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Swallows Sending an SOS
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Swallows Sending an SOS

Since 1970, the populations of Aerial Insectivores (birds who feed by catching insects in flight) have declined more than any other bird group. Studies in Europe and the Caribbean point to significant declines in insect populations, and species like the Barn Swallow or Purple Martins are struggling to find food. Pesticides to subdue insect populations have played a huge role in modern agriculture since the Second World War, and it seems its effects are catching up to our flying insect-dependent birds. The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) in Canada, which includes Nature Canada, recently released the second State of Canada’s Birds report. In this report, we showed how the populations of Canadian bird groups have changed since 1970, and for aerial Insectivores, it is not promising. [caption id="attachment_50727" align="aligncenter" width="642"] Barn Swallow Perching[/caption]

What's Happening?

Neonicotinoids (Neonics) are the latest widely used family of pesticides that appear to also be destroying non-target insect populations and, by extension, the species that feed on them-including our swallows! When there isn’t enough food, reproduction decreases and the population of a species can’t keep up with the mortality rate, resulting in a declining population. Add in the effects of climate change, collisions with human structures and inadequate breeding habitats, and we have a recipe for disaster. Climate change is also, among many other things, negatively impacting aerial insectivores. Birds time their migrations and breeding cycles to line up with food availability. Fluctuations in our formerly consistent weather patterns, due to the changing climate, is making their survival difficult since there is often no longer a reliable food source at migratory stopovers (when these birds need food the most). The natural cycles of migratory birds (or, their internal clocks) are not adapting to the changes fast enough. Through Nature Canada’s Save our Swallows campaign, we have developed simple beneficial practices for rural residents in southern Ontario to follow. If you live in a rural area, consider adopting some of these practices yourself and sharing them with your neighbours. [caption id="attachment_50735" align="aligncenter" width="659"] A young Purple Martin[/caption]

Purple Martins

Purple Martins, the largest member of the swallow species, have a close relationship with humans that started in pre-colonial times when they got used to nesting in gourds hung up to dry by Indigenous peoples.  Now, they are 100 percent dependent upon human-built housing for their nesting habitats east of the Rocky Mountains. This means that we as humans are responsible to look out for them and to help ensure their survival. As part of our Save Our Swallows (SOS) campaign, we are committed to improving the southern Ontario breeding habitats for Purple Martins. With the support of the Ontario Purple Martin Association, we are providing 30 “condos” that can support 14 families in each, placed along Lake Erie and eastern Lake Ontario. [caption id="attachment_50723" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Example of a bird housing unit, or "condo"[/caption]

What Now?

Aerial insectivores like swallows play a huge role in keeping our forests and farms healthy by eating insects that damage crops and vulnerable plants. With your help, we can continue working with farmers to encourage responsible land stewardship. Birds of prey such as the Bald Eagle have recovered since the USA and Canada banned indiscriminate DDT use in the 1970s. This is proof that by spreading awareness of this critical issue, we can change the trend for swallows. Help our birds however possible. You can share Nature Canada’s posts, donate to support the cause, sign the petition, or even fight to advocate for more protected areas. Every effort adds together, and there is proof that conservation efforts work. With just a little cooperation, we can save our birds.  

Remember…

When we take action together, conservation works.

 

How You Can Help:

Sign the Petition: Nature Canada is working to create more protected areas in Canada to save our birds, aquatic animals and other endangered wildlife. Sign our petition to create real change and have your voice heard by our government when it matters most.  Speak Out: Use your voice to demand action from our government against broad-scale pesticide use and support organizations that advocate for nature. You can start by sharing our petition on social media! Donate: Make a one-time or monthly donation to support our work, and join our email list to receive notifications of upcoming campaigns and our current issue-focus. Every little bit helps! Vote with Your Fork: Support sustainable range-fed beef, sustainably run farms and choose produce that is organically grown. Also, avoid mass-produced “big batch” products that increase product demand and food waste by supporting local small batch businesses.     View the NABCI in Canada Report Here: www.stateofcanadasbirds.org Le Rapport est Disponible en Français Ici: www.etatdesoiseauxcanada.org

Hudsonian Godwit now threatened
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Hudsonian Godwit now threatened

Hudsonian Godwit was added to the growing list of threatened wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) during deliberations last week.  It is the eighth shorebird species to be added to the COSEWIC list. COSEWIC is an independent body of species scientists who have the responsibility of assessing and attributing a status to Canadian wildlife species. COSEWIC meets twice annually to assess and assign status to Canada’s ever-growing list of species under review. Once COSEWIC attributes a status of either Special Concern, Threatened or Endangered, the Federal government has six months to rule on whether the species is added to one Schedule One of Canada Species at Risk Act (SARA). Once that happens, the species then has the added power of federal law to contribute to its recovery. Figure 1 from the Macaulay Library, Cornell Labratory of Ornithology, Birds of North America


why the Hudsonian Godwit's survival is threatened

The Hudsonian Godwit has many life-history characteristics that render its populations vulnerable to habitat loss, climate change impacts, and pollution. For starters, its breeding range is restricted to a small area along the Hudson Bay coast, a small area along the Beaufort Sea near the Mackenzie River delta, and some scattered locations in western Alaska. The more restricted the range of a species, the more vulnerable it is to localized catastrophic events like a severe storm or fire.  Its global population is estimated at 50,000 to 70,000 birds. Climate change is happening at an accelerated rate in the Arctic, and it is likely that a combination of melting permafrost, sea level rise and drought is already impacting Godwit productivity. Challenges only get greater along its tremendous migration route, a 20,000 to 30,000 km round trip from the Arctic to southern tip of South America.  Godwits are known to fly thousands of kilometres non-stop from James Bay or the Atlantic Coast to the northern coast of South America. Loss and degradation of habitat, pollution and disturbance from humans are all threats that undermine the viability of essential stopover sites along its migration route.

Nature Canada knows this species well

It is one of the focal species in our work to support Cree Nations along southern James Bay with their own conservation efforts. For example, about 10% of its global population is known to stopover along the coast of the Moose Cree First Nation, contributing to the status of this coastline as Pei lay sheesh kow a candidate Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site. Other areas around James Bay also support significant numbers of the species on migration, particularly the delta and associated coastline near the mouth of the Albany River, which is believed to support about 20% of the species population. Nature Canada has worked with the Cree Nation of Waskaganish since 2012 to identify important shorebird habitat along their coastal region, leading to recognizing the Miinshtuk-Wiinebek IBA, a new Important Bird and Biodiversity Area on James Bay.  We have also found large numbers of Hudsonian Godwits in the area in flocks of up to 350 individuals. We hope to continue this work further north with the Cree Nation of Wemindji where more areas of importance to the Hudsonian Godwit and other threatened species can be identified and protected.

what canada needs to do

By finding out these birds are stopping during their epic migrations, and ensuring that area is safe and that the local population is engaged in stewardship and able to provide the species habitat needs, we are able to contribute to the species recover. Stopover habitat is like the links in a chain. Each link is essential to the chain’s existence. Shorebirds depend upon networks of these chains of stopover sites for their survival. The sites can easily become degraded from human activity, from upstream pollution, from oil and chemical spills, from invasive species, or from competing human activities. Canada needs to step up to recognize the critical sites in Canada, like James Bay, and support the indigenous nation’s efforts to recognize and protect these sites.

Finally, Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area Established
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Finally, Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area Established

[caption id="attachment_37532" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and Legal Counsel.[/caption] Literally decades after being first proposed, the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area (mNWA) adjacent to the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island was established on June 27, 2018, protecting vital habitat for millions of seabirds. Congratulations to Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and her officials for persevering to achieve protection of the 11,546 square kilometers of marine environment surrounding the five Scott Islands (which are already protected under British Columbia law). These islands, and their surrounding marine waters, are one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on Canada’s Pacific coast. The Scott Islands area, an Important Bird Area (IBA), supports the highest concentration of breeding seabirds on Canada’s Pacific coast and provides key ecological breeding and nesting habitat for 40 per cent of BC’s seabirds, including: 90% of Canada’s Tufted Puffin; 95% of Pacific Canada’s Common Murre; 50% of the world’s Cassin's Auklet; and 7% of the world’s Rhinoceros Auklet. The area attracts 5 to 10 million migratory birds each year. Many travel vast distances across the Pacific to feed in the area. Some, such as the Sooty Shearwater, are at risk globally. Others are federally listed species at risk (e.g., Short-tailed Albatross, Black-footed Albatross, Pink-footed Shearwater, Marbled Murrelet, Ancient Murrelet). Environment and Climate Change Canada leads the planning and management of the NWA in collaboration with other federal departments as well as the Province of British Columbia, Tlatlasikwala First Nation, Quatsino First Nation and stakeholders. For more information see the following. UPDATE: On Thursday, September 13, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, spoke on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, making the official announcement related to the protection of the 11,546 square kilometers of marine environment surrounding the five Scott Islands.


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Tag, you’re it! – An update on Nature Canada’s new Save our Swallows initiative
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Tag, you’re it! – An update on Nature Canada’s new Save our Swallows initiative

Aerial insectivores (birds that feed on flying insects while airborne, including swallows) are the most rapidly declining group of birds in Canada. Earlier this month, I returned from five days of very exciting fieldwork where, in partnership with Dr. Kevin Fraser of the University of Manitoba’s Avian Behaviour & Conservation Lab, we deployed 54 Motus tracking tags on Purple Martins along the shores of Lake Erie. This was Nature Canada’s fifth year conducting fieldwork to track Purple Martins, but it was one of the first opportunities for fieldwork as part of our exciting new Save Our Swallows initiative. This project, supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, aims to mobilize specific communities for the conservation and recovery of Ontario’s declining and at-risk swallow populations. The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is a collaborative research project (operated by our partners at Bird Studies Canada) which tracks the movement of small flying organisms (like birds) across an array of automated radio telemetry receiver stations around the world. This is done with tiny, ultra-lightweight radio transmitters that broadcast a unique signal several times each minute. Consider the small radio transmitter (or Motus tag) like a backpack: first, we affix the backpack on the backs of Purple Martins before they begin their long migration down to Brazil for the winter. If during their journeys, these tagged Purple Martins come within range of one of the over 300 Motus receiver stations distributed throughout North and South America, the signal emitted by their backpack will be detected by the station. When detections across multiple stations are combined, we are able to map the journey of these incredible long-distance migrants across thousands of kilometers! [caption id="attachment_38053" align="alignright" width="225"] Adult female Purple Martin sporting a Motus tag & tracking band (© Brodie Badcock-Parks)[/caption] Purple Martins, the largest member of the swallow family, have been experiencing steep population declines since the mid-1980s[1]. It is estimated that the species is currently experiencing a decline of about 4.5% per year in Ontario. The reasons for this decline are complex but are likely due to a number of threats that occur between their North American breeding grounds and South American over-wintering habitat – which is why it is very important to learn more about their movements and behavior through migration-tracking research. Some other local threats to the population could be due to pesticide use, weather impacts due to climate change, or factors associated with their pre-migratory roosts. Our first set of Motus deployments this season was at Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (HBMO) near Amherstburg, Ontario. Over two days at Holiday Beach, we worked with partners from the Observatory, as well as from the Ontario Purple Martin Association to deploy 31 tags at the HBMO Purple Martin colony. We then traveled up to Sparta (near Port Bruce), where we deployed the remaining 23 tags. In total, we tagged 16 adults and 38 nestlings, including five complete families! One of the reasons for tagging complete families (i.e. both parents & all nestings) is to determine whether entire families migrate as a unit to their wintering grounds (like a long family vacation!) or if they travel separately. [caption id="attachment_38055" align="alignleft" width="254"] A 17-day-old Purple Martin nestling outfitted with a Motus tag (© Ted Cheskey)[/caption] Furthermore, it is our hope that the data that comes out of these deployments will provide more information regarding critical swallow roosts along the Southern Great Lakes. At the end of their breeding season, Purple Martins, as well as other swallows, will form large roosts (think of them like large dormitories) along Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, before they start their journey to the Northern region of Brazil. These roosts are largely a mystery in terms of their composition and dynamics, but one thing we do know is that they contain many, many swallows, including Purple Martin: some roosts contain thousands of swallows, while others contain hundreds of thousands - large enough to be detected by weather radar! Overall, Nature Canada’s trip down to Southwestern Ontario to deploy Motus tags on Purple Martins was a big success! It is our hope that through this exciting research, we can learn more about the life cycle of these declining species, as well as focus on ways that we can work together to save our swallows in Ontario.


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[1] Nebel S, Mills A, McCracken JD, Taylor PD. 2010. Declines of aerial insectivores in North America follow a geographic gradient. Avian Conserv Ecol. 5(2):1. [online] http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ACE-00391-050201

Key Biodiversity Areas: What they are and why we care
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Key Biodiversity Areas: What they are and why we care

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Ted Cheskey Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager[/caption] For more than 30 years, organizations around the world have been developing standards to identify ecologically significant sites using quantitative and qualitative methods. In 2004, the IUCN Membership made a request for an international standard to identify important sites. Subsequently, the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSN) and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) formed a Joint Task Force on Biodiversity and Protected Areas to start work on establishing the criteria for Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). More than 10 years later, these standards are finally coming together. But what are KBAs? And what makes them different from other site identification standards?

KBAs defined

KBAs are “sites that contribute to the global persistence of biodiversity.” This means they are sites that are representative and significant, in one way or another, of the wide array of ecosystems, creatures and species found around the world. The KBA designation covers areas important in terms of animal species, but also extends to areas significant for their plant life or their life-sustaining environment. To be a KBA, sites must meet one of 11 criteria – determined through an evaluation process based on empirical data and carefully laid out methodology. Each criterion has determining thresholds and they are split into five groups as follows: [one_third] Image of a whooping crane [/one_third] [two_third_last]
  1. Threatened biodiversity
    1. Threatened species
    2. Threatened ecosystem type
  2. Geographically restricted biodiversity
    1. Individual geographic restricted species
    2. Co-occurring geographically restricted species
    3. Geographically restricted assemblages
    4. Geographically restricted ecosystem types
  3. Ecological integrity
  4. Biological processes
  5. Irreplaceability[/two_third_last]

How KBAs are different from IBAs and other important sites

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are one of the many types of important area designations the KBA methodology is built on. IBAs are a conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. To date, there are over 12,000 IBAs worldwide and nearly 600 sites in Canada. The key difference between initiatives like IBAs and KBAs is in the focus. Where designations such as IBAs have had a narrow focus (in the case of IBAs: birds), KBAs are less restrictive. While BirdLife recognizes that healthy bird diversity is often indicative of healthy overall biodiversity (hence the “and Biodiversity” addendum to the name in 2013), the criteria for IBAs – globally threatened species, restricted-range species, biome-restricted species and congregations – are bird-centric and therefore defined in terms of occurring bird populations. What KBAs seek to do, in a sense, is combine these various initiatives into one designation, creating a global database of important sites that encompass a wide range of biodiversity factors. For example, many IBAs can be rolled into KBAs in the next years. That said, it will be a while before designations like IBA are done away with entirely. canada-1362451_1920

Why KBAs are important

You might be wondering what the purpose of such designations is. After all, they serve to identify important sites but they don’t offer them any protection. At its core, the answer is simple: The first step to protecting a site is determining that it is worth protecting. The KBA designation serves as a quantitative and qualitative measure that the site is important. Not to mention, before a site can be designated, empirical data is compiled to back the nomination up. The bottom line is that the KBA designation helps direct research where it is most needed, and it creates a database of sites worth considering for protection along with the scientific data that speaks to this. KBAs are crucial because they help us as a global community identify important sites before we lose them. Nature Canada has a long and rich history of advocating for the protection of habitat and the expansion of the range of protected areas.  KBA will be another tool used in the fight for nature and the conservation of its biodiversity.
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What You Didn’t Know About Manawagonish Island
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What You Didn’t Know About Manawagonish Island

[caption id="attachment_29148" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Asma Hassan Asma Hassan, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Asma Hassan.  Manawagonish Island is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area or 'IBA' located just southeast of New Brunswick. The island has a rich history with regards to the species that inhabit it and the habitat it provides. The Nature Trust of New Brunswick has owned the island since 1992 when the original owners donated the land to the organization. So what is so interesting about the history of Manawagonish Island? It is a significant research site for scientists. Scientists have been tracking seabirds on the island since as far back as 1940. One particular area of their study is the effect of pesticides on the seabird population of the island. The Canadian Wildlife Service, scientists at the New Brunswick Museum and a dedicated bird enthusiast named William Astle have made significant contributions to this topic. In addition to their research on pesticides, they have also studied the movement patterns of seabirds such as Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants. This specific study was conducted in 1984 using a banding method to track the movement of the seabirds. The results of the study suggest that both the Great Black-backed Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants move northward into the Northumberland Strait after the breeding season. The research conducted by these researchers is available online for interested academics and fellow bird enthusiasts.Image of a Gadwall The island has undergone significant ecological changes in the past few decades. Once upon a time, Manawagonish Island was covered in beautiful spruce and fir trees, but changes in vegetation led to a significant decline in these trees. In order to create a hospitable environment for the island’s avian inhabitants, the Nature Trust actually constructed poles to substitute as trees for the purpose of nesting in 2007. There have been substantial changes in the island’s sea bird population. In 1948, two pairs of Great Blue Herons were recorded on Manawagonish Island and by 1979 there were at least 44 active nests. The number of Gadwall birds in Manawagonish Island has also been increasing since the early 1900s, though the population is still very small. The really interesting thing here is that the island was not even a known nesting place for Gadwall until the 1930s. Reports prepared by Astle and Donald McAlpine of the New Brunswick Museum also indicate a large increase in Great Black-backed Gulls since 1940. Manawagonish Island has a long history of providing a haven to the birds that have made the island their home. Though people are permitted to visit the island, they should take all necessary precautions so as not to disturb this sanctuary. It is an area that Nature Canada wants to see designated as a National Wildlife Area to provide federal protection to all species and habitats on the island. You can also learn about other proposed protected areas here.

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A partial victory for Nature and the Prince Edward County South Shore IBA
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A partial victory for Nature and the Prince Edward County South Shore IBA

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Ted Cheskey Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks[/caption] On February 26, the Environmental Review Tribunal ruled on the challenge of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) to the Renewable Energy Permit issued to White Pines Wind Inc. The Tribunal accepted APPEC’s arguments that the project, with its 27 industrial wind turbines along Lake Ontario, would cause serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s Turtle and Little Brown Bat populations. The Tribunal also recognized that the project “presents a significant risk of serious harm to migrating birds” and that “clearly the Project site is poorly chosen from a migratory bird perspective.” However, the Tribunal determined that the project would not cause serious and irreversible harm to bird populations. Nature Canada applauds APPEC, and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists in particular, for leading the charge to protect the shores and offshore waters of the globally significant Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). The IBA is of great significance to many different groups of species including waterfowl offshore, migratory birds that use the entire south shore as stopover habitat and species at risk including Whippoorwill, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark and Golden Eagle. [caption id="attachment_26704" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of wind turbines Wind Turbines on Wolfe Island. Photo by Ted Cheskey[/caption] However, the Tribunal ruled in favour of the Permit Holder in deciding that the impact on these species would likely be insignificant and could easily be offset by compensatory habitat and mitigation. With regard to Whippoorwill, a nocturnal aerial insectivore that has lost over 75% of its population in Canada since 1970, it is most unfortunate that the Tribunal did not take a precautionary approach in its decision, as the Tribunal did recognize that there is an evidence gap as to whether the compensatory habitat would be of any value for Whippoorwill. Instead, the Tribunal seemed to base its decision on the fact that Whippoorwill has not been reported as a collision casualty with wind turbines ever in Canada. The Tribunal appears to have put less weight on the fact that the industrialization of the area could render it unsuitable for the species. The area of the undertaking for this project has a strong breeding population of Whippoorwill, which is isolated from other regional breeding populations on the Canadian Shield north of Belleville. The Tribunal also accepted the argument of the Permit Holder’s experts that risk to migratory birds could be mitigated and did not pose a serious threat, despite its acknowledgement, as previously noted, that “the Project site is poorly chosen from a migratory bird perspective.” The Tribunal decision and its earlier decision on the Ostrander project now stand as regrettable precedents for the proposition that wind projects do not cause serious and irreversible harm to migratory bird populations or avian species at risk. Countering the professional consultants engaged by the wind energy industry is clearly a challenge to the local groups such as APPEC who lack the proponent’s financial resources. This makes it all the more impressive that the APPEC did convince the Tribunal that the project would cause serious and irreversible impacts to the Blanding’s Turtle and Little Brown Bat.

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White Pines Wind Project Decision Harmful to Birds and Bats
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White Pines Wind Project Decision Harmful to Birds and Bats

July 22, 2015 (Ottawa) - Nature Canada, Ontario Nature and American Bird Conservancy are extremely disappointed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s decision last week to approve the White Pines Prince Edward County Wind Energy Project in an internationally designated Important Bird Area (IBA). “There are so many things wrong about this decision and the only reasonable conclusion is – that it is bad for nature” said Ted Cheskey, Senior Conservation Manager at Nature Canada. “More populations of species at risk will be put at risk and more critical habitat will be destroyed. Nature Canada is not opposed to the Project as a whole, but several specific turbines should not have been approved. We are also at a loss to understand why the Ministry would approve this project without waiting for the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal in the Ostrander case.” “We are deeply concerned about the cumulative impacts of the projects proposed along the south shore of Prince Edward County, a significant migratory corridor for birds and bats, and habitat for species at risk like the Blanding’s Turtle.” said Joshua Wise, Ontario Nature’s Greenway Program Manager. “Their local population will struggle to survive the impacts of the proposed network of service roads required for this project. We are all for green energy, but not at the expense of nature. “These are not just Ontario’s birds” said Michael Hutchins, Director of the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign. “There is growing concern in the United States that the government of Ontario and Canada’s wind industry is failing to address the serious harm that poorly sited wind energy projects such as this one are causing or will cause to our already stressed shared bird and bat populations.”   -30- About Nature Canada Nature Canada is the oldest national nature organization in Canada with 45,000 members and supporters. Nature Canada’s mission is to protect and conserve Canada’s wildlife by working with people and advocating for nature. In partnership with Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada is the Canadian partner of BirdLife International. About Ontario Nature Ontario Nature protects Ontario’s wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Established in 1931, we are a charitable, membership-based conservation organization with over 150 member groups and 30,000 individual members and supporters. About American Bird Conservancy Established in 1994, American Bird Conservancy is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement. ABC’s work has resulted in the establishment of 65 international bird reserves, with over 990,000 acres protected, and 3.5 million trees and shrubs planted to enhance bird habitat. Media Contacts Ted Cheskey Senior Conservation Manager Nature Canada Tel: 613-323-3331 tcheskey@naturecanada.ca Joshua Wise Greenway Program Manager Ontario Nature Tel: 416-444-8419 joshuaw@ontarionature.org Michael Hutchins Director of the Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign American Bird Conservancy Tel: 202-888-7485 MHutchins@abcbirds.org

Nature Canada and its partners raise their voices in opposition to industrial wind energy projects in fragile IBAs in the eastern end of Lake Ontario.
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Nature Canada and its partners raise their voices in opposition to industrial wind energy projects in fragile IBAs in the eastern end of Lake Ontario.

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Ted Cheskey  Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks[/caption] In an unprecedented partnership, Nature Canada has been joined by Ontario Nature, the Kingston Field Naturalists and the American Bird Conservancy in opposition to a recently approved industrial wind energy project that threatens birds and other wildlife on Amherst Island. "Ontario’s decision to approve Windlectric’s 26-turbine project on Amherst Island—one of the province’s crown jewels of nature—is another in a string of ‘tough on nature’ decisions to build wind energy projects in Important Bird Areas in the region" said Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s Director of Conservation. "Given Ontario’s failure to consider the cumulative effects of these projects on nature, the Environmental Review Tribunal should overturn the approval of the Amherst Island Project as well as that of White Pines. And given the clear breaches of the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, the federal government should in future apply its environmental assessment process to wind energy projects." [caption id="attachment_22410" align="alignright" width="300"]Purple Martins, one of the species threatened by these projects. Photo Ted Cheskey Purple Martins, one of the species threatened by these projects. Photo Ted Cheskey[/caption] Amherst Island, Wolfe Island and the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Areas, all within a few kilometres of each other, are on a bird superhighway during spring and fall migration. They also provide prime breeding habitat for the rapidly declining Purple Martin and several species at risk including Eastern Whip-poor-will, Bobolink, and the long-lived Blanding’s Turtle. 86 turbines were constructed on Wolfe Island in 2009. Three years of monitoring this project confirmed its reputation as one of the most deadly wind energy projects in North America for birds and bats. The recent approval of the Amherst and White Pines projects are very bad news for birds, bats, and turtles, and represent the significant industrialization of these ecological treasures. The “new” industrial landscapes will no doubt shock tourists used to the bucolic vistas of the region.   We are all awaiting the final decision on the Ostrander Point project proposal by the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal. Valiantly defended by the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, Ostrander Point is Crown land with habitat for rare species of animals and plants on the south shore of Prince Edward County. A proposal to build twelve 150 metre high wind turbines on it was approved, and then successfully appealed by the Naturalists, before passing through all levels of the Ontario judicial system. Now it is back in the hands of the Environmental Review Tribunal for a final decision.   For more information visit http://www.saveostranderpoint.org/.   Email Signup

Climate change pushing birds to extinction: report
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Climate change pushing birds to extinction: report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 9, 2014 (OTTAWA, ON) — Climate change seriously threatens bird species across Canada and the United States according to a new groundbreaking report released today by Nature Canada’s partner organization, the Audubon Society.  The report concludes that half of all birds studied could see their populations drop dramatically on account of climate change. According to the report, habitat disruption brought on by climate change is one of the main factors pushing bird populations into areas to which they are not adapted. The report finds that climate change is happening so fast that many species simply cannot keep up. It concludes that this is likely to lead to the decline of bird populations across North America and, in some cases, outright extinction. “Canada needs to prepare itself for an influx of climate refugee species displaced by warmer temperatures, habitat loss, drought or extreme weather,” said Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s Interim Executive Director. “Iconic species like the Chestnut-collared Longspur and the Ivory Gull need our support right now to ensure that they have the habitat they need to survive next year but also in coming years due to worsening climate change.” Audubon’s report echoes the findings of the State of Canada’s Birds report, produced in partnership with Nature Canada, showing that many bird species are declining dramatically in Canada. For 75 years, Nature Canada has worked to protect habitat for species at risk in Canada and internationally. “All the evidence suggests that habitat loss due to climate change is going to hit hard,” said Ted Cheskey, Senior Bird Conservation Manager at Nature Canada. “To help mitigate the impact of climate change, Nature Canada and our provincial affiliates are working with local field naturalist groups and First Nations communities to steward and conserve the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Canada identified as globally significant.”

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[one_third][separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson Senior Communications Manager 613-562-3447 ext 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka Communications Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_third] [one_third][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada:"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Nature Canada is a Canadian co-partner in BirdLife International, a global partnership of conservation organizations that conserve birds, habitat and global biodiversity. The Audubon Society is the American partner in BirdLife International. Read the full report here. [/one_third] [one_third_last][separator headline="h2" title="Multimedia resources:"]
[caption id="attachment_16133" align="aligncenter" width="125"]image of Ivory Gull Click for full-size image of Ivory Gull for media use[/caption] [caption id="attachment_16134" align="aligncenter" width="125"]image of Chestnut-collared Longspur Click for full-size image of Chestnut-collared Longspur for media use[/caption]
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