With both front-yard bird feeders blanketed by the overnight snow, it looks as if we had an early morning visitor, perhaps wondering when today’s breakfast would be served! (Photos by Joe Barkovich)
Lunch time at the bird feeder on a sunny, spring-like Wednesday afternoon in Welland.(Photos by Joe Barkovich)
The ‘3rd Annual Birds on the Niagara’ (BON21) will take place from February 12 to 14 and school groups, families, and experienced and novice birders alike are welcome to join the virtual celebration. They can look forward to a remarkable lineup of speakers and presentations, varying in topics and themes and guaranteed to captivate audiences of all ages.
“The Niagara Region is a bird wonderland to behold during the winter months. Vast populations of northern birds, including ducks and geese, gulls and terns, and other visitors from the North, find food and shelter here, in the open waters connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario,” says Kerry Kennedy, Co-Chair of BON21 Canada and member of Niagara Falls Nature Club. “Up to 40 species of waterfowl, including Tundra Swans, Buffleheads, Long-tailed, Redheads, and Canvasbacks, and 19 species of gulls, including Bonaparte’s and a variety of rare species can be spotted.”
For generations, winter birds have attracted scientists and bird watchers from across the globe, as Niagara Falls, the Niagara River, and its corridor are some of the world’s most biodiverse places. Comparable to the Galapagos Islands, the Florida Everglades, and Yellowstone Park, the Niagara River Corridor is a Globally Significant Important Bird Area. With the U.S. shore now a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance, and a parallel Canadian effort underway, BON21 will showcase the beauty and importance of the area, with the hopes of it one day becoming the prominent winter destination for ecotourists and adventure travelers.
“This is the only international bird festival in North America, and it takes place in the winter, near Niagara Falls, because of the abundance of birds here,” adds Jay Burney, Co-Chair of BON21 U.S. “The number of birds that migrate to the river near the Falls is a tremendous ecotourist attraction. This year’s virtual event will allow birders and adventure tourists from across the globe to experience an international birding event.”
With an impressive and diverse programming schedule, BON21 will kick 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. The evening will continue with a virtual Owl Prowl and a presentation on the reasons and approaches for taking a closer look at the gulls of Niagara, by Toronto speaker, Justin Peter of Quest Nature Tours.
Saturday’s programming will include a session on “Virtual Family Winter Birding” at 2 p.m., hosted by TIFFT Nature Preserve. It will be followed by a presentation titled “Globally Significant Important Bird Area and the Ramsar Wetland of International Significance” by Jay and Jajean Burney. This exciting day filled with learning opportunities will close with keynote speaker and author, Dr. J. Drew Lanham. A Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, Dr. Lanham will focus on songbirds’ ecology and the intersections of race, place, and conservation with wild birds as the conduit for understanding.
“Additional programming throughout the weekend, especially Sunday, will focus on specific critical conservation needs in the International Niagara River Corridor, ethical nature photography, great locations to see birds in Niagara, and includes programs by partner nature clubs and wildlife organizations on both sides of the border,” says Marcie Jacklin, Co-Chair of BON21 Canada and member of Bert Miller Nature Club. “With the number of winter birds declining every year, celebrating and learning about them, and the role that we can all play in their conservation and protection, is now more important than ever.”
Valentine’s Day weekend is always ideal for this annual celebration. Not only are many of the birds in spectacular breeding plumage, but it is a great time to get outdoors to enjoy the abundant nature and the beauty of winter season. With the health and safety of all a priority, this year’s event will be delivered virtually, at no cost, and participants are encouraged to join from home.
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.
While the celebration takes place February 12-14, several activities, and opportunities for guests to engage online, participate in contests, and discuss topics of interest will be offered on Facebook leading up to the weekend.
To learn more about the Annual Birds on the Niagara International Celebration of Winter Birds, visit www.birdsontheniagara.org. Follow Facebook page and event above 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.
(Source: NPCA media release)
My great pandemic escape: Bird watching on Merritt Island, Welland. /Photos by Joe Barkovich
Great day for watching our feathered friends! (Photos by Joe Barkovich)