“Look up . . . way up . . . is it a bird?” Well, actually, it’s millions of birds. Migrating birds are once again in flight—heading south towards warmth and their winter habitats.
Orillia is fortunate to be located on one of the most highly-trafficked north-south migratory flyways. There are over 450 bird species that spend at least part of their year in Canada, and many of them route through Ontario. Starting as early as mid-September and throughout the ensuing weeks, flocks and waves of these birds are visible on high as they pass through our area on their southward journey.
Each year, two ‘World Migratory Bird Days’ are declared by the World Migratory Bird Day organization. The second Saturday in May (May 13th this year) commemorated the northbound migration and the second Saturday in October (October 14th) has been designated World Migratory Bird Day for the southbound migration.
World Migratory Bird Days (WMBDs) are annual awareness-raising campaigns highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats enroute. WMB Days are recognized globally and have raised awareness of the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need to take steps to conserve and support them. These WMBD’s often have themes or focal points. This year the theme is “Water” and its importance for migrating birds.
The vast majority of migratory birds rely on aquatic ecosystems, including inland and coastal wetlands, rivers, lakes, streams, marshes and ponds. All are vital for feeding, drinking and places of rest during their long journeys. Unfortunately, aquatic ecosystems are becoming increasingly threatened, endangering the migratory birds that depend upon them. A growing human demand for water, pollution and climate change are having a direct impact on the availability of clean water, leaving many migratory birds high and dry!
People around the world are encouraged to support migrating birds and World Migratory Bird Day by participating in outings and events, by sharing their experiences, and by promoting the safety of migrating birds in their communications. Here in Orillia we are fortunate to have nearby locations that are ideal for observing many of the species that traffic through our region. Areas like Scout Valley, the Oro-Medonte Rail Trail, the Grant’s Woods Nature Reserve and the Wye Marsh are all close by and accessible for families and friends to get outside to enjoy nature while observing our feathered friends as they pass through the region.
Right at home, there are small measures we can take to help birds safely pass through our area. The following actions are recommended:
• Turn off all non-essential exterior lighting
• Keep feeders and watering stations clean and replenished
• Install bird-safe window tape or a 3” grid of dots on your windows, and
• During peak migratory season, keep cats indoors!
Birds are a daily, delightful connection to nature, and they provide essential services to the planet and to ourselves. They are critical to maintaining the balance of nature, controlling insects, pollinating plants, and dispersing seeds. In addition, they are proven environmental indicators—nature’s sentinels. Keeping our bird populations healthy and safely enroute is good for us all.
Sustainable Orillia hopes that you are all enjoying this magnificent fall and we wish you all a very happy World Migratory Bird Day on October 14th.
Round up some family members and friends, get outside and enjoy the day.
PS – a ‘fun’ but true fact on Migratory Birds – our feature photo is of the Arctic Tern – famous for its unparalleled annual migration for distance. Each year these birds travel pole to pole, close to 90,000 kilometres in flight.