It’s not glamorous, but it will help save lives and contribute to scientific research. Volunteers from area conservation organizations will be scouting downtown San Antonio streets from April 19 to May 7, looking for bird casualties on the ground around buildings that birds may have flown into during peak spring migration. One out of every three birds migrating through the U.S. in spring passes through the state, a number estimated to be one billion birds. Because most migratory birds fly at night, bright lights of commercial and residential buildings attract and disorient birds, causing collisions and leaving birds vulnerable to threats on the ground.
San Antonio was recently certified as a Bird City Texas, and one of the elements of this designation involves collecting data about bird casualties due to building collisions as part of a Lights Out Texas–San Antonio initiative. Bexar Audubon Society, Texan by Nature, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are contributing to this effort. The data collected will be used to pinpoint downtown areas where birds are most vulnerable and to work with building owners and managers to help mitigate bird casualties by turning off excessive lighting at night from 11 PM to 6 AM during peak migration periods in spring and fall.
Volunteers are wanted to help with this survey. Ten individuals are needed each day from April 19 through May 7 to register to walk five assigned routes in the early morning (6:00 AM to 8:00 AM) through downtown looking for bird casualties. “You don’t have to be a birder to participate,” said Patsy Inglet, Bexar Audubon Society President. “Volunteers do need a smartphone and experience with iNaturalist so they can upload photos to the app, which will help identify the species.” A protocol is in place for how to handle and photograph birds that are deceased or injured. A one-hour online training is required about using iNaturalist for this specific project, as well as the survey protocol. The group will meet each morning in an easily accessible downtown garage where parking is free for volunteers. Masks will be worn and social distancing practiced.
Information about how to register to participate is available at bexaraudubon.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.