Dr. Sonya Richmond, a geographic information system analyst with Bird Studies Canada, has a passion for conservation. This passion has led her to sell her house and put her career on hold to spend three years walking The Great Trail (formerly the Trans Canada Trail) with her hiking partner, Sean Morton.
Sonya and Sean plan to survive on just $10-20 per day and will carry all supplies on their backs. Only a small group of people have ever completed the 24,000 km of Canada’s beautiful but arduous terrain, and they will be the first to do it in the name of bird conservation. They plan to take their first steps in Cape Spear, NL in June 2019. From there they will walk west to Victoria, BC, and then venture north from Fort Saskatchewan, AB to Tuktoyaktuk, NT. Bird Studies Canada is proud to be a part of this important project. Over the kilometres and throughout the years, we’ll be lending support and sharing Sonya and Sean’s adventures with our Bird Studies Canada community.
As they hike, Sonya and Sean hope to nurture connections with nature among families and youth, encourage new birders, and share opportunities for getting involved in Citizen Science. They would like to learn as much as they can from the people they meet – about birds, and what birds mean to people living in the communities they visit. We hope you can follow along on their journey!
“As they travel across Canada, Sonya and Sean will be experiencing 132 of Canada’s designated Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas,” says Steven Price, President of Bird Studies Canada. “They will meet with people across the country, hearing how they are helping nature and exchanging information and conservation tips as they go. Bird Studies Canada is pleased to help their efforts to increase the understanding and appreciation of birds and we applaud their inspiring approach to influencing change.”
According to the State of Canada’s Bird Report, 15% of bird species that regularly occur in Canada are declining. Population decreases in aerial insectivores are among the most widespread, but species in every region and habitat type need our help. As they hike, Sonya and Sean will be encouraging individuals to become part of the solution by taking simple steps to help birds in their own neighborhoods.
Of particular note will be Sonya and Sean’s observations of boreal species. More than 300 bird species rely on the boreal region as their ‘nursery’ for breeding and raising their young. These birds bring the boreal to the south each year through their migration. They are a key indicator of environmental health. Climate change and industrial development are just two of the factors that affect them.
“There is a tremendous opportunity, and responsibility, for conservation efforts that will protect the more than 3 billion birds and other wildlife that rely on the boreal forest,” notes Sonya Richmond. “As Sean and I travel The Great Trail, this will be one of the ideas we want to explore. We are anxious to see for ourselves the conservation work that is being done and what else is needed.”
‘Come Walk With Us’ is more than a name for their adventure. Sonya and Sean invite everyone to join them in person for a few kilometres along the Trail, online through social media and blog posts, and through donations to bird conservation efforts. They will be accepting speaking engagements and opportunities to lead school workshops across the country.
Stay tuned for more updates!
To learn more about the hike or sponsorship opportunities:
To make a donation to bird conservation and learn more about Bird Studies Canada: