About the program
|Hooded Merganser by Scott Leslie|
The “Bird’s Eye View” program is a new, field-based, citizen science volunteer program to engage bird watchers in the conservation work of the Nature Trust. The program provides opportunities to get out bird watching on Nature Trust Conservation Lands in order to increase knowledge about the bird species using them. For expert birders, there will be opportunities to go to properties being considered for protection, and to gather some of the first biological data about these sites. All participants in the program will be contributing to nature conservation in Nova Scotia through citizen science, as well as improving their birding skills. Participation is as simple as visiting one of the Nature Trust’s glorious Conservation Lands, spotting birds and recording which species are seen and which habitats they are using, and entering findings online.
Why is the Nature Trust launching this program?
|Canada Warbler by Chris Pepper|
Understanding and conserving birds is critical in Nova Scotia – for the benefits birds provide locally, and the role they play in global biodiversity. We have a rare and fleeting opportunity to save habitat for birds on private lands in Nova Scotia. The Nature Trust has recognized that conserving important bird habitat has been a gap in our strategic land conservation initiatives. The purpose of this project is to put in place a program, including a strong volunteer birder network, to help advance effective conservation and management of priority bird habitats on NSNT conservation lands. But, the Nature Trust has limited time and resources – we need the help of volunteers to hone in on the most important spots for birds.
For example, each spring one of our Conservation Lands hosts breeding Bobolink, a nationally Threatened grassland species. We do know they keep returning to nest there, but we don’t know exactly when. When they nest is critical information – a farmer still has permission to cut hay on the field where the Bobolink nest (this also maintains the habitat characteristics they need to nest), but needs to know when NOT to cut to avoid harming the birds. We have 46 more properties across Nova Scotia that we also need better bird data for…
Also, for more experienced birders, we provide opportunities to visit properties the Nature Trust is considering protecting. This data might be some of the first gathered for these sites, and could make a major contribution to getting lands protected. Imagine… a beautiful property, filled with wildlife, including important habitats for birds, protected in perpetuity, in part because of the bird sightings YOU contributed.
How to help
|Piping Plover by Gordon Prince|
We need birding volunteers! Participation is as simple as visiting one of the Nature Trust’s glorious Conservation Lands, spotting birds and recording which ones you see and which habitats they are using, and entering your findings online. Bird watchers of all experience levels are welcome. All participants in the program will be contributing to nature conservation in Nova Scotia through citizen science, as well as improving their birding skills. Volunteers are asked to visit Nature Trust Conservation Lands of their choosing (there are 47 of them across the Province), and collect data about birds and bird habitats. Volunteers can visit sites as little or as often as they like. For experienced birders, we will offer unique opportunities to gather data about sites the Nature Trust is considering protecting.
We offer training in bird identification (through our partnerships) for those interesting in building their bird identification skills. For all participants, we offer training in how to fill out our data forms, which gives us the data we need to do our conservation work (the forms are easy to complete). All volunteers will be recognized for their valuable contributions, and will receive invitations to special Nature Trust events. Nature Trust volunteers often cite that they enjoy contributing to our work because they feel their volunteering results in real conservation action on the ground.To sign up to become a Bird’s Eye View volunteer birder…
1. Contact the program coordinator, Alice Morgan, at alice[at]nsnt.ca.
2. Check out the News & Events section of the Nature Trust website for upcoming birding-related events, and note the ones you might like to participate in.
Why is bird conservation important?
The Value of BirdsBirds are important to the world and humanity in so many ways. This excerpt from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative – Canada Factsheet summarizes just a few reasons why bird conservation is important:
|Palm Warbler by Tuma Young|
“Birds are North America’s most visible wildlife species. They are effective indicators of biological diversity because they respond rapidly to ecosystem changes. They also provide many critical natural services, such as insect pest control, plant pollination and seed dispersal that benefit forestry and agriculture. Birds are also culturally important. Some species are revered by aboriginal peoples, while others provide an important source of food. In North America, millions of birdwatchers, hunters and photographers foster an industry that generates billions of dollars annually for local and national economies.”
Birds are part of who we are – think of all the stories, expressions, and art that involves birds – and they help keep us alive as part of the world’s biodiversity (a current hot topic in conservation research is estimating the value of “ecosystem services” that birds provide). Unfortunately, many bird populations are in decline, including common species. We owe them so much, yet most of the causes of bird population decline are due to human activities. But, we also have it within our power to also promote activities that lead to bird conservation.
Understanding and conserving birds is critical in Nova Scotia, and around the world. One of the main threats to birds is habitat loss, which can be partially addressed through habitat conservation, such as the private land conservation work that the Nature Trust specializes in. We have already protected 45 properties across Nova Scotia, some of which provide habitat for rare bird species such as the Bobolink, Piping Plover, and Canada Warbler. If you have an interest in birds, please consider joining our new “Bird’s Eye View” program, and join in our work to help out our fine feathered friends!
Why is bird conservation important in Nova Scotia?
Nova Scotia: “Come to (bird) Life”
The stereotypical image of Nova Scotia involves beautiful shorelines, happy people, lobsters and lighthouses. But a symbol it should also include in one of a bird. This province is a place of great bird diversity (433 species!), and great opportunity for bird watchers. We have forests and fens, mudflats and meadows, street corners and shorelines – all habitats for birds. Migration seasons (spring and fall) provide exceptional opportunities to see birds from afar, and to participate in counting birds to help nature conservation. Nova Scotia is a birder’s paradise… so let’s work towards making it a haven for birds too.
|North American flyways (Image by FLAP)|
Part of our great fortune, and something we should also consider a great responsibility, is that Nova Scotia is located on the Atlantic Flyway.
The Flyway brings seasonal migrants to our province throughout the year. Nova Scotia provides vital feeding, resting, and breeding sites for many migrants, as well as resident bird species. We all need to recognize the international importance of these places for birds, and care for them accordingly.
Fortunately, there are many organizations and individuals dedicated to helping birds in Nova Scotia. We all need to work together to tackle the numerous and substantial threats that bird populations face. The Nature Trust is keen to start to work more actively to protect key bird habitats in Nova Scotia… with your help.
ResourcesBird Watching Resources
Other Bird-related Resources
Other Groups Working to Conserve Birds in Nova Scotia
This project is made possible through the generous support of Shell, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, and with the help of partners in conservation, including Bird Studies Canada.