Page 2: Michael Bradstreet to Marc-André Cyr

Michael Bradstreet

Photo: Jane Bowles

Tundra Swan

Photo: Andrew Couturier

In March 1965, as a 15-year-old Toronto-born teen, I was delighted to find myself shivering at dawn on the dunes of Long Point, Lake Erie, gazing over the vast marshes of the Inner Bay. A querulous cry from above the blackbirds heralded the spring’s first wavy line of Tundra Swans. I didn’t know it then, but that enchanted confluence of season and place would repeat itself again and again for me over the next 50 years. My hope is that wise stewardship will preserve this solitude for others, and each spring the swans, those paragons of birds, will have a quiet pond to rest in.

Gerhard Bruins

Photo: Gerhard Bruins

Over the years I have conducted many Breeding Bird Surveys. I assisted with provincial Breeding Bird Atlas projects and shorebird surveys at James Bay. One June after doing a Breeding Bird Survey close to Wawa I mentioned to my partner that in years past I had seen Sandhill Cranes in a nearby blueberry field. We decided to take a peak. In the field, I noticed a dozen Canada Geese and a lone Sandhill a little further on. And then it happened. The Canada Geese took off and there was the one Sandhill Crane flying in formation with them. It was an absolutely incredible sight.

Caroline Bureau

Photo: David Prince

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Photo: Suzanne Labbé

I don’t get to do any fieldwork as part of my job, so for the last four years I’ve spent part of my vacation volunteering at the Observatoire d’oiseaux de Tadoussac. This fall will be my fifth season as a volunteer. This photo was taken during my first season. I had just extracted (untangled) my first Sharp-shinned Hawk. What a joy to be able to hold this magnificent bird, with its powerful claws and piercing eyes, in my hands! It’s such a privilege to be able to touch and see a host of passerines and raptors up close. Life brings such wonders!

Barbara Campbell

Photo: Lesley Howes

It was the end of June and we were set to move Canada Geese along the Toronto waterfront. If everything goes right birds move smoothly into the transport. Just as we were set to begin, a busload of enthusiastic students appeared threatening to scuttle the plan. One of our quick thinking crew members suggested lining up the students to create a path for the geese to walk through. Students moved to position, geese marched through. I’ll bet those kids will never forget their unexpected encounter with Canada Geese on that hot summer day at the end of their school year!

Rebecca Campbell

Photo: Barbara Campbell

Bald Eagle

Photo: Suzanne Labbé

While hiking on Vancouver Island, I woke to sounds outside the tent. It sounded big. This was bear and cougar territory, so I yelled to scare it away. Something punched the tent wall. My partner found the bear spray and we waited. Another punch, the sound of wings beating, then nothing… I went outside and saw the beach full of 100 feeding Bald Eagles. They took off as soon as they saw me. It was incredible! The tent grounds were covered with fish. The eagles had dropped their breakfast from the trees and fought over them beside the tent, waking us.

Kamil Chatila-Amos

Photo: Sonia Périllat-Amédée

Rock Ptarmigan

Photo: Charles Francis

A couple years ago, I had the privilege to work on Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary. The work was grueling but whenever I felt downhearted a magical moment would lift my spirits. Whether it was inching towards the edge of a cliff to peer into a Rough-legged Hawk nest, almost stepping on a camouflaged Rock Ptarmigan and her eggs on the tundra, finding Snowy Owl chicks and their protective parents, herding Snow Geese from a helicopter or getting a glimpse of our rarest species like the Gyrfalcon and the Yellow-billed Loon, I gained a deeper love and admiration for our wildlife that summer. 

Ted Cheskey

Photo: Marilyn Labrecque

Barn Swallow

Photo: Don Ford

I was 16, at my buddy’s pool in Milton on a nice summer day. The Barn Swallows were active, swooping past us, surely searching for food for their nestlings. They seemed noisier than normal, even disturbed about something. Then I saw it. Lying flat against the ground was one of my friend’s cats. On its back, allowing the swallows to swoop closer and closer and closer. WHAP. Cat bats swallow out of air, leaps on it, and runs off with it in its mouth. I chased the cat but it was gone. The swallow chicks cheeped their complaints.

Julie Cousineau

Photo: Julie Cousineau

Great Blue Heron

Photo: Julie Cousineau

I was on the edge of the marsh close to the Library and Archives Canada building in Gatineau to photograph a heron with its catch. I was intrigued by what species of fish there could be in this marsh. To my surprise, the marsh was filled with goldfish! And the fish this beautiful heron had caught was huge, as you can see in the photo.

Andrew Couturier

Photo: Andrew Couturier

American Robin

Photo: Pierre Bannon

I was in Mexico City for a Partners in Flight meeting at the end of January. We were working on the report Saving our Shared Birds, the first landbird conservation assessment spanning Canada, the USA, and Mexico. A key theme of the report centred on the importance of working across boundaries to conserve shared populations of birds. This concept really hit home when we observed dozens of ‘our’ American Robins packed into a tiny, postage stamp urban park in Mexico City. It was a poignant moment for all - migration is truly one of nature’s most outstanding spectacles!

Marc-André Cyr

Photo: Yves Aubry

Ring-billed Gull

Photo: Christian Marcotte

While I was studying environmental science, I became fascinated by the ideas presented in the book Silent Spring published by Rachel Carson in 1962. In 2017, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of an important commitment by our government towards birds: the enactment of the Migratory Birds Convention Act. However, we are also facing a major challenge this year: the widespread use of neonicotinoids, pesticides that have caused the decline of many species of birds. In looking towards the future, I hope that Silent Year will never have to be written.

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