This past winter hosted a rollercoaster of weather patterns, including fluctuations of freezing rain, cold temperatures and subtle thaws. These irregular patterns turned out to be problematic for the many aquatic birds that held off on migration and decided to tackle the cold waters.

Le Nichoir received a record number of geese and ducks whose feathers were covered in ice, weighing them down and preventing them from flying. Our admissions included a young female mallard duck suffering from the cold and bearing fist-sized clumps of ice literally hanging off her stomach. After doing a thorough examination of all of the admitted birds, the staff found that most of them were lucky and had not suffered from frostbite. They simply needed to be warmed, thawed, fed and rehydrated.

P1120536 IMG_1918

Once the birds were ready for release, Le Nichoir consulted local ornithologists to locate species of their kind, which can be difficult at this time of year. Each bird was then released into as large a group of the same species as possible: this way, they could continue their journey together, either to the south or by trying to make it through the winter here.

With climate change, more birds are opting out of migration and staying in local surroundings, which means that the Centre now receives birds all throughout the year. Close to 200 birds were admitted to Le Nichoir in fall and winter of last year.

Now that spring is fast approaching, Le Nichoir staff and volunteers are starting to prep for the season. In 2013, the Centre received 50% of its total admissions in the months of May and June alone. So a lot of work is involved in making sure that all of the caging, incubators, medical supplies, food, and staff and volunteers themselves are ready for the flock of birds – many of them babies – that will come through our doors very soon.

All of the professional and humane care provided to each individual bird requires different levels of support, including funding. This year’s annual fundraiser, “A Taste of Hudson”, will feature local chefs volunteering their time to cook up a fusion of tastes for lucky participants. The event will help Le Nichoir to provide care to the over 1,500 wild birds that are brought to the Centre annually.

If you would like more information about this exciting event, please contact me at