Exhibit of 1,700 carcasses highlights bird-building collisions

By Jennifer Doede

On Feb. 27, Safe Wings Ottawa hosted a display featuring over 1,700 dead birds at city hall. The avian creatures lost their lives colliding with the windows of Ottawa buildings.

The free display aimed to raise awareness of the fact that birds are crashing into tall structures and educate the general public on ways to reduce one of the leading causes of the declining bird populations.

According to the Safe Wings Ottawa website, around 250,000 to 500,000 birds are killed in Ottawa on an annual basis as a result of collisions with buildings and other large structures. In addition, it is estimated that 1 billion birds are killed every year in North America due to this infrastructural issue.

Safe Wings Ottawa is a program of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club that began researching the issue of bird collision in 2014. Since the organization began collecting research, 107 species of birds have been documented as victims of window collisions, which include six species at risk. According to data collected in 2015, the most frequent victims found by Safe Wings Ottawa volunteers are warblers, sparrows and kinglets.

The program also advises owners of commercial, institutional and residential buildings on what steps they can take to prevent birds from crashing into the windows of their buildings. These steps include owners switching to bird-friendly window treatments, landscaping and architecture.