Many urban structures, especially mirrored and glass ones, kill thousands of birds that do not notice and crash into them. Public organization (APB) for the first time in Belarus carried out a preventive "rescue action". Thanks to children and volunteers, one huge noise screen in Minsk has become safe for birds.

There is nothing like glass in nature, and for hundreds of years birds have never adapted to avoid it. The acoustic screen at 31 Denisovskaya Street is impressive: it is 4 meters high and almost 100 meters long. It consists of 70 panels and 30 of them are opaque, which is ideal for birds. But most of the screen is transparent where birds and tried to fly through it. The problem was raised by local residents, who repeatedly found both dead birds and injured near the screen. Among them was the "Red Book" kestrel falcon. People turned to animal rights activists for help, and they passed the problem on to the APB.

- It is widely believed that the silhouettes of birds of prey on transparent screens help to scare away small things from them during migration, - says Alexander Vinchevsky, director of the APB. – All over the country and abroad you can see similar old and new screens. But experiments and counts of dead birds have shown that single stickers do not work. At the same time, it does not matter to the birds whether the silhouette of a falcon or a tractor is pasted onto the glass. It is important that the glass is completely sealed with any bright stickers, so that a bird cannot fly between them. The “rule of the palm” is in effect, i.e. so that there is no more than 10 cm between the stickers.

Killer screens: how Minsk schoolchildren saved birds
photo: Anastasia Perko

To make the screen visible to the birds, on October 23, APB invited students from four nearby schools. APB employees, together with 30 children and their teachers, put stickers on it using a special technique.

- We applied square white stickers 1x1 cm in size at a distance of 5 cm from each other, - says Anastasia Perko, an APB specialist. - Stickers applied using this method do not spoil the appearance of the noise barrier, but at the same time they signal to the birds that it will not be possible to fly here. 

On October 30, the organizers of the action, together with volunteers, completed the application of stickers, pasting a total of 40 transparent panels.

- This action was the first for me, but I wanted to participate as soon as I found out, - Lina, a volunteer of the APB, shares. - Some people may find the process of gluing small squares not very fun, but I had a good time - a very calm, meditative activity. And there was also wonderful weather and bullfinches whistled nearby. The soundproof screen is installed on a small step, which I had to climb to stick each sticker, so I pumped up my legs at the same time.

Killer screens: how Minsk schoolchildren saved birds
photo: Anastasia Perko

Lina said that many times she found birds crashing into glass, of which not all survived:

- Each dead bird is always piercingly sad and painful, so it was important for me not only to talk about it, but also to do something myself so that this happens less often. During the action, passers-by asked many times what we were doing: some, having heard the explanations, simply moved on, while others smiled and supported us. The information side of the event is also important: not everyone imagines that such places are a death trap for birds.

In Belarus, according to experts, when counting according to the Swiss-American method, from 1,6 to 16,0 million birds die every year from a collision with transparent objects. If the birds settled near the screen, they will learn to fly around it. During the action, the crows also flew around it beautifully. But forest birds, especially young ones, die en masse in cities and along roads during autumn migration.

What can be done to save birds from collision?

Everyone can do something to save birds from crashing into glass. The simplest thing is to paste over your own windows according to the above method, because they also carry a danger for birds. The black silhouettes of birds of prey are not as noticeable on the glass as the white “dot” stickers applied every 5-10 cm.

And how to make other urban structures safe for birds: glass bus stops, the same noise screens? Anastasia Perko shares her experience.

- First, you need to understand the scale of the problem for birds, whether there are “Red Book” species among the affected species, and it is desirable to have photographs proving this.

- Secondly, you need to find out who legally owns this or that object. For example, the noise screen on Denisovskaya belongs to Remavtodor in the Leninsky district, so we had to create a layout of the screen with stickers and get permission from them and from the district administration.

– Thirdly, you need to estimate the size of the object, and then calculate how many stickers you need.

- Fourthly, collect scraps from firms or order stickers.

And, of course, to assemble a team for the prompt application of stickers if the object is large.

APB thanks everyone who made the first noise screen safe for birds: children and teachers from secondary schools #55, #54, #164 and #29 of elementary school, as well as APB volunteers.

We hope this example will inspire you to make dangerous transparent objects visible to birds.

APB is going to address the practice of building bird-hazardous acoustic screens and other transparent objects in the country. The path will be long!

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