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By Amanda Bichel, Ontario Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Coordinator, Birds Canada


Birds on the Niagara (BON) international winter bird celebration went virtual for 2021! What better way to celebrate midwinter along the Niagara River in Southern Ontario and Western New York? This free event was from February 12-14 and highlighted important social issues, local conservation initiatives, ways in which birds and nature connect us all – and of course, some really cool birds! Many of the waterfowl were in breeding plumage and engaging in courtship before migrating further north to breed. So love was in the air (and over WiFi too) over the Valentine’s Day weekend!

Bonaparte’s Gull Photo:Jax Nasimok

Thanks to all of you who brought the celebration to life and all who tuned in! If you couldn’t make it, check out the presentations that are still available on the website. To illustrate what fun we had this year, here are some featured favourites from partners who planned BON 2021:

Debbie Wright from Niagara Falls Nature Club says “Conservation of Bird Habitats on the Niagara River (Niagara River Greenway Commission) was my favourite talk, as it was great to see the restorative projects along the river”. She adds that she can’t wait to do it interactively one day!

Ellen Savoia from Niagara Parks Commission kindly gave a nod to my talk, Bird’s Eye View of the Niagara River “Amanda’s perspective as a gull brought a unique way to view the diversity of the Niagara River landscape.” I presented this on behalf of BON partner, Birds Canada. 

Dawn Pierrynowski from Bert Miller Nature Club says “BON was engaging, educational, and an amazing accomplishment during this time. My favourite talk was Marcie Jacklin’s presentation about Saving Waverly Woods, because it is a subject near and dear to me.”

Erika Navarro from Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority summed it up perfectly: “The BON team seamlessly delivered this virtual celebration of winter birds, welcoming experienced and new birders alike. We were pleased to receive wonderful feedback from youth and families who tuned in for the first time and truly enjoyed learning more about the importance of winter birds in the Niagara River Corridor. The success of this event was a result of the incredible speakers’ lineup and the diverse topics and themes that were discussed. With diversity and inclusivity more important than ever and at the forefront of social issues, Dr. Drew Lanham’s lecture really resonated with the audience. With the ongoing global pandemic and its effect on community members’ ability to step into nature, the Winter Backyard Birds (Tifft Nature Preserve) presentation provided useful tips and tricks to exploring our own backyards.”

My personal favourite was Mollee Brown’s Five Lessons I Learned as a Non-Male Birder. She spoke of experiences that the majority of non-male birders will encounter (I certainly have) at some point. It was very relevant and touched on several prevailing issues, but also had positive suggestions on how to move forward and flourish as a non-male birder.

Although that’s just a small snippet of the wonderful talks, it gives a good overview of breadth covered.  So if you like the sounds of that, go check out the BON website now and enjoy the videos all year. In the meantime, partners will be planning BON 2022 – which we hope to celebrate with you in person!

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