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Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory prepares to welcome spring migrants

If you listen carefully on the back roads of The County this weekend, you may hear the sweet call of the Eastern Meadowlark! They have returned! These birds are losing numbers as farming practices change. – Ian Dickinson photo

Phil Mercier, PEPtBO’s Bander-in-Charge, is a wildlife biology graduate from McGill University who has three generations of birders in his family. He became a bander six years ago and wanted to become part of PEPtBO’s team since visiting the station in 2018.

While the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO) is not open to the public, pandemic protocols are in place and bander-in-charge Phil Mercier is already sharing news of early migrations which include Northern Flickers, Eastern Phoebes, Song Sparrows and a Golden-crowned Kinglet.

PEPtBO volunteers have set up mist nets to begin migration banding on April 10. In total, some 298 species of birds have been recorded at Prince Edward Point with about 220 species being recorded during the average year. Most of these species are recorded during migration, although at least 74 species nest within the area.

Bird migration has been monitored at Prince Edward Point from 1975 to 1981 and more recently from 1995 to present. As a result of monitoring initiatives, Prince Edward Point was designated as a National Wildlife Area in 1980, specifically to protect the large numbers and diversity of landbirds which use the area during spring and fall migration. The point was also designated as an International Monarch Butterfly Reserve in 1995.

Bird banding helps monitor populations, rates of survival, monitoring ecosystem health and endangered species and provides long-term information used by researchers. PEPtBO is a member of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN), which is a large-scale collaborative network of more than 30 bird observatories and research stations across Canada.

PEPtBO’s celebration of the return of birds for the past 10 years is the Spring Birding Festival, which this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is going virtual for the first time with webinars, free nature activities and readings and more with the Prince Edward County Public Libraries.

This year’s roster of speakers and presenters will capture the magic of spring in the County and also provide some hands-on family fun through PEPtBO’s Get Out! Kids’ Club.

A month-long webinar series offers eight sessions, seven free of charge. A $20 registration fee per connection offers exclusive access to keynote speaker Julia Zarankin, best-selling author of “Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder”.

All month, PEPtBO’s Get Out! Kids’ Club program will feature nature fun to download, such as a Bird Behaviours Scavenger Hunt and The Top Five Nature Challenge. Free Family Birding Kits with activities, a PEC birding map, sketch book and junior birding journal are also available through PEPtBO’s Naturehood program.

Click here to look at the programs and to register: 

They include:
April 26 at 7 p.m.: Kyle Blaney from Quinte Field Naturalists on ‘Beauty Close to Home’

May 5 at 7 p.m. Terry Sprague on ‘Leave it Natural and They Will Come’

May 8 at noon, Cheryl Chapman ‘All About the Bird Observatory’

May 15 at 10:30 a.m. Bird Adventures Story Time

May 15 at 11 a.m. South Shore Stroll

May 19 at 7 p.m. Julia Zarankin ‘Birding: Passage to Passion’

May 20 at 10 a.m. Bee Day with Julie White

May 25 at 7 p.m. Kari Gunson, from Prince Edward County Field Naturalists

Research, monitoring, outreach and educational programming require financial resources. With no core government funding or administrative staff, and led by volunteers, PEPtBO depends on the support of individuals like you who love and find joy in birds, and understand their importance to a healthy world.

Visit the PEPtBO website to support, or become a member.

This year, PEPtBO also seeks three new board members to help build the organization’s fundraising, research, and social media capacities. Expressions of interest are welcome by contacting Dale Boyd at treasurer@peptbo.ca

 

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