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OPINION: Helping birds in your backyard

A Canadian provincial emblem, the Snowy Owl (Quebec) is now globally threatened with extinction. World Migratory Bird Day is May 12.
(Nature Canada photo)
A Canadian provincial emblem, the Snowy Owl (Quebec) is now globally threatened with extinction. World Migratory Bird Day is May 12. (Nature Canada photo) - Bill McGuire

World Migratory Bird Day (May 12) reminds us to help protect birds all year long

BY TED CHESKEY

GUEST OPINION
There is nothing that says spring more than the song of birds, starting an hour before sunrise, waking you from your sleep, and getting you into an argument with your partner about whether bird song is a good thing or not. Well, in case you had any doubts, we at Nature Canada are on the side of the birds (and those who love them).
Bird migration is part of the Canadian fabric. Every fall, nearly 80 percent of the species and over 95 percent of the individual birds leave our borders to fly south where there is adequate food and shelter to sustain them. The survivors return in the spring, when nature withdraws her cloak of snow and ice and food becomes abundant enough for the birds to raise a brood or two. It’s an amazing, mystical phenomenon that we still don’t fully understand. It deserves celebration.
Sadly, the spring chorus is not like it used to be as more and more of our bird species are pushed to the brink by human actions. A recent 2018 State of the World’s Birds Report published by Birdlife International confirms 40 percent of the world’s 11,000 bird species are in decline, and one in eight bird species is threatened with global extinction.
Two Canadian provincial emblems, the Snowy Owl (Quebec) and the Atlantic Puffin (Newfoundland – Labrador) are now globally threatened with extinction. More than one-third of North America’s native bird species need urgent conservation action. Among them are the musical Wood Thrush, Bobolink, and the Canada Warbler.
Can you imagine these birds disappearing forever?
In Canada over, 65 percent of designated Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas lack legal protection, leaving these areas and birds vulnerable to industrial development, intensive agriculture and urban sprawl.
These factors, combined with generic threats in wintering grounds and along migration routes like domestic cats and windows, are just a few of the reasons why Nature Canada is partnering with the Environment for the Americas to promote and celebrate World Migratory Bird Day this Saturday, May 12. There are dozens of local events across the country put on by local nature groups.
This year’s World Migratory Bird Day celebration events can be found at birdday.ca.

This year’s theme of “Conservation” focuses on the actions you can take to help birds right in your backyard, 365 days of the year.

- Ted Cheskey, Naturalist Director, Nature Canada

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