Protection of York Region’s birds
Valerie Burke Ward 1 Councillor
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.