HONOURABLE MENTION

Human Innovations Challenge Bird Survival

Human innovation are directly harming the bird population but indirectly affecting human. My project is an eye opener for all humans, that our innovations are not doing as we have expected them to do, but according to me we are moving towards disaster.
Shaminder Kaur
Grade 8

Problem

 Birds in Decline | NECCauses of Bird Mortality - Sibley GuidesUS and Canada have lost nearly 3 billion of bird population in last 50  years: Study - ABC News Chapter 11 ~ The Canadian Population – Environmental Science   

 

  • 2.9 billion birds gone since 1970
  • The human race is moving towards disaster
  • A threat to disrupt ecosystem process and services
  • Increases in the number of insects and worms, which would cause us to use more pesticides, directly affecting human health.
  • Less pollination, birds are large contributors to pollination without them there will be no plants, no oxygen, no life on earth. 
  • Soil erosion, tornados, and floods will increase. 
  • Health problems, more insects, more germs, more diseases.
  • The burden on the health care system will increase 
  • Domestic violence the add-on to diseases will affect people mentally causing conflict at home.         

 

       2.9 billion birds gone since 1970, The bird population is rapidly declining, major killers are windows, high tension wires, wind turbines, pesticides, hunting. Unfortunately, only 15% of birds survive crashes with our innovations. How to prevent birds from dying due to human innovations? My question is based on how humans can help lower the deaths of birds from our innovations such as Wind turbines, Cell towers, Skyscrapers, Windows, Pesticides, etc. It has been proven the 25 million + birds are diminishing yearly in Canada. This number is putting large tolls on our ecosystem and humans. This large number of deaths can decline if simple innovation and steps are taken to help this problem. If every person does what is listed in the method section of this project the deaths will decrease. By the reduction of birds, the population is directly or indirectly affecting human life on this beautiful planet.   

       For example, a continuous problem is that when bats fly near Wind turbines they die from barotrauma. Barotrauma is when a change in air pressure damages body tissues. When the blade on a wind turbine moves it causes the air pressure to drop. If the bat flies too close the air pressure can damage its body tissues causing the bat to die. 

Method

Mitigating the effects of Wind Farms and Power Lines | BirdLifeCanadian Wildlife Federation: Keep Birds from Hitting WindowsSTIR Version 1.0 User's Guide for Pesticide Inhalation Risk | Pesticide  Science and Assessing Pesticide Risks | US EPA

The Sky Above: It's Not Just Air, It's Habitat | All About Birds All About  Birds'Half a billion birds' die in US skyscraper collisions, study says | US  News | Sky News

 

Through various research, I was able to find the following solutions: 

1) Bird Repellants

  • Can smell based 
    • peppermint oil and citronella is very offensive to birds and keeps them away 
  • Can be sound-based
    • high pitch screeches that sound normal to people but scare birds away

2) Window innovations

  • Decreasing amount of glass in buildings
  • Use panned windows that don't allow a reflection (panned windows) 

3) Light 

  • Use curtains or shades to refrain light from shining out the windows
  • Windows with a film that blackout light from inside

Bird Repellants

       We humans can change the way we build our innovations so it doesn’t decrease the population of birds and other animals. For example using technology like bird repellents, sensors, decals on windows, shutting down wind turbines for a short period of time, one-way transparent film. Bird repellents are used at Costco in Calgary these repellents are effective but are very annoying to humans and we can hear the high pitch screech. We humans can use high-frequency sounds that sound normal to humans but scare birds away. Another really good solution is scent humans normally find the smell of peppermint oil and citronella pleasant, which is proven to emit a smell that is offensive to birds. So outside any innovation known to be a bird killer can be sprayed A blend of peppermint oil and citronella. A massive killer is known as highways, wind turbines and cell towers. In these places, sensors can be put in place to scare birds by scent or sound. As birds are more active during sunrise and sunset wind turbine can be stoped at these times to eliminated a flock of birds getting caught in a wind turbine field and getting killed.

Innovation 

     When decals are applied to windows it can stop the view of the outside from indoors. So if there are one-way transparent film applied you have the view of the outdoors but also there is no reflection for birds to go flying straight into it so it decreases the chance of crashing birds. Some people use statues of bird predators but they say it works for some days but then stops working. The reason is that the predator is not moving so birds lose fear towards it. It is recommended to use predators that move, like an owl with its head moving. Or a cheap and easy solution is aluminum plates. Just hang two plates outside your window so when the wind picks up both plates will hit each other causing noise that will continually scare birds away. If you are a bird lover and want to be able to feed birds with a feeder and watch from a window the best thing to do is hang the feeder too close or too far. For having birds closer to you and your window, hang the feeder 3 feet from the window. If you prefer for it to be further, then hang the feeder 30 feet from the window, nowhere in between. As large concerns cell towers are very hard to see for birds because it is made of just poles. This hazard can be fixed by applying some sort of building material to make walls so birds know to dodge the tower. This material can be simple plastic but it has to be dull or birds will start flying into it. Birds are always looking around for predators so they can't always look forward. Towers can be placed where birds don't really fly around, these places could be where food is scarce and where there is no water or high grass. Birds then don't have to make a small mistake of looking for predators costing them their life.

Most Affected

       The top ten most vulnerable bird species are the Black-throated Blue Warbler, Ovenbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, Common Yellowthroat, Brown Thrasher, White-breasted Nuthatch, and American Goldfinch. It is said that these birds are at high risk of dying in collisions because these birds migrate in large flocks at night. The light at night in the glass building attracts the flock causing many collisions. The solution to this is to use curtains or blinds to stop the light from shining through the window during the dark. Another solution could be to have windows with a film that bounces off light, so the light can't travel through. These would be windows that blackouts light. The birds listed above are insect-eating birds, and insects are drawn to light this could include artificial light outside buildings. These birds would go hunting and find insects right outside a building. The flock would go full speed headfirst in the building. This is why when the building owners enter the building in the morning there are many birds laying on the ground dead. 

Pesticides

       Pesticides are another reason to bird deaths. Harmful pesticides should be avoided, pesticides that are safe for birds and humans should be in use. For example, Aviary bug spray has no toxins for birds so it is safe. Some safe pesticides that are cheap and effective are: 

  • Vegetable oil
  • Soap spray
  • Neem oil spray
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Garlic spray
  • Chile pepper spray
  • Tomato leaf spray

Oil spills

       Many innovations can cause oil spills, such as boats, pipelines, tankers, barges, refineries, drilling rigs, and storage facilities. When birds come in contact with this oil, it removes their waterproofing. Bird feathers are layered overlapping, the structure makes them waterproof. This system keeps them warm and maintains their body temperature, without the system working well the bird will freeze to death. When the bird turns around to clean their feathers afterward (preen) they inhale and swallow the toxins causing damage to its liver, lungs, kidneys, intestines, and other internal organs. The oil tanks of these technologies should be sealed well so there is no possibility to spill. Many really well-cleaning technologies should be invented so there is no residue of oil left behind after cleaning. 

Rehabilitation Centres 

Rehabilitation centers provide treatment to injured birds and take care until they are ready to be released in the wild. If anybody finds the injured birds please drop him at the nearby center or call the rehabilitation center and government should step in these to open more centres, there are some tips :

  1. Use a pillowcase, towel, etc to carry the bird into the box
  2. Do not touch the bird
  3. Don't give the bird food or water
  4. Take the bird to a local rehabilitation center in a box with holes

 

Research

       About 25 million birds die in Canada alone each year and one billion birds die in North America each year. All birds that hit our innovations are injured, killed, or their beaks would break so they won’t be able to eat so they would die of hunger. Sadly, the bird often dies, even when it is only temporarily stunning and manages to fly away. Many times these birds die later from internal bleeding or bruising, especially on the brain. When a bird crashes, swelling in the brain may temporarily incapacitate it. Birds have very fragile bones so a crash in such force can break a major and minor bone and challenge their survival. It is said to be that 54-76% of all window crashes are fatal. Research had shown that the number one killer of birds is cats and the cats that kill birds are pets domestic cats. Buildings aren’t long behind in second place and cars in third. Cats are found to kill around 100 million birds each year in Canada. both stray and owned cats are responsible for a far greater number of bird and mammal deaths. guess that a single cat may kill between 100 and 200 mammals annually, meaning an estimated population of between 30 and 80 million un-owned cats would result in the death of 3 and 8 billion mammals. And that's a low-end estimate. The researchers calculated that there are around 84 million owned cats, the majority of which are allowed outdoors. Island cats are thought to be particularly deadly.

       269 million bird deaths are caused by wind turbines. White blades attract insects, and insects attract foraging birds. When ripe or over-ripe fruits rot or ferment, their natural sugars convert to alcohol. This happens in all sorts of berries and fruits found on trees and shrubs. The amount of alcohol in a small berry is not much, but, for a bird with a tiny liver, a handful of berries can add up to a lot. This takes away their ability to see away. The risk to birds is highest at night when the blades and towers are cloaked in darkness. It is estimated that 13.8 million bird collides with vehicles on Canada’s primary and secondary roads. About 25 million birds a year die hitting buildings in Canada. Communication towers kill about 6.8 million birds. Every single year 84 000 communication towers spread across Canada around North-America kill an estimated 6.8 million birds. Some of these towers can be 2,000 feet high and surrounded by a large number of dangerous wires that help keep the towers upright. The taller the tower the greater the threat. These birds are worth saving just because of their intrinsic value, but on top of that, they also provide many services to us, such as eating insects and keeping our forests healthy. 25 million (range 16 – 42 M) birds are killed by colliding with windows in Canada annually. Millions of houses and buildings, with their billions of windows, pose a significant threat to birds. Birds see the natural habitat mirrored in the glass and fly directly into the window, causing injury and, in 50% or more of the cases, death. The total number of deaths is 365 to 988 million. 

       Toronto is the city with the most birds death with 1 to 9 million birds are killed yearly. This is putting a large toll on our ecosystem. Toronto is a major bird migration route. Most of Toronto’s buildings are made up of glass especially downtown with glass skyscrapers. Yes, glass buildings are appealing to the eye and make a city more attractive but this is not good for the environment. Glass creates a large carbon problem as panels are joined together by plastic which is harder to recycle. Glass has always been a rare material to use on buildings, because of how challenging it becomes to manage temperature and glare indoors. In fact, the use of these full glass exteriors is only possible with high-tech air conditioning using cheap rich energy. And studies suggest that on average, carbon emissions from air-conditioned offices are 60 percent higher than those from offices with natural or mechanical ventilation. In addition to the number of deaths for birds as being the city with the major migration routes for over 50 million birds. 1 to 9 million birds die travelling hitting into these unnecessary windows. Toronto has 67 skyscrapers, 31 are under construction and 59 are proposed. With a total of 157 buildings to be fully built in the future. The majority of those buildings are going to be made of glass. Toronto however is trying to build bird-safe buildings by doing the following, Reduce the amount of glass in buildings, put marking on the glass so birds can see it, stop reflections, use shutters or sunshades to hide glass, turn light off so bird aren’t attracted to the light. Even though these steps are taken Toronto can’t change and hid the deaths of birds that will continue due to these buildings. As if all cities and countries follow the beginner steps that Toronto has taken we can help our environment and earth get in better shape. These steps are not enough as we need to use other steps to help our feathered friends. Other ways to reduce deaths are by just inventing glass that can be actually called safe for birds. This glass is made of a material that is transparent but has no reflection known as invisible glass.  

     

 

Data

Many bird populations in Canada are falling, but report finds there's hope  | CBC NewsLights Out Toronto - Saving Birds | BirdNoteToronto's high-rise development is among the continent's most active

     Education

       I had questioned a grade 8 class that consists of twenty-nine students at Sir Wilfrid Laurier School the question, What are your estimates to how many birds die yearly in Canada and North American by collisions? Two third of the class had answered somewhere in the thousands for both the country and continent. These numbers were very underestimated, while the rest of the class had answered of around 1 million. People have to be more educated in the huge deaths of birds and this can be blamed on humans. So when future engineers start to innovate they keep wildlife in mind. The kid with the highest estimate was off by 23 million for Canada and 50 million in North American. Where the actual numbers are 25 million deaths in Canada alone. North America with 1 billion deaths yearly. 

       Most deaths city Canada

       Toronto is the city with the most birds death with 1 to 9 million birds are killed yearly. This is putting a large toll on our ecosystem. Toronto is a major bird migration route. Most of Toronto’s buildings are made up of glass especially downtown with glass skyscrapers. Yes, glass buildings are appealing to the eye and make a city more attractive but this is not good for the environment. Glass creates a large carbon problem as panels are joined together by plastic which is harder to recycle. Glass has always been a rare material to use on buildings, because of how challenging it becomes to manage temperature and glare indoors. In fact, the use of these full glass exteriors is only possible with high-tech air conditioning using cheap rich energy. And studies suggest that on average, carbon emissions from air-conditioned offices are 60 percent higher than those from offices with natural or mechanical ventilation. In addition to the number of deaths for birds as being the city with the major migration routes for over 50 million birds. 1 to 9 million birds die travelling hitting into these unnecessary windows. Toronto has 67 skyscrapers, 31 are under construction and 59 are proposed. With a total of 157 buildings to be fully built in the future. The majority of those buildings are going to be made of glass. Toronto however is trying to build bird-safe buildings by doing the following, Reduce the amount of glass in buildings, put marking on the glass so birds can see it, stop reflections, use shutters or sunshades to hide glass, turn light off so bird aren’t attracted to the light. Even though these steps are taken Toronto can’t change and hid the deaths of birds that will continue due to these buildings. As if all cities and countries follow the beginner steps that Toronto has taken we can help our environment and earth get in better shape. These steps are not enough as we need to use other steps to help our feathered friends. Other ways to reduce deaths are by just inventing glass that can be actually called safe for birds. This glass is made of a material that is transparent but has no reflection known as invisible glass.  

       Population

       Warblers with a population that dropped by 617 million. We are missing 440 million blackbirds than there were a few years ago. There 10 000 to  13 000 species left in the world and about 200 to 400 million birds remain, The bird population is declining by 40%. The country with the lowest number of birds in China, they have 585 species. Many birds in this area are dying due to habitat loss, this includes the cutting down of trees. Columbia has the most birds in the world and ranked 1 place. This is because Columbia has a rich biodiversity. In 1507, Portuguese sailors had discovered Mauritius, they found a weird bird that was called the Dodo bird. This bird is not scared of humans because they don't know that humans are their predators. Unfortunately, the species had gone extinct in 1690 due to overhunting.

Conclusion

       Birds, Bats, and Building Collisions - Birds CalgaryFLAPHome | FLAP Canada

       My project Is to create awareness among the people that the new technology, we are adopting is not moving us towards advancement, yet in reality, there is another side of the coin, which we don't want to see or we ignore. In this project, I tried to explain the negative impact of technology which we are adapting to. I am not against technology but my concern is that we create an environment where every life can live and play its vital role in the ecosystem. Many debate that technology is more important than the ecosystem but if we can find a way to balance both it would be a win-win situation for all. When it comes to making a change in our innovations it can be expensive but worth it. If a province wants to make a change that costs a lot they raise the taxes. This would be 100% cheaper to preserve than fix."We must use time as a tool, not as a couch." - John F. Kennedy. I added this quote because it shows how to do things before it is too late, use time wisely. Increasing the bird population once it is too low can cost more than using these solutions and spending less. 

In the end, I mean to say that birds played a very important role in the ecosystem, and provide life to everybody not only the humans but every living being on the earth, by eating insects, pollination and by acting as a cleaner for nature they eat the dead and decaying organic matter and prevent the surrounding from diseases.

Several bird species feed on a variety of external parasites and epibionts, organic debris, dead and wounded tissue, clots and blood, and secretions from the body of other vertebrates (hosts or clients).

My advice to all human beings is that if we are more responsible we can save a lot of birds' life and secondly if we take injured birds to a local rehabilitation center or immediately call and wait for instructions. Keep in mind that birds are very good at hiding injuries because they are prey animals.

The solutions provided by me are based on my research, but this is not enough we need to work together and do more research to stop this disaster. This doesn't just only affect birds but in fact, every organism living on this planet. 

Citations

Websites

Building Collisions Are a Greater Danger for Some Birds Than Others. (2020, July 9). Audubon. https://www.audubon.org/news/building-collisions-are-greater-danger-some-birds-others#:%7E:text=That%20process%20identified%2010%20bird,breasted%20Nuthatch%2C%20and%20American%20Goldfinch. 

Glass skyscrapers are an environmental disaster that could have been avoided. (2019, May 20). Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://citymonitor.ai/fabric/glass-skyscrapers-are-environment-disaster-could-have-been-avoided-4611

Norman Day Lecturer in Architecture. (2020, August 20). Buildings kill millions of birds. Here's how to reduce the toll. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://theconversation.com/buildings-kill-millions-of-birds-heres-how-to-reduce-the-toll-130695

Ryan, D. (2019, April 29). Bird-friendly Windows reduce Collision deaths at UBC. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/bird-friendly-windows-reduce-collision-deaths-at-ubc

Reve. (2020, October 01). Primary menu. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://www.evwind.es/2020/10/01/the-realities-of-bird-and-bat-deaths-by-wind-turbines/77477

Lewis, M., & Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ. (2020, August 21). This simple fix will make wind turbines more bird-friendly. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://electrek.co/2020/08/21/wind-turbines-bird-friendly-black-blade/

Connor, K. (2018, May 18). Next to cats, buildings are the biggest killer of birds. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://torontosun.com/news/local-news/next-to-cats-buildings-are-the-biggest-killer-of-birds

Alter, A. (2018, December 02). Don't let your cat be a bird killer! keep your cat happy and keep birds alive! Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://www.oneearthbodycare.com/if-you-love-birds/

How many birds die in Canada each year from human activities. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://blog.cwf-fcf.org/index.php/en/how-many-birds-die-in-canada-each-year-from-human-activities/

Chantelle Lafleur & Let's Talk Science, & 23, J. (2019, July 23). How do wind FARMS Affect birds And Bats? Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://letstalkscience.ca/educational-resources/stem-in-context/how-do-wind-farms-affect-birds-and-bats

Şekercioğlu, Ç, Daily, G., & Ehrlich, P. (2004, December 28). Ecosystem consequences of bird declines. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://www.pnas.org/content/101/52/18042

Markham, D. (n.d.). 8 natural & HOMEMADE INSECTICIDES: Save your garden without killing the Earth. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://www.treehugger.com/natural-homemade-insecticides-save-your-garden-without-killing-earth-4858819

BirdSupplies.com. (n.d.). Bird safe pest control. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://birdsupplies.com/blogs/news/140887111-bird-safe-pest-control

Hinterland who's who - oil pollution and birds. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://www.hww.ca/en/issues-and-topics/oil-pollution-and-birds.html#:~:text=Oil%20kills%20birds%20in%20many,the%20feathers%20makes%20them%20waterproof.

Books

Alderfer, J. K. (2018). Bird guide of North America: The best birding book for kids from a National Geographic expert. Washington, DC: National Geographic Kids.

Videos

News1130 (Director). (2017, April 25). How to prevent birds from flying into your window [Video file]. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdF40suRpQc

NationalGeographic (Director). (2014, December 22). Can we stop millions of birds from crashing into Windows? | National Geographic [Video file]. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMgfuhD2cpo

Wgaltv (Director). (2017, April 21). Wild moments: How to prevent birds from flying into your windows [Video file]. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXTcH9NoAy0

TexasParksWildlife (Director). (2014, March 21). How to keep birds from hitting your windows - tips from a wildlife biologist [Video file]. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1u3auWG9qc

How to stop birds smashing into windows - BBC stories [Video file]. (2018, March 19). Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=telS2jpOFvY

 

Acknowledgement

       I am very thankful to my teacher and school for giving me an opportunity for this project, my teacher helps me whenever I need them. Mr.Tackney my coordinator had told me that not only birds affected but in fact, bats are also suffering. Ms. Wattamaniuk helped me lower down my paragraphs into point form. My Dad had given me advice where ever he could and helped me record. I would also like to thank the websites, books and videos that I used for research, without the authors publishing their knowledge I would have a very hard time looking for information.  

This is not the project for me but a reality for me, I came across the birds which hit the building and died in front of me, All this upset me, till today when I talk about birds that scene comes in front of my eyes. I would definitely work on this, anything   I can do to save the life of birds and this beautiful planet. 

Thanks all.