This is for the Birds

This white-throated swift, aka Taylor Swift, was a patient at Wildlife Rescue. She was found on a sidewalk in Coquitlam in November 2013 with injuries that suggested she had struck a window. Her flock had already migrated south for the winter. After recuperating for a couple of weeks, Taylor needed to have her immigration paperwork complete before being transported to a rehabilitation centre in California. Later, she rejoined her peers. Photo by Paul Steeves, 2013.

This white-throated swift, aka Taylor Swift, was a patient at Wildlife Rescue. She was found on a sidewalk in Coquitlam in November 2013 with injuries that suggested she had struck a window. Her flock had already migrated south for the winter. After recuperating for a couple of weeks, Taylor needed to have her immigration paperwork complete before being transported to a rehabilitation centre in California. Later, she rejoined her peers.
Photo by Paul Steeves, 2013.

Did you know that the City of Vancouver has an official Bird Strategy? As part of the greenest city initiative, goal number six – access to nature – includes creating the conditions necessary to increase the diversity and well-being of our bird population. To this end, the Bird Strategy sets out five objectives: support habitat, reduce threats, enhance access, enhance awareness, and grow bird-related tourism. Since 2013, Vancouver has celebrated our feathered friends with an official week. Even prior to this, Mayor Gregor Robertson signed proclamations in 2011 and 2012 recognizing the United Nations’ World Migratory Bird Day.

Threat reduction will be the focus of Roundhouse events leading up to Bird Week, May 2-9. Beginning April 12, there will be an informative exhibition in the Grand Hall on Bird Friendly Design Guidelines. This display was originally part of an exhibition by Department of Bird Safety’s Jesse Garbe and Geneviève Raiche-Savoie, for the Architectural Institute of BC’s Architecture Centre Gallery (2014).

Department of Bird SafetyModels, posters, and examples of bird deterrents will demonstrate bird friendly building design. At the opening reception for the Bird Friendly Design exhibition on April 16, Jessie and Geneviève will be on hand to answer questions and take us on a walking tour of a one block radius around the Roundhouse. Our bird safety specialists will challenge us to see the environment, trees, lighting, and drainpipes from a bird’s perspective and evaluate potential hazards.

“People see birds more often than any other kind of wild animal.” – Jesse Garbe

Sadly, birds flying into windows is the leading cause of bird injuries in Vancouver. Last year, the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC treated 3,874 birds (127 different bird species) which made up about 85% of their total caseload. Birds do not see glass. That is why it is important to provide visual cues. Jessie and Geneviève will return to the Roundhouse on May 4 and 7 to teach us about bird deterrents and participants will cover the Café Lobby windows with bird safety drawings. They facilitated a similar community art event, last year, at the West Point Grey Community Centre.

At West Point Grey, the duo was tasked with creating enhancements to stop bird collisions. Inspired by English artist Damien Hirst’s spot paintings, they designed and facilitated a session in which volunteer participants created an installation of 3,888 coloured sticker dots on the Centre’s windows. The dots were placed 2” apart both vertically and horizontally. Spacing is very important when applying window decals. In order to be effective, markings must be applied densely. Columns must be no less than 4” apart and rows should be no less than 2”apart. This is basically leaving open spaces that are smaller than the size of a small bird.

Bird-friendly windows at West Point Grey Community Centre. Photo courtesy of Department of Bird Safety.

Bird-friendly windows at West Point Grey Community Centre.
Photo courtesy of Department of Bird Safety.

Decals were placed 2" apart. Photo courtesy of Department of Bird Safety.

Decals were placed 2″ apart.
Photo courtesy of Department of Bird Safety.

What does not work when creating window treatments to deter bird collisions?

  • Hawk silhouettes – the shape of a decal doesn’t frighten a bird, it’s the visual pattern of multiple decals that will deter birds.
  • Single window decals – only the exact space the decal is on the window will be visible to a bird.
  • Plastic owls – birds are smart; they figure out very quickly these stationary statues are no threat!
  • Noise deterrents (e.g. high frequency ultrasound) – there is no evidence to show these are effective.
  • Magnetic Fields – there is no evidence to show these are effective.

Source: FLAP Canada

Meet up with Jessie and Geneviève on Thursday April 16 at 5:30pm in the Roundhouse Lobby. They will be leading a guided walking tour in a block wide area around the Roundhouse. Look at the area from a bird’s perspective and learn about the challenges of birds living in an urban environment. Come back on Monday, May 4 (3-5pm) or Thursday May 7 (3-5pm) to create window drawings in the Café Lobby and learn about other bird collision deterrents. Happy Birding!


By Karen Clare, Roundhouse Blog Team. Karen has a passion for reaching out to others in the creative community, learning their stories, and sharing these tales with Roundhouse readers.

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