Orillia, For The Birds?

By Mike Jones – Special to SUNonline/Orillia

If you believe there are not as many birds around as in past years, you are not mistaken.

You may have noticed that the dawn chorus is virtually non-existent compared with the joyous outpouring of birdsong, chirps and whistling that used to wake us from our slumbers in early mornings in the spring. You may have deplored the disappearance of flocks of Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows and Purple Martins along with their acrobatic pursuits of insects over Lake Couchiching in the evening.

If you are fortunate enough to live by the lake, when was the last time your house had a covering of shad flies from a June hatching? If you are lucky enough to hear the evocative call of a loon on the lake, it is likely just passing through, as they don’t seem to nest on the east side of Chief’s Island anymore as they did in the past.

In the last 50 years we have lost over 2.9 billion breeding birds in Canada and the U.S., about one in four. It’s a staggering number. Degradation of habitat, corporate agriculture, overuse of pesticides, modern design of buildings (especially high rise), cat predation, disruption of migratory patterns due to climate and weather changes – all have contributed to the decline in bird and insect populations.

There are many things we can do to help. To this end, Sustainable Orillia has partnered with the Orillia Naturalists’ Club to propose the City of Orillia undertake to become certified as a Bird Friendly City, to fulfill the conditions and criteria of Nature Canada as the Ontario cities of Toronto and London have done, and thereby ensure that Orillia will become a safe haven for birds rather than a source of threats.

According to Nature Canada, a Bird Friendly City is a community where:

  • Key threats to birds are effectively mitigated;
  • Nature is restored so native bird populations can thrive;
  • Residents are actively engaged in admiring and monitoring local bird populations;
  • Organisations are creating events to protect birds;
  • Progressive municipal policies are created to protect urban birds; and
  • A bird team has been created to oversee and lead these initiatives.

You can help save our feathered friends from further decline and preserve bird songs in our neighbourhoods. If you are interested in becoming a member of this bird team, or wish more information, please contact Sustainable Orillia’s Jessica Kearney at jessicakearney@sustainableorillia.ca.

(Photos by Margo Crowder Davidson and Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: Goldfinches by Margo Crowder Davidson


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