Friday, June 3, 2016

The birds

The entrance to Camosun Bog; This is the habitat birds need for survival.

New condo development on West 25th Avenue is one of many going up in Vancouver.

Across the street, another huge development is on the way. Behind the white screens are single-family homes with gardens that will all be demolished, taking any greenery with them.

The backyards of two new houses, with garages, that replaced one smaller house and big plant-filled garden. There's not much space for bird habitat now!

I have two friends who are bird aficionados--one watches for birds on her walks on the Steveston dike; the other goes out to the prairies every year to help a like-minded group of people do bird-banding. They find nests of raptors like owls and place bands on them -- not without difficulty -- so the birds can be tracked.

The idea is to collect information to help preserve them in a world that, when push comes to shove, doesn't care much about birds. On the prairies, my friend says, vast territories are being flattened in the service of the massive industrialization of agriculture. Bush areas are torn out, hills eliminated, sloughs filled in, to make every inch of ground accessible to computer-controlled machinery. As you can imagine, this doesn't leave many places for birds, and they disappear.

The same thing is happening in Vancouver, where large areas of trees and diverse plantings that provided habitat for birds are being destroyed. The clearcutting is for condos and other housing instead of agri-business, but the effects are the same. Native bird populations on the B.C. coast have dropped 35 per cent since 1970, with the main cause being habitat destruction, according to Vancouver bird strategy information cited in the online Tyee newspaper last week. (http://the )

The story, by longtime science reporter Margaret Munro, noted the city of Vancouver has lost 400 hectares of tree canopy -- about the size of Stanley Park -- in the last two decades. With 2,700 mature trees still being cut every year to make way for condos, new houses and laneway houses, enough trees to fill another Stanley Park could be lost in the next decade, she writes.

 I see the process underway every day in Vancouver as I watch bulldozers rip into big old trees and gardens as part of the current demolition frenzy. The size of the new buildings leaves little room for new gardens, and those that are planted seem to be for show rather than for nature. How, I wonder, will birds survive when their greenery is a tiny, carefully pruned tree, a new yew hedge, some ornamental grasses, and a lot of concrete?

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