FLAP in 2020: Our Favourite Achievements

Barn Swallow. Photo: Raffaele Camasta

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly made 2020 a year like no other. But, despite all the challenges this year has thrown at us, we at FLAP Canada have never stopped fighting to be a voice for birds.

Things looked very different in 2020. To keep our volunteers, staff, and community safe, we made the difficult decision to suspend formal bird rescue patrols in spring. Our Annual Bird Layout, a yearly exhibit that reaches hundreds of people, was cancelled. We had to suspend in-person outreach. But, like other organizations, we’ve adapted to the changing situation to fulfill our mission of keeping birds safe, while adhering to public health guidance to keep our community safe.

Our outreach has gone virtual. Staff and volunteers have given engaging virtual presentations to schools, nature groups, and others, reaching thousands of people across Canada, the United States, and Central America. We held a fun virtual contest on social media to encourage homeowners to make their windows safe for birds. We resumed bird rescue patrols in the fall, and a number of new volunteer drivers joined us, allowing injured birds to get the medical care they needed as quickly as possible.

We still accomplished much to be proud of. Here are our three favourite achievements in 2020.

Rescued Hundreds of Fallen Birds Around the World during Global Bird Rescue

Between October 5-11, 2020, FLAP Canada held Global Bird Rescue. This annual event is designed to spread awareness of the issue of bird-window collisions, encourage people around the world to search for and rescue birds that have collided with glass and make their windows bird-safe. Individuals and teams from Canada, the United States, Poland, Uzbekistan, Nepal, England, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Russia, Panama and New Zealand searched for fallen birds while safely following public health guidelines in their areas. Participants reported nearly 2000 birds of 103 different species on the Global Bird Collision Mapper, 490 of which were found alive.

Read about some of the birds whose lives were touched during Global Bird Rescue 2020 on the FLAP blog.

Helped People Who Witness a Bird-Window Collision in Real Time

Many people use social media to share what’s going on in their lives, including when they’re looking for advice or help. Unfortunately, misinformation about what to do when a bird hits a window is rampant. In partnership with Brendan Samuels, a PhD student studying bird-window collisions, FLAP Canada developed an automated social media tool that connects people who have witnessed a bird hitting a window with critical information in real time.

@birdcrash_bot is a tool that continuously searches Twitter for people who have tweeted that a bird has hit a window. As soon as @birdcrash_bot detects a relevant tweet, it shares the tweet and instantly connects the person with detailed instructions from FLAP Canada about bird rescue, effectively treating windows, and recording casualties. @birdcrash_bot has already detected countless tweets from around the world and given people the information they need, right when they need it most, to help keep birds safe.

Read more about @birdcrash_bot in the Fall 2020 issue of our Touching Down newsletter.

Contributed to the Development and Adoption of Bird-Friendly Building Guidelines in Ottawa

Starting with the creation of the Bird-Friendly Development Guidelines in Toronto in 2007 (a world first), FLAP Canada has continued to provide our expertise to other cities across North America to implement similar guidelines and standards. On November 25, 2020, Ottawa joined the growing list of cities to adopt bird-friendly building standards. The City of Ottawa developed the voluntary Bird-Safe Design Guidelines in consultation with FLAP Canada and a variety of other organizations. The guidelines include best practices for building design, lighting, and landscaping to protect birds in the built environment.

We are proud to have been involved in the development of these guidelines, and we look forward to working with other cities in 2021!

We would never be able to accomplish what we have in 2020 without the generous support of our volunteers, supporters, and partners. Consider making a gift to support our work in 2021.