Pro­tec­tion of York Re­gion’s birds

Va­lerie Burke Ward 1 Coun­cil­lor

Thornhill Post - - News -

The ar­rival of birds, the har­bin­gers of spring, is al­ways wel­come! Birds con­sume bil­lions of in­sects daily, pol­li­nate plants and dis­perse seeds. They are crit­i­cal to a healthy ecosys­tem. They also pro­vide great plea­sure for chil­dren and fam­i­lies with back­yard feed­ers. Sadly, mi­gra­tory bird pop­u­la­tions are de­clin­ing due to out­door cats, habi­tat loss, pes­ti­cides, col­li­sions with build­ings and other rea­sons.

I re­cently sched­uled a meet­ing with the Min­istry of the En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change to ad­vo­cate for manda­tory bird­friendly build­ing stan­dards.

Dur­ing the day, birds of­ten hit win­dows be­cause they see the re­flec­tion of trees or sky as real and don’t un­der­stand that a win­dow is an ob­sta­cle. At night, mi­grat­ing birds that use the moon and stars as nav­i­ga­tional tools can be con­fused by our in­creas­ingly brightly lit ur­ban­ized ar­eas and end up col­lid­ing with build­ings. The City of Markham has been work­ing with Fa­tal Light Aware­ness Pro­gram (FLAP) to al­le­vi­ate these prob­lems and ed­u­cate res­i­dents about ways they can help.

The city adopted bird-friendly guidelines to retro­fit ex­ist­ing build­ings and en­sure the de­sign of new build­ings is safer for the birds. The guidelines pro­vide nu­mer­ous ways in which win­dows can be de­signed to ap­pear as solid ob­jects. All new city build­ings will in­cor­po­rate bird-friendly, dark-sky de­sign stan­dards.

For res­i­dents, “feather friendly” win­dow tape is avail­able. Out­door lights should be dark-sky com­pli­ant and shielded from shin­ing up into the sky. Cats should be kept in­doors or su­per­vised when out­doors.

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