Ruby-throated hummingbird John L Richbourg

Birds and Buildings

One of the greatest threats to birds is collisions with glass windows. The estimated yearly death toll is horrific - and unacceptable:

  • 1 million in the Greater Toronto Area
  • 25 million in Canada
  • 1 billion in North America

The Latest Challenge


Whip-poor-will before release; CREDIT: FLAP

Ontario Nature has been working with Ecojustice to address this issue since 2010, relying on evidence gathered by the steadfast volunteers and staff of Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada. Legal action resulted in a 2013 Ontario court ruling that deemed light reflected from building windows to be a “contaminant” under the Environmental Protection Act.

Yet, instead of acting on the court findings, Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is proposing to remove this legal requirement!

Ontario Nature and partners are pursuing the matter through public education, outreach and advocacy.

Why Birds Strike Windows

Birds strike buildings during the day and at night. Extensive night lighting of tall structures causes night-migrating birds to hit the buildings, often fatally.

During the day, especially at first light when daytime migrants are most active, tinted, mirrored or clear glass poses a major hazard as it is invisible to birds. Window glass reflects the sky or images of trees and shrubs that may be planted around buildings. Birds will fly towards what they perceive to be habitat to rest and feed, and often will collide with the glass.

Solutions

First and foremost, the government to must enforce the law, not weaken it! Past experience clearly shows that voluntary measures, recommended by the MOECC, do not work. The weight of the law is needed to ensure that available solutions are adopted.

According to FLAP Canada and the American Bird Conservancy, there are numerous, affordable window markers available that have proven to be effective in significantly reducing bird collisions with buildings.

Compliance and enforcement measures must be in place to drive uptake of these options by building owners.

Sources of annual, human-related bird fatalities in Canada

Bird fatalities

View Sources of annual, human-related bird fatalities in Canada as a table

Source: A synthesis of human-related avian mortality in Canada

How You Can Help

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