Cheep, Chirp, Twitter, Tweet – Not Social Media Apps!
By Cathy Vaughan
[Reprinted with permission from Chebucto News – April, 2022]
Cheep, chirp, twitter, tweet – bird talk, not social media apps! Wouldn’t you like to know what they are squawking about?
Birds are all around us especially in our local Purcell’s Cove Backlands and Shaw Wilderness Park. These local parks are the ideal habitats for birds as they migrate to and nest in our wetlands, forests and rocky barrens around Spryfield.
Birds help keep our environment healthy through their “ecosystem services.” They pollinate plants, disperse seeds, fertilize new growth, control insects and are the super sanitation team for ‘road-kill.’ Learning about birds not only connects us to nature, it helps us to understand how the health of our ecosystems, waterways and forests rely not only on our conservation efforts, but also on our feathered friends.
Several conservation-oriented groups in Spryfield have partnered to promote the appreciation and tradition of bird watching in the wilderness parks and community trails of Spryfield. The Williams Lake Conservation Company (WLCC) designed the “Sparrows Hawks Doves” (SHD) project and was awarded funding from the HRM Community Project Grants Program. A key goal for WLCC was to build new local alliances and to invite members of the Purcell’s Cove Backlands Coalition and the Urban Farm Museum Society of Spryfield to join in the field trips for the SHD’s bird survey.
Martha Leary, WLCC’s coordinator of the SHD project explains that “In addition to an important bird survey in the Backlands and around the Williams Lake area, we want to promote the understanding and the value of bird watching and to welcome new people to the hobby in our Spryfield area. We also want folks to experience the value of our local parks through field trips into the Purcell’s Cove Backlands and the Shaw Wilderness Park.”
As part of the SHD project, volunteers developed a trail map with a nature guide featuring unique plants and trees as well as the frequent-flyers in the Shaw Wilderness Park. These educational materials will be available to hiking and birding enthusiasts this spring on the WLCC’s website (williamslakecc.org.)
The SHD group also approached the Captain William Spry Library with the idea of a specific collection of educational books and materials on birds. They gathered a wide range of informative resources to be donated to and housed at the library in Spryfield and should be available to borrow in time for summer hiking and bird watching.
Community Librarians at the Spryfield library created a bird-theme activity package for kids and families interested in birds which is available now at the library. Community Librarian, Ella Leving supported the bird theme in her spring programming and offered a “Spring Time Colouring Night: Birds” activity for all ages.
“My role as a community librarian is to listen to and engage my community, ultimately creating programs to meet its needs. It was a natural and organic fit to support WLCC’s bird project. Our Spryfield library is known for its vibrant programs and I am excited to add to our repertoire by introducing bird-themed events,” said Leving.
Books can connect us to the environmental importance of all the essential services that birds provide that keep our natural biodiversity healthy. Colourful illustrations of our Maritime birds plug us into the natural world right outside our windows, on our local streets, trails and in the nature parks in our Spryfield neighbourhoods.
In the future, the WLCC hopes to offer guided walking tours and bird watching skills-development opportunities in the Purcell’s Cove Backlands and Shaw Wilderness Park to promote the importance of conserving and protecting natural and unique areas in Spryfield.
“Data from our spring and summer field trips last year covered a lot of ground in the Backlands. Fulton Lavender, our local bird identification-expert with the project, conducted field trips and identified about 95 different species of birds living in the Backlands at different times of the year and at various points in their migrations,” said Leary, WLCC’s project coordinator.
Some of the more exotic and colourful birds sighted in the Shaw Wilderness Park and the Purcell’s Cove Backlands that you may want to read about are the very showy Wood Duck, evil-looking New World Vultures, colourful Red-eyed Vireos and the majestic Bald Eagle. Amazing sights!
Community librarian Leving summed up the library’s connection to WLCC’s bird project by saying “This season it’s all about fun times, connecting and engaging with our Spryfield community and experiencing and appreciating the magical gifts of nature all around us!”
Explore these useful links:
Bird programs: halifax public libraries
Nature advocacy: williamslakecc.org
Save Williams Lake: williamslakedamassociation – Facebook
Spryfield farm museum: urbanfarmspryfield.com
Bird stories: chebuctonews.ca