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Nature Canada’s Bird Day Fair a huge success!
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Nature Canada’s Bird Day Fair a huge success!

More than 800 people attended Bird Day Fair this year in Andrew Haydon Park in Ottawa-Gatineau's Lac Deschênes Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. For the second year in a row Nature Canada celebrated Bird Day in Ottawa with local groups, businesses, families and friends with crafts, nature walks, live bird demonstrations and more. New additions to this year's fair included a 'Bird Day passport' which attendees could have stamped at each participating organization's tent; a milkweed stand for those interested in learning more about using this plant to attract monarch butterflies; a roaming turtle; and presentations by bird and wildlife experts amongst other activities. The live bird of prey demonstrations by Falcon Ed drew unprecedented crowds for Bird Day. Despite the presence of a few intimidating crows and gulls, the falcons and owls got close to the crowds and showed off their powerful talons and impressive wing spans. Those who participated in the bird walks added their bird sightings to eBird in an effort to outmatch sightings recorded by birders at a sister Bird Day festival in Oshawa, Ontario. Not to be out-done by its national capital rival, the Oshawa Festival of Friends recorded an impressive 68 species versus Bird Day Ottawa's 22. Congratulations Oshawa birders! This short video captures some of the highlights from the event. [video type="youtube" id="pqNxB0XFj2w"] Nature Canada would like to thank the people and organizations who were present at Bird Fair Ottawa and extend a special thank-you to Bird Day Fair sponsors.  

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Come out to Bird Day Fair in Ottawa!
Photo by Rachel Thibodeau
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Come out to Bird Day Fair in Ottawa!

Join us for Bird Day Fair at Andrew Haydon Park, Saturday May 31st – 10am-4pm Just as our migratory birds are returning to Canada from their wintering grounds south of the border, a huge celebration is unfolding across the continent to celebrate birds – and you can be part of it! Bird Day is a celebration of migratory birds and the wild spaces they inhabit. Join Nature Canada in a celebration of the incredible migration journey of birds through a day of fun activities for the whole family. There will be nature walks, crafts and activities, a live raptor demonstration, and an opportunity to meet local groups working to protect wildlife. It's also a great opportunity to test drive our fantastic NEW app that helps you map local wildlife sightings. Several organizations like Ecology Ottawa, Wild Birds Unlimited, Nikon, Master Gardeners of Ottawa and others will be there to share information about their work. Check out our Facebook event page and our Bird Day pages on our website for more information on the day's events. We'll be giving away FREE bookmarks and Junior Birder Guidebooks in English and en Français on May 31 so be sure to come early! See below for the Bird Day Fair schedule of events. Photo by Rachel Thibodeau birdday2014 schedule of events for Bird Day Fair

Canada Celebrates International Migratory Bird Day in Washington D.C.
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Canada Celebrates International Migratory Bird Day in Washington D.C.

[three_fourth]On May 14th, I had the great pleasure of attending the official reception for International Migratory Bird Day, 2013, hosted at the spectacular Canadian Embassy in Washington DC. Susan Bonfield of Environment for the Americas organized the event and was the Master of Ceremonies. The Honourable Gary Doer, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States of America provided some entertaining opening remarks.  Ambassador Doer is by no means a stranger to conservation, having achieved many significant conservation ‘gains’ during his tenure as Premier of Manitoba including setting aside the east side of Lake Winnipeg as a protected area and banning logging in 71 of 73 provincial parks. Dr. Russell Greenberg, Head of the Migratory Bird Centre at the Smithsonian Institute, joined Susan Bonfield to recognize a large number of sponsors and leaders of IMBD both within and outside the government, including Nature Canada.  Nature Canada is the official Canadian partner of IMBD which we call “Welcome Back Birds.” With initial support from the Gosling Foundation, we successfully supported nearly 30 IMBD events across the country attracting thousands of people. In the coming years we plan to grow IMBD into a major national celebration of birds and nature.[/three_fourth][one_fourth_last] [/one_fourth_last]

Get to Know Your Important Bird Area
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Get to Know Your Important Bird Area

Here in the National Capital Region, we’re lucky to have an Important Bird Area right in the heart of the city. Just minutes from the downtown core and accessible by public transportation, the Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area (IBA) is a piece of natural habitat that is cherished by Ottawans and residents of Gatineau and is an important area for the region’s birds and other species. Why is it so important? The Lac Deschênes – Ottawa River Important Bird Area is one of the most important places for migrating and breeding birds in Ottawa-Gatineau. Thousands of waterfowl and waterbirds congregate here each spring and fall as they migrate between breeding grounds in northern Quebec and Ontario to areas farther south. Tens of thousands of songbirds also use the river and its forested borders for food and shelter. It’s like a wildlife super highway. Over 300 bird species have been observed in the IBA, making it one of the region’s premier birding locales. Ring-billed Gulls, Double-crested Cormorants, Great Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons breed on some mid-channel islands. The Britannia Conservation Area comes alive in spring with up to 100 species of songbirds returning from southern wintering grounds. Impressive numbers of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, plants and insects are found at the IBA. Some are regionally or nationally at-risk, including Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Peregrine Falcon, Common Nighthawk, Barn Swallow, Red-headed Woodpecker and Wood Thrush. If you live in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, why not come out this weekend and help us clean-up the IBA while getting to know the local wildlife? For upcoming events at our IBA, check out Lac Deschênes website. Nature Canada is a partner, with Bird Studies Canada, in delivering the Important Bird Areas Program in Canada. Canada’s IBA Program plays a critical role in national bird conservation efforts. Major support for the program comes from TransCanada Corporation, Wildlife Habitat Canada, and the Government of Canada. To learn more about the program and to find out if you live near an IBA, visit the IBA website.

Upcoming Events to Welcome Back Birds to the National Capital Region
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Upcoming Events to Welcome Back Birds to the National Capital Region

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Mark your calendar! In the spirit of spring, we’re hosting a series of events in the Ottawa-Gatineau area to celebrate nature and the return of our shared migratory birds. The events are family-friendly and are a great way to give back to your community while learning about the natural wonders that are right in your backyard. We hope to see you there! Earth Day Spring Cleaning - Ottawa Where: Deschênes- Ottawa River Important Bird Area (IBA) When:  Sunday April 21, 2013 What: Help us celebrate Earth Day by collecting litter within our Lac Deschênes- Ottawa River Important Bird Area (IBA), and get the IBA ready to welcome home our returning migratory birds. Meet us at: Britannia Bay – 9am to 12pm Bate island – 1pm to 4pm Visit our facebook event page for more information, or just meet us along the river. Material will be provided, but feel free to bring your own work gloves. Don’t forget to wear close toed shoes. Earth Day Spring Cleaning – Gatineau  Where: Deschênes- Ottawa River Important Bird Area (IBA) When: Saturday April 27, 2013 La Grande Nettoyage du Printemps. Come and help the spring clean-up efforts of la Ville de Gatineau within the Lac Deschenes – Ottawa River IBA between 9 :00 and 11 :30 am.  Watch for more details at naturecanada.ca and on our social media.  Our clean-up efforts are followed by a BBQ. Bring binoculars as there will be birds around. Nature Canada presents “Rio” at the Mayfair  Where: MayFair Theatre When: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 10:30am What: Nature Canada presents "Rio" as part of our International Migratory Bird Day celebrations. Join us at 10:30am on Sunday April 28 as we welcome back Canada’s migrating birds to our Lac Deschênes- Ottawa River Important Bird Area. Learn about this internationally recognized urban Important Bird Area and how you can make your own backyard bird friendly. Brush up on your bird knowledge and win prizes. Tickets are available at the door Adult $7 Child $5 Family (2 adult, 2 children) $20 Doors open at 10am and Rio begins at 11am. For more information on the Lac Deschênes project visit naturecanada.ca or visit our facebook event page Ottawa’s First Bird Fair Where: Deschênes- Ottawa River Important Bird Area (IBA) When: Sunday, May 12, 2013 What: Bird banding demonstration, walks, crafts and more
  • Bird Banding Demonstration – 7am to 11am . Join Nature Canada’s own certified bird bander, Ted Cheskey for a bird banding demonstration at Rue Houle in Alymer. Observe bird banding and learn about how researchers use this technique to study birds around the world.
 
  • Bird Fair at Andrew Hayden Park – from 11am to 4pm. Ottawa’s first ever Bird Fair will be happening on Sunday May 12, 2013 from 11am to 4pm at Andrew Hayden Park, and we want you to share in the celebration! At the Bird Fair we will have lots to do for the entire family including bilingual bird walks, crafts and activities for visitors of all ages, and informative talks, music and other entertainment.  Local vendors will be present and we will have something special for Mother’s!
 
  • Deschênes Naturehood Tour – 11am to 3pm. We use the same concept as a studio or winery tour to better acquaint local citizens with the globally significant Lac Deschênes- Ottawa River Important Bird Area (IBA) that’s found right in the heart of the National Capital Region. There will be an information booth at each of the following 6 stops along the IBA directing people to great birding spots, discussing the IBA program, and answering questions:
 
  • Aylmer Marina
  • Rue Houle Boat Launch
  • Mud Lake
  • Brébeuf Street
  • Bate Island
  • Shirley’s Bay
 

Vancouver Celebrates International Migratory Bird Day
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Vancouver Celebrates International Migratory Bird Day

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Vancouver celebrated International Migratory Bird Day earlier this month with a series of events. Pat Miller shares the highlights of IMBD in this guest blog post. 
The City of Vancouver designated Saturday, May 12, 2012 as the City’s 2nd Annual Migratory Bird Day.  As part of the celebration, the Event Planning Committee (Vancouver Parks Board, Stanley Park Ecology Society, Bird Studies Canada, Nature Vancouver) chose 5 City Parks, including Hastings Park Sanctuary, as venues for public bird walks. May 12th turned out to be one of the sunniest, warmest spring days so far this year.  At 10 am, approximately 35 people gathered on the northeast corner of Hastings and Renfrew for the Hastings Park walk.  In addition to many familiar faces - people who have attended previous Nature Walks organized by the Hastings Park Conservancy - at least a dozen people were new to the Sanctuary.  The walk was led by Doug Cooper and Pat Miller, longstanding members of the Conservancy’s Environmental Committee.  Other members of the Committee in attendance included Virginia Downes and Armin Strohschein.  Rosemary Taylor, Nature Vancouver, also came along and contributed on the birding and botanizing fronts. The walk was kicked off by Katherine Sopa of the Stanley Park Ecology Society who greeted everyone on behalf of the City of Vancouver and invited us all to participate in a range of other events scheduled for Migratory Bird Day.  Doug, Pat and Virginia said a few words about the Conservancy and the Sanctuary and then we set off.  Just into the Park, Doug spotted a male Western Tanager– an excellent first bird which cooperated by remaining in the trees along the promenade on the east side of the Garden Auditorium long enough for most of the group to have a look.  Once inside the Sanctuary, we spotted a 2nd Western Tanager as well as 21 other bird species.  Highlights included nesting tree swallows, red-winged blackbirds and bushtits, a mallard female with 7 ducklings, a great blue heron, and 2 adult bald eagles (flyovers).  The eagles nest nearby – on the south side of Hastings Street.  Neotropical migrants (birds travelling along the Pacific Flyway from Central and South America) included 4 yellow-rumped warblers (2 Audubon’s form and 2 Myrtle form), 5 Wilson’s warblers, and an orange-crowned warbler.  Perhaps the most exciting sighting of the morning was a flyover by 4 turkey vultures.   All in all, we spent a very enjoyable morning together.  Many thanks to the Event Planning Committee, especially Nature Vancouver, for nominating the Sanctuary as a 2012 MBD walk venue!

Success with The Big Year and Migratory Bird Traffic Report for May 16th
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Success with The Big Year and Migratory Bird Traffic Report for May 16th

[three_fourth]A huge thanks to everyone who joined us for our screening of The Big Year on Wednesday night at the University of Ottawa. The event was a successful celebration of International Migratory Bird Day (or week) and was a great opportunity for birders and non-birders alike to come together for a hoot - pun fully intended. "The bird is the word", as Ben Welland suggests in his column in today's edition of OttawaXpress magazine. For added fun at the event Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club representatives Ann and Gordon MacKenzie, Jeff Skevington and Jennifer Spallin volunteered to field questions as part of Q &; A session after the film. Many thanks to this group for their excellent contributions and for teaching this birder several new things! And I must offer one more big thanks again to Dave Brown and Robyn Bresnahan from CBC Radio One's Ottawa Morning show, for their excellent work this week to insert migratory bird traffic reports into each morning's broadcast (in addition to having me on-air on Tuesday morning). I hope that listeners in Ottawa-Gatineau have had fun hearing about the feathered friends moving through and taking-up residence in our region this spring. We submitted the following report to CBC as the final installment in our migratory bird traffic series. Many thanks again to Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club volunteer Chris Lewis for providing the bird report data to me each evening - we couldn't have done it without her help! [separator headline="h2" title="Migratory Bird Traffic Report - May 15-16th "]

The number of Warbler species spotted locally remains stable at 22. Ottawa-Gatineau birders spotted a couple of Common Loons loafing and fishing below the Deschenes Rapids and at Shirley's Bay, though still no reports of their Red-throated counterparts at Lac Deschênes. An often elusive and acrobatic Least Bittern was spotted in a west end marsh near the old Nortel campus - both Virginia and Sora Rails have been spotted there recently. The skies downtown are being patrolled by a pair of breeding Peregrine Falcons, whose nest is precariously located on the Delta Hotel downtown - this no doubt has our smaller feathered friends on alert. Gorgeous Scarlet Tanagers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have been singing at Shirley's Bay recently, where computerized-sounding Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks are all very active on territory. An Evening Grosbeak was also spotted hanging out on Parliament,and small numbers of Chimny Swifts are being reported in the region. Red-eyed Vireos continue to move through the area in large numbers, accompanied by large numbers of shorebirds, including Least Sandpipers.
[/three_fourth][one_fourth_last] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="200"]Northern Saw-whet Owl Northern Saw-whet Owl[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="178"]Image of a Blackburnian Warbler Blackburnian Warbler (Alan Woodhouse)[/caption] [/one_fourth_last]

The Big Year Screening in Ottawa May 16
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The Big Year Screening in Ottawa May 16

Hello again bird fans! If you're in Ottawa tonight, why not swing by Ottawa University for a screening of The Big Year, a family-friendly comedy about birding starring Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black.Here are the details:Where: Alumni Theatre in the University Centre at the University of Ottawa (85 University Private, off Laurier Avenue)
When: Doors open at 7pm, event starts at 7:30pm
How much?: $5 per person (family rates available, too; the movie is rated PG)
Why: To celebrate our migratory birds!
Connect with us on Facebook page or email me, Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada's manager of protected areas, at amacdonald@naturecanada.ca if you have any questions.

What’s that tropical bird doing in my yard?
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What’s that tropical bird doing in my yard?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="320"]Evening Grosbeak Evening Grosbeak by Doug Greenberg, a bird of the Boreal forest[/caption] It’s a question some people find themselves asking as they sip their morning coffee on their balcony and are treated to the sight of a bird – a ‘tropical’ bird. Alex MacDonald, our protected areas manager, found himself pondering that question one morning while sitting on his parents’ balcony in Nova Scotia. Earlier that year, Alex had lived in Panama and had become accustomed to the sight of the colourful, tropical birds in that country. You can imagine his surprise when he thought he spotted one in the Canadian Maritimes! It was in fact an Evening Grosbeak, a bird common to the Boreal forest. Many of the species of bird that are commonly seen or heard in the spring in Canada are migratory birds that spend the winter in a warmer country south of the border. After over-wintering in warmer parts of the U.S., and in Central and South America, some migratory birds return to Canada for the summer to breed and raise their young. One of the most popular destinations for returning birds is the Boreal Forest. What draws billions of birds to the Boreal Forest every year? Abundant waterways, from rivers and swamps to lakes and wetlands, are characteristic of the Boreal forest  and provide plentiful food and shelter for breeding and nesting birds. But before reaching the Boreal, migratory birds will stop in the more populated areas of Canada to rest, refuel and wait for favorable weather conditions to continue their migration. Don’t be surprised to find unique visitors to your yard this spring as the birds wing their way north! You can help them reach their northern breeding grounds by following one of these 12 ways to help birds. And if you happen to snap a photo of a migratory bird, we’d love it if you shared your nature photography with our Facebook fans! Happy birding.

Migratory Bird Traffic Reports?
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Migratory Bird Traffic Reports?

[two_third]Hi Folks! As part of Nature Canada's celebrations of International Migratory Bird Day here in the capital, we're coordinating a fun initiative with the Ottawa Field-Naturalists Club (OFNC). Each day with the help of OFNC birders and volunteers we're submitting a migratory bird traffic report to the local CBC Radio One show, Ottawa Morning, with host Robyn Bresnahan. I expect you're asking yourself 'what is migratory bird traffic?' Well, it's a new way to think about the movement of hundreds of millions of birds throughout our hemisphere each spring and fall. Our skies and the lands and waters beneath them, are a lot like trails, collectors and highways for our feathered friends as they move with the seasons. Here at Nature Canada, I thought to myself 'if we can report on vehicular traffic every day, why not celebrate IMBD by reporting on the massive 'winged migration' that's going on right above our heads?' I thank the good folks at CBC Ottawa for their interest in the idea! This is also a golden opportunity to promote our efforts to celebrate, raise awareness, protect and monitor the globally significant Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area, straddling the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Gatineau. This week during Ottawa Morning, traffic announcer and radio personality Dave Brown is reporting on local migratory bird traffic in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, time permitting. You can listen for the bird reports by tuning into Ottawa Morning from 5:30 am to 8:37 am (eastern) at 91.5 FM or via the internet. Without my morning shade-grown coffee, I stuttered my way through a great interview with Robyn on this morning's show Here are this week's first two migratory bird traffic reports, as submitted to Ottawa Morning. Bear in mind that air-time is precious and we don't expect that each piece will be read in its entirety - but you can check our blog each day to read the full report. [separator headline="h2" title="Report for May 12th & 13th"]

Good numbers of Warblers have been passing through the Ottawa West area, with 20 different species recorded around Mud Lake-Britannia. Canada Warblers are beginning to arrive in the region, lagging a bit behind the White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows that have been moving through Britannia and Shirley’s Bay in good numbers. There’s a lot of traffic noise in Ottawa West related to many songbird species that are looking for that special ‘someone’ for the breeding season. Waterfowl numbers are modest on the Deschênes Rapids. With continued warm weather we should see some increased traffic in the next few days.
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With the warm weather we continue to see lots of Warblers passing through Ottawa, with 22 different species observed – up 2 species from the weekend. A lonely male Hooded Warbler was spotted on the Ottawa General Hospital campus – a rare treat in the capital. Birders are still reporting a stalled Carolina Wren in the Britannia woods who, after spending all winter at backyard feeders, may now be looking for mate in the area. Several species of insect-feeding birds still being reported in good numbers in Ottawa West, including Flycatchers and Vireos; here’s hoping they stick around until black-fly season! Lots of shorebirds are moving through to northern breeding grounds, including Spotted Sandpipers and Dunlin. Finally, birders near Dunrobin are reporting slow-moving Rusty Blackbirds who in the face of a more than 90% decline in the last 40 years, are returning to their Boreal forest breeding grounds to hopefully raise some fledglings!
Many sincere thanks to OFNC volunteers Chris Lewis and Remy Poulin for their help in making this fun initiative possible!
  [/two_third] [one_third_last] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="200"]Image of a Common Tern Common Tern in southwest Nova Scotia[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="200"]Image of a Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron[/caption] [/one_third_last]

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