START A FLAP-LIKE INITIATIVE IN YOUR CITY
Expand the Bird Rescue Network
Bird collisions with human-built structures are a leading cause of bird mortality in North America, second only to habitat destruction; but the two are closely-related. A migratory bird has a 43% chance of colliding with a human-built structure somewhere along its previously unobstructed migration path. As our built-up and excessively lit urban areas continue to grow, so does the incidence of bird mortality. We are losing so many of our beautiful native birds, and it is hard to imagine our world without them.
One of FLAP’s missions is to expand the existence of bird rescue organizations into every major urban centre across North America and abroad. We often receive emails from concerned citizens requesting information about bird rescue organizations in their area. As our current resources do not afford us the means to advance this expansion ourselves, we welcome interest from individuals like you, and hope to inspire you to start a bird rescue program wherever you live.
FLAP is here to assist you with your commitment to help rescue migrating birds. FLAP played a key role in the institution of two affiliate bird rescue organizations: Project Safe Flight in New York City, which operates under the wing of the New York City Audubon, and the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors. FLAP’s expertise and experience also sparked the initiative behind Lights Out Toronto!: a public awareness campaign to protect migratory birds by encourage building owners and managers to practice effective lighting measures at night and to control the reflectivity and transparency of glass during the day.
We would like to provide you with some basic tools to get started with a bird rescue program in your area. Together, we can make a difference and help to ensure that migrating birds survive their journeys through our sprawling urban environments.
How to Get Started
The first step in your bird rescue initiative is to take some time investigating the buildings in your area. Wherever you find tall, brightly lit structures, or windows reflecting natural habitat, birds are likely to collide. But bird collisions cannot always be predicted by the presence of these lethal features.
Look for Hazardous Building Designs, Materials and Features
FLAP recommends that you begin by spending an entire migration season, either in the spring or in the fall, exploring the structures in your area. Buildings close to natural areas such as parks or ravines are a good place to start. If you are situated by a lake, buildings by the waterfront should be monitored during the night and day. The best time to look for birds for daytime strikes is at dawn. Some species of birds like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird will collide later in the day at buildings with a mirrored facade. Other design features to look for are transparent walkways, linkways, greenhouses or solariums which give the impression of clear passage.
At first, if you don’t find dead or injured birds at a site, please don’t jump to the conclusion that the building is safe for migrants. Deepen your exploration. It takes patience and time to identify a building as hazardous to migrating birds.
Perhaps, for instance, at the time of your research, natural conditions such as a clear night sky, guided birds away from the city centre for just that one night. For this reason, it is important to spend some extra time investigating any buildings that raise your concern. Look for these telltale signs:
- Ask tenants, security, and maintenance staff if they find dead or injured birds around their building(s), or if they have witnessed a bird collision.
- Scan the perimeter of the base of the building for feathered remains. This indicates that a dead or injured bird has succumbed to a scavenger.
- Scan the windows for visual impact marks. This can include the powdery, dusty residue that naturally coats a bird’s feathers. The residue can leave a ghostly imprint on the glass, caused by the force of the impact. Other visual impact marks can include body fluids and/or feathers stuck to the glass.
FLAP Volunteer Training Manual
The FLAP Volunteer Training Manual was designed specifically for Toronto-based bird rescue volunteers, but it offers numerous generic tips and techniques that can be applied by anyone wherever birds collide with buildings.
Enlist the Help of Your Friends and Family
Encourage others to join you in your efforts. Enlist the help of your children, other family members, friends and any environmental groups that you are affiliated with or that you know about. The more eyes on the issue, the more thorough your investigation into buildings that are dangerous for migrating birds.
Bird Collision Reporting System
An accurate database of bird collision statistics is crucial to the survival of the birds, and to the survival and credibility of your bird rescue efforts. The data that you gather offers stark evidence to municipal governments, architects, building owners and managers that birds are dying in collisions with their structures.
Keep meticulous records of any bird casualties that you discover (such as date, time, species, injured or dead, building address, side of building). If your investigation reveals numerous casualties at the same location, please submit your data to FLAP through our online bird/building collision database.
FLAP would like to collect the data that you gather so we can accurately determine the rate of mortality of migrating birds in collision with human built structures in North America. FLAP’s database is now a worldwide resource for ornithological and environmental research, so your contribution will have significant impact.
FLAP’S online database is password protected, but available to any individual who has identified a building of concern for migratory birds, and who wishes to submit data on a regular basis. If you prefer, you can submit all your data to FLAP, in Excel format, at the end of your investigation.
Is There a Serious Bird Collision Problem in Your City?
If your investigation reveals a serious bird collision problem in your city, you can make a significant contribution toward preventing bird mortality by starting a bird rescue program. We are always available to answer your questions and/or concerns and provide support. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (416) 366-3527.
The North American Bird Collision Network
Please scan the North American Bird Collision Network listed below for existing organizations in your area. This list also includes contact information for people who have expressed a passionate interest in setting up a bird rescue program where none currently exists.
If your city is listed on the network, click on the link below and introduce yourself. You will find like-minded, concerned individuals who share the common goal of wanting to protect migratory birds.
If your city is not listed on the network, and you want to initiate a bird rescue organization in your area, please email us at email@example.com to get your city added to the list. Others in your area will find you through this resource.
- Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) - Toronto
United States Network
- Lights Out Baltimore
- Lights Out Boston
- Lights Out Chicago
- Chicago Bird Collision Monitors
- Safe Passage Great Lakes - Detroit
- Lights Out Houston
- Lights Out Indy - Indianapolis
- Project Birdsafe - Minneapolis and St. Paul
- Project Safe Flight - New York City
- Lights Out Portland - Oregon
- Lights Out for Birds - San Francisco
- Lights Out DC - Washington, DC
- WINGS: Wisconsin Night Guardians for Songbirds