Blog post contributed by Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl from our Beaverbrook Branch.
The days are getting longer, the snow is melting, and the trees are budding. It’s spring! And that means the return of migrating birds.
Every spring our summer birds return from their warmer winter home in the south. These birds make the incredible journey across a continent to raise their families. Ottawa is a special stop for birds on their way to the Northern Boreal forest. In fact, the Ottawa River is an internationally recognized migration route, particularly for water birds who use the river in the same way we would use a major highway when navigating.
Travelling so far has many natural dangers. Birds can become more vulnerable to predators, go hungry if they are not able to find enough food and can become exhausted. Passing through cities offers new dangers that birds have not evolved to cope with. One of the biggest dangers are the buildings themselves. Birds do not understand glass and cannot see it as a solid, dangerous object. It is even more dangerous when the glass is reflective and the bird thinks it sees a beautiful tree to fly to. When birds collide with glass they can have the same injuries as an athlete with a serious concussion. It is incredibly dangerous.
Luckily there are simple ways that we can make our city safer for migrating birds. The City of Ottawa approved the Bird-Safe Design Guidelines in November 2020 so that new construction will keep bird safety in mind. The best way to make glass visible to birds is to cover the glass in dots, which alerts the birds to the presence of glass and prevents collisions. The Beaverbrook branch of the Ottawa Public Library has taken this important step.
Above photo: The windows in the Children’s department of the Beaverbrook Public Library have been treated with small dots to make the glass safe for local birds.
What can you do to help birds?
- Put up a bird feeder and learn about the birds in your neighborhood
Get to know the birds in your area by putting up a birdfeeder. You can use these interactive tools to learn the common bird calls or to generate a list of what birds you are most likely to see in Ottawa at different times of the year.
- Make your home safe for birds
There are lots of simple ways to treat the windows at home, work or even the cottage to keep birds safe from window collisions. If you want to learn more about what you can do to keep birds safe, attend the Wildlife speaker series event Windows of Opportunity presented by Safe Wings Ottawa.
- Get involved in citizen science projects.
Citizen Science projects are fun for the entire family and really do help scientists collect important information about local wildlife trends. Find a project happening near you or report your bird sightings anytime on eBird .
Check out the library booklists to learn more about birds, citizen science, and how you can make a difference for the natural world