Windsor is for the birds, literally: City gets bird-friendly designation

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While southwestern Ontario is well known for its birding hotspots, Windsor can now officially call itself a “bird-friendly city.”

The area is the 16th Canadian city to receive designation from Nature Canada, which means it has taken action and created policies to protect birds and help them thrive. Windsor joins a few other cities in the province that have also been certified, such as London and Toronto.

Windsor had been in contention for the title since early 2021, when the Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO) began working on a certification report.

“It’s very exciting,” said City of Windsor Environment and Sustainability Coordinator Jennifer Nantais.

“The City of Windsor cares about birds and all residents who enjoy seeing them in their backyards, hearing them…that means we care about nature and the environment.”

Nantes, who previously worked at the PIBO, spearheaded efforts to get the city its official designation.

Nature Canada launched its Bird Friendly Cities program in 2019 and strives to recognize 30 Canadian cities that meet a checklist of elements.

A bird is seen in Ojibway Park. (Mike Evans/CBC)

What does it mean to be a bird-friendly city?

According to Nature Canada, to be a bird-friendly city, an area must meet a number of criteria in the following three categories in order to be certified:

  • Reduce anthropogenic threats to birds.
  • Habitat protection, restoration and climate resilience.
  • Community awareness and education.

“A bird-friendly city is a community where birds are celebrated, championed and protected,” said Autumn Jordan, Nature Canada’s Urban Nature Organizer.

“This certification is a badge of honor for the city and all the people who participate in it.”

Windsor is currently in the program’s entry category, which means it has scored around 50% of the points in each of the three categories. But Jordan said if city and community leaders are willing to do the work, they can boost the city’s score and achieve more bird-friendly status.

Jordan said Windsor had scored particularly high on community outreach and education, but she said she could do better on the following:

  • Include more nature-based climate solutions in its climate change adaptation plan.
  • Increase the number of windows in municipal buildings that are treated to prevent birds from colliding with them.
  • Collect data that can help identify areas with high numbers of feral and stray cats to reduce these populations.

Donny Moore, a local birdwatcher and nature photographer, told CBC News he thinks the designation is well-deserved and hopes it will encourage people to learn more about the area’s importance to various species of wildlife. ‘birds.

“I’ve lived in this area for 14 years and we see changes in birds, different amounts of birds of certain species,” Moore said, adding that when he first moved here he rarely saw birds. bald eagles and now he can’t go out bird watching without seeing at least one.

Windsor photographer Donny Moore says Windsor deserves the title of bird-friendly city because it has worked hard to restore some bird habitats and protect others. (Donny Moore Photography/Facebook)

“[This designation] gives impetus to [city] keep doing more, being more aware.”

Here’s how you can help maintain Windsor’s status

Every two years, Jordan said Nature Canada will re-evaluate certified towns to ensure they are still adhering to maintaining bird-friendly behavior.

A cardinal perches on a fence in Windsor’s Ojibway Park. (Mike Evans/CBC)

To help the town maintain its status and support local bird species, Nantais and Moore suggested the following tips:

  • Plant native tree species like oaks or maples.
  • Plant flowers that produce food for birds.
  • Pay attention to the birds in your town to better defend them and educate others.
  • Do not spray the garden for mosquitoes or spiders, as birds feed on these insects.
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