A Sneak-Peek Into The 3rd Annual Birds On The Niagara Virtual Celebration

 Male Hooded Mergansers, Niagara Falls 2021. Photo by Marcie Jacklin.

A bi-national bird festival, and the only trans-boundary event of its kind in North America, will captivate audiences of all ages this weekend from February 12-14. Guests from around the world are invited to participate in this virtual celebration, at no cost, from the safety and comfort of home.

Birds on the Niagara is an international partnership of organizations, agencies, and individuals, dedicated to promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Niagara River Globally Significant Important Bird Area and the Ramsar Wetland of International Significance. The Annual Birds on the Niagara International Celebration of Winter Birds (BON21) was created to celebrate the magnificent winter presence of birds and the nature that sustains them.

“Everyone who participates every year from Canada, U.S. and across the world, shares the common interest and goal of protecting, conserving, and promoting the natural heritage of the Niagara River corridor,” says Marcie Jacklin, Co-Chair of BON21 Canada and member of Bert Miller Nature Club. “We have prepared a great programming schedule, full of exciting and informative lectures and sessions that will surely motivate guests to share in our passion and mission of exploring and activating conservation strategies to support these incredible winter birds.”

The celebration kicks off on Friday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. with a Meet and Greet and Silent Auction in support of Buffalo Audubon and Birds on the Niagara.

With Niagara River being a world renowned full-watching hotspot that attracts bird watchers from near and far, the evening will continue with a presentation on the reasons and approaches for taking a closer look at the gulls of Niagara at by Toronto speaker, Justin Peter of Quest Nature Tours. A virtual Owl Prowl hosted by the Buffalo Audubon Society will follow.

Saturday’s programming begins at 1 p.m. with Tony Beck and Nina Stavlund of Always an Adventure Inc. World travelers and nature photography enthusiasts, the pair will focus on photographing birds on the Niagara, and will explore bird specialties, photographing techniques, and ethical photography.

Given that guests from all parts of the world will be tuning in virtually, BON21 will offer incredible opportunities for new birders to learn and become inspired. TIFFT Nature Preserve will host a family focused session on winter backyard birding, perfect for school groups or families looking to discover new online education topics and for everyone eager to explore their own backyards.

The Niagara River Corridor received designations as a Globally Significant Important Bird Area (IBA) in 1996 and Ramsar Wetland of International Significance in 2019. Jajean Rose-Burney and Jay Burney, the father-son team that played critical leadership roles in both, will explore the history and the impacts of these two important designations that identify the Niagara River Corridor as a world-class area of ecological importance and in need of protection.

This afternoon will place a spotlight on bird safety and the importance of incorporating nature-friendly planning and design in developed areas. Paloma Plant, Coordinator and Co-Founder of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada will discuss the threats that cause bird-building collisions, such as window design and lighting. Dr. Timothy Beatley, author of “Bird Friendly Cities” and Professor of Sustainable Communities at the University of Virginia, will examine nature-friendly and bird-friendly design in sustainable development.

Keynote speaker, Dr. J. Drew Lanham, will close the night off with his presentation on ‘Coloring the Conservation Conversation’. Dr. Lanham is a leader in the social justice movement and has given voice to raising awareness and conscience as it relates to being an African American man and a profoundly important conservationist. Candid by nature, and because of it, he will examine how conservation must be a rigorous science, and an evocative art, inviting diversity and race to play active roles in celebrating the natural world.

Other topics and themes vary from ethical nature and bird photography to family-friendly backyard birdwatching, bird-friendly development and more!

Starting at noon on Sunday, avid naturalist, long-time birdwatcher, and member of three Niagara nature clubs, Marcie Jacklin, will explore the long human and natural history that makes Fort Erie Canada’s Waverly Woods one of the most critical places in the Niagara River Corridor. Jay Burney will join the conversation to discuss Buffalo’s Outer Harbor located directly across the river.

The Niagara River flows 60 km from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and is an important body of water for many gull, waterfowl, and plant species. Amanda Bichel of Birds Canada will discuss the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Program and will provide a fun glimpse of some of the birds and biodiversity along the Niagara River.

“With incredible opportunities to become engaged in bird watching and to learn about the importance and value of winter birds in the Niagara River Corridor, we hope this great celebration will see a rise in new birders, and families, students and school groups exploring these themes in and outside of the virtual classroom,” adds Kerry Kennedy, Co-Chair of BON21 Canada and member of Niagara Falls Nature Club.

With the health and safety of all a priority, all programs will be delivered online through www.birdsontheniagara.org and Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/3886358561457475 and www.facebook.com/Birds-on-the-Niagara-101717414535153.

To learn more about the Annual Birds on the Niagara International Celebration of Winter Birds, visit www.birdsontheniagara.org. Follow Facebook page and event for frequent updates.

About Birds on the Niagara:  

Birds on the Niagara is an international partnership of organizations, agencies and individuals, dedicated to promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Niagara River Globally Significant Important Bird Area and the Ramsar Wetlands of International Significance, also known as the Niagara River Strait. They celebrate the magnificent winter presence of birds and the nature that sustains them, and endeavor to explore and activate conservation strategies to support them. 

Canadian participation began in 2018 and the annual celebration continues to grow, from what was once a single outing location and two nature clubs in the first year. In its second year, the celebration saw multiple walks and a busy open house hosted by Niagara Parks, and now in 2021, seven Canadian organizations are now involved in a large, fully virtual event with limitless potential and reach.

The NPCA is a sponsor of Birds on the Niagara 2021, and is also providing in-kind marketing and promotions support. 

(Source: NPCA news release)

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