Sage thrasher (Photo by Dick Cannings)
Depending on where you live, the long-awaited signs of spring may be starting to appear. Thin, green shoots peek out from the ground, while tiny buds appear on the trees, seemingly overnight. You may also hear the sweet call of birds beginning their mating and breeding rituals.
And if you’re very lucky, you might hear the warbling song of the endangered sage thrasher. The greyish-brown sage thrasher flies more than a thousand kilometres north from its wintering grounds in the southern United States and Mexico, just to find a suitable breeding site.
Sage thrashers are almost entirely dependent on rare sagebrush habitat during the breeding season. Unfortunately, the sage thrasher’s Canadian habitat — located primarily in British Columbia’s Okanagan region — is being developed at a rapid rate. Today, fewer than 50 sage thrashers return to Canada every year.
Over one-third of the Okanagan sagebrush habitat that the sage thrasher depends on for breeding has been lost to development. Much of the remaining habitat has been degraded by invasive species and fragmentation, and what remains could be lost forever.
Bicknell's thrush (Photo by Serge Beaudet)
Another traveller is the tiny and threatened golden-winged warbler. This little bird travels a very long way from its wintering grounds in the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America to spend the warmer months in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Unfortunately, the golden-winged warbler has experienced significant population declines in recent years due to habitat loss.
NCC scientists and volunteers are currently conducting research to better understand these threatened birds and how we can protect their habitat. Our work could go a long way to helping secure a future for the golden-winged warbler.
Farther east, you may hear the sweet, flute-like sounds of the threatened Bicknell’s thrush ringing through the forest.
This small thrush has one of the smallest breeding ranges of any songbird in North America. It breeds in dense conifers, usually at higher elevations. In Canada, it nests in southern Quebec, northern New Brunswick and on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.
As you read this, the sage thrasher, golden-winged warbler and Bicknell’s thrush may be beginning their long journey north to find suitable mating and breeding grounds.
When they arrive, many of these and other at-risk and endangered bird species may find that their nesting grounds have been lost to development. Thankfully, others will find safe haven in Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) properties secured using generous gifts from friends just like you.
Your generosity helps NCC identify and protect vast areas of land critical to species' survival. Once an area of land is purchased, your gift assists NCC in continuing its stewardship and maintenance of properties, and in the study of species that depend on the land for survival.
But we can’t do it alone. Your donation today will help NCC continue to protect essential breeding sites for migratory birds. Please a make a gift today and join our efforts to conserve critical habitat for migratory birds and other wild species.