Henslow's Sparrow birds nature animals wildlife

Henslow’s Sparrow

Geoff CarpentierOne of the biggest challenges birds face is the journey north each spring. Migration is rife with obstacles to survival.

This spring is especially problematic due to the cold and wet weather we’ve had. Birds that rely on insects to fatten up for the migration face unprecedented challenges as snow, rain, wind and very cold temperatures have made food scarce.

Coupled with the ongoing decline in the populations of many of our migrants by about 70 per cent in the last five decades and the outlook is dismal.

Almost every year for the past 35 or so years, I’ve done a birdathon in support of projects designed to help or, in some cases, save Canadian birds. Every year, I’m hopeful that the state and the fate of the birds will improve.

I’m a very optimistic person, but I wonder how long the birds can continue to withstand the pressures of climate change, urban sprawl, hunting, impacts with buildings and windows, cats, cars, wires, pesticides and habitat loss before they disappear from our landscape forever.

Aerial insectivores (swallows and flycatchers) are in dire straits as insects disappear from the landscape around the world. Everywhere we’re encroaching on habitats and threatening the survival of virtually everything on Earth. From forests to oceans and from fields to marshes, we’re leading a relentless charge toward extinction. Shorebirds, owls, hawks and songbirds all are in dire danger.

This may sound like an exaggeration but, sadly, it’s not.

But who can help?

We can. So please give a hoot about our birds. A few caring people can help make one project designed to help our birds a reality. Doing so will offset some of the anthropomorphic impacts our lifestyle generates. A few hundred of you can ensure that many projects go forward with tens of thousands of birds protected.

Barn Owl birds nature animals wildlife

Barn Owl

Not sure what a birdathon is or why you should help?

There are so many good nature and environmentally-focused causes out there, and I’m proud to be part of several. But one near and dear to my heart is the Great Canadian Birdathon.

Like any other such event, it’s designed to raise awareness and much-needed funds for projects aimed at studying and protecting Canadian birds. Birds Canada sponsors this annual event to fund volunteer research projects across Canada. Many thousands of people in Canada (and around the world) participate in and/or sponsor the Great Canadian Birdathon in May each year. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised annually from this ambitious project.

Bird research and conservation projects across Canada benefit directly from your donations. The monies are distributed to individuals and groups working on projects to protect, enhance and study bird populations.

Prothonotary Warbler birds nature animals wildlife

Prothonotary Warbler

Some projects funded focus on piping plovers, purple martins, bird banding stations, loggerhead shrikes, barn swallows, bluebirds, seabirds, breeding bird atlases, migratory songbirds, hawks and barn owls, to name a few. Most of these worthwhile projects wouldn’t survive without your generous donations. I will be doing my birdathon in late May in support of North Durham Nature and Birds Canada. I’ll be out for 24 consecutive hours looking for as many bird species as I can find in the Ontario regions of Durham, Kirkfield and environs. I usually find more than 155 species of birds and hope to top my best year (180 species) this year – fingers crossed that both the birds and weather co-operate.

Why Christmas bird counts matter by Geoff Carpentier
Counts provide long-term data on the status of individual species in given areas

Please consider sponsoring me in this year’s Great Canadian Birdathon – you can help me make a difference. To make an online donation, go to my personal link – https://www.canadahelps.org/me/6Ktyncn.

Twenty-five per cent of the money I raise goes to our local nature club (North Durham Nature) to help fund their nature-focused local projects. I look forward to hearing from you to help me help our birds.

Now I have to get some rest so I can do my 24-hour bird count!

Piping Plover birds nature animals wildlife

Piping Plover

Geoff Carpentier is a published author, expedition guide and environmental consultant. Visit Geoff on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. For interview requests, click here.

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