Preserving birds in the city

Saving-the-birds in the city

Two black swallows.

Human activity and climate change are disrupting the nesting season of birds, fueling their decline.

“Tits and starlings are used to humans, but other species are more shy towards the presence of man and that has an impact. We have to find a balance between the birds and us,” explains Jean-Sébastien Guénette, executive director of the organization QuébecOiseaux, located in Hochelaga.

Since the 1970s, more than one bird in four has disappeared in North America, as a 2019 study pointed out.

Factors of decline

The intensification of agriculture and urbanization is the primary cause of the depletion of birds. For example, the presence of fishermen near the Lachine Rapids can have an impact on the birds that nest there.

Thus, it is important to stay in marked areas, where the repercussions on birdlife are less, especially during high traffic in green spaces, according to Mr. Guénette.

Other factors of disappearance include the presence of domestic cats, which are predators, as well as the collision of birds against windows.

The general manager of QuébecOiseaux encourages owners of felines to keep these are leashed outside just as he invites citizens to place their bird feeders away from the windows of their residence.

The decline of insects, due to the use of pesticides, is also a factor in the disappearance of birds, according to the general manager of QuébecOiseaux. Insects are indeed a source of food for many species, such as the swallow.


A citizen forum was held last April, in view of the development of the Local Ecological Transition Plan for the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough.

One of the five key principles is the development and protection of the urban forest and biodiversity .

However, Mr. Guénette calls for attention to be paid to species at risk, such as the chimney swift, which to date have not been taken into account by any measure.

In addition, two citizen observation events were held in order to the portrait of the situation of birds in Montreal and Quebec this spring: the Grand Défi QuébecOiseaux and the Urban Nature Challenge, respectively from May 1 to 31 and from April 29 to May 2.

Since the winters Quebec are now milder, species migrate earlier and leave later. Incubation of the eggs then begins more quickly and lasts longer.

Measures are therefore deployed in large parks and nature parks, in order to minimize disturbance and repercussions. For example, owners must keep their dog on a leash at all times, as at Summit Woods in Westmount.

“Birds nest along the trails and the simple smell of a dog can cause a bird to leave her brood,” says Mr. Guénette.

In addition, an exhibition is currently being presented at the Pointe-aux-Prairies nature park in the borough of Pointe-aux-Trembles to raise awareness Montreal's birdlife to the general public.

Finally, the Bird Friendly Cities program, developed by Nature Canada in partnership with QuébecOiseaux, certifies municipalities that are committed to protecting birds on their territory.

This involves reducing threats such as stray cats, conserving and restoring habitats and raising public awareness of the various issues.

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