Skip to content

The Nature Nut

Rosamund Pojar
Yellow-rumped warbler (aka “butterbutt”) which are the first warblers to show up here and one has already been seen. (Wikimedia Commons)

I was very pleased to see that the Dawson Road Maintenance people have been brushing along the sides of Telkwa High Road before the breeding bird season has started this year.

They even started doing the brushing when there was still snow on the side of the road. They deserve kudos so congratulations Dawson Road Maintenance (and Ministry of Highways) people.

Winter resident birds, such as some owls may already be nesting in February. Resident hairy and downy woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches have already started to establish nesting territories by early to mid-April.

It is so important for the protection of migratory birds to do brushing either before or after the breeding bird season. In our area breeding season for migratory birds starts around the middle of April for very early arrivals. Peak season is May through mid- to late-July.

The Migratory Birds Convention Act established in 1917 and updated in June 1994 contains “regulations to protect migratory birds, their eggs, and nests from destruction by wood harvesting, hunting, trafficking and commercialization.”

Capture, injury or harassment of, destruction or disturbance of an egg of, or damage to or removal of a nest or nest shelter of a migratory bird are all illegal under this federal act.

In addition, birds, eggs, and nests for most bird species are protected under the BC Wildlife Act.

Consequently, brushing and vegetation clearing of any kind – on public or private land – may be a contravention of these acts unless special permission is obtained.

Several people, myself included, have been trying to persuade the Ministry of Highways and others for many years not to do brush clearing during the peak breeding bird season. Contractors are listening and trying to reschedule their work.

They may hire someone to survey the area for signs of birds breeding in the area to be brushed during breeding season. However, this is problematic, mainly because birds are very good at hiding their nests, they must be. Even professional birders can have difficulties finding nests and they are expensive to hire.

The best way to deal with this is to assume that there will be some migratory birds nesting in the area to be brushed during peak breeding season and avoid brushing completely until the birds are finished.

Next time you see someone brushing before or after breeding season, take time to compliment them, and give them a pat on the back on behalf of the migratory birds, most of which are in serious decline.

If you see brushing taking place during breeding season, perhaps you can gently advise the operator that what they are doing is hurting the birds and may be illegal. Let’s do it for the birds!