One of the most difficult issues related to caring for wildlife is being able to provide appropriate housing that is suited to the needs of each species of animal. This is one reason why Le Nichoir chose to specialize in the care of songbirds and aquatic birds.
By doing this we are able to offer the birds better housing built to accommodate their distinctive needs and respect their natural history. For those of you who bird watch, think about all the different habitats you find birds in while observing them. Even within a single habitat you can come across different microhabitats. In a marsh, for example, a duck may be swimming and foraging in the open while a bittern will often be found hunting for prey among the dense reeds and grasses.
“It is our job as rehabilitators to try our best to mimic these environments as much as we can,” says Susan Wylie, Le Nichoir’s Executive Director.
Recently, the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation provided Le Nichoir with funding to purchase two portable wildlife aquatic pens. This generous donation will allow Le Nichoir to improve the quality of life and subsequent release rate of injured aquatic birds by giving them more appropriate and safe housing during their stay.
Aquatic birds spend their lives on water. While in care, they require pools to feed, maintain their muscle mass and waterproof their feathers. However, the Centre’s existing cement-based songbird aviaries were not designed to house aquatic birds – they are not ideal for birds that are adapted to be in water most of their lives.
The new wildlife pens will be used by a variety of species of birds that live predominantly on water. These include species such as grebes, herons, diving ducks, loons and bitterns, including the threatened Least Bittern, a species occasionally brought to Le Nichoir. In addition, each pen is equipped with a filter system and pump to remove and recycle the water.
The pens will allow aquatic birds to dive, swim and forage. They will also offer the public the opportunity to observe these birds in a more natural environment. And it will give us, the staff and volunteers, the chance to teach people about aquatic birds’ natural history and their unique adaptations to aquatic environments.