Sandhill Cranes in Nova Scotia
This Canary May Be Another Species
Nova Scotia's coal miners in the past used to work in the mine with a caged canary for company. The idea was that if the volume of harmful gases got too large, the canary would keel over, thus warning the workers to leave.
Some bird watchers, known inside the club as "birders", are becoming increasingly convinced that we are seeing a warning sign about climate change right now. There appear to be more and more rarities occurring in places they simply shouldn't be, and many scientists agree that climate change is a culprit in changing avian habits and habitat. Some species of birds are nesting further north than ever before, and some species have stopped migrating as far south as they once did, known as "short-stopping". Everywhere, there are oddities if we only wish to observe them.
Now, undoubtedly some of this is due to the increasing interest in bird watching and the social media that now allows folks to inform people quickly of rare birds to go find in a certain location, but I do believe that some of this is akin to the canary in the coal mine - and that what we are seeing is climate change as it impacts our feathered co-inhabitants of this planet.
This week, I became aware that a fellow birder had spotted a pair of Sandhill Cranes here in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. Sandhill Cranes breed in the North, but at this time of year their migration should be complete and they should be somewhere far south of here - like on a Caribbean island somewhere or in the very southern reaches of the United States. The fact this pair stopped here was interesting to those of us who are birders, and the images of these birds against snow or spruce forest is different to say the least as other images I have of these birds are on golf courses in Florida. However, one worries about this pair, as they will not find easily their preferred food here, and also one worries even more about the future of the species and the planet if changes that brought about such a visit keep happening.
We might be advised to take our ancestor's advice and keep an eye on the canary and what that means.