Saving Our Swallows in Every Community
This past Saturday, Nature Canada’s Aly Hyder Ali, Ted Cheskey and Alex Bencke organized and participated in an event to save our swallows at Ironwood Organics farm, with owner and farming guru Chris Wooding.
The day began in the afternoon, with an encouraging turnout of rural residents and farmers who were ready to learn about nature-friendly property stewardship and share their own knowledge.
The event began with the construction of nest boxes, structures intended to house cavity-nesting Tree Swallows that have suffered declines due to a long history of mature tree removal from rural forests. The takeaway of this activity was to demonstrate how easy and fun it is to create safe housing for our declining birds.
Every nest box that was built on Saturday represents an opportunity for a new generation of swallows.
Chris and Mary, the owners of Ironwood Organics, guided two tours around the farm, showing attendees the benefits of organic agriculture and how their heritage plants are grown in harmony with nature.
Chris and Mary’s lush green property represents years of proper land stewardship, and they were excited to share their knowledge.
The participants were treated to dinner in the sunshine, with a stunning view of the fields and trees – despite the occasional mosquito. Chris, Ted (Nature Canada’s Naturalist Director), and Aly (Nature Canada’s Conservation Coordinator) dove in to the details of what it means for a rural farmer to help save our swallows.
Other knowledgeable attendees, including Don and Marnie Ross of the Thousand Island Watershed Trust, Julie Servant of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, several members of the National Farmers Union and an impressive number of local conservation-focused groups contributed to the discussion.
The conversation included addressing common issues that farmers face, such as what to do for Barn Swallows when replacing an old barn.
There was no question that the participants in this event were dedicated, caring, and thoughtful people. All in attendance were looking for ways that they could contribute to solving the problems facing our struggling birds.
Farmers and rural Canadians are not the only people who can help increase bird populations. There are plenty of actions that urban residents can take as well!
Some tips include:
- Making smart consumer choices: purchasing wood and paper products that are certified by the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) or that have the Forest Sustainability Certification (FSC)
- Choosing local: support your local organic growers and farmers by buying food from farmer’s markets, or even subscribe to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). There are CSA systems across Canada where you can have fresh and organic fruits, vegetables, and other foods delivered to a convenient pick-up location on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. One such amazing CSA system can be found here
- Purchasing shade-grown and bird-friendly organic coffee and chocolate from Latin America
- Reducing window strikes by making your windows more visible to birds
- Making your yard bird-friendly: supervise your pets, keep your bird feeders clean, and provide a clean water source
- Supporting nature conservation efforts: Donating to and supporting important conservation efforts helps them to continue making progress.
With the recent release of the 2019 State of Canada’s Birds Report, we have become even more aware of the ever-increasing population declines facing many Canadian birds. It will take collaboration and teamwork from all Canadians to prevent this population decline from continuing.
At Nature Canada we’re working to double Canadian protected areas. We must save these important habitats before they disappear forever – and the wildlife along with it. You can help us do this by signing Nature Canada’s petition to save our grasslands and keeping an eye out for future conservation initiatives.
We can change the future for the better, but it all starts with you.
Read Nature Canada’s blog about the 2019 State of Canada’s Birds Report Here
All photos courtesy of Nature Canada staff member Alex Bencke.