Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Recent Changes in Bird Populations in Ontario and North America

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

Submitted by Pauline Donaldson, MVFN Public Relations Chair

February 9, 2006

How are our feathered friends doing?

On Thursday February 16, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists will present “Recent Changes in Bird Populations in Ontario and North America”, with guest speaker Dr. Peter Blancher of the Canadian Wildlife Service, as part of the ongoing series: “Change in our Natural World”. Dr. Blancher will give his insights on results from the soon to be published 2nd Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, which brings together the five years of observations made from 2001-2005. Since the publication of the first atlas, 20 years ago, one of the most notable changes has been a decline in swallows, swifts and nighthawks, birds that feed on the wing on flying insects. Dr. Blancher will discuss declines as well as some upward trends, e.g. for forest birds as a whole, and will point to some of the underlying factors involved in these changes.

Some of the best information on bird populations comes from surveys conducted by volunteers, says Dr. Blancher, and important among these are: Christmas Bird Counts, the Breeding Bird Survey, the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, and the Great Backyard Bird Count. Knowledge gained from these surveys helps in directing conservation efforts. As a member of the Birds Specialist Subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Dr. Blancher comes to the evening with a wealth of experience with which to discuss which birds are doing well and why.

Join the MVFN and local bird specialist Lynda Bennett, who is host for the evening as we welcome Dr. Blancher this Thursday February 16th at 7:30 pm at the Almonte United Church on Elgin St. Members of the public are welcome. A non-member fee of $5 is collected, or, for those interested, annual memberships in MVFN may be purchased at the door. The next outdoor MVFN event will be “The Forest in Winter at Kate’s Lake Trail” on February 12th, led by Joel Byrne. For further information on these and other MVFN events contact Pauline Donaldson at 256-9399 or visit the website at