An Unexpected Adventure: Global Bird Rescue – Glass City Bird Crew

An Unexpected adventure: Global bird rescue - glass city bird crew

White-throated sparrow held gently in a person's hand.
Stunned white-throated sparrow as a result of colliding with glass.

A few months back, I came across an event called Global Bird Rescue, created by FLAP Canada. This annual event is a global effort to get more boots on the ground in search of birds that have collided with buildings. The goal is to bring awareness to the issue of bird-building collisions, encourage action to reducing collisions, and to provide important data on the issue through the citizen science web-app, Global Bird Collision Mapper. I reached out to Jeremy Dominguez, the Birding Outreach Coordinator and Ornithologist at the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium to inquire if he could help with the event. Together, we worked to organize this event in downtown Toledo, Ohio and recruit volunteers to help with the effort. Our team name, Glass City Bird Crew, was chosen because Toledo is known as the Glass City because of its long history of glass manufacturing, which is ironic because glass is one of the leading causes of bird mortality in the United States and Canada.

A blue reusable bag that reads "Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge" with a clipboard and paper bags sticking out of the top.
Bags I put together to hold all of the supplies needed to document and rescue birds injured or killed by bird-building collisions.
View of the inside of a blue reusable bag with a clipboard, white U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service folder, writing utensils, paper bags, and paper towels inside.
The contents of the bags I put together to be used to document, collect, and rescue injured or killed birds from bird-building collisions.

In preparation for the event, I put together reusable bags that contained everything we would need to document, collect, and rescue birds that had been injured or killed by colliding with buildings. The supplies included: multiple sizes of paper bags, paper towels, a clipboard, a folder with documents (more on that next), pens, pencils, sharpies, and paper clips or binder clips. We also supplied nets to catch injured birds if they tried to fly away. The documents I provided included a datasheet to record the collision, a checklist if a dead bird is found, a checklist if a live injured bird is found, and a map of the area. 

With all of the supplies ready, it was time to promote the event and recruit volunteers to help. Our Friends group posted the event on their website and Facebook page, as well as sent newsletters to members encouraging people to join us. I also took to the refuge Facebook page, making an event and multiple posts promoting the event. Jeremy from the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium did the same. I also reached out to a teacher from the Aerospace & Natural Sciences Academy of Toledo, who had four students who wanted to join the event and make a science project out of it!

A screenshot of a Facebook post by Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge promoting the Global Bird Rescue event.
Post I created for the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page to promote the Global Bird Rescue event.
Screenshot of an event created by the Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on their Facebook page.
The event the Friends of Ottawa NWR made on their Facebook page to promote the event.

It was finally time to take to the streets. Every morning, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., we would meet and then groups would be assigned to different areas of downtown Toledo. Each group would walk along buildings and on sidewalks looking for birds. If a bird was dead, it would be photographed for identification purposes, bagged if in good condition, and then the location, time, date, and species would be recorded. We would reconvene at our meeting spot at 9 a.m. and discuss what we found. I would take the bags and all data collected to enter into Global Bird Collision Mapper later that day. Photos of the birds were sent to me by volunteers, which were used for the collision reports and update posts on Facebook. Jeremy had all of the permits necessary to take the collected deceased birds to the Toledo Zoo for educational purposes. Any injured birds found were brought to a local rehabilitation center, Nature’s Nursery, to be treated for their injuries. All in all, the Glass City Bird Crew documented 69 bird-building collisions and found 12 injured birds and one injured bat. All but one of the 12 injured birds recovered and were released to get a second chance at life! The bat also recovered and was released! Below is the species list of what bird species were found by our team, and how many of each species was found.

    Global Bird Rescue – Glass City Bird Crew 2022 Species list

    American woodcock1
    Blackpoll warbler1
    Black-throated blue warbler1
    Brown creeper6
    Chimney swift1
    Common yellowthroat3
    Eastern red bat1
    Golden-crowned kinglet2
    Indigo bunting1
    Nashville warbler4
    Northern Flicker9
    Northern Parula1
    Mourning dove1
    Palm warbler1
    Pigeon/dove sp.3
    Red-breasted nuthatch3
    Rose-breasted grosbeak1
    Ruby-crowned kinglet2
    Ruby-throated hummingbird1
    Swamp sparrow3
    Tennessee Warbler1
    Thrush sp.1
    Virginia rail1
    White-breasted nuthatch1
    White-throated sparrow5
    Woodpecker sp.4
    Yellow-bellied sapsucker7
    Yellow-billed cuckoo3
    Sunrise behind a city skyline.
    The sunrise behind a part of the downtown Toledo skyline.
    Injured Virginia rail held gently in the hands of a person.
    Me holding an injured Virginia rail.
    A deceased red-breasted nuthatch laying on a brick walkway along floor length glass windows.
    A red-breasted nuthatch killed after striking the glass of a building.
    A deceased Nashville warbler laying on pavement.
    A Nashville warbler killed after colliding with glass.

    Being the first group to go out and look for birds impacted by window collisions and report them on Global Bird Collision Mapper was an achievement I will also be proud of! Because of that fact, we had no idea what to expect, and were shocked with what we found. There is an obvious need for a bird-building collision monitoring program in Toledo to beef up the Lights Out Toledo program. We plan to continue to fill that gap and get out again in Spring of 2023!

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