CHRONICLE HERALD The City Voice
Published: June 25, 2019
President of the Nova Scotia Bird Society talks best practices, best places to breed and makes an announcement.
By Sheryl Dubois
Birds come in every size and colour. Over the course of a summer, birders can sight at least 300 bird species in Nova Scotia, according to David Currie, President of the Nova Scotia Bird Society (NSBS). In 1955 the Society began to keep track of bird activity. More than 500 species are currently on record.
In a recent telephone interview, Currie outlined a few best practices, bird facts and news.
1. The best thing the public can do for the birds, according to Currie, is to plant shrubs and fruit-bearing trees to help keep up with habitat loss – a process particularly driven by human activity and climate change.
2. Be vigilant about feeders. “Many people like to feed birds,” however, Currie says, “it is not necessary in Summer. If feeders are out, scale down the seed and keep the feeder clean.”
3. Make a record of bird sightings, including date and location. Currie recommends an App called EBird.org, used worldwide. Currie says it is free and easy to use.
4. Finally, from time to time, birds are found dead under or near feeders. Currie says to “take the feeder down, place the bird in a plastic bag and keep it in the freezer. Call the NS Department of Lands and Forestry (1-800-670-4357) to arrange pick-up.
Birds at risk
Currie says there is usually not one reason birds become extinct. Habitat loss and changing weather patterns due to climate change and human activity are key elements. The Chimney Swift and the Canada Warbler are both declared endangered.
Nova Scotia gains birds from the same processes. Currie says in recent years the Northern Cardinal and Mourning Dove made their appearance and stayed. Records show a “dramatic increase” of these birds. In fact, he says there are “more and more records of first-time bird sightings” in places birders have watched for decades.
Some bird species can be found in pockets all over Nova Scotia. Some birds are location-specific.
“The Ipswich Sparrow only breeds on the sand dunes of Sable Island, Nova Scotia, nowhere else,” says Currie noting, “it’s very, very odd.” Currie says rising sea levels put the dunes and birds at risk. Something to keep an eye on.
The Bricknell’s Thrush breeds in places other than Nova Scotia, but while in the Province will only breed in the Highlands of Cape Breton.
NSBS and Telus are working together to fund an educational bird blind to be constructed on the edge of a pond at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park.
A bird blind is a wooden structure in which humans can go undercover to observe wildlife.
“Its exciting,” says Currie, “thousands of kids walk through the Wildlife park…Ducks Unlimited (Canada) does such a good job educating visitors about the wetlands and water foul.”
“We’ve asked to name the structure after Dr. Helene Van Doninck (1966-2018),” says Currie, “we think it will happen.“ Currie describes Van Doninck as a renowned veterinarian, teacher, nurse (especially to eagles) and successful advocate for wildlife. Check the website for date of opening.
DID YOU KNOW? The NS Bird Society’s Facebook group has more than 13,000 members, many of them posting their photos and answering questions?