuals can take to help prevent these tragedies.
#DidYouKnow we have over 150 migratory birds in care right now? Most have collided with windows! For #GlobalBirdRescue week, we’re sharing their stories, like this #OvenBird who fractured his breastbone and collarbone. Thankfully, he has made a full recovery! pic.twitter.com/KvxhxqsM1H— Toronto Wildlife Centre (@TWC_Wildlife) October 4, 2022
According to FLAP Canada, the best way to stop birds from flying into your windows is to make the entire window look like a barrier by applying dense patterns of markings (small dots, squares, lines, etc.) to the outside of your window.
To be effective, the markings should have gaps no larger than 5 cm by 5 cm, be applied to the outside surface of the glass, be of high contrast so they stand out, be no less than 6 mm in diameter, and cover the entire surface of the glass.
During #GlobalBirdRescue, people are encouraged to look for birds who have hit windows. But Alex wasn’t aware he would find one himself. The building had few windows, but it was enough to confuse this #veery. After her injuries were treated, she was able to continue migration. pic.twitter.com/Urz0yLuyFt— Toronto Wildlife Centre (@TWC_Wildlife) October 8, 2022
Examples of what this looks like can be found on FLAP Canada's website, and animal lovers can also sign a petition — which has more than 20,000 signatures — urging the Ontario government to update its Building Code to protect the birds.
It's the last day of #GlobalBirdRescue but our work is far from over! Many birds will continue to be rushed through our doors after they have struck windows, like this #EasternWhipPoorWill. After he was treated for severe bruising and swelling, he returned to the night sky. pic.twitter.com/WnQfH0VKd4— Toronto Wildlife Centre (@TWC_Wildlife) October 9, 2022
"Many of Ontario's migratory bird populations are in steep decline. Each year, millions of birds die in Ontario by colliding with windows on buildings," the petition reads.
"Buildings therefore represent a major source of mortality for Ontario's birds, including bird Species at Risk. Unless we take meaningful conservation actions, we risk losing irreplaceable bird species in the coming decades."
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