Document Sample
					18  on nature  autumn 2007
                      The Birder’s BiBle
                      The results from Ontario’s second breeding bird atlas are in,
                      revealing a number of unexpected population trends and offer-
                      ing a tantalizing glimpse into the precarious world of birds
                      By Peter Christie

                                         n a bright day in early June, Dave Martin descended into the Rush
                                         Creek ravine for the first time. The ravine, not far from Port Bruce
                                         along Lake Erie’s north shore, is deep and narrow. In contrast to the
                                         flat farmland above, it is densely wooded with shade-loving stands of
                         hemlock and yellow birch. Here, big hardwoods – oak, maple, beech – have escaped
                         the axe. Thanks to steep surrounding slopes. The canopy sifts the light, and warblers
                         and vireos sing from the branches. Like many of the meandering patches of forest
                         that survive along the sunken creek beds of southwestern Ontario, Rush Creek
                         feels isolated from the sparsely treed landscape above – as if part of some forgotten
                         world. ¶ “The ravines are one of our favourite birding targets,” says Martin, a bird
                         biologist and consultant living near London, Ontario. ¶ Martin, 54, a long-time
                         birder with rounded glasses and a greying brown goatee, stood for a moment at the
                         ravine edge above Rush Creek. Through the morning warbles of other newly arrived
photo: Bernard Bohn

                         migrants, the thin, two-note song of an Acadian flycatcher rose from the sunken
                         woods. Martin listened. “Ka-zeep,” the bird said. “Ka-zeep, ka-zeep”: “I’m here.”

            	                                                          autumn 2007  on nature  19
  Previous PAge: Bird BiologisT dAve MArTin in A london-
  AreA rAvine, one of his fAvouriTe Birding sPoTs. MArTin
  sPoTTed endAngered AcAdiAn flycATchers (This PAge) in
  severAl wooded rAvines while collecTing dATA for The
  Breeding Bird ATlAs of onTArio.

The AcAdiAn flycATcher is an endangered species in Canada, and    province (1,824 squares in the southern half and more than
its sparse population in this country can be found primarily in   100 100-kilometre-square blocks in the north). Compar-
the Carolinian region of southwestern Ontario. As recently        ing the two surveys allows the new atlas to reveal changes
as 2005, Acadian flycatchers were thought to have dwindled        in bird distributions from two decades ago by noting
to no more than 35 pairs in Canada. That Acadian flycatcher       changes in the number of squares in which birds are found.
populations may be finally gathering strength in Ontario          These changes, in turn, show how well bird populations
is one of the many heartening tales to emerge from the new        are doing in Ontario – birds found in more places in the
Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005.                second survey are probably better off than birds whose dis-
   The atlas, which is to be published late this fall, com-       tributions shrank since the first atlas.
piles bird records collected by some 2,500 volunteers                For Acadian flycatchers, for instance, the picture is a little
like Martin, who was also the London-area regional coor-          rosier. Martin and other volunteer birders discovered breed-
dinator for the atlas. These citizen scientists devoted more      ing evidence for the small, olive songbird in 50 of the atlas
than 152,000 hours over the first five years of this decade       squares compared to similar evidence found in just 29 squares
to tromping through the province’s fields, fens and forests       20 years ago. But the comparison is not that simple because
looking for birds. They searched for nests, singing males,        the number of volunteers and the amount of time birders
fledglings or any other evidence that the feathered crea-         spent looking for the birds differed between the first atlas
tures were breeding and raising young.                            survey and the second. To take this into account, the new atlas
   The book – a joint project of Ontario Nature, Bird             uses the number of squares in which birds appear to calculate
Studies Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service ( CWS),             how “likely” it is that these birds will be found in a square.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Field       This probability – not the number of squares – provides a
Ornithologists – is the much-anticipated follow-up to the         measure of how prevalent birds are in the province that can
first Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario published in 1987.   be compared between the two atlas surveys. Thus, the atlas
That atlas, based on a similar survey conducted between           records for Acadian flycatchers suggest that the likelihood of
1981 and 1985, provided the first detailed glimpse of bird        encountering breeding evidence for this bird improved by 88
distributions in Ontario. The second atlas does the same          percent in the two decades since the first atlas survey.
again, but also attempts to answer a question that goes to           “We didn’t really expect to find [Acadian flycatchers] in
the heart of bird conservation in this province: what has         the wooded ravines,” says Martin, a former member of the
changed in the past 20 years?                                     national Acadian flycatcher recovery team. “You’re more
   The second atlas provides a comparison of the survey re-       likely to find them in large, more extensive forests – places
sults gathered for this atlas with those gathered for the first   like the big woods at Rondeau Provincial Park. But there
one. During the preparation for each atlas, researchers           they were. It’s encouraging.”
                                                                                                                                         photo: Jim Flynn

compiled volunteer observations to track whether or not
bird species may be breeding in each of the 10-by-10-             indeed, The new atlas has good news for a lot of birds. “When
kilometre squares that comprise a grid dividing up the            you look at the atlas results overall,” says Mike Cadman, a

20  on nature  autumn 2007	                                                                                
                         senior songbird biologist with CWS who coordinated both
                         atlases, “there are more species increasing than decreas-            PoPulAriTy conTesT
                         ing.” Seventy-four of the 302 bird species included in the           despite its decidedly southern name, the Nashville warbler is Ontario’s most
                         atlases were significantly more likely to be found in atlas          abundant bird by far. According to bird population estimates in the new Atlas of
                         squares in the recent survey than they were in the atlas             the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005, some 15 million Nashville warblers
                         survey of 20 years ago. Forty species were significantly             call Ontario home during the summer. That’s approximately three million more
                                                                                              than the population of any other bird species in the province.
                         less likely to be found, and the remaining 186 bird species
                                                                                                  “We’ve had a lot of fun with this, going around to various nature clubs in the
                         showed no significant change from the first.                         province and asking them to guess the commonest bird,” says Mike Cadman,
                            Cadman, 52, is an enthusiastic man with an infectious             a songbird biologist with the Canadian Wildlife service who coordinated the
                         curiosity about Ontario’s bird life. As a government biolo-          atlas project. “They never get anywhere close.”
                         gist, he has had a hand in many songbird research projects               Unlike the first breeding bird atlas, the most recent atlas includes popula-
                                                                                              tion estimates for 124 bird species based on 62,000 “point counts.” The point
                         over the years, but the two Ontario atlases have claimed at
                                                                                              counts record the number of each species counted by atlas volunteers while
                         least some of his attention for much of his career. Work-            standing in one spot. Population estimates were limited to mainly songbirds
                         ing from donated office space on the second floor of the             that could easily be heard or spotted during a stop along the road.”
                         University of Guelph’s environmental sciences building,                  While Nashville warblers stand alone at the top of the numbers heap (“one
                         Cadman’s energy played an important part in propelling               Nashville warbler for every person in the province,” jokes Cadman), other boreal
                                                                                              bird species – including white-throated sparrow, yellow-rumped warbler,
                         the atlas forward.
                                                                                              magnolia warbler, golden-crowned kinglet, dark-eyed junco and chipping
                            Many of the birds that appear to be doing better in Ontario       sparrow – share second place with populations estimated to be about 12
                         since the first atlas are woodland species – birds such as           million each. For many of these birds, more than 90 percent of their popula-
                         thrushes and many migratory warblers that inhabit forests.           tions occur in the vast forests of northern Ontario.
                         The new atlas reports a whopping 36 of the province’s 93                 Among the smallest population numbers calculated are for southern
                                                                                              birds that have recently been expanding their ranges north in Ontario, such
                         woodland birds are significantly more prevalent now – more
                                                                                              as northern mockingbirds (a population of about 9,000 birds) and Carolina
                         likely to turn up in an atlas square – than they were in the         wrens (about 4,000). Chimney swifts, upland sandpipers and northern rough-
                         early 1980s. Only seven forest species show a significant            winged swallows are all declining species according to atlas data, and all
                         decrease in this figure. But not all of Ontario’s birds are far-     show correspondingly low population estimates (about 8,000, 9,000 and
                         ing so well. Twenty of Ontario’s 35 species of grassland birds       15,000, respectively).
                                                                                              Peter Christie
                         – such as bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks, which inhabit
                         open fields, hedgerows and meadows – are now significantly
                         less prevalent than they were during the first survey.
                            “This wasn’t a huge surprise,” says Cadman. “Prior to the
                         atlas, there were already publications talking about refor-
                         estation throughout North America … There was already
                         a suggestion that forest birds were improving as grassland
                         birds were in decline across the continent. But we didn’t
                         have a good sense of what was happening in Ontario.”
                            Cadman acknowledges that the atlas numbers point to
                         something of a conservation trade-off. The apparent in-
                         crease in forest birds at the expense of grassland species is
                         a conundrum for environmentalists who want a range of
                         healthy bird communities but who also cheer Ontario’s
                         return to more natural forest cover. Nevertheless, says
                         Cadman, some of the problems facing grassland birds also
                         have a direct human cause: big, intensively farmed fields are
                         reducing the amount of habitat available to birds that favour
                                                                                             JusT one of MAny nAshville wArBlers
                         meadows and pastureland.
                            More puzzling are the atlas results that suggest that popu-
                         lations of swallows, nighthawks and other aerial insectivores      merlins 134 percent and northern hawk owls a stagger-
                         are falling as well (see “Ariel foragers in decline,” page 23).    ing 389 percent. Twenty years ago, Cooper’s hawks were
                         For instance, each of the six swallow species that breed in        found in 345 squares. At the time, the bold, bird-hunting
                         Ontario was found to be significantly less prevalent in the        hawks appeared on the National Audubon Society’s “blue
                         second atlas compared to the first. The likelihood of find-        list” of birds whose status was of concern. In the recent
                         ing cliff swallows in a square declined by half, as was the        atlas, however, Cooper’s hawks were reported in 724 squares
                         case with whip-poor-wills. In April this year, the chimney         across the province and its prevalence has increased 1,218
                         swift – found to be 46 percent less prevalent in the second        percent in the Carolinian region alone. While the reasons

                         atlas compared to the first – was designated as “threatened”       for these increases remain unclear, there is certainly the
                         by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife              suggestion that something is going right in the environment
                         in Canada.                                                         this species inhabits.
                            On the other hand, hawk, eagle and owl numbers are                 “Generally, raptors are one of the good news stories of
                         soaring. The prevalence of bald eagles is up 300 percent,          the atlas,” says Cadman. “There are 26 species in Ontario,

               	                                                                                                             autumn 2007  on nature  21
   cliMATe conTrol
   When stéphane Menu stepped into the sunlit landscape of a large forest fire
   burn near northern James Bay, a small bird caught his eye – a female eastern
   bluebird. At the time, Menu, a scientist with the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observa-
   tory, was with a team of bird atlas volunteers along the remote ekwan river.
       “i was quite proud of this one because, as far as i know, it might be the
   northern-most record [of this species] for all of North America,” Menu says.
       is the presence of a bluebird that far north evidence that the climate is
   growing warmer? The answer is unclear. eastern bluebirds are found in open
   areas throughout much of Ontario’s boreal forest, and northern range limits for
   this and other species are often just conjecture, according to Menu.
       still, many naturalists are convinced that climate change is altering the
   face of bird life in Ontario. They point to northward range extensions for a
                                                                                         The BoBolink, A grAsslAnd sPecies,
   number of other species. Northern mockingbirds, for instance, were found
                                                                                         wAs found To Be in decline
   as recently as a decade ago mainly in southwestern Ontario and now have
   loudly inundated Toronto. Orchard orioles, which were once uncommon much
   north of lake erie, are a regular sight in london. Carolina wrens, considered        including the owls. Nine of them are showing significant
   at the edge of their range in the southern part of the province 20 years ago,
                                                                                        increases and none are showing significant declines. That’s
   have noisily announced their tenancy as far north as eastern Ontario.
       “We know the planet is warming up, and birds are responding to this,” says       obviously great news – they being birds at the top of the
   Bridget stutchbury, a professor of biology at York University.                       food chain.”
       Not so fast, counters Peter Blancher, a Canadian Wildlife service scientist in
   charge of analyzing the atlas data. Blancher used the new bird records (from         like The AtlAs of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland (1976)
   the southern half of the province, for which the records are the most complete)
                                                                                        that inspired it, Ontario’s atlas survey of breeding birds is
   to test whether the ranges of most birds had shifted northward between the
   first atlas and the second 20 years later. surprisingly, his conclusion is that      a monumental exercise in citizen science, in which thou-
   they have not.                                                                       sands of eager amateur (and professional) naturalists across
       “When we looked at the evidence, you actually see more species shifting          the province report on the whereabouts of breeding birds,
   south than you see shifting north,” says Blancher. The finding is contrary to        collecting vast amounts of data that simply would not be
   similar analyses done using atlas data in Britain and Finland. There, scien-         available otherwise.
   tists found that bird ranges overall had moved north by an average of about
   19 kilometres. Not so in Ontario.                                                       “It’s incredibly valuable,” says Wendy Francis, Ontario
       “it’s related to the fact that the strongest influence on those birds has        Nature’s former director of conservation and science.
   not been the shift in climate; it’s been the more pronounced shift in habitat,”      Ontario Nature helped get the province’s first breeding
   says Blancher. “For example, the birds that rely on forest cover have been           bird atlas off the ground and is a founding sponsor of the
   able to move into the south [because of reforestation across the southern            second. “Nonprofit organizations can rarely do their own
   part of the province].”
   Peter Christie
                                                                                        original scientific research. To have the capacity to do this kind
                                                                                        of comprehensive study across the province, and to repeat
                                                                                        it every 20 years and look at trends, is not something
                                                                                        that’s available to most environmental organizations … We
                                                                                        simply couldn’t afford to do it without the volunters.”
                                                                                           The granddaddy of the modern bird atlas movement,
                                                                                        the first British atlas, was based on a survey conducted
                                                                                        between 1968 and 1972 by about 10,000 contributing “twitch-
                                                                                        ers,” or birdwatchers. Its system of grid-based atlassing
                                                                                        quickly became the model used elsewhere. Denmark and
                                                                                        France published their atlases around the same time, and
                                                                                        much of the rest of Europe, New Zealand and some African
                                                                                        countries quickly followed suit.
                                                                                           In the late 1970s, the notion literally winged its way to
                                                                                                                                                                photos: (top); (Bottom) peter Ferguson

                                                                                        Ontario when George Francis, now a professor emeritus
                                                                                        of environment and resource studies at the University of
                                                                                        Waterloo, flew home after seeing Britain’s atlas in a Brit-
                                                                                        ish bookstore and tried to convince people the same could
                                                                                        be done here. Eventually, says Cadman, the idea caught
                                                                                        on. Now, most Canadian provinces and U.S. states have
                                                                                        breeding bird atlases, and many researchers are compiling
                                                                                        similar atlases for other animals and even plants.

                                                                                        “i’m all for citizens’ science,” says York University biology
  The rAnge of The norThern Mocking-                                                    professor Bridget Stutchbury. “I think the volunteers on
  Bird APPeArs To hAve exTended norTh                                                   these projects have proven for decades how good they are
  over The PAsT decAde
                                                                                        at it and how passionate [they are] about it. There is no way

22  on nature  autumn 2007	                                                                                                       
                         in the world you could raise enough money to pay people
                         to do what people are doing out of their own interest and              AeriAl forAgers in decline
                         concern for nature.”                                                   Citizen science monitoring programs, such as the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas
                            Stutchbury is the author of the recently published Silence          and the United states-based Breeding Bird survey (BBs), provide important
                         of the Songbirds, which describes declining songbird                   information on population trends and the conservation status of bird species.
                         populations in North America and around the world.                     One trend that has emerged is the alarming decline in aerial foraging birds,
                                                                                                a group that includes swallows, martins, swifts and nightjars. data from the
                         Stutchbury argues that globally dwindling bird numbers
                                                                                                atlas and the BBs indicate that moderate to severe reductions in the popula-
                         signal a dangerously unhealthy environment.                            tions of many species in this group have occurred across North America over
                            The new Ontario breeding bird atlas, however,                       the past 40 years.
                         tells a different story. It suggests that many of the same                 These species feed on insects, and the increased use of pesticides in recent
                         bird populations that the United States-based Breeding                 decades is believed to be partially responsible for the widespread decline of
                                                                                                the birds.
                         Bird Survey shows are in decline – such as wood thrushes
                                                                                                    Another likely cause of declining populations is loss of habitat. earlier this
                         and rose-breasted grosbeaks – appear unchanged here                    year, the Committee on the status of endangered Wildlife in Canada (COseWiC)
                         (at least as reflected in the changes in bird prevalence).             recommended that the chimney swift and common nighthawk be listed as
                         The populations of other birds shown to be faltering across            threatened species in Canada. in the last 10 to 14 years, these birds have
                         the continent, such as Wilson’s warblers, appear to have in-           declined by 30 percent and 49 percent respectively across the country. ironic-
                                                                                                ally, both species have adapted well to urban environments and were once
                         creased in Ontario.
                                                                                                considered common in towns and cities. As forest habitat disappeared, chimney
                            Stutchbury is sceptical of these results. She points out            swifts switched from using hollow snags for nesting and roosting to using
                         that the changes in distribution that show up as changes in            chimneys. With the loss of grassland habitat, the common nighthawk switched
                         the number of atlas squares in which birds are found pro-              to nesting on gravel rooftops. Unfortunately, suitable breeding habitat is now
                         vides a crude measure of shifts in actual populations. “It’s           becoming scarce for both species in urban areas as chimneys are modified or
                                                                                                disappear altogether, and as tar replaces gravel roofing.
                         not really a criticism,” she says, “it’s just that there are limi-
                                                                                                    “Clearly a lot of these aerial insectivores are getting nailed,” says Marty
                         tations on the kinds of questions you can answer.”                     leonard, co-chair of the COseWiC bird subcommittee and biology professor
                            Peter Blancher, a land bird scientist with CWS who                  at dalhousie University. “What is most disturbing is when you start seeing
                         analyzed breeding bird records collected for the atlas,                declines in common birds that were once widespread.”
                         agrees that comparing the results of the two atlases has               andrea smith

                         not been easy. For starters, as many as 700 more volun-
                         teers clocked almost 25 percent more field hours in the
                         new atlas compared to the first. Furthermore, birders
                         spent different amounts of time within the same indi-
                         vidual atlas squares between the two atlases. Blancher
                         calculated the prevalence (the likelihood-of-being-
                         found-in-a-square) figure for each species to overcome
                         these pitfalls.
                            A change in the prevalence of birds between the first
                         atlas and the second offers a glimpse of the direction in
                         which bird populations might be moving, but it says noth-
                         ing about the actual size of these populations. The new
                         atlas attempts to address this by also including results from
                         “point-count” bird censuses used to estimate how many                 PoPulATions of Birds ThAT feed on
                         birds of each species are living in Ontario.                          insecTs, like The coMMon nighThAwk,
                            Future point-count surveys will reveal increasingly ac-            hAve decreAsed
                         curate population shifts. But, for now, the atlas uses bird
                         prevalence based on the atlas square data to reflect popula-         thriving. Canada’s boreal forest is the breeding ground for
                         tion changes – including the precipitous declines of three           about a third of all North American birds, and in Ontario,
                         of Ontario’s endangered bird species. The likelihood of              it makes up more than half of the province’s forested area.
                         finding loggerhead shrikes, Henslow’s sparrows and                      “It is a surprise,” says Blancher, referring to data in-
                         northern bobwhites in an atlas square plummeted by 60                dicating that far more boreal forest birds have increased
                         to 80 percent since the first atlas. Moreover, declines were         in prevalence than decreased over the past 20 years. But
                         detected for many neotropical migrants in the Carolinian             he adds that the data should be interpreted with some cau-
                         region – the veery declined by 27 percent and the ovenbird           tion. With the benefit of experience from the first atlas and
                         by 22 percent. The prevalence of many waterbirds in the              improved access roads in the north, atlas volunteers work-
                         same region are also declining, including the American               ing in the boreal forest may have inadvertently skewed
                         bittern (down 37 percent), common moorhen (down 38                   the statistics by being more efficient at surveying and find-

                         percent) and spotted sandpiper (down 18 percent).                    ing birds in the north than their counterparts were 20
                            “The results would suggest that of all the regions in the         years ago.
                         province, the Carolinian is the one in which there should be            “I’m not convinced that the high number of increasing
                         greatest concern for bird populations,” says Cadman.                 species in the north is completely real,” says Blancher. Never-
                            Conversely, the bird populations of the north seem to be          continued on page 42

               	                                                                                                               autumn 2007  on nature  23
continued From page 23
                                                                                        coMe ouT for The counT
   A grouP efforT                                                                       The Christmas bird “side hunt” – shooting and then counting how many
   For dedicated bird watcher and atlas volunteer dave Martin of the Mcilwraith         different birds you could bag in a day – was an American tradition through
   Field Naturalists, an Ontario Nature-affiliated member group, seeing a yellow-       the 19th century. it was Frank Chapman’s idea to leave the guns behind and
   bellied sapsucker topped his list of highlights while collecting data for the        simply count live birds instead. Chapman, an officer with the then recently in-
   second Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario. “They were low on the list of         augurated National Audubon society, began the first “Christmas Bird Census”
   species that we expected to encounter, and we never dreamed they would be            in 1900, and now, with more than 50,000 participating birders across North
   so widespread. What a delightful addition to our local bird life.”                   America each year, the count has become one of the biggest organized
      Amassing an army of volunteers is critical to an undertaking like the atlas.      birding events in the world.
   Over a five-year period, an enormous amount of data on birds must be collected.          The Christmas Bird Count may be the granddaddy of bird censuses, but
   Many of the devoted citizen scientists who signed on to help with the task were      plenty of other events ask birders to keep score for science.
   also Ontario Nature group members.                                                   The AuduBon chrisTMAs Bird counT
      Atlas coordinators divided the province into 47 regions, which, in turn, were     According to Bird studies Canada, 119 local groups in Ontario participate
   subdivided into 10-by-10-kilometre-square sections (except in northern Ontario,      in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. The count is a one-day event held
   where sections ballooned to 100-by-100-kilometre squares). Volunteer groups          sometime between december 14 and January 5. Beginner birders are en-
   trekked through anywhere from 20 to 90 sections.                                     couraged to team up with more experienced hands. To participate, call the
      in 2000, on the advice of a friend, Ahlan Johanson joined the rainy river         local coordinator in your area. Coordinators can be reached at the phone
   Valley Field Naturalists, also an Ontario Nature member group. As luck would         numbers and e-mail addresses listed on the Bird studies Canada website at
   have it, the atlas project started soon after. “My interest in birding was just
   peaking,” says Johanson. “The atlas provided an opportunity to search out
   birds i had always wanted to see.” Johanson saw his first pair of red-headed         The greAT BAckyArd Bird counT (gBBc)
   woodpeckers while in the field for the atlas.                                        The GBBC is a four-day event led by the Cornell lab of Ornithology and the
      Volunteers participated in owl prowls to observe nocturnal birds at their         National Audubon society. Birders of all skill levels are encouraged to participate
   nesting sites, and honed their birding skills during winter by listening to bird     in the February event. information can be found at
   calls and songs and studying bird photos.                                            The oTTAwA Breeding Bird counT
      By the time all the data was submitted, more than 150,000 volunteer               The Ottawa Breeding Bird Count, a program that counts birds and monitors
   hours had been logged in the field and some 1.2 million breeding bird records        nests within the nation’s capital, begins its field season in May. More informa-
   produced – an impressive tally that would not have been possible without the         tion can be found at
   dedicated efforts of many.
   Jim macinnis                                                                         The hAMilTon fAll Bird counT
                                                                                        The hamilton Naturalists’ Club has been running the hamilton Fall Bird Count
                                                                                        (hFBC) on the first sunday of November every year since 1974. Participants
                                                                                        spend the day counting birds – migrants as well as residents – within a 40-
                                                                                        kilometre radius of downtown hamilton. You can obtain more information
                                                                                        about the count at
                                                                                        The kingsTon field nATurAlisTs’ sPring And fAll rounduPs
                                                                                        The Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) have been hosting their annual spring and
                                                                                        fall roundups since the 1960s. The roundups, conducted in May and November,
                                                                                        are a competition to find the most bird species within a 50-kilometre radius of
                                                                                        Kingston in a 24-hour period. Contact Kurt hennige through the KFN informa-
                                                                                        tion line at 613-389-8338.
                                                                                        The PeTroglyPhs chrisTMAs Bird counT
                                                                                        The Peterborough Field Naturalists conduct their Petroglyphs Christmas Bird
                                                                                        Count in early January. Beginners and more experienced birders are welcome.
                                                                                        Contact drew Monkman at
                                                                                        Peter Christie

                                                                                         The atlas is a book without a straightforward plot. “What
                                                                                      impresses me most is how dynamic this whole situation is,”
                                                                                      says Blancher. “And I guess that’s cause for being careful
                                                                                      not to assume that things will go on and on forever if we
                                                                                      don’t do something about species that are declining. But
  yellow-Bellied sAPsucker                                                            it also means that we can be optimistic that if we do decide
                                                                                      to do something to protect species, we have a good chance
theless, he says, “it certainly doesn’t seem to be the case that                      of success.”
a large number [of bird species] are in trouble there.
   “I wouldn’t say it’s cause for optimism or pessimism, but                          Peter Christie is a science writer and editor whose most recent
I would say that we have to look at change in the north with                          book for kids is Naturally Wild Musicians: The Wondrous
some degree of scepticism when using the atlas data.”                                 World of Animal Song (Annick Press).

“an overall simPle pattern has not emerged, says Cadman,
                                                                                        To pre-order a copy of the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, go to
reflecting on the dizzying array of findings uncovered by
                                                                               to order online or to find out how to purchase a copy
the atlas across the province. In fact, it’s quite the opposite;                        by mail or phone.
it’s quite complicated.

42  on nature  autumn 2007	                                                                                                                      

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