Spring is finally here! Well, sort of. One of the biggest challenges birds face is the journey north each spring. Migration is rife with obstacles to survival.

This spring is especially problematic due to the cold and wet weather we’ve had. Birds, which rely on insects to fatten up for the migration, face unprecedented challenges such as snow, rain, wind, and very cold temperatures, making food scarce. Couple this with the ongoing decline in the population of many of our migrants, by about 70 percent in the last five decades, and the outlook is dismal.

Almost every year, for the past 35 or so years, I’ve done a Birdathon in support of projects designed to help or, in some cases, save Canadian birds. Every year I am hopeful the state and the fate of the birds will improve. I am a very optimistic person, but I wonder how long the birds can continue to withstand the pressures: of climate change, urban sprawl, hunting, impacts with buildings and windows, cats, cars, wires, pesticides and habitat loss, before they disappear from our landscape forever? Aerial insectivores, swallows and flycatchers are in dire straits, as insects disappear from the landscape around the entire world.

Everywhere, we are encroaching on habitats and threatening the survival of virtually everything on Earth. From forests to oceans and fields to marshes, we lead a relentless charge toward extinction. Shorebirds, owls, hawks and songbirds all are in dire danger! This sounds like an exaggeration, but sadly it is not.

But who can help? We can! So please give a hoot about our birds. A few caring people can help make ONE project, designed to help our birds, a reality and, by so doing, offset some of the anthropomorphic impacts our lifestyle generates. A few hundred of you can ensure MANY projects go forward, with tens of thousands of birds protected!

Not sure what a Birdathon is or why you should help?

There are so many good nature and environmentally focused causes out there, and I am proud to be part of several of them; but one near and dear to my heart is the Great Canadian Birdathon. Like any other ‘thon’, it is designed to raise awareness and much-needed funds for projects, in this case, aimed at studying and protecting Canadian birds.

Birds Canada sponsors this annual birdathon, to fund volunteer research projects in Ontario and other parts of Canada. Many thousands of people, from across Canada and around the world, participate in and/or sponsor the Great Canadian Birdathon in May each year. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised annually from this ambitious project.

Bird research and conservation projects across Canada benefit directly from your donations. The monies are distributed to individuals and groups who are working on projects to protect, enhance and study bird populations. Some projects funded by the Birdathon include ones which focus on: Piping Plovers, Purple Martins, bird banding stations, Loggerhead Shrikes, Barn Swallows, bluebirds, seabirds, breeding bird atlases, migratory songbirds, hawks and Barn Owls, to name a few. Most of these worthwhile projects would not survive without your generous donations.

I will be doing my Birdathon in late May, in support of North Durham Nature and Birds Canada. I’ll be out for twenty-four consecutive hours looking for as many bird species as I can find in Durham, Kirkfield and environs. I usually find in excess of 155 species of birds and hope to top my best year, of 180 species, this year – fingers crossed, both the birds and weather co-operate!

Please consider sponsoring me in this year’s Great Canadian Birdathon: you can help me make a difference. To make an online donation go to my personal Birdathon link, at https://www.canadahelps.org/me/6Ktyncn, or contact me by email, at geoff.carpentier@gmail.com.

By the way, 25 percent of the money I raise goes to our local nature club, North Durham Nature, to help fund their own nature-focussed local projects (www.northdurhamnature.com). I look forward to hearing from you to help me help our birds! Gotta go get some rest, so I can do my 24-hour Birdathon!

Geoff Carpentier is a published author, expedition guide and environmental consultant. Visit Geoff on LinkedIn and Facebook.