Flight After Death: What We Can Learn from FLAP Canada’s Annual Bird Layout
As we shift from summer into fall, it’s important to keep practicing bird friendly behaviors, and to find new, creative ways to spread awareness on bird strikes. In addition to education and resources, FLAP Canada produces its compelling Annual Bird Layout, which is created using the bodies of deceased birds. This rendering is a thought-provoking way to demonstrate the severity of bird collisions in North America.
Unfortunately, the birds you see here are only a small portion of the birds that were collected by FLAP volunteers in the Toronto area in 2021. In fact, most people in Canada don’t realize that any bird (turkey’s, hawks, owls, sparrows etc., and even species-at-risk) of any age and stage (healthy breeding age birds that possibly even have dependent nestlings) can die because of a window collision.
Keep reading to learn more about FLAP’s efforts, and their mission to support bird-friendly behaviors across Canada.
What Happens When Birds Die in a Window Strike?
Because birds do not have the same concept of glass or reflections as we do, they sustain severe injuries or, as is mainly the case, die from window collisions. And, while migratory birds account for a high volume of victims, local bird species are also susceptible to window collisions.
Although the Bird Layout offers a visual representation of the severity of window strikes, FLAP’s volunteers, researchers and experts rely on these feathered friends for more than just art—during spring and fall migratory season, volunteers will collect the dead birds and document specific details on the birds, the circumstance in which they died, record the species, and amalgamate the data in the Global Bird Collision Mapper. This data provides critical insights into which species are the most vulnerable to collisions, the time of year when collisions are most likely to occur, and the areas where the collisions are most concentrated.
The collected birds are also used for educational purposes:
FLAP Canada volunteers’ bag and tag the birds, which are used to train new volunteers in bird identification.
Some of the collected birds are sent to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), where they are distributed to universities and organizations for further research.
The dead birds are used for wind farm monitoring, in permanent collections, and more.
Despite the needles deaths of many species of birds, the information collected by FLAP Canada’s team has contributed to important data that will continue to inform conservation initiatives across Canada and the world.
How Do You Raise Awareness for Bird Collision Prevention?
What’s your favourite way to support birds in your community? Whether you’re a FLAP volunteer, birding enthusiast, or just want to support local biodiversity, FLAP’s Annual Bird Layout is an evocative first step toward making bird-friendly behaviours part of your everyday life.