Nature Canada

Canadian Cities Working to Protect Bird Populations!

On May 7, the eve of World Migratory Bird Day, Nature Canada welcomed Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and London as the first Bird Friendly certified cities.  

The Bird Friendly City certification standard was developed by Nature Canada with the support of Environment and Climate Change Canada, as a way to encourage Canadian cities and towns to become safer places for birds. Certified cities are those where threats to birds are mitigated, nature is restored, and the community celebrates and monitors birds. 

Bird populations are in trouble globally. We have lost over 3 billion birds over the last 50 years alone,  mainly due to human action. The crisis of bird populations mirrors the biodiversity crisis facing the planet, and it’s our collective responsibility to restore nature so that bird populations rebound and thrive. 

Nature Canada has been building relationships with nature-based organizations; many of them completely volunteer-based, to form Bird Teams that engage the public and municipalities on actions that can be taken to restore bird populations and reduce harm to these feathered friends. 

Through these efforts, we are so excited to share in their success as they lead the charge on making Canadian urban centres more Bird Friendly. For the first time in Canada, cities are being recognized on a national level for doing their part in protecting bird populations in their communities – and it couldn’t come at a better time. 

Tree Swallow – all swallow species have lost 50% to 95% of their populations in Canada. Photo by Ted Cheskey.  To learn more about how to save our swallows click here

The certification of these four cities is the result of years of ardent work by dedicated volunteers, city staff, and council. These initiatives are great and innovative examples of thoughtful policies implemented to save bird populations and supported by strong leadership at the local level. 

In 2007, Toronto Council passed the first bird-friendly building guidelines to reduce window collisions. Vancouver passed the first comprehensive bird strategy in 2015. While Calgary has been a shining example of how a city can successfully address the ever-present threat of outdoor cats (the biggest cause of human-related bird mortality), and London showed us all how to respect nesting birds when they saved a stoplight Robin!  

As urban areas in Canada expand, cities and towns must work diligently to ensure human expansion does not come at the expense of birds. Nature, and particularly birds, are too often overlooked by development plans. If we’ve learned anything throughout this pandemic, it’s that people depend on nearby nature. Seeing a beautiful bird can bring a lot of joy — especially during hard times.

Our cities need clean air, clean water, healthy tree canopies, and green spaces for residents and birds alike. It is our hope that municipalities across Canada follow the lead of the first four certified cities in protecting and supporting bird populations. With Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and London, we are off to a great start!

To learn more about what cities can do to become Bird Friendly Cities, or to find out if there is a Bird Team in your city visit:

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Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.