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Known to be special birds that spend much of their time in certain parts of British Columbia, Nighthawks are essential to our environment. Even though they might not be easy to find much of the time due to nocturnal habits, these birds contribute so much to our ecosystem. Unfortunately, they also need our help. Studies by the North American Breeding Bird Survey have revealed that Common Nighthawk populations decline at the rate of 4% a year in Canada, populations going through a steep annual decline since the 60s.
Every year, billions of birds migrate across North America. Herons, Sandpipers, Cranes, and even hummingbirds all migrate to escape cold Canada’s winters bring. Unfortunately, many of their journeys have been disrupted by the wreckage from wildfires, forcing them to take new routes in unfamiliar territory. With the new territory comes new dangers – electrical wires, tall glass buildings, fatigue, and more.
Known for their technique of diving for fish feet-first, Ospreys are a majestic sight in the lower mainland where they inhabit lakes, rivers, and ponds. Unfortunately, entanglement is a large problem for these birds. When fishing lines and other materials are not properly disposed of, birds will use them as supplies for their nests – leading to entanglement. When these large birds get trapped in twine, they can no longer hunt fish or provide for their young.
Found in freshwater areas such as rivers and streams, Spotted Sandpipers typically nest close to the shore. Unfortunately, this reliance on coastlines has led to many problems for these birds – especially when chemicals are dumped into the water.
The usage of pesticides and other chemicals may seem harmless – but when these substances float downstream, they can create large problems for local wildlife. Chemicals like pesticides can deplete resources, making it harder and harder for wildlife like Spotted Sandpipers to find the food they need. As well, the digestion of pesticides can lead to wildlife having a difficult time reproducing and can even lead to baby birds being born with deficiencies.
Essential to our environment, birds and bees are valuable contributors to our ecosystem. In fact, both species pollinate native British Columbian plants, flowers, and fruits while maintaining local plant diversity. With wild bee species declining at an alarming rate, it is no surprise that eight wild bee species are on Canada’s species risk registry, with three considered endangered after a large population loss. The recent heatwave and ongoing wildfires have created a hostile environment for wildlife, and already unstable species (like many birds and bees) are suffering because of this.
Found in lakes and ponds, Common Loons are a common sight from BC to New Brunswick. Known for their black bills and their black-and-white patterned bodies during summer, these birds have a different look from September to March when they have grey heads/backs and whitethroats.
With a large reliance on the water they inhabit, it is no surprise that Common Loons can easily be harmed by pesticides and other chemicals that end up in rivers and streams. This important connection to the wetlands they inhabit is why we need to be extremely careful about how we treat our environment.
Due to their friendly nature, Killdeer are unafraid of inhabiting urban areas – which can lead them to great harm. Sports fields, golf courses, and lawns are open spots that Killdeer love. Unfortunately, these man-made open fields often use pesticides and frequently mow to keep the grass at a satisfactory level, which can harm fledglings a great deal. Pesticides, when ingested, are dangerous – and the loss of insects because of insecticides can lower their chance of survival. When Killdeer lose insects, they lose a vital food source. As well, Killdeer often nest roadside, leaving them vulnerable to vehicle collisions.
Glue traps are a pest control measure using glue as the method of trapping. The pest gets caught in the glue and then the trap is thrown away. There are two different types of glue traps; flypaper and glue-tray mouse traps.
While they seem simple, glue traps are one of the most inhumane methods of pest control. The animal, once caught in the trap, usually dies of starvation and dehydration over several days. The traps can also snare other wildlife. Since flypaper traps insects, insect-loving birds can become entangled in the flypaper while attempting to feed.
Double-crested cormorants make their nesting homes on the coastlines of southern BC. They are an iridescent greenish-black, with a bright yellow beak, and white tufts over their eyes during the breeding season. They like to hang out on rocky shorelines and dive for fish.
With the increase in aquatic recreation comes an increase in litter in our lakes, rivers, and streams. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, we are also seeing a new type of litter: face masks. According to the Ocean Conservancy, 94% of volunteers reported seeing face masks littering the ground daily in their own communities. Unfortunately, the masks are not only unsightly; they can also pose a huge problem to local wildlife, such as the Great Blue Heron. Long-legged wading birds can get their feet tangled in the loops of the face mask. Leg and foot entanglement can also be fatal to smaller birds that make their habitat in the Burnaby Lake area, such as swallows and chickadees.