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Anouk Hoedeman and friends created a non-profit group to protect birds after a flock of bohemian waxwings flew into some buildings in downtown Ottawa in 2013.Michael Runtz/The Globe and Mail

The donor: Anouk Hoedeman

The gift: Creating Safe Wings Ottawa

The cause: To help prevent birds dying from collisions with windows

When a flock of bohemian waxwings flew into some buildings in downtown Ottawa in 2013, dozens of birds died and the story gripped the city. As a long-time bird watcher, Anouk Hoedeman felt especially horrified and vowed to do something to prevent these kinds of deadly collisions.

Ms. Hoedeman and some friends created Safe Wings Ottawa, a non-profit group that scours the city during the migration season to track the number of birds that have died from hitting windows and rescue those that have been injured. About a dozen volunteers record the species of each dead bird as well as where and when the collision occurred. Birds that can be saved are taken to Ms. Hoedeman, who performs some immediate treatment before taking them to a wildlife centre. The group also raises awareness about bird collisions and suggests how buildings can be modified to make them bird-friendly. And it's all done on an annual budget of around $19,000, which comes from grants and donations. The work has paid off as city and federal government officials have started considering changes to building projects.

"When I started this, I quickly started feeling like this is a calling for me – something I really care about," said Ms. Hoedeman, a communications consultant in Ottawa. "At this point, it's really nice because I do feel like I'm making a difference and isn't that what everybody wants in life?"

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