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By Steven Price, President, Birds Canada

 

Travel restrictions – part of society’s response to COVID-19 – have suspended the normal field work season across Canada. But, Birds Canada staff across the country are adjusting our work to keep advancing science, awareness, and conservation by other means. A quick tour of our regions reminded me that we are making good use of unusual times, working virtually with partners to:

  • draft three scientific papers on the multi-year results of the BC Beached Bird Survey, the BC Coastal Waterbird Survey, and our Long-billed Curlew tracking project;
  • adapt Bird Identification Workshops associated with the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas, which were originally developed as live presentations, so that we can deliver these over the web.
  • provide online webinars to help woodlot owners and managers in southern and central Ontario identify and conserve birds at risk on their properties (we have received many good questions and positive responses so far!);
  • strategize vital conservation efforts for the coming decade concerning wetlands and surrounding uplands, for waterfowl and other wetland birds throughout Eastern Canada, under the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture;
  • plan conservation steps that can help declining Chimney Swifts and swallow species in the Maritimes;
  • for Marsh Monitoring Programs – develop webinars and other online content, review data from previous years, and revise and resubmit peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts;
  • adapt our Schoolyard Bird Blitz program and rebrand it as Bird Blitz at Home so that families can participate from their homes this May.

Adjusting hasn’t been easy for our dedicated staff or for volunteers eager to complete their surveys now that spring migration is building. Some of you had good questions concerning the postponement of field work – see our responses in the FAQ here. Most importantly, though we all love to get outdoors and track birds in our favourite haunts, we can be sure that missing one season of data will not undermine our ability to understand population trends, since we have long-term datasets and robust analyses.

Red-winged Blackbird