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Sauvons L’anse-à-l’orme: What can you do to help save some of Montreal’s remaining green space?

Anse-à-l’Orme Nature Park is slated to become the location of a 5000-6000 unit housing development unless concerned citizens can make a case for its preservation at the upcoming hearings by the OCM. (Photo courtesy Sauvons L’anse-à-l’orme)

Sauvons L’anse-à-l’orme: What can you do to help save some of Montreal’s remaining green space?

The Office de Consultation Public de Montréal has just announced hearings on the proposed residential development in Pierrefonds west which has been the target of efforts by the Sauvons L’anse-à-l’orme conservation group. With this in mind, spokesperson Alison Hackney is asking concerned birders to voice their opinion at the upcoming hearings and to sign a petition which can be found on the group’s website.

At issue is the 185 hectares of fallow agricultural land, or now ‘wet meadow’, that is part of the L’Anse-à-l’Orme Nature Park and has been at the center of controversy since Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced back in June 2015 that it would be the site of a 5,000 to 6,000 housing unit development project. The proposal raised the ire of concerned citizens and led to concerted efforts to halt the planned development. The land in question is adjacent to a dense forest and is home to wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife and plant species, some of which are facing serious population declines as a result of habitat loss.

The Bobolink, among the species known to breed at L’anse-à-l’orme, is experiencing continent-wide population declines  (photo:wikimedia)

For example, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, the Bobolink, one of the species of birds that breeds on the site, “rates a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is on the 2016 State of North America’s Birds’ Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats.” It is listed as “Threatened” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

A 2016 ecological impact study of the L’Anse-à-l’Orme site’s flora and fauna concluded that “development will have a detrimental impact on the terrestrial biodiversity at multiple scales.” However, in a recent communiqué, the Sauvons L’anse-à-l’orme group emphasizes that although numerous studies confirm the ecological value of the proposed development site, studies alone are unlikely to sway opinion to the side of halting development. Instead they believe “a huge outpouring of citizen support” is the key to achieving their mission to preserve the Nature Park as habitat for the over 270 observed species of flora and fauna.

So what can you do to try to help stem urban sprawl and retain some of the remaining natural green space on the Island of Montreal? The Sauvons L’anse-à-l’orme urges those who share their desire to stop the development project to attend the OCM meetings in person and to present a written brief, or if they are unable to attend, to write to the OCM to express their concerns. Citizens can also present an oral brief. In all cases you must register ahead of time if you wish to make a formal presentation at the hearing. For complete information about how to submit a brief before the April 27th deadline and to view relevant documentation, consult the OCM website. Sauvons L’anse-à-l’orme will be holding a workshop on April 7th to discuss the issues surrounding the proposed development as well as providing tips on how to prepare a brief. To attend, email sauvons.lal@gmail.com.

Big Green March Birding Madness Month

How many birds will you find in March?
How many birds will you find in March? You won't know if you don't take the Challenge!

Announcing BPQ’s Big Green March Birding Madness Month!

It’s March, it’s almost Spring, so what better month to get some Green Birding madness out of the way? We love the number 100 and we love birding, so we couldn’t resist combining the two to bring you BPQ’s Big Green March Birding Madness Month!

By now we hope you’ve heard of the Canada Goes Birding Challenge that challenges you to participate in several different “green” birding options as part of Bird Protection Quebec’s 100th Anniversary celebrations throughout 2017. In addition to the special monthly events already planned, we just came up with some added fun! Yes, it’s last minute, but you can’t stop a great idea from taking shape when it strikes. You gotta run with it! Or in this case, walking will do just fine too!

Will you find 100 species of birds in March? Maybe…we have a checklist for that!

We’ve compiled a new checklist of 100 birds you can hope to find somewhere in Quebec during the month of March. We are challenging you to try and find as many of them as possible between March 1st and 31st ; and to do so by applying the Sasquatch Hour or The Green Big Day criteria. It’s a challenge within a challenge!

The basic rule is that no means of motorized transportation is allowed once you start your count period. Bird anywhere you happen to be – in your backyard, your neighborhood, an urban park, country cottage– wherever, as long as it is in the province of Quebec, or elsewhere in Canada, you might hope to find these birds. You can do this as many days as you like during March to try and find as many of the birds on the checklist as possible.

Even attendance at a BPQ field trip can count for a Sasquatch Hour! So what are you waiting for? There are 100 birds out there waiting for you to go and find them! Will it be easy? Probably not. Will it be fun? You bet! Let us know how it’s going in the comments section below!

What you have to do to participate:

  1. Download a PDF version of the 100 Birds checklist to print and track your results on paper or keep the digital version on your phone.
  2. Read the Canada Goes Birding Challenge – Sasquatch Hour or Green Big Day.
  3. Register for the Canada Goes Birding Challenge by sending your name to greenbirding@gmail.com
  4. Report your March Madness results no later than April 6 th, 2017 using this online formThe results will be posted by April 14th, 2017.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact: greenbirding@gmail.com or  bpqwebmaster@gmail.com

Please let us know how it’s going in the comments section below. We want to know about the birds you are seeing and hearing this spring!

Tips:

Check eBird on where to find species you are interested in finding

There’s also an explanation about eBird usage on our website here and instructional videos here.

Northern Cardinal : What’s not to love?

Courting cardinals: wooing with sunflower seeds, way cheaper than a dozen roses! (Photo: Connie Morgenstern)

Love is in the air today so of course the beautiful bright red Northern Cardinal seemed the obvious thematic choice for a post on Valentine’s Day!

Cardinals will start with courting behavior in late winter. I haven’t heard any in my neighborhood yet but have been told of some already singing on the west end of the island of Montreal. This particular photo shows the courting ritual of the male bringing the female some food. Just like with us humans, dinner and romance seem to go together for birds as well!

Watching them go through their ritual wooing, one realizes how vulnerable birds are during mating season. These two lovebirds were perched on a large branch that had fallen on the ground below my feeders last winter. Unlike the chickadees, woodpeckers and some of the other species that visit my feeder, I normally have to sneak up and stay hidden at a distance from the cardinals if I want to photograph them. However, on the day I got this shot I was able to get within two feet and they never bothered about me whatsoever. Seemingly oblivious to what was going on around them, the male kept going back and forth to the feeder for sunflower seeds for quite a while. The female remained on the branch and waited for him to return with seed after seed, her beak agape as he approached. Eventually they flew off to do whatever it is that birds do after a romantic meal. Now, had I been a cat, I wonder if the outcome of their date might have ended differently!

Wondering how to attract Northern Cardinals to your backyard?

Cardinals will eat sunflower and safflower seeds on the ground or from a hanging tray or other feeder. A birdbath is always a good idea to attract birds in general, so a heated version in the winter will be a popular pit stop for the avian residents in your neighborhood.

Read more about cardinals in this blog post about the Cardinalae family

For more info on what to feed birds, check out our web resource here . There’s also lots of great info on the Project Feederwatch site.

Come count the birds at the Arboretum on February 18th for the Big Backyard Bird Count!

Looking for something to do on the week-end? Come celebrate the Big Backyard Bird Count with Bird Protection Quebec at the Arboretum. It’s a great citizen science event for all ages and levels of birding experience. Find the details here.