Pollution Risks Ontario's Bird Populations
FLAP, the Fatal
Light Awareness Program, is working with Toronto councillors
to enact a notice of motion regarding light pollution in Toronto.
Each year, thousands of birds are killed and many more are severely
injured as they migrate through Ontario's cities. FLAP invited The
Owl Foundation and Flapjack, a female Northern Saw-whet Owl, to
join them in this crusade. Below is the press release regarding
Flapjack provided in FLAP's press kit:
April 7, 2005
Fatal Light Awareness Program
The Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) is a small nocturnal
owl of North America. This owl breeds in the Southern Boreal forest
of Canada’s north. Due to its small size (70-100g), the Saw-whet
cannot break through the crusty ice of Canadian winters, thus finding
it difficult to hunt rodents. Like many small birds that cannot
sustain themselves in Canada through the winter, Northern Saw-whet
Owls migrate south to the mid United States. Migratory birds utilize
natural landmarks such as rivers, lakes, mountains and valleys as
navigational markers. Nocturnal birds use the stars to assist them.
such as Toronto can compromise such movements. Many night flying
migrants are drawn to bright city lights. Reflections off windows
create confusion and the birds fly into them.
injuries usually involve head trauma. Often after hitting a window,
these birds fall several hundred feet to the pavement below, resulting
in further injuries.
The owl brought today is a female Northern Saw-whet
Owl. Her name is Flapjack in honour of the important work that FLAP
(Fatal Light Awareness Program) does in rescuing birds.
Flapjack is a casualty
of light pollution. She collided with a window in Toronto during
fall migration. Luckily, the owl was rescued and brought to the
Toronto Wildlife Centre. The owl was stabilized there and transferred
to The Owl Foundation for long-term care and release assessment.
It is important to remember that rehabilitation involves a network
both her left eye and left elbow in the collision. For an owl to
be deemed releasable, it must pass several tests. Flapjack will
begin assessment within the next month. She will be placed into
one of The Owl Foundation’s specially designed release training
units and provided with live brown mice where it can be determined
how well she manoeuvres, sees and hears while hunting. Hearing is
extremely important for owls to be able to pinpoint their prey under
natural cover. For a Saw-whet Owl, strong flight is just as important
because of the long trek it must make each spring and fall. For
this reason, we do not expect Flapjack to succeed. At the moment,
Flapjack is housed with three other Saw-whets in a 16’ x 16’
x 15’ (256 sq. ft.) outdoor unit. As they are all wild birds,
they are not handled once medical treatment is completed. Flapjack
is provided with a defrosted mouse every evening and has a constant
source of fresh water.
The Owl Foundation
is a non-profit behavioural research foundation that operates a
centre for both the rehabilitation to release of Canadian owl species,
and more significantly the behavioural observation of permanently
damaged wild owls in a breeding environment. In this regard The
Owl Foundation is both unique and extremely valuable as it is the
only centre of its kind in North America.