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Where birds die: A citizen’s project

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Whether you live in Belleville, Boston or Baghdad, anybody with a smartphone, laptop or tablet can now contribute to an international Toronto-based project designed to save birds from building collisions.

Launched just three weeks ago, it’s called a FLAP Mapper, and you can find it on the website of a non-profit organization called the Fatal Light Awareness Program, the brainchild of Michael Mesure, a man who has dedicated his life to saving birds from the hazards of an urban environment—mostly reflective glass.

READ MORE: Our cities: A killing field for birds

FLAP Mapper invites people to report a bird collision, wherever they happen to live, and that fatality will be recorded on a map of the particular city or town—creating what Mesure hopes will be a constantly-updated global census of man-made bird deaths.

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FLAP estimates that between 1.5 and two billion migratory birds are killed every year in North America because of things humans do, whether it’s destroying their natural habitats, or erecting buildings into which birds collide because they cannot see glass.

Mesure hopes that city planners around the world will follow Toronto’s lead and issue building guidelines that require all new structures of a certain height to use special glass that birds will avoid.

He says that once municipalities are made aware, through programs like FLAP Mapper, of how many birds are killed by the urban landscape, they will be encouraged to put up safer buildings.

Toronto has long been seen as one of the more dangerous cities for birds in North America, because it’s on a popular migratory flight path. But this year, cool spring weather caused many birds to bypass the city, and as a result, the death rate has been lower than in previous years.