Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

‘Birds- Changes and Challenges Around Us’ with Cliff Bennett, at next MVFN Lecture

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

February 7, 2008

Submitted by Pauline Donaldson

“Birds: Changes and Challenges Around Us” at next field naturalist lecture

On Thursday, February 21st, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist’s (MVFN) proudly present a lecture by Cliff Bennett, international birder, Lanark Era bird columnist and current Eastern Regional Director for Ontario Nature. The lecture entitled “Birds: Changes and Challenges Around Us” will be the 5th in MVFN’s series “Our Natural World: Conservation Challenges.” The timing for this lecture could not be better, following the official January 30th launch at the Museum of Nature of the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario 2nd edition.

Cliff Bennett is one of MVFN’s founding members, and celebrated author of our Lanark County Canoe & Kayak Journeys guide. As a retired educator living along the Indian River in Mississippi Mills, Cliff has never really stopped teaching, especially where birds are concerned. Cliff was responsible for MVFN’s 5 year effort to collect data for one of the ‘squares’ reported in the breeding bird atlas, and was on hand January 30th to receive his copy of the atlas.

Beginning in 2001, MVFN officially began work on the ‘Appleton’ or square 18VR10 in the atlas. Birds were followed in search of definitive evidence of breeding within the square. Evidence could range from ‘possible’ i.e. for birds seen in season in suitable habitat or for breeding calls heard in breeding season in suitable habitat, to ‘confirmed’ for sighting of fledged or downy young, nest with eggs, adults carrying food for young etc. Similar data from the thousands of squares in Ontario have undergone extensive analysis and the results are summarized in the new Atlas.

Cliff will tell us about changes and challenges for birds around us. In doing so, he will draw from his own observations and from the information analyzed and presented in the newly released Atlas. As human populations grow, effects on the landscape are evident and these have corresponding impacts on birds, both positive and negative. Canada geese, house finches, blue-headed vireos, turkey vultures and wild turkeys have expanded their ranges considerably. However, some birds such as common nighthawk, chimney swift, bank swallow, blue-winged teal, red-headed woodpecker and all swallows have decreased significantly.

What are the key reasons for these expansions and declines? What conservation challenges are suggested by this information?

The lecture by Cliff Bennett, “Birds: Changes and Challenges Around Us” will take place Thursday February 21st at 7:30 pm at the Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. There is a fee of $5 for non-members over 16. Refreshments are provided. All are welcome. For more information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Joyce Clinton at 613-257-4879 or see MVFN’s website at