Recent research suggests that 44% of Canadian bird species are declining, including one-third of the species found in the Maritimes. Habitat loss, pollution, and climate change, as well as human-related causes of individual mortality, all negatively affect our bird populations.
The Ecology Action Centre’s Bird Conservation Committee, established 2007, engages in research, education & policy change to reverse these declines of migratory and non-migratory bird species in Atlantic Canada. We work to educate the public about preventable causes of bird death.
We also advocate for legislative change that will help protect local bird populations. Our committee is made up of representatives from organizations including the Nova Scotia Bird Society, Bird Studies Canada, and Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, individuals with expertise in bird biology, veterinary science, and graphic design, as well as students and members of the public. Birds play an important role in Canadian ecosystems. We rely on them as an indicator species to tell us about the state of our environment. They control insect and rodent populations and help distribute seeds.
They are also enjoyed by many Canadians, particularly gardeners, bird-watchers, and naturalists. In fact, bird watching is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in Canada
Responsible Pet Ownership
The Ecology Action Centre and our partners have been working to improve awareness and build support for programs and initiatives in Halifax which address the critical issue of the impact of outdoor and free-roaming cats on birds. The rationale for this work arose from studies published in 2013 by Environment Canada which identified cats as the number one cause of human-related direct mortality (habitat loss, for example, is considered an indirect cause) to birds across Canada, with estimates of bird deaths from 1.7 - 4.1 million in Halifax alone.
Many jurisdictions have addressed the multiple issues that have stemmed from cat overpopulation, with the implementation of ‘responsible pet ownership’ programs for owned cats, which have positive impacts for human, and environmental health, wildlife populations, and which benefit the welfare of domestic cats by incentivizing and promoting education of responsible care for the owned cat population. These programs protect cats from becoming stray, lost, or abandoned, and from entering feral populations in the first place.
Through this work, we aim to build support for a multi-pronged, collaborative approach that addresses this critical issue long term. Most populous municipalities across Canada have adopted municipal level education, and incentivized program measures including identification, registration and supervised outdoor access provisions. We promote similar programs to be adopted in Halifax, where these programs can provide for improved value and responsibility towards owned cats. Without identified owners, such municipal measures don’t apply to un-owned cats, but work conjunctively to complement programs for the feral or stray populations (such as spay/neuter and adoption programs). We promote comprehensive solutions that can make HRM a safe and healthy community for humans, the environment, domestic pets, and wildlife.
The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States (Nature Communications)
We work closely with a number of community partners to help preserve Nova Scotia's resident and migrating bird species. Partnering with Bird Studies Canada, Nova Scotia Bird Society, Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, and Nature Nova Scotia, and Nature Canada, our projects aim to address the joint issue of declining bird species and cat welfare through education, policy change, and community outreach.