Pelee Island and the Western Lake Erie Island archipelago supports globally significant biodiversity and important ecological functions. They are a mosaic of aquatic and terrestrial resources, crossing the boundary of Ohio and Ontario. Globally rare shoreline, alvar, forest communities and species occur on most of the islands. The islands and coastal areas provide critical stopover habitat for migratory land and water birds, and breeding sites for colonial nesting waterbirds. The waters of the region are shallow, warm, relatively clear and high in nutrients, making this the most productive aquatic habitat in the Great Lakes. The reefs and coasts provide spawning and nursery habitat for walleye and other native fish.
The Canadian Islands provide some of the most biologically diverse natural habitats in the country and have one of the highest densities of species at risk. The Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre currently tracks over 150 species on the islands, 11 of which are globally rare. This extraordinary number of species at risk requires ecosystem-based approaches to conservation and parallel community oriented approaches to education and stewardship programs. Just as managing the landscape as a whole is essential for effective and efficient protection of these species, the education of the whole person is crucial to all stewardship efforts, and to the survival of humankind and wildlife.
Choices that Make a Difference
There are simple actions that we can take every day that will help promote a healthier world for birds, for ourselves, and for our grandchildren. Our day-to-day choices add up to an enormous ecosystem boost for birds and other wildlife. Here are some easy choices to make:
- Buy shade coffee or sustainable coffee that is organic and fairly traded.
Why: Increases tropical forest habitat for birds and other wildlife; conserves soil; provides fair profits for farmers; fewer pesticides in environment
- When buying produce from Latin America, such as bananas and pineapples, choose organic when available.
Why: Reduces the amount of dangerous pesticide use in the tropics; fewer birds killed; safer for farmers and consumers
- Buy organic, or avoid altogether when possible, the North American crops that pose the greatest risk to birds: alfalfa, Brussels sprouts, blueberries, celery, corn, cotton, cranberries, potatoes, and wheat.
Why: Reduces the amount of dangerous pesticides in the environment; fewer birds killed; safer for farmers and consumers
- Buy wood and paper products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Why: Increases the amount of forest being logged sustainably and responsibly; better habitat for birds and a healthier forest
- Buy disposable paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, tissues) that are made from recycled paper and that are not bleached with chlorine.
Why: Reduces logging pressure on forests; increases habitat for birds; creates less pollution
- Turn off the lights at night in city buildings and homes during peak migration periods.
Why: Fewer birds killed and injured by hitting buildings; saves electricity
- Keep your cat indoors
Why: Fewer birds killed; healthier and longer lives for pets
- Make windows safer during the day and night
- Why: Each year between 16-42 million birds die annually from window collisions in Canada. Skyscrapers as well as single story homes are responsible. Lighted windows at night attract and kill migrating birds and during the day the windows reflect the foilage around it, encouraging birds to fly into the glass.
- Garden with native plants
- Why: Increasing the number of native species on your property helps support local and migrating birds. Birds migrating through your area need stop-over sites that offer food, water and rest. By planting trees, shrubs and perennials that attract local insects and offer nectar and seeds or berries, migratory birds will get the important fuel they need for thier long journey. Local birds will also appreciate a more abundant and diverse food source and a safe place to make nests and raise a family.
- Use less plastic
- Why: Plastic is a problem worldwide for many species of birds. From injesting tiny bits of plastic mistaken for food, to being entangled in fishing line, plastic pollution kills thousands of birds each year.
From Stutchbury, B. 2007. Silence of the Songbirds: How we are losing the world’s songbirds and what we can do to save them. Toronto, ON: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/get-involved/10-ways-to-help-birds/