Bird-friendly transit shelters? Why not?

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Of all the things Ottawa can do to create a safer urban environment for birds, making bus shelters and other transit structures bird-friendly must be one of the easiest, cheapest and least obvious actions to take. 

Bird die in collisions with glass used in structures of all types and sizes: High-rises, low-rises, houses, strip malls, wind barriers and, yes, even bus shelters. This is supported by our own data and by this study: Magnitude and correlates of bird collisions at glass bus shelters in an urban landscape (Barton CM, Riding CS, Loss SR (2017).

We have asked OC Transpo and the City of Ottawa to incorporate bird-friendly glass into all new bus shelters, transit stations, raised walkways and other glass structures. We don’t know if our request will lead to meaningful change, but we did provide some examples of bird-friendly transit structures in other cities:


San Francisco has shelters designed with a frit pattern that looks like dissipating fog, making the glass more visible to birds. Made by Lundberg Design:


Minneapolis has bus shelters with a frit pattern to deter vandalism, but the pattern is also effective against bird collisions.

Also in Minneapolis, there’s a public art project consisting of external metal screens installed on a transit station:


Portland‘s transit system, Trimet, has been sandblasting patterns on its bus shelters since 2001, using designs by local artists. This public art helps beautify bus shelters, reduce vandalism, and create neighborhood branding. The reduction of collision risk is an incidental benefit:


Cornell University remediated a bus shelter with ABC BirdTape:


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory had a bus shelter on its Colorado campus retrofitted with Collidescape film to reduce collisions: 

Demandez l’aménagement sécuritaire pour les oiseaux

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Exemple de construction sécuritaire pour les oiseaux d’un bâtiment de la Commission de la capital national dans le Marché Byward.

L’une des meilleurs moyens de rendre notre ville plus sécuritaire pour les oiseaux c’est d’encourager la construction d’immeubles adaptés aux oiseaux. Voir notre nouvelle page, Demandez l’aménagement sécuritaire pour les oiseaux, pour apprendre :

  • Comment se renseigner sur les projets d’aménagement.
  • Comment demander au personnel de planification de la Ville d’Ottawa de s’assurer que chaque projet soit sécuritaire pour les oiseaux.
  • Comment encourager votre conseiller et votre maire à promouvoir le design sécuritaire pour les oiseaux.
  • Comment apprendre davantage au sujet des pratiques favorables aux oiseaux.

Plus que les résidents d’Ottawa demandes la conception sécuritaire pour les oiseaux, plus que nous pouvons éduquer et sensibiliser les planificateurs et l’industrie du bâtiment.

Thank you for helping birds in 2017

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This female Baltimore Oriole was rescued in May and released after several weeks of recovery.

With 2017 almost over and 2018 about to begin, we wish to thank everyone who has helped make this another successful year for Safe Wings Ottawa.

It is now time to finalize and analyze our collision data, and to gather all the birds we have found in the past 12 months. This year’s display at Ottawa City Hall is scheduled for Monday, February 26, 2017 in the late afternoon/evening.

Please ensure that all your birds are entered in our collision database by Thursday, January 4 at the latest, and email info@safewings.ca to arrange for any birds in your possession to be transferred to our freezers by the same date. Please contact us as well if you need help entering or correcting your collision reports.


Year in review

In the past 12 months, we have made good progress in raising awareness of bird-building collisions, and are beginning to see new buildings incorporating effective bird-friendly design features. In addition, some existing federal buildings are being retrofitted, and homeowners continue to seek our advice on how to reduce collisions.

Unfortunately, the « bird-friendly » glass used in the refurbished National Arts Centre has proven to be as ineffective as we feared, but on the bright side, the National Capital Commission has since adopted more stringent bird-friendly standards. The Canadian Wildlife Service has also engaged Safe Wings to help address bird collisions at federal buildings.

2017 also brought some changes in how we operate. In September, Safe Wings Ottawa became a committee of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club, which gives us a voice and vote at board meetings as well as providing us with more structure.

In the spring, we obtained a provincial rehab permit, which, along with the federal one, allows us to provide more advanced care to all types of injured birds. Now, instead of rushing to get injured birds to the Wild Bird Care Centre, we can treat their symptoms and wait for their conditions to stabilize before transfer.


Here’s to 2018

Whether you are monitoring buildings for collisions, transporting victims or helping us in other ways, we hope we can count on your support again in 2018.

Thanks to growing awareness of Safe Wings, and the resulting increase in people seeking our assistance for birds injured for various reasons, not just window collisions, we need your help more than ever!

We wish you peace and joy during the holidays, and a happy and healthy New Year.

Safe Wings Members Receive Awards

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Last month two of our members received awards recognizing the work they do for Safe Wings to rescue birds and spread awareness about bird-window collisions. 

Anouk Hoedeman received the Canada 150 Community Builder Award

Anouk Hoedeman with Ottawa Centre MP, Catherine McKenna
Anouk Hoedeman with Ottawa Centre MP, Catherine McKenna
The Canada 150 Community Builder Award Commemorative Pin
The Canada 150 Community Builder Award Commemorative Pin

On November 22nd Catherine McKenna, MP of Ottawa Central, presented Safe Wings founder Anouk Hoedeman with the Canada 150 Community Builder Award and Canada 150 commemorative pin. The Canada 150 awards celebrate the achievements of Canadians who carry out the Canada 150 themes in the areas youth leadership, employment and community leadership. Each MP received 30 pins to award to select community members who have demonstrated exceptional work in these areas. The pins are made from copper taken from the roof of the West Block of Parliament Hill from 1918-1996.

Anouk was recognized for her dedicated work as Safe Wings Coordinator. If you live and work in downtown Ottawa it’s not unlikely that you’ve seen Anouk in action on her bike around buildings tirelessly rescuing birds and tallying collisions as a testament to her dedication to Safe Wings and wildlife rescue. We are super proud of Anouk for receiving this prestigious award. 

Cynthia Paquin received the Elizabeth Le Geyt Award

Cynthia Paquin received the Elizabeth Le Geyt Award on November 25, 2017.
Cynthia Paquin received the Elizabeth Le Geyt Award on November 25, 2017.

As if things couldn’t get any better, within the same month Safe Wings member Cynthia Paquin received the Elizabeth Le Geyt award on November 25th at the Ottawa Wild Bird Care Centre Annual General Meeting. The Elizabeth Le Geyt award recognizes the contribution of community members to environmental conservation. Elizabeth Le Geyt wrote the Ottawa Bird Column in the Ottawa Citizen for 39 years until her retirement in 2013. The column covered every aspect of birds, and was popular with expert birders and the general public. It’s no wonder Cynthia received this award, because if you know her you already know that she is an all-star at Safe Wings. Cynthia packs in the most time patrolling for birds that have collided with windows than any other volunteer.

Safe Wings would like to congratulate both Anouk and Cynthia on the awards they received this past November.