Late October is prime time for many migrants either leaving or passing through Nova Scotia. Like our summer visitors, who have now gone, many birds leave our fair shores for points further south. Still more birds pass through here as they traverse longitudinally from the southern US, the Caribbean or in some instance even further to come to their breeding grounds in the Canadian arctic or far north.
Recently, we’ve had a “fallout” of just such a species – we have seen White Crowned Sparrows in numbers not normally seen hereabouts. It’s fun as the fall and winter feeders go up to see birds that we don’t normally get to watch. It’s a bit sad, though, that one bird we normally do get, the Purple Finch, is much less numerous now, as are a number of our bird species. In the Purple Finch’s case, it’s due to a disease, but in other instances it’s habitat loss and climate change.
The species most people up in the northeast associate with the word “migration” is the Canada Goose. These wonderful symbols of the wilderness are changing their habits, and it’s mainly due to changes in the climate and human activity. The geese used to go from eastern Canada down in huge numbers to winter in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland. Many geese now make what biologists call a “short stop”, and end up wintering in Nova Scotia or in New England, as the warmer winters allow for more open water than before.
As well, with the increase in things like golf courses and lawns along the coast, many of these once wild birds have become quite tame as they feed greedily on the manicured, exposed grasses. So much so, that the hunting seasons for these birds is open earlier and goes later, because if they weren’t harvested, they’d over-populate and the flock might starve.
We need to pay attention to things like this. The Canadian Government has put in a carbon tax – a tax on greenhouse gas pollution. This is a good thing because it will make people think. And that’s just what needs to happen.