In April 2022, Nature Canada announced that Burlington and Hamilton are Canada’s latest cities to be certified Bird Friendly City. This recognition could not have been achieved without the dedication of the volunteers and community groups that make up Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington.
What is a Bird Friendly City?
The Bird Friendly City certification program by Nature Canada recognizes municipalities that have worked to save bird lives. It also provides a framework for continual improvement, with the opportunity to earn higher levels of certification. While the program is community driven, it does require collaboration with the local municipality. Report cards are required annually, and certification must be renewed every two years.
What’s so unique about Burlington?
Burlington is located within the Atlantic Flyway migration corridor and along the eastern edge of the Mississippi Flyway corridor. Due to the natural habitat around us, and a suitable migratory ‘rest and refuel’ area between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, we have many species passing through our city during spring and fall migration, in addition to several year-round residents. Winter brings an additional twenty or so species of northern and arctic waterfowl to our shores. According to records maintained by the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, as many as 400 bird species have been recorded historically with around 280 species of wild birds using the Burlington/Hamilton and nearby area each year.
Actions and initiatives
Below are a few examples which contributed to Burlington’s designation.
- Having a firm urban/rural boundary in the Official Plan to protect greenspace and farmland;
- Implementing city-wide Private Property Tree and Public Property Tree Bylaws;
- Policies, targets, and actions to grow the city’s tree canopy and maintain its health;
- Mandatory bird-friendly design guidelines for new buildings in certain designated areas of the city, through the Sustainable Building and Development Guidelines and Official Plan with suggested voluntary guidelines for the remainder of the city;
- Mandatory Outdoor Lighting Design Guidelines which aim to reduce light pollution and “up-light” thus reducing the risk to birds during migration;
- Bird-friendly glass (dot markers) have been installed at Mountainside Recreation Centre and the new City View Park pavilion;
- The City is a key partner in the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, thus helping the many waterfowl, shorebirds, and birds of prey (Eagles, Ospreys) that use our Bay;
- The City is a key partner in the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System to connect and restore natural habitat;
- The City is a key supporter of Conservation Halton’s work to protect our watersheds, plus community initiatives such as BurlingtonGreen’s annual Clean Up Green Up and Field and Stream Rescue Team’s work to clean and restore our greenspaces and wildlife habitat; and
- The City is currently finalizing its first climate adaptation plan Climate Resilient Burlington: A Plan for Adapting to Our Warmer, Wetter and Wilder Weather but has already implemented some adaptation measures.
Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day
Register for BurlingtonGreen and Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington’s “The Wonderful World of Warblers” with guest speaker Bob Bell on Wednesday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m. Are you interested but can’t attend? Register to receive the video recording following the event.
What else can you do?
- Visit Burlington’s parks and trails in May to spot a variety of birds in their full breeding colours. If you have binoculars, take them with you, ideally between 7 and 9 a.m., to look and listen.
- Install windows with external screens or apply window treatments to reduce fatal bird collisions with glass. Learn more at birdsafe.ca
- Install windows with external screens to reduce fatal bird collisions with glass.
- Keep your cats indoors or outdoors with a leash or in an enclosure. There are 115 bird species vulnerable to cats due to nesting and feeding behavior. In Canada, approximately 100 to 350 million bird deaths are caused by cats.
- Plant native plants to provide food and homes for birds.
- Put waste in its place. Plastic and other litter can be cause injury or death to wildlife.
Take Action Burlington! Let’s all do out part for our feathered friends. Collectively, we can make a difference.