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Warsaw. A velvet warbler almost crashed into the glass of the Warsaw metro. What to do to make cities safer for birds?

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A velvet warbler, whose appearance in Warsaw is a sensation for ornithologists, hit the shelter above the subway elevator and fell into the basket. Her case shows how dangerous glass is for birds. Do the capital’s officials have any ideas on how to avoid similar situations in the future?

– On October 19, a velvet warbler hit the glass shelter next to the elevator to the Metro Centrum station. It was the morning hours. After the incident, she fell into the trash can. She was taken there by one of the observers admiring the bird. The warbler flew into the nearby bushes – says Monika Klimowicz-Kominowska from the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds in an interview with tvnwarszawa.pl. The warbler stayed in them for a long time. – It was unknown what happened to her. She was definitely dazed after the collision, she said.

A velvet warbler hit the glass separating the entrance to the subway elevator at Centrum stationJoanna Kończak

“Irony of fate. You fly 1000 kilometers from your breeding grounds, you are a sensation for hundreds of observers from Poland, but also from all over Central Europe. The materials are shot on television, newspapers and Internet portals write about you… and you almost end your life on the elevator cover at the entrance to metro Centrum” – commented Stanisław Łubieński, founder of the nature blog Dzika Ochota, on the warbler’s accident.

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The day after the accident, the bird reappeared near the Centrum metro station. – This means that he survived the collision with the windshield relatively unscathed. However, we do not know how it will affect the condition and further life of the bird, says Klimowicz-Kominowska.

The velvet warbler can still be admired at the Centrum metro station. – It is best to observe it from a distance, do not disturb it, scare it away, do not feed it or attract it in any other way, for example to take better photos or get a better look at it – explains Klimowicz-Kominowska. It emphasizes that birds should be observed in an ethical and responsible manner. – Crowds of people are stressful for the animal. The child may try to run away in panic, risking, for example, smashing into the glass. So – observation: yes, but from the greatest possible distance – he adds.

He has been visiting the capital for three weeks

According to Klimowicz-Kominowska, the velvet warbler arrived in the capital on October 8. He is a newcomer from the Mediterranean. Its appearance in Poland is a big surprise. – This is the fourth finding of the velvet warbler in Poland. The previous three took place on the Baltic coast. We don’t know why she appeared in the center of Warsaw. She could have gotten lost, the city lights could have confused her, he says.

Klimowicz affectionately calls the velvet warbler “a celebrity from a Warsaw frying pan.” – We don’t know how long he will stay with us. Is the place where she is staying suitable for her? I don’t think so. It’s hard to say where she should move, she says.

Velvet warblerKrzysztof Koper

The safest thing would be for her to return to her native Mediterranean Sea. Winter can surprise her here. – Her body is not used to the cold. It may also not find food – he explains and adds: “let’s keep our fingers crossed for the warbler that it will survive our winter or find a safer place.”

Cities are glass traps for birds

Monika Klimowicz-Kominowska from the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds points out that the case of a velvet warbler colliding with the window is not an isolated case. – Our glass cities are glass traps for birds. Not only transparent elements are deadly to them, but also mirror elements that reflect the sky or nearby greenery. The birds do not see that they are facing an obstacle. That’s why they often hit such surfaces, he explains.

Traces left by a velvet warbler hitting the glassJoanna Kończak

The Glass Traps Foundation, which deals with protective activities against birds, together with the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds sent letters to the authorities of Warsaw and the manager of the Warsaw Metro requesting the protection of transparent elements. “The day before yesterday, a velvet warbler collided with the glass surface of the subway. Two other, older collision marks were found on the same glass. We are sending a letter to the subway authorities with a request to protect transparent surfaces against collisions with birds,” OTOP wrote in a post on social media.

Traces left by a velvet warbler hitting the glassJoanna Kończak

How can you protect glass surfaces? – It is best to think about such security already at the design stage. Today we have many technical possibilities to make glass visible to birds. In the case of existing structures, such as bus shelters, metro entrance canopies or building connectors, it is worth protecting them by gluing strips or dots at an appropriate distance. They do not bother us, and the covered surface becomes visible to birds, explains Klimowicz-Kominowska.

“We will work out the right solutions”

We asked the Warsaw Metro about securing glass surfaces. – Together with the Municipal Transport Authority, which owns the infrastructure, we will develop appropriate solutions – said Anna Bartoń, spokeswoman for the Warsaw Metro.

We also heard similar information from the Municipal Transport Authority. – We need to work out an idea together on how to do it. We will look into this matter. This must be preceded by various types of analyses, said Tomasz Kunert, ZTM spokesman, in an interview with tvnwarszawa.pl.

When it comes to bus shelters, stickers on the windows cannot solve the problem because they have a certain durability. After a while they would start to go down. – We need to find a solution that will work in a given place, which will not interfere with the shelters, will not destroy them, but at the same time will be effective – noted the ZTM spokesman. He noted that it is difficult to determine the exact date of development and implementation of solutions.

However, there is “light at the end of the tunnel”. – Shelters with a lot of glass have been marked at bus stops for some time now. This is the standard at the moment. Each new or renovated shelter receives glass with screen-printed dots, Kunert said.

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Main photo source: Krzysztof Koper

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