Protect Bugs to Protect Birds

A small bird perched on a tree branch with small leaves emerging.
Eastern kingbird perched in a black walnut tree, photo captured by CVC employee Stephen Van Drunen.

Migratory Birds Return to Southern Ontario

With spring comes the return of migratory birds to southern Ontario. You’ll soon be able to see and hear many species of birds in trees and shrubs in your neighbourhood. These birds make amazing journeys each spring and fall, flying thousands of kilometres and navigating many hazards. They may face extreme weather, window collisions, predation by cats, or a lack of habitat to rest and feed in on their journey.

Population Decline

The combination of threats explains why many of our migratory bird species are showing significant population declines. For this reason, conservation organizations across the world celebrate Migratory Bird Day each year to help people discover, restore and defend bird populations.

Aerial insectivores, or species that catch and eat insects as they fly, have shown the largest declines of any bird group in North America. Populations of birds like the eastern whip-poor-will, common nighthawk and barn swallow have gone down by as much as 40 per cent in the last twenty years. Besides the threats listed above, global declines in insects mean aerial insectivores are also facing a shortage in their food source.

Insects do More Good Than Bad

To many people, having fewer insects around might sound like a good thing. But we need insects–so much so that some people call them the little things that run the world. Insects support the environment as pollinators, decomposers, predators of pest species, and as providers of food for fish, mammals and birds. Overall, insects do much more good than bad.

A butterfly with grey wings drinking nectar from small pink flowers.
Acadian hairstreak butterfly sipping on milkweed nectar, photo captured by CVC employee Dan Schuurman.

Unfortunately, insects face many of the same challenges as migratory birds, including habitat loss and climate change. The good news is that there are things you can do to help insects overcome these challenges. And by supporting insects, you’re also supporting birds.

How you Can Help:

  • Landscape with native plants and use wildlife friendly yard maintenance methods, like not cleaning up your leaves in the fall.
  • Use best management practices to support biodiversity on your property, like adding a pollinator patch and avoiding pesticide use when possible.
  • Become a citizen scientist in a program like CVC’s Butterfly Blitz and contribute data that informs insect conservation.
  • Find a Migratory Bird Day event near you and join in the celebrations to learn more about what you can do to protect birds by protecting bugs.
  • Tell your network  about the importance of protecting bugs, birds and biodiversity in general.

Connect with us to find out how we can help you green your property or how you can get involved in by volunteering at an upcoming event.

By: Laura Timms, Program Manager, Natural Heritage Management.

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