Crossland: federal Migratory Birds Convention Act ignored as habitat is cut for chips

In an opinion piece in the CH, Donna Crossland bemoans the destruction of bird habitat by clearcutting noting that

May-June are the most critical months for many forest songbirds, though most of us remain unaware of the rather frantic lives these tiny forest dwellers conduct, mating and raising families. No other habitat provides the particular insects these birds require.

The handsome wood warblers, such as blackburnian, northern parula, and black-throated green, cannot adapt to foraging in fields or dried up clearcuts, as they’re programmed to know only how to glean insects from a forest canopy.

She cites her anguish as on June 18 she revisited Oak Lake in Kings Co. which she learned in the spring would by the site of clearcuts close to the lake.

I…walked over a fresh clearcut where the birch once stood. The lake would be buffered only by a pitifully thin band of trees to disguise the carnage. Angry thoughts were broken by strangely cheerful songs emanating from the fresh cut edge of forest that was destined to fall on Monday morning when cutting would resume. There, a male northern parula sang its buzzy upward song. Its voice was joined by a singing hermit thrush, and a black-throated green warbler. Their territorial songs indicate there are nests, most likely containing young lives just begun. My heart sank.

Why, Crossland asks, do we allow such obvious destruction to wildlife habitat?

The federal Migratory Birds Convention Act is supposed to protect nests and nest habitat, but forest harvests continue unabated during the nesting season, with thousands of nests destroyed every spring. Naturalists and scientists speak of the declining chorus of songbirds compared to the past. And how is this practice allowed on our Crown lands, where the very best forest practices supposedly prevail?

Good questions.

Then she asks, “What do Nova Scotians want?” and appeals to readers who would “rather see Crown forests harvested only after most migratory birds have completed nesting… want to see more selective cutting, and a shift in focus on Crown lands shifted from single-minded tree harvesting to a range of other products and… to to be serenaded by forest-dwelling songbirds…” to take up the cause.

Read more in OPINION: Slaying songbirds for woodchips (CH, July 21, 2017)

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