By James Casey (Manager, Fraser Program) and Karen Devitt (BC Program Coordinator), Bird Studies Canada
Photo: Catherine Jardine
Prime wildlife habitat and a staggering diversity of birds sit alongside British Columbia’s largest urban centre – Metro Vancouver. However, many of the region’s residents have little awareness about the natural wonders at their doorstep. Bird Studies Canada is working with local partners to change this by nurturing relationships with nature through our Urban Bird and Fraser Estuary programs.
Through the Urban Bird program, Bird Studies Canada staff have been working to engage youth and new Canadians with the birds of BC. In April, we partnered with WildResearch to host field trips for high school and elementary school students at Iona Bird Observatory. The captivated students learned about the state of Canada’s bird populations and about bird migration. Brightly coloured warblers and buzzing hummingbirds made an impression and sparked discussion about how the classes could help birds at their schools.
More recently, Bird Studies Canada partnered with NatureKids BC and MOSAIC to offer bird-related programming to refugees who have recently settled in Canada. We spent the afternoon chatting with mothers and their young children about the importance of birds and nature, sharing stories, playing bird bingo, practicing using binoculars, and making bird nest-inspired art. Later in June, the same partnership will be throwing a picnic and bird walk for families involved in MOSAIC’s family, children, and youth programs. Our fingers are crossed for good weather and great birds!
Bird Studies Canada’s Fraser Estuary program is focused on one of Canada’s most bird-rich Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). The Fraser River Estuary IBA includes a large swath of Metro Vancouver, and is subject to pressures on its ecosystem health as a result of overlapping with a major urban centre.
Earlier in June, the City of Delta took an innovative step toward raising public awareness about the estuary. With assistance from Bird Studies Canada and joint funding from partners, the city put up posters on several of its bus shelters to tout the world class bird habitat provided by the Fraser Delta. The posters illustrate the many ways those visiting the delta are able to interact with nature through birds, and are intended to bring the community together in recognition of how birds enrich our lives.
In addition to raising awareness, the posters stand as a testament to the importance of collaboration in achieving positive outcomes for birds. The original content for the poster was developed through a partnership between Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada. However, the idea to put the posters on bus shelters came from the City of Delta, which, in cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service, had also been working on ideas to help maintain bird habitat on the Fraser Delta. Then, the Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture’s Canadian and U.S. partners offered generous support to get the posters printed. These posters are one small example of how we are all working together to maintain the health of the Fraser Estuary.
Will you be in Metro Vancouver this August? If so, we hope you’ll join us at the Stewardship Roundtable on August 24. This one-day event is open to the public at a nominal fee, and will bring together a suite of experts to share insights on addressing major threats facing birds. Topics will include window collisions, climate change, and predation by cats. Notable speakers will include Purnima Barman, who will share stories of her work with Greater Adjutant Storks in India, and renowned Canadian ecotoxicologist Dr. Christy Morrissey. Please visit the event webpage for registration information. This event is part of the Vancouver International Bird Festival running from August 19-26, 2018.