Linda Burr

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, outreach

How did you first get involved with Safe Wings Ottawa? I am an avid birder and a member of the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club, which is where I first heard about Safe Wings. I started out as a volunteer driver of injured birds to the Wild Bird Care Centre. I was off work at the time, so I had a more flexible schedule and wanted to help out. Then I took the training to become a patroller.

What are some activities you’ve done as a Safe Wings volunteer? I started working downtown a couple of years ago, and one day I ran into Anouk outside my building. It turns out that I work in one of the worst buildings in downtown Ottawa for collisions. So I started patrolling there for dead or injured birds. I am currently working with a team of employees to try to convince the building management to install a deterrent on the reflective glass.

What has been one of your most memorable experiences so far? My most memorable experience so far was rescuing a stunned hummingbird outside my building downtown. It was like a tiny jewel on the pavement. It was so out of place! Also, finding a dead Chimney Swift and a Pileated Woodpecker downtown was surprising.

Why do you volunteer with Safe Wings? I love birds. They bring me so much joy, but I feel both sad and angry when I hold the dead ones that have collided with a building. It seems so unnecessary. When so many songbird populations are already declining, I feel like my work with Safe Wings can make a difference.

What do you find most rewarding? The most rewarding experience for me is when I can influence changes that will prevent birds from colliding with buildings in the first place. For example, I was very pleased that after I contacted Gatineau Park regarding one of its new cabins with large windows, they installed a bird-friendly window pattern on the glass.

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

William & Max

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: Patrollers, Drivers, Outreach Assistants and more

How did you first get involved with Safe Wings Ottawa? About a year ago I brought a bird to the Ottawa Wild Bird Care Centre, where I saw a brochure for Safe Wings and thought that it would be a great volunteer opportunity. My son Max and I have been involved with Safe Wings ever since.

What are some activities you’ve done as a Safe Wings volunteer? We have a fun routine: we set Anouk’s emails/texts to a bird ringtone on my phone. Then whenever we hear the chirp, we know it’s a bird rescue. “To the birdmobile! we say. Before we take off, Max pulls a wooden blue jay from the glovebox and puts it on the dash like a police light. We get a lot of laughs!

What has been one of your most memorable experiences so far? My most memorable experience so far was rescuing a Peregrine Falcon with Max. Getting the chance to hold one was great.

Why do you volunteer with Safe Wings? Both my son and I love animals, especially birds. Volunteering with Safe Wings is a way for me to teach my son about the importance of helping and volunteering, and also the pertinence of preserving the planet – what better way than by rescuing birds?

What do you find most rewarding? Volunteering with Safe Wings has brought us closer together. Max has a calmness about him that the birds seem to feel; it’s as if they trust him. They never bite Max, but with myself, it’s sometimes a different story!

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

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. 

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