‘Bird Friendly’ Hamilton wants to keeps songbirds in the skies – not flying into our windows

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Published February 1, 2024 at 2:06 pm

With more than three billion birds gone from North American skies over the past 50 years from pesticides, habitat loss, a reduced insect supply, roaming cats, collisions with windows, pollution and climate change, it’s long past time cities like Hamilton do something about it.

In the spring of 2022 Hamilton became the sixth certified Bird Friendly City in Canada, a program that was developed by Nature Canada to reduce the carnage.

A Bird Friendly City is one that has taken steps to reduce threats to wild birds, conserve bird habitat, and educate the public about birds. These accomplishments were the result of bird friendly efforts over the years from the City of Hamilton, local organizations, schools, businesses, Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington and the people of Hamilton.

Not only do birds and birdsong contribute to improved mental health, birds also provide essential services to humans which include pollination, insect control, and the disbursement of seeds.

Not all the root causes are within a municipality’s control of course, but there are many actions residents and local conservation groups can take to ensure as many of our feathered friends as possible live to fly another day.

You can help birds by:

One of the big killers of birds in glass windows, especially in big cities the birds need to negotiate though on their migrations.

During the day, reflected light poses a severe threat to birds. Birds can see through glass and what is reflected, but they can’t see the glass itself.

Attracted to the reflection of something behind them, or to a plant that is on the other side of a window, many birds fly straight into windows and reflective building exteriors.

Some birds have even been observed attacking their own reflection, believing it to be a competing bird intruding on its territory.

At night, it is artificial light from buildings and cityscapes that endangers birds. Many species migrate at night, using light from the moon, the stars, and the setting sun to navigate. The bright lights of our urban areas confuse them and pull them out of their path.

On foggy or rainy nights when the cloud cover is low, birds fly at lower altitudes and are more likely to be disoriented by city lights. They may be pulled down into downtown mazes, where they often collide with buildings.

Also dangerous are floodlights, lighthouses, and airport ceilometers – light beams for measuring cloud altitude. Studies have shown that once birds are attracted to a light source, they tend not to want to leave it and may become trapped inside beams of light until they drop from exhaustion.

sun to navigate. The bright lights of our urban areas confuse these birds and pull them out of their way.

Especially on foggy or rainy nights when the cloud cover is low, birds fly at lower altitudes and are more likely to be disoriented by city lights. They may be pulled down into downtown mazes, where they often collide with buildings.

Also dangerous are floodlights, lighthouses, and airport ceilometers (light beams for measuring cloud altitude). Studies using radar have shown that, once birds are attracted to a light source, they tend not to want to leave it. Birds may become trapped inside beams of light, flying around inside them until they drop from exhaustion.

There are groups in every big city that patrol downtown streets in the early morning to find bird that have collided with windows and do their best to save as many victims as possible.

Visit FLAP Canada or Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington for more information.

With files from FLAP Canada.

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