Birds Crash Into Buildings in Toronto

In an article posted in The New York Times, it was reported that birds are extremely prone to crashing into the buildings of Toronto. Toronto is the capital of Canada and is a bustling metropolis full of high rise buildings. Among the many types of skyscrapers found in the area, some of the most common are shiny buildings with reflective glass panels on its side.

Since Toronto passes a few major migratory paths in the North-Western part of Lake Ontario for multiple species of birds, high rise buildings are particularly problematic and lead to a lot of bird collisions with the glass.

The reason behind this problem is the fact that glass is extremely reflective. The glass tends to mirror the surrounding trees off the Northern Wilderness as well as the skies above. Because of this, birds mistake the trees as a potential habitat and end up diving headlong into the glass planes. At that speed, many of the birds smash their faces in and plummet into the streets below. Few birds actually survive such a crash.

This is a prevalent problem for the past 40 years and a bird patrol group is now taking matters into their own hands in the hopes of saving the lives of these birds, some of which are already on the endangered species list.

The organization formed the Fatal Light Awareness Program or FLAP. FLAP focuses on picking up the dead birds from high risk areas every morning and rescuing birds that were still alive and injured. If the bird is merely shocked or frightened, they are released again a a nearby park. Injured birds on the other hand, are brought to nearby wildlife rescue centres to allow them to recuperate from their wounds. However, most birds that they pick up are often injured and die on impact.

Some of the most common birds that get killed by smashing against buildings included song birds, owls, and even hummingbirds. Birds that are familiar with urban spaces such as sparrows, gulls, and pigeons have very few casualties.

There are roughly 500 dead or injured birds recovered from these excursions everyday. FLAP estimates that there are nine million bird deaths every year due to building collisions.

Along with rescuing injured birds, FLAP is also cracking down on building owners and are trying to push for policies that would make buildings safer for the migrating animals. They want to focus particularly on the reflective glass buildings.

Preventing bird collisions is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is to place a pattern on the glass that would warn the bird of an impending wall. In fact, small, repetitive circular patterns or dots etched on the glass are all that is needed to keep the birds from hitting the sides of the buildings. It is a very small change and does not affect the aesthetics of the building.

Another option was to use the side of the building for advertisements, which is much cheaper than using etched glass.

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