The following article was written by Mike Jones, on behalf of Sustainable Orillia.
As you may have heard, Bird Friendly Orillia — in collaboration with local organizations such as Sustainable Orillia, Green Orillia, the Orillia Naturalists’ Club, and the Couchiching Conservancy — are working towards obtaining “Bird Friendly” certification from Nature Canada in an effort to mitigate the steep decline in bird populations in our local area and across North America.
A landmark study by Canada’s National Wildlife Research Centre and Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology have found that the wild bird populations have decreased by 29 per cent — about three billion birds — since 1970. The study found that over 90 per cent of these birds, about 2.5 billion, were common birds such as blackbirds, sparrows and finches—the very kind found in the gardens of Orillia.
It is certain that human activity is to blame for most of the decline in birds and insects, mainly through the loss of habitat in the form of forests, wetland and grassland, and the overuse of pesticides.
On the positive side, we can definitely atone somewhat for our impact by making our gardens more bird-friendly and welcoming.
Paradoxically, this does not necessarily mean doing things to our gardens. On the contrary, it means stopping things that we do either from habit or through conforming to some prevalent idea of what a yard should be.
Large manicured lawns are a case in point: fertilized four times a year whether required or not, dosed with pesticides, clipped (often by a pollution-spewing gas mower) to an inch (or less) of its life and the clippings removed.