Plans To Make OOE A Birdfriendly Community Take Flight

By Rebecca Aird

When biologist Rachel Carson courageously stepped into the void of opposition to the chemical drenching of North American farmland in the 1950s and 60s, she titled her book Silent Spring. The sadness evoked by the idea of spring without birdsong helped ignite the environmental movement.

An American Goldfinch and a House Finch share a snack at a Rosemere Avenue backyard bird feeder this past May. Photo By Jeff Sutton

Carson was more than an able analyst of the impacts of DDT and other organochlorine pesticides. She was a visionary who identified the need for a paradigm shift from domination to humility and mutual benefit in our relationship with nature.

We can’t exactly claim victory on that paradigm shift. But for many of us, the joy of birds in song, in trees, and in-flight remains a big part of the motivation to do what we can in our own backyards and neighbourhoods to support nature. Given the extent and pace of urbanization globally, it turns out that what we choose to do at the personal and community levels is really important.

.This mature Coopers Hawk found its way to an Old Ottawa East backyard during the wintry days of February. Photo By Jeff Sutton

One initiative that a few members of the Old Ottawa East Community Association’s environment committee, SLOE, are running up the flagpole is to brand and make Old Ottawa East (OOE) a “bird-friendly community”. Conceptually this is pretty straightforward – improve habitat and reduce mortality. Getting to success on those fronts means engaging the interest and involvement of a bunch of residents. SLOE members are banking on the excellent potential in the community for creativity, fun and beauty to make that happen.

Here are a few of their suggested “off-the-top” options to begin to gather momentum this fall:
• Host a photo show of the birds of OOE at OOECA’s fall AGM.
• Organize a habitat enhancement walk with a knowledgeable bird ecologist.
• Arrange for a talk, or maybe a series of talks, on urban bird ecology.

And here are a few ideas to incubate over the winter:
• Engage a group or local crafters to produce OOE-distinctive “Birdbesafe” style cat collars
• Promote/sell dot-pattern decals for windows.
• Plan some habitat enhancement initiatives.
• Establish an OOE bird monitoring network.

SLOE members are just at the beginning of thinking through and prioritizing the possibilities of a bird-friendly Old Ottawa East. If you’d like to contribute to the planning, please send an email to sloe@ottawaeast.ca with “Bird Friendly” in the subject line. You will be contacted for a planned September get-together! .

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Filed in: Education, Environment, Features, Front Page, News

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