In the last 50 years, North American bird populations have dropped by more than 25%, with particularly steep declines in shorebirds and forest-dwelling birds. Three billion of our birds, including common species that live in our towns and cities, have vanished. Much of this loss is due to habitat degradation but, in our cities, it’s also because of direct threats like roaming cats, vehicle collisions, and window strikes.
There’s a lot we still don’t understand about urban bird threats, nationally and at the smaller scale of our capital city, but there are some awesome birdy people out there doing important work to fix that. Staff and volunteers at Birds Canada have coordinated shorebird monitoring on our near-urban beaches for many years now, while educating the public on good beach practices through signage and other outreach activities. Researchers at Dalhousie University recently partnered with Hope for Wildlife to analyze trends in their rehabilitation database, exploring possible connections between bird injury/mortality, the nature of the incident that brought the bird to the rescue, and where in the city they came from. Volunteers at the Nova Scotia Bird Society are looking at the possibility of organizing citizen science walks that would target window-strikes, identifying possible strike hotspots around the city. And we at Nature Nova Scotia are mobilizing citizens to take on stewardship actions that benefit the birds near them.
This Spring, we piloted Operation Window Strike, engaging Haligonians in bird stewardship right at home. Thirty residents of our biggest city took on the threat of window-strikes by implementing one or more bird-friendly window solutions, which we delivered right to their door. And they’ve done awesome stuff with them!
Here’s an example from a participant who got creative with their paint pens and another from participants who opted for the grid-like pattern created with Feather Friendly tape on their deck railing.
Bird-ifying their windows isn’t all these bird stewards did though. As part of Operation Window Strike, participants also provided valuable information about the configuration and size of windows in neighbourhoods around the Halifax core, in addition to how often window strikes are happening near them, and whether or not there are roaming cats in their area (which could affect the likelihood of finding a window-stunned bird). We hope that, as the project grows as engages more residents, this information may contribute to a more informed understanding of window threats in the Halifax area.
Over winter, we’ll touch base with these volunteer stewards to see if they noticed any difference in window strike incidents before and after they put their new solutions up. While we hope Operation Window Strike will reduce the number of birds injuring themselves against city windows, our biggest hope is that the project will foster a culture and community of stewardship among participants, and that bird-friendly actions like theirs will spread as more people learn about their efforts. Stay tuned for our final results and news for 2023!
Nature Nova Scotia is a member of the Bird Friendly Halifax Coalition, a group of bird-loving organizations and citizens working to make HRM an officially recognized Bird Friendly City. We launched our anti-window-strike kits pilot project, with the support of friends at Nature Canada, in response to an observed need to address bird threats in our urban core. Reach out to Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get involved with Bird Friendly Halifax.
Looking for more ways to protect urban birds? Sign up for our email list to get the latest on our work in protected areas, sustainable forestry, and other bird-related topics. Follow the Nova Scotia Bird Society (or better yet, become a member!), learn how to identify the birds near you and get tips on simple stewardship actions you can take at home through their Tuesday Tip series. Participate in the Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running citizen science project in the world! Become a Beach, Marsh, Swift, or Owl Monitor and help Birds Canada steward our pristine near-urban habitats. And! If you’d like to see more bird-friendly windows around HRM, make a donation to support Operation Window Strike.