Bird Studies Canada focusses on innovating conservation solutions, conserving important places for birds, tracking priority species and empowering champions for birds.
Our approach to conservation involves forging innovative partnerships with landowners, land managers, and stewardship volunteers. Much of this work focuses on reducing habitat loss and degradation – among the most pressing threats to birds. Some examples include: Contributing to 36 multi-agency working groups collaborating to conserve species and habitats. Examples include: the Americas Grasslands Working Group, Partners in Flight, the Committee on Species of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, the Green Budget Coalition, the Haida Gwaii Biosecurity Coalition, and the Long Point Biosphere Causeway Management Group. We’re proud to recognize the strength that comes from collaboration.
Working with other member organizations of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) to design and implement programs to monitor species and gather and analyze essential data. The NABCI State of Canada’s Birds 2019 report reveals major declines in shorebirds, grassland birds and aerial insectivores and provides actions to be taken.
Helping 40 high-conservation priority species through habitat projects. SwiftWatch is one example. We coordinate volunteer monitoring and stewardship efforts to protect 55+ roosting and nesting sites in Ontario and the Maritimes, which together host thousands of swifts per night during migration.
Working with 62 landowners on more than 16,000 hectares of native prairie in Manitoba, helping to maintain some of the last populations of prairie endemic birds, like Chestnut-collared Longspur and Sprague’s Pipit. This involves encouraging low-intensity “conservation grazing” of community pastures outside of protected areas.
Conserving Important Places for Birds
The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) program is an international conservation initiative of Birdlife International, co-led in Canada by Bird Studies Canada. More than 6200 people volunteer their time as Citizen Scientists to monitor and steward IBAs in Canada. Our actions at IBAs include promoting nature appreciation through birding tourism (Niagara River, ON), reducing disturbance to migrating shorebirds (the Bay of Fundy), supporting bird monitoring “blitzes” and engagement of Indigenous communities (Manitoba), conservation planning (Prince Edward Country, ON), invasive species removal at sites across Canada, and partnering to preserve BC’s threatened Fraser Delta IBA.
The Fraser Delta is Canada’s single most important piece of bird habitat along the Pacific Flyway. It also supports one of the largest salmon runs in the world. Bird Studies Canada is working with partners Nature Canada and BC Nature to advocate on behalf of this critical ecosystem. Our actions include:
Set-up and management of fraserdeltaiba.ca to provide an online information portal as well as an online petition to garner signatures of support for a Fraser Estuary Restoration and Management Plan.
Promotion of the need for increased protection of shorebird habitats in particular, and for stronger environmental governance to preserve the integrity of the entire ecosystem.
Work with Nature Vancouver, Wild Research and Delta Naturalist Society to submit concerns and advocate for local politicians to take action to prevent the loss of bird habitat at the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Sturgeon Bank section of the Fraser IBA.
Canada’s newest IBA, the Ellice-Archie and Spy Hill Community Pastures IBA, was recently designated at the border of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. There, Bird Studies Canada is partnering with cattle ranchers to steward bird Species at Risk, like Sprague’s Pipit and Chestnut-collared Longspur, and the rich associated prairie biodiversity.
Bird Studies Canada is greatly increasing its efforts to protect habitat for birds in Canada’s vast Boreal region. Working with key strategic partners, we are promoting the establishment of new protected areas and helping support the creation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas. We are also engaging the public in efforts to conserve Boreal birds in southern Canada, where many of the Boreal’s 300-plus bird species can be found in winter or during migration.
Tracking Priority Species
One in eight bird species is at risk of extinction globally. In Canada, we are losing long-distance migrants, like shorebirds and many songbirds, faster than any other bird group. Bird Studies Canada is at the hub of a coalition of university, technology, and conservation partners pioneering a ground-breaking new approach to understand and reverse population losses. We are able to simultaneously track hundreds of migratory species, identify barriers to their survival and drive better returns on conservation investments.
Our Motus Wildlife Tracking System combines traditional radio-tracking technology, automated across the Western Hemisphere with the newest and tiniest radio-tags safely fitted onto birds, bats and large insects like the Monarch Butterfly. Motus is revolutionizing our understanding of small animal migration, telling new stories in extraordinary detail about what individual birds are doing, where, and when.
The Motus network has now grown from its Canadian origins to 28 countries worldwide, including 14 in the Americas, with >870 receivers tracking over 20,000 individual animals of almost 200 species. 280 Motus projects have either been completed or are underway, from which 74 scientific papers have been published to date.
Motus brings the ability to determine where conservation interventions are most effective. Motus has finally confirmed that an iconic, rapidly declining shorebird, the Red Knot, gets the fuel it needs to more quickly reach the Arctic, breed successfully, and return to southern South America, from horseshoe crab eggs in Delaware Bay, New Jersey, information that is helping to reduce harvest levels of the crabs at this critical migratory bottleneck.
Empowering Champions for Birds
More than 50,000 people across Canada volunteer each year for one or more of our 30+ Citizen Science programs and volunteer stewardship activities. Support from volunteers for monitoring and conservation efforts is an outstanding example of champions empowered to take action for birds.
It’s the 25th year for the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program and the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey is nearing its 40th anniversary. Tens of thousands of surveys completed by many dedicated Citizen Scientists in these long-term monitoring programs are now being put to use by a brilliant team of young graduate students with support from our Long Point Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Program to solve timely conservation issues faced by loons, ducks, and rails.
Our education program brings the work of Bird Studies Canada into classrooms and communities across Canada, helping to connect youth with nature. We’re working with teachers and parents to engage students through birds and science in their schoolyard and neighbourhood. This year more than 3200 children participated in Bird Studies Canada youth programs like Schoolyard Bird Blitz and Christmas Bird Count for Kids. Teachers also used Bird Studies Canada’s education resources to have their classes take part in Project FeederWatch and Project NestWatch. The user-friendly bird identification tools created for our education program are proving to be wonderful additions to the classroom, festivals, and elsewhere.