Conserving Canada’s Birds Across Their Year-Round Range

Canada’s 451 native bird species are found across every habitat, providing important ecological services such as pollination, pest control, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling. Birds contribute billions of dollars to the global gross domestic product through these ecological services.

Yet all is not well. The 2019 State of Canada’s Birds reports that many bird species continue to decline at alarming rates primarily due to habitat loss in Canada and Latin America. In 2019, we also learned that North America has lost one quarter (3 billion) of its wild birds since 1970. In Canada, the two groups with the most alarming trends are grassland birds and aerial insectivores (e.g., swallows) which have declined by 57% and 59%, respectively, since 1970.

In Canada, the Green Budget Coalition is calling for targeted investments to stem the declines in these two groups of birds most at risk through:

  • Implementing a roadmap for the protection of aerial insectivores in Canada, including a gap analysis of the legal framework, a Canada-wide insect monitoring program, identification of best practices to support aerial insectivores, consideration of harm to birds during the pesticide approval process, a phasing out of pesticides directly toxic to birds or their insect prey, and a return to the principles of Integrated Pest Management in agricultural production; and
  • Programs for ranchers and farmers to support grassland conservation measures and services (e.g., conservation easements, Best Management Practices). (See Federal Habitat Restoration Program.)

We also know that a range of human-associated causes of bird mortality such as cat predation and window collisions take a huge toll on bird populations. Mitigation can save millions of bird lives annually. For that reason, the Green Budget Coalition is recommending an investment in measures to mitigate human-related bird mortality in Canada.

In Latin America, Canada can work with governments and NGOs to:

  • Enhance protection at existing reserves and create or expand protected areas as needed;
  • Restore habitat, especially in protected area buffer zones and conservation corridors; and
  • Reduce human disturbance and direct mortality to shorebirds from illegal hunting, poisons, feral cats and dogs, and livestock, through regulations, enforcement, and public education.

Recommended  Investments:

$4 million over four years (2021/22 through 2024/25) for an aerial insectivore road map and recovery fund [ECCC]

$10 million over four years for conservation in Latin America [ECCC]

$4 million over four years to address human-related threats to migratory birds in Canada [ECCC]

Silke Nebel –
Ted Cheskey –
Anne Lambert –