Dozens of waxwings crashing into City Hall windows

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Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa 

Brown craft paper covers the glassed walkway at Ottawa city hall today after dozens of birds smashed into it and died over the weekend. It happened along the elevated walkway that links the old part of city hall, the “Teacher’s College”, to the newer part.

For those who witnessed this Saturday and Sunday afternoon, it was horrific.  Thud after thud was heard as these beautiful little birds flew right into the glass, mistaking it of course for clear sky. It’s not the first time this has happened at that very spot.

At the Wild Bird Care Centre on Moodie Drive, Patty McLaughlin gently handles one of the survivors of the weekend’s carnage.  It is Bohemian waxwing that is still a little stunned from flying into a glass wall.

“He had really bad concussion when he came in,” says McLaughlin, “he had collapsed, his eyes were closed, he wasn’t really not feeling well but he is doing better today.”


Waxwings flying into city hall

Seven waxwings are recovering here at the Wild Bird Centre.

Those that didn’t survive, all 34 of them, are in Anouk Hoedeman’s freezer.

She’s part of a group called Safe Wings Ottawa, trying to save the hundreds of thousands of birds that die each year in Ottawa after smashing into windows. It is one of the top 3 reasons injured birds are brought to the Wild Bird Centre. Hoedeman started the group three years ago after this very thing happened at city hall.

“I wish the city would have responded better to this 3 years ago when this happened exactly in same place with the same species and the same time of year,” says Hoedeman.

At city hall today, two Waxwings sit in a nearby berry tree, stunned and injured, likely waiting to die.

They were part of a big flock that hit the glassed-in walkway over the weekend.

The group SafeWings shot footage of the collisions even after temporary measures were put up to try to save them.

It started Saturday afternoon when people walking by found 5 dead waxwings under the glass walkway at city hall.  Within an hour there were 15 and by the next day, dozens more were dead and many more injured.

A couple of councillors quickly got on board to come up with a short-term solution that entailed covering the windows with brown craft paper. Plans are in the works for a long-term solution city-wide.

“There are different products we can put on to deter the birds,” says Ottawa Councillor Catherine McKenney, “but we need a more permanent solution so I am working with Councillor David Chernushenko to bring in new guidelines for new buildings.  We’re building a lot of buildings with glass and we recognize this is a danger to birds so we need to have guidelines for new builds.”

In the meantime, the injured waxwings will be nursed back to health at the Wild Bird Care Centre until they are strong enough to be released as a flock. Those waxwings are gluttons for berries.  They will eat 1 to 2 pounds a day so the Wild Bird Care Centre is asking for donations of berries or grapes, frozen, fresh or dried, to help them out. They are located at 734 Moodie Drive, open 8 to 4 every day.