Bird Friendly Saanich
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary has been working with the District of Saanich to certify the municipality as a Bird Friendly City with Nature Canada. This certification program was created to help address the enormous losses bird populations all across North America have faced over the past few decades. Through Nature Canada’s program, a Bird Friendly city is a community where:
- Key threats to birds are effectively mitigated;
- Nature is restored so native bird populations can thrive;
- Residents are actively engaged in admiring and monitoring local bird populations;
- Organizations are creating events to protect birds;
- Progressive municipal policies are created to protect urban bird populations; and
- A Bird Team has been created to oversee and lead these initiatives.
This certification is certainly a badge of honour for Saanich and acknowledges all the incredible conservation work being done in the community, however it is only the first step in creating a world that is friendlier for birds and other wildlife! Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary and the District of Saanich are excited to continue our bird conservation, protection, and land stewardship programs and look for more ways we can help our feathered friends.
Many of the most common elements found in cities around the world are actually very dangerous for birds. Light pollution is one of them. While artificial light has created a bright and convenient atmosphere for humans to thrive in, it can be quite disorienting for wildlife, including birds. The light that comes off of our homes at night disrupts natural migration patterns, decreases the insect availability that feeds birds, and increases the likelihood of window strikes.
Migratory birds are particularly vulnerable to light pollution and the threats imposed by cities because of all the time spent in unfamiliar territory during their cross-continent journeys. To raise awareness of this harmful issue, World Migratory Bird Day’s 2022 theme is light pollution - “Dim the Lights at for Birds at Night”. Luckily, there are steps each of us can take to help reduce light pollution and create a better environment for birds and other wildlife.
Turning off your lights when not in use and keeping outdoor lighting to a minimum, especially during spring and fall migration seasons, is an easy way to help keep our birds safe.
To learn more about light pollution, its effects, and how we can help to address this problem, visit:
Photo credit: Robert Fraser
Bird Friendly Windows Exhibit at the Nature House
Approximately 25 million birds each year are killed by window collisions in Canada, and up to 1.5 billion birds across all of North America, making this one of the biggest threats facing our bird populations. Unfortunately most birds who collide with windows die on impact or shortly after due to life-threatening injuries or increased predation risk. Luckily, this devastating problem has many proven and simple solutions!
The exhibit coming to the Nature House will showcase different ways you can treat your windows to make them bird friendly. Using our own windows, all DIY bird friendly treatments, and explaining why and how each treatment works, the exhibit will illustrate how accessible, easy, and necessary protecting birds from window collisions can be. Through educating visitors on several of the dangers facing birds, the Nature Sanctuary hopes to encourage individuals to do what they can to save birds' lives, as well as raise awareness and support for community-led efforts such as Saanich’s Bird Friendly City initiative.
To learn more about bird strikes and how to prevent them, visit:
Research paper monitoring results of bird strike abatement treatments: Bird protection treatments reduce bird-window collision risk at low-rise buildings within a Pacific coastal protected area
Above: An example of collision abatement being applied to the Nature House windows
Below photo credit: Robert Fraser
Stay tuned here and on our social media for more information about Saanich’s Bird Friendly City certification progress and updates on the Bird Strike Abatement exhibit coming soon to the Nature House!
Resources for New Birders
Introduction to Birdwatching:
- Hobbies at Home: A Guide to Bird-Watching (great visitor recommendation!)
- New to Birding? From Birds Canada
Helpful Identification Tools:
- Nature Sanctuary Photo Bird Checklist (also available at the Nature House)
- Rocky Point Bird Observatory’s Eyes to the Skies: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
- Merlin Bird ID app
- All About Birds (a great place to learn more about the species you find)
Checklists of birds to look for at the Nature Sanctuary:
- Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Bird Checklist
- eBird Hotspot (find printable up-to-date checklist under ‘Explore’ on left of page)
Where to Look for Birds:
After visiting Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary in your search for birds, try checking out some of the other eBird Hotspots in the Capital Region, a local greenspace, or your own backyard.
You can also upload your observations to eBird if you would like to contribute to community science and bird conservation!
Find a colouring sheet for each species below. We would love to see your art and hear about what you are learning.