Heather

This post is part of a series acknowledging our amazing volunteers and providing a behind-the-scenes look at what we do. See more volunteer profiles

Heather_self portrait-blogVolunteer position: Patroller, Outreach Assistant and more

Safe Wings Ottawa volunteer since: August 2015

How did you first get involved with Safe Wings Ottawa? 
While I had heard about birds colliding with Toronto skyscrapers it hadn’t occurred to me it’d be an issue up here in Ottawa.  Then I saw an article on the display of collected birds at the Museum of Nature last spring.  I spoke with Anouk and Cynthia at their info table at a Bird Day event and quickly knew with certainty this is a group and a cause I want to be part of.

What are some of the activities you’ve done as a Safe Wings volunteer?
Patrolling on weekends, scouting new areas to patrol, manning an info table at Nature Nocturne, reviewing text for website and presentations, and taking opportunities to raise the issue with colleagues, friends, and contacts.

What has been one of your most memorable experiences so far?
Seeing Anouk scoop up an uninjured but disoriented mallard from a downtown sidewalk and deftly deposit the duck in her bike pannier.  A quick ride to a nearby pond and the confused quacker was released and paddling about again.

Anouk's bird bike is becoming an iconic sight in Ottawa
The famous bird bike (pictured here without ducks)

Why do you volunteer with Safe Wings?
While my bird identification abilities didn’t extend much past typical suburban backyard birds, I’ve always had a ‘soft spot’ for birds. I’m cheered by the plucky chickadee toughing out the winter, chuffed by each woodpecker and cardinal visiting my feeders. It saddens me that such beautiful, positive, and widely-loved little creatures are experiencing precipitous population declines in the face of a myriad of threats.  I see volunteering with Safe Wings as a way I can personally contribute to mitigation of at least one of those threats, right here in Ottawa. (And my bird identification skills are improving – plenty of time to check for wing bars and eye rings when they’re lying still, sadly).

What do you find most rewarding?
Heather_warbler_blogI find it rewarding to educate others about the issue of bird collisions and refer them to the Safe Wings site for clear information and solutions.  I feel like I’m contributing to the leading edge of an emerging issue; building data, raising awareness, and fostering measures that will prevent collisions.

I’m also enjoying continually learning about the issue and birds in general.  So many interesting articles get posted.

I also was surprised by what you’ll find once you start paying attention. Once I was on the lookout for expanses of glass, I was noticing buildings that I used to pass by without a thought. It was sobering to discover birds were frequently colliding at a small suburban office building that I used to work in.  I was completely unaware of the bird strikes at the time, though they likely were lying just around the corner from the front door.  So take a couple extra minutes on your way into work, whether it’s a tower downtown or a one-storey in an industrial park, and walk around the perimeter checking the ground below windows. You may be surprised at what you find. Then call Safe Wings.

Want to learn more about volunteer opportunities with Safe Wings Ottawa? Visit our volunteer page. 

Christopher Dennison

Chris in his natural habitat. Photo by Olivia Hart.
Chris in his natural habitat. Photo by Olivia Hart.

This post is part of a series acknowledging our amazing volunteers and providing a behind-the-scenes look at what we do. See more volunteer profiles

Volunteer position: Patrolling, Outreach and more

Safe Wings Ottawa volunteer since: September 2015

How did you first get involved with Safe Wings Ottawa? 
As an outdoors enthusiast and Carleton University Student, I often take study breaks in the form of bird-watching in Fletcher Wildlife Garden. It was there I noticed a poster for Safe Wings. Entering the organization as a volunteer was quite simple and I received a very warm welcome.

What are some of the activities you’ve done as a Safe Wings volunteer?
Other than going out on patrols, I have become involved with several outreach initiatives since joining Safe Wings. I have helped collect signatures for our policy petition at the nature museum and have added my own insight at our monthly volunteer meetings. Recently, I have personally facilitated an online version of Safe Wings’ petition to promote the adoption of Bird-Friendly Guidelines in the City of Ottawa.

What has been one of your most memorable experiences so far?
I think the most memorable experience during my short tenure with Safe Wings has actually been all the things I have learned about birds and the issue of fatal window collisions. Having been exposed to statistics gathered by the organization as well as experiences out in the field, I have come to appreciate the issue in a new light. I have even used the issue in some of the research I have conducted for my environmental policy courses at Carleton University.

Why do you volunteer with Safe Wings?
I think my main reason for joining Safe Wings is the same as it is for all of our volunteers: I love birds, and it is difficult to see the amount of preventable fatalities literally happening right outside our windows. The great thing about Safe Wings is that you can help in more ways than one, and the way one decides to contribute can be appropriated to their own particular strengths and interests. But again, I think the main reason for joining has been my own interest and love of birds, a passion which is shared by many others in Ottawa and across Canada. Ultimately, these birds are more than worth our time, dedication and protection!

Want to learn more about volunteer opportunities with Safe Wings Ottawa? Visit our volunteer page. 

Cynthia Paquin

Cynthia reflected
Photo from The Bird Calling, a short documentary film produced by Carleton University students Craig Lord, Amy Thatcher and Aishu Ravishankar.

 

This post is part of a series acknowledging our amazing volunteers and providing a behind-the-scenes look at what we do. See more volunteer profiles

Volunteer position: Patroller, driver, training leader, fundraiser, spokesperson (at info booths, etc.)

Safe Wings Ottawa volunteer since: the very beginning!

Cynthia Paquin_chickadees_blog
Window strike victims collected by Cynthia. Photo by Cynthia Paquin.

How did you first get involved with Safe Wings Ottawa?
In September 2010, I was first confronted with the issue of birds colliding with buildings. Birds were suddenly hitting my downtown office window with startling regularity – every 20 minutes some days . . . Of the dozens that hit that fall, I was able to save only three. Over the years, [many species] have hit that same spot: Black-capped Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, Brown Creepers, House Sparrows, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and far too many warblers to count. I tried to affect some change within my building but had no success. Then in late 2013, I saw a post on the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club Facebook page from Anouk Hoedeman asking if anyone might be interested in joining a local bird-collision prevention initiative. I jumped in with both feet and haven’t looked back!

What are some of the activities you’ve done as a Safe Wings volunteer?
I mainly patrol buildings looking for birds that have collided with windows – helping those I can and collecting the bodies of those that haven’t survived the impact. I also lead training patrols for new volunteers in the downtown area. But I’m a jack-of-all-trades with Safe Wings. I have: responded to calls about injured birds from Embrun to Kanata, driven birds to the Wild Bird Care Centre for treatment, released birds deemed to be healthy enough to continue on their journey, organized a bake-sale fundraiser, written an article for Healthwise Ottawa and been the subject of a student-produced short documentary video to raise awareness of the issue.

Cynthia Paquin_woodpecker_blog
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker exhausted from flying back and forth between windows. Photo by Cynthia Paquin.

What has been one of your most memorable experiences so far?
One that sticks out is finding a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on the 3rd floor terrace of the building I work in. It was in the afternoon. She had clearly hit and was scared, but she skittered past me, just out of reach. I waited for a while, but she was very stressed and my presence seemed to be making the situation worse. I went back out the next morning, hoping that she had made her way to safety, only to watch her fly back and forth between two mirrored faces of the building at least half a dozen more times. After waiting quietly and patiently, I was finally able to catch her. The poor thing was bruised and exhausted, but had no broken bones. She was brought to the Wild Bird Care Centre for some TLC and released weeks later.

What do you find most rewarding?
Migrating songbirds are dying by the hundreds of millions every year from entirely preventable causes (primarily cat predation and window collisions). I volunteer with Safe Wings to be a part of the solution for these amazing little guys. The population numbers for many species of songbirds are in freefall decline. If we don’t act now – we’ll lose them forever. I don’t want to live in a world without birds.

Want to learn more about volunteer opportunities with Safe Wings Ottawa? Visit our volunteer page. 

Susan Phillips

posted in: Volunteer Profiles | 0
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Left to right: Richard Waters (rear), Ray Holland, Sue Phillips and Nick von Maltzahn free a Great Horned Owl caught on barbed wire at Burnt Lands Provincial Park. Photo by Aaron Hywarren.

 

Volunteer position: Volunteer Coordinator, Patroller & Driver

Safe Wings Ottawa volunteer since: March 2015

What are some of the activities you’ve done as a Safe Wings volunteer?
My first event was a pub trivia night in March of 2015 where I met a very enthusiastic and fun group of people.

I then attended an orientation session given by Anouk Hoedeman and a guided patrol by Cynthia Paquin, two of our founding members who continue to inspire me with their dedication.

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Great Horned Owl. Photo by Aaron Hywarren.

I went on a few patrols downtown [looking for birds that had collided with buildings], and then shifted my focus to Kanata, where I live. There are plenty of “problem buildings” in some of the high tech areas.

As the Volunteer Coordinator for Safe Wings, I keep track of the volunteer list, checking for new members who may have signed up online and acknowledging their interest in our group. I also coordinate volunteers for our various outreach activities: for example, the upcoming showing of the film The Messenger at the ByTowne Cinema.

What has been one of your most memorable experiences so far?
One of the most memorable experiences did not involve a building collision, but rather the rescue of a beautiful Great Horned Owl that was caught in a barbed wire fence in Almonte. Early one Saturday morning in May of last year, Anouk called to ask if I could get out to the Burnt Lands Provincial Park to help transport the owl to the Wild Bird Care Centre. I was able to find the birders who had located the owl and we carefully covered the bird with a jacket. Someone had a very substantial pair of wire cutters so we could remove the bird without having to untangle her wing from the wire. We then quickly placed her in a box and I carried it back to my car and then drove to the Wild Bird Care Centre. Although there were no broken bones, unfortunately they felt the damage to her wing was too great and were not able to save her.

What do you find most rewarding?
In spite of the fact that this is often a very sad and distressing activity, as we work towards increasing awareness of the problem, it is very satisfying to meet the public at various events and see how concerned and eager they are to take steps to mitigate the problem in their own lives.

Sandy Garland

posted in: Volunteer Profiles | 0

Volunteer position: Driver

Safe Wings Ottawa volunteer since: 2014

Winter Wren
Winter Wren in rescue cage

What are some of the activities you’ve done as a Safe Wings volunteer?
I’m lucky – I get to see the live ones. I drive rescued birds to the Wild Bird Care Centre (WBCC), where they are often nursed back to health.

I keep bins and boxes of various sizes in my car to hold the paper bags volunteers use for rescued birds. If the birds have been resting at Anouk’s place [like the wren in the photo], they are in wooden boxes, furnished with perches and soft bedding material. . . I drive carefully out Hunt Club Road, listening to the scratching noises coming from the back seat and expecting a bird to peck its way free and land on my head at any moment.

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Cecropia moth

At the WBCC, the amazing staff take the birds out of the boxes or bags matter of factly and with great expertise … I hand over details about their collisions and write down file numbers to take back to Anouk.

What has been one of your most memorable experiences so far?
One day, Anouk called to say she’d found an injured Cecropia moth and could I come and get it. I drove downtown and found the moth near the trunk of a container tree. We popped it into a bird bag and I drove it to the Fletcher Wildlife Garden where I released it in the Butterfly Meadow. It was great to open the bag and watch this huge moth (almost the size of a bird) flutter off to the nearest apple tree.

What do you find most rewarding?
I don’t usually ask about the fate of [the] injured birds, as many die despite the best efforts of [Safe Wings] and the WBCC team. But Anouk often tells me when one is released and that makes me feel pretty good.