Our appreciation to Paul Jones, Mike V.A. Burrell, Richard K. Cooper, Sumiko Onishi and all the bird photographers who shared their work in these pages.
WELCOME TO THE PELEE ISLAND BIRD OBSERVATORY
The Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO) is uniquely situated on the most southerly island in Canada, nestled in the western arc of Lake Erie, between the mainlands of Ohio and Ontario, but most importantly, in the path of two major migratory flyways for songbirds that winter in Central and South America and breed in Ontario. Among PIBO’s many research and outreach projects, PIBO conducts annual migration counts and bird banding. We also monitor the island’s significant breeding bird communities. Our online newsletter, The Auspice, provides migration summaries, records unusual bird sightings, bird population declines, and other birding news. And our downloadable bird checklist highlights the impressive range of birds that visit Pelee Island, including several Species at Risk and those that have limited breeding ranges in Ontario. Find out more about Who We Are and What We Do—and what YOU can do to help protect birds and bird habitat in southeastern Ontario
Ontario’s Species-at-Risk Act Threatened
The Ontario government wants to water down the province’s Species-at-Risk Act in order to push through its plans to build Highway 413, a mega-project that will cut through 220 wetlands, 85 waterways, the Greenbelt, and the protected habitat of 11 at-risk species, including those of seven birds.
Canada geese in Ontario are dying in what virologists are calling an “unprecedented” worldwide surge of avian flu (H5N1).
Did You Know?
The American Ornithological Society has committed to changing the English-language names of all birds in North America named after people, along with names deemed offensive or exclusionary. Beginning in 2024, a select AOS committee will rename 70-80 birds species in Canada and the U.S. that have human names: thus new names will be sought for such birds as Barrow’s goldeneye, Sprague’s pipit, Wilson’s snipe, and Cooper’s hawk.
The process has already begun with some species: for example, in 2020 the name of the McCown’s longspur was changed to the Thick-billed longspur, because its original name referred to General John McCown, an officer in the American Confederate army.
“As scientists, we work to eliminate bias,” says AOS executive director and CEO Judith Scarl. “Exclusionary naming conventions developed in the 1880s, clouded by racism and bigotry, don’t work for us today.”
The AOS’s ultimate goal is to make birding more attractive to those who might be put off by bird names that evoke unpleasant historical associations. North America has lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970. If more people become involved with birding, the AOS hopes more efforts will be made to preserve and protect species and reverse declining bird populations.
Work With Us!
Every year PIBO hires an Assistant Field Biologist and welcomes Volunteers to work with our field staff on Pelee Island.
We run a variety of important projects on the island, including bird banding (this year we banded nearly 2,800 birds between May and October), breeding bird studies, migration monitoring, and Purple martin research.
If you are interested in being a volunteer with PIBO, find out more:
New and Noteworthy
PIBO Donates Binoculars in Mexico
This spring, PIBO’s Graeme Gibson Prismaticos Project nine pairs of donated binoculars to environmental workers and forest rangers in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.
“We desperately need this equipment,” says Maru Mendiola, one of the recipients and a worker at the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. “It has been extremely difficult to undertake our monitoring and educational activities without them. Now, we can train future generations to restore and protect this unique habitat.”
Prismaticos Project coordinator Rodrigo Lopez, right, presents binoculars to a volunteer guardabosque at the Sierra de los Agustinos Reserve in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.
Photo credit: Merilyn Simonds