The Delta Birding Festival (DBF), the great Mediterranean bird fair that is held on the grounds of MónNatura in the Ebro delta and this ninth edition breaks attendance records, has raised the alarm about the lethal danger represented by the bird tracks. paddle for birds. It is estimated that at least 24,000 birds, including many protected and endangered species, die every year in Catalonia crashing into the glass walls of these sports facilities (of which there are already 2,400 in the territory), a true death trap. for birds, especially for migratory passerines.
In a conference with dramatic overtones and a full house on Saturday at the DBF, the member of the Catalan Institute of Ornithology (ICO) Raül Aymí and the sub-inspectors of the rural agent corps Gemma Torrelles and Alberto Muñoz have warned of the tremendous havoc caused by these and other glass structures such as bus screens and windows in aerial life (birds do not see them and collide), showing tragic photos of crashed birds. In conversation later with this special envoy, Torrelles described the terrible spectacle of the death by collision of a golden oriole, one of the most beautiful and elusive birds in our environment.
The problem ofyou collide with glass of buildings is of enormous magnitude and was already known by any bird lover who has observed these creatures impact or has seen them dead or dying under the windows, a bad pill to swallow. The solution is not easy. Aymí has warned that the silhouettes of birds that many of us stick with all good faith (and spending a lot of money) on the windows to prevent collisions are not an ideal solution, nor are the sprays, and has leaned towards the use of more effective alternative designs such as hatching and dots, and the use of ribbons. He has developed the concept of “dangerous architecture” for birds and has called for awareness and sensitization to confront a problem that causes a real escabechenica of birds. Among the fundamental steps, detect the black spots where the highest mortality occurs and get architects and builders to commit to finding solutions.
However, the surprise for many present was the aforementioned danger of paddle tennis courts, structures that have proven to be true traps for birds and that continue to proliferate at a good pace given the popularity of this sport. Especially lethal are those that are built in rural areas or are surrounded by trees, environments where birds proliferate. A pioneering study in Cantabria has revealed the death of a minimum of 75,000 birds per year. In Aragon, there are already very efficient campaigns to raise awareness of the danger of paddle tennis (if you fly), under the motto “let the only impact that sounds on the court be the ball.”
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Among the solutions adopted, the installation of nets that visualize the windows and prevent birds from colliding. The agents have explained that 75% of the birds killed on paddle tennis courts in Pallars Jussà, for example, were protected species. There is the data.
They have also pointed out the danger of some buildings with large glass surfaces in Barcelona, such as the Desigual headquarters, next to the W hotel, or the Glòries shopping center, showing in photos the terrible harvest of deaths they cause (and how hard it is to see a dead robin). Solutions in large glass buildings are difficult and very expensive, but there are materials that do not generate reflection and glass. bird friendly microscreen printing, and in general with awareness and good will (and ultimately the action of the administrations) the problem can be greatly alleviated.
At the other extreme, that of bird happiness, was the conference offered by the popular British writer and popularizer of ornithology Dominic Couzens, author of such extraordinary books as extreme birds either0100 Birds to See in Your Lifetime and one of the big names of this year’s festival. For the occasion, Couzens has reduced the list to 20 birds that you should see before you die and has revealed a curious top list in which it began provocatively with the common pigeon!, the one in Plaza de Catalunya, come on. She has warned, apart from the fact that it is never too late to start being interested in birds, that they are all interesting, even those that seem most ordinary and vulgar to us, and they all have a story to tell. Pigeons, she explained, see the Earth’s magnetic fields and can predict the time when you laugh at Alfred Rodrígez Picó.
He continued with the black crow and explained that they are so intelligent that they take advantage of traffic light changes to leave nuts on the ground so that cars can break the shells when the light changes. That 50% of crossbills are left-handed. That the peregrine falcon of which he was contemplating a specimen on the island of Buda on Friday, flies at almost 200 kilometers per hour. Or that the Falklands penguin colony is the one most at risk of being hit by a golf ball, caused by a neighbor pitch and putt (at least there are no paddle tennis courts nearby, although it is true that penguins don’t fly either).
Moving towards spectacularity, he told us about the resplendent quetzal, “the bird that everyone wants to see”, and his love for avocado, and the shoe beak. And he explained that among the few birds that can kill you – “apart from poorly cooked chicken” – and with it you would end the list of birds to see before you die, the cassowary stands out, and that really when he saw it he didn’t notice it. He had them all with him. He delighted us by telling us that there is a wren with a tendency to infidelity that brings flowers to females and that in the male peacock, the more eyes on the tail, the more masculine. He ended up remembering that it is not necessary to go to the ends of the world to see inspiring birds because they are everywhere.
Then in exclusive statements to this newspaper, Couzens explained the most interesting sexual fact that he knows about birds, apart from the fact that the lake duck Oxyura vittata, the Argentine duck, is the bird best equipped with a long (and worth the phrase) penis. up to 24.5 centimeters, which many will say is not that big of a deal but is equivalent to half of its feathery body. The scholar told me that what seems most sensational to him is that the best males of the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica), those that manage to mate more easily, have longer and more symmetrical tails than the others and the females read the signal to the point that if you cut off the tail of a superior swallow he loses erotic prestige while if you glue it to another inferior male, less effective, he gains it.
Curiously, Couzens has not seen the 100 birds that one must see before dying according to him, but only 70 (of course he is still alive). Ignacio Torres, deputy director of the Biodiversity Foundation and enthusiastic birder who has observed a total of about 5,700 species (he has specialized in seeing families), has seen more than Couzens from the list. At the fair, Torres explained anecdotes about his trip to Sulawesi with the festival director, Francesc Kirchner, and Miquel Rafa, from the Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation, which co-organizes the DBF with the nature store Oryx. One day a dugong hugged them. And there is a story to develop.
Among the very interesting conferences of this edition, we also highlight that of the very popular and very friendly Andy Swash, author of some of the best photographic guides to birds and other animals, among them, with Robert Still, Hugh Harrop and Rob Hume, the exceptional one on birds from Europe, for the WildGuides publishing house. On Saturday, Swash explained how a guide like this is made, of more than 900 species and with 4,700 photos, through a personal tour of his career as a bird lover and user of guides (how endearingly old is the Peterson!) since at the age of two his grandfather made him notice a robin. The specialist, who told us about his epiphany in the Galapagos, argued very effectively in favor of photographs over drawings, and managed to convince a good part of the audience, even those who sleep with the Collins under their pillow. Swash combines his interest in birds with a less common interest in dragonflies. It is surprising that no one here looks at them and these days they are very abundant, of different species, including the red dragonfly or rodadits, Sympetrum striolatum.
Also noteworthy is the presence of the biologist Ana Benítez, who spoke in the live program at the fair. The loon radio concepts such as the empty forest syndrome and defaunation and warned of the impact of the overexploitation of tropical birds, their alarming decline (58%) and what it can mean for the planet.
The fair, which ends this noon with the traditional and exciting release of recovered birds, leaves a great taste in the mouth (or beak), to which the beer has undoubtedly contributed. Urpa (dedicated to helping the preservation of the Ashy’s harrier), whose booth, with a drink, has been one of the most visited. It is somewhat bitter, as befits a drink with a bird of prey on the label.
In this edition we have also enjoyed a wonderful atmosphere with so many old and new friends (Sandoval, Giró, Bou, Copete, Ibnou…), excellent weather, no rain, almost no wind, little heat, and skies at sunset that seemed Painted by a Pre-Raphaelite. The mosquitoes have bothered just enough (they must also live, the very motherfuckers) and wonderful flocks of flamingos and moritos have been seen. Also two rarities, the stars of this year: an exceptional African dimorphic egret (martinet dels escullsEgreta gularis) and a sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis). The signer has seen two kingfishers and, in another order of things, a green snake. All the activities of the festival, whose venue is currently holding up the environmental problems that afflict the delta, have put up the full sign.
Among the anecdotes, apart from seeing Ignacio Torres together (5,700 species seen) and Evelio P. (5,600 less), the heads and tails of the birdwarching, the anger of a neighbor from Poblenou del Delta when listening to the preparations for Carlos de Hita’s nature sounds installation in the town, believing that they were going to have a rock concert and thinking that her parents would not be able to sleep (then they participated in the experience and they had such a great time). Two thousand visitors attended the fair on Saturday and it is expected that this Sunday it will close with four thousand, which is a record. We will have to see what they have in store for us next year, which will be the tenth edition of the DBF and that deserves to throw the house out the window and a high-flying program.
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