‘Bird-safe window’ movement reaches over 5 million people
Colliding with glass is a big danger for birds. This year, our children’s programme Spring Alive inspired young people across Europe and Central Asia to take action to make their windows bird-safe, transforming schools, homes and reaching millions through prime time TV.
This article is part of our Spring Alive programme, which aims inspire and educate children across Africa and Eurasia about the wonders of nature and bird migration. The 2019 Spring Alive season was made possible with the support of Heidelberg Cement.
It’s a big problem with a simple solution. All across the world, billions of birds are colliding with glass, often fatally. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With measures as easy as putting stickers on windows and turning our lights off at night, we can save the lives of countless birds.
If we want to spread the word about issues like this, the best place to start is with our children. Children are the ones who will carry our love and respect for nature into the next generation, and today’s youth are becoming more and more environmentally aware – as activist Greta Thunberg and the Youth Strike for Climate movement show. It’s clear that the youth of today care passionately about the nature they share their planet with.
This year, children across Europe and Central Asia responded with resounding support to this year’s Spring Alive call to action: ‘how can I make my windows bird-safe?’. In Poland, the Secondary School of Arts lead by example, transforming their campus from glass-fronted danger zone to bird-safe beacon. With the help of the Glass Traps Foundation and our Polish Partner OTOP, graphic design pupils used their skills to pinpoint bird collision hotspots around their school and design the most effective warning stickers.
UzSPB in Uzbekistan took a different approach, broadcasting the issue on prime time national TV. Their 35-minute documentary, entitled ‘Ornithologist’, stressed the dangers faced by migratory birds in cities – especially the Common Swift Apus apus, Uzbekistan’s earliest and most numerous migrant, which is particularly susceptible to window collisions. Our Spring Alive coordinator in Uzbekistan hosted the programme and demonstrated how to create cheap and durable window stickers in the home. The show spread our message to a staggering 5 million people.
UzSPB also teamed up with veterinary clinics and Tashkent Zoo to run a window collision hotline where citizens could report stunned birds and get them treated. Thanks to the hotline, 21 Common Swifts, one Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus and one Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus were rehabilitated and released into their natural habitat, along with ten healthy fledglings that had been found outside of their nests.
In Armenia, the budding filmmakers of ArAves’ youth club created an emotive animated video explaining why birds fly into glass, and outlining simple actions anyone can take to make their windows safer. In Latvia, 600 children across 11 schools learned about glass collisions, how to ring bird chicks and what to do if they found a chick outside its nest. Working with our Partner the Latvian Ornithological Society, the country also celebrated its first ever World Swift Day, where children went on swift-watching excursions, made swift nest boxes and learned how to identify and record this incredible migratory bird.
Children remind us that protecting nature can be fun. They remind us that there are lots of different ways to make a difference and to persuade others to do the same. Start with children, and the rest of society will follow. We would not be surprised if every child who has taken part in this year’s Spring Alive season has gone home and spread our message to their friends, family and beyond. Their passion and enthusiasm will be a shining example to us all when we facing the environmental challenges of the coming years.
Find out more about Spring Alive at www.springalive.net