As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Will gull warning signs fly in the east end?

A feathery flap over road kill is poised to turn Eastport Drive into Hamilton's first gull safety zone.

No, you're not being gulled by mischievous wildlife activists.

By next spring, yellow-and-black bird hazard signs topped with flashing lights could greet drivers zipping along the harbour-hugging road. Think school zone warning signs — but for water birds.

City traffic engineers have offered the watch-for-wings signage in response to a gull mortality study last year that revealed hundreds of bird-car collisions near Pier 27, the spring home of a massive colony of ring-billed gulls.

Traffic operations manager Martin White suspects the $4,400 pair of solar-powered signs would be unique in Ontario. The city already posts signs to protect threatened wildlife such as turtles — but in this case, opinions may differ on who is being protected.

"I know some very dedicated people are concerned about the number of birds dying in that location," he said. "I hope this will help, but to be honest I'm more worried about driver safety."

White said the road kill count suggests the growing ring-billed gull colony — 8,300 nesting pairs last year — could pose a hazard for motorists. That's just the population of smaller, common gulls; the pier area is also home to larger herring gulls and cormorants.

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