Outdoor Ontario

Discussion => General Discussions => Topic started by: Axeman on April 29, 2017, 09:15:48 pm

Title: Input Please
Post by: Axeman on April 29, 2017, 09:15:48 pm
Some of you may know my online personality -- I am passionate about natural history...I'm not a particularly skilled birder but I love everything about nature and love sharing with others.

I live in a rural area about 2.5 hours nw of Toronto. About 5 months ago I started to write a column for a local community newspaper. The column was anchored around my search for a snowy owl but the column was about more than that. (I had never seen a snowy owl but was often baited by photos posted by board members of snowy owls perched on 401 signs. Anyway, In March I happened to finally see a snowy owl. I saw 6 that day.) When I wrote the final column after seeing the snowy owl, the feedback I received was that people wanted me to continue so I picked 3 birds for the summer: bald eagle, wood duck and woodcock.

Well as it turns out, there is a pair of bald eagles nesting a 12 minute drive from my home. It would be shorter if the roads were normal straight concession roads but the road they're nesting on is not an ordinary road. I visited the nest and was absolutely awed by the nest and by the breeding pair. I wrote about it in my column and gave a pretty clear description of how to find it. Now it happens to be located on a truly picturesque country DIRT road...not gravel...dirt...a few houses...the nest is at the edge of a woodlot that borders a farm field. They have been here for 3 or 4 years apparently. The nest is VERY CLEARLY visible from the paved road that the dirt road cuts off from....the paved road is over 500 m from the nest but if you stand at the corner and you can't see the nest...you should park your car and never drive again.

The paper is a free paper, circulated by mail to approximately 5000 homes / businesses. Of the homes it's distributed to, I am surprised by the number of people who read my column. So of the 5000, there is a reasonable portion of circulation who now know where the nest is.

My rational is that nature is to be enjoyed and that we need to teach people how to enjoy it and be courteous. If more people were like us (members of this board), then there would be less opposition to changes that need to be made to decrease our footprint. The opposition to banning ddt was considerable. And the story is repeating itself.

And....I think life would be better if more people saw the beauty.

Of course, there have been some rather passionate letters to the paper in opposition to my column. I'm still formulating my reply but I would like to hear your thoughts. You don't have to be kind.
Title: Re: Input Please
Post by: Dinusaur on April 30, 2017, 09:57:50 am
Good job Axeman. I presume the opposition was to you revealing the nest site - some are probably more concerned of their own privacy (a very legitimate concern) or concern for the birds themselves. For those who belong to the second camp, I would say that raising awareness of a bird's presence or plight is probably the best defense our feathery friends can have. Yes, let others enjoy the nature and let them fall in love with it. Seeing a wild life from close is a thrilling experience and sharing with others should be equally so. Look at eBird - how citizen science is transforming our understanding of birds in general. There will be a few among us, who most often act unknowingly against the norm or welfare of the birds. But they learn soon from watching others or on their own reducing the number of repeat offenders. Yes, bird's biggest threats are coming from humans but not from watching, photographing or baiting. The recent studies haven't agreed on top 10 list of human activities that are the main cause of harm/deaths to birds; however they mostly agree about the following: Habitat loss, domestic/feral cats, collisions (with power lines, buildings or motor vehicles), Agricultural (pesticide and mowing) and hunting. By the way if the local paper has an online version let us know the link. I am sure we will enjoy reading your article. Best of luck.
Title: Re: Input Please
Post by: Axeman on September 27, 2017, 01:54:59 pm
Thanks Dinusaur!

Well as it turns out, no harm came to the eagles and their young. Another successful nesting year for them and a few more people in the area became more aware of the beauty that is here under our noses.

The newspaper editor / owner made a conscious decision not to go online and stuck with a free distribution via mail. Unfortunately our town was too small to support the paper through advertising and he had to fold.