Our late and slow spring is not stemming the tide of migrating songbird birds passing through Mississauga’s Lake Ontario shoreline, with dozens of species making their way across the area right now.
The Lake Ontario shoreline is an important pit stop for the travelling birds along two major routes — the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways. These are the flight paths that thousands of birds take as they travel the long distances between their winter homes in South and Central America and breeding grounds in the north.
In Mississauga, the birds must stop to rest and refuel after making the trek across North America and the long journey over the lake.
The shore is not always as hospitable as it could be for migrating birds. Challenges include a lack of native plants for food and shelter as well as threats from domestic pets, plate glass windows and night-time lights that interfere with navigation.
Credit Valley Conservation has been studying the water quality, quantity and wildlife habitat of the shoreline as part of the Lake Ontario Integrated Shoreline Strategy.
“We have learned that there are a lot more birds passing through the area than we previously understood,” said Kate Hayes, Manager of Aquatic and Wetland Ecosystem Restoration for CVC. “Many species stop overnight and are gone before even the most ardent birdwatchers have risen. This makes taking action to make our neighbourhoods more bird friendly all the more important.”
Protecting Migrating Birds
There are simple things that homeowners can do to provide respite to these birds:
- Eliminate use of herbicides, which poison birds
- Plant native plants to create healthy habitat
- Provide cover by creating sheltered trees/branches for resting
- Create or protect water sources for bathing/drinking
- Landscape for birds by using multiple levels of plants for resting, feeding and singing
- Keep cats indoors and dogs leashed in nature areas to reduce threat from predators
- Prevent window collisions by using decals and stickers on windows
- Help birds stay on course by turning off lights and closing blinds
Even small spots of green space can make a difference. Backyards, parks and natural areas can create a connected patchwork of rest stops that can help birds survive the long journey.
For those who want to try their hand at identifying visiting birds, Credit Valley Conservation has also developed a spotter guide that lists 32 species of migrating songbirds that are often seen in the area. Download the guide at www.creditvalleyca.ca/migratory-songbirds.
Conservation Authorities are a provincial/municipal partnership. CVC was established by an Act of the Province of Ontario in 1954 with a mandate to protect all natural resources, other than minerals, in the area drained by the Credit River. We have been working for 60 years with our partner municipalities and stakeholders to protect and enhance the natural environment of the Credit River watershed for present and future generations. CVC is a member of Conservation Ontario.
Backgrounder with additional information:
Marketing & Communications Specialist
Credit Valley Conservation
905-670-1615 ext. 385