Sisters Marnie and Amy Clarke donated 40 acres of their 19th century Hudson farm to the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 1991. The gifted land was to become the Clarke Sydenham Nature Reserve “for the benefit of residents of Hudson who appreciate and enjoy woods and fields, birds and wildlife in general.”

Meanwhile, a small group had formed to care for injured and orphaned birds in the area. Word of their good works spread, and demand grew to the point that the part-time conservationists decided to formalize and expand their activities. This is how Le Nichoir began operations 25 years ago in an old barn on the retained portion of the Clarke property. Incidentally, the annual rental fee for the barn was $1 plus two bottles of “good scotch whisky”!

What followed is a remarkable story of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things, strongly supported by their community.

Today, Le Nichoir is recognized as the largest centre of its kind for songbirds in Canada. The main building houses a clinic with x-ray capabilities, a bird nursery, a bird-food kitchen, a classroom, and a reception area incorporating La Plume Verte boutique. Outside and around the building are individual aviaries for insectivores, songbirds, waterfowl and woodpeckers, all set in natural landscaping that even includes a vegetable garden to grow food for the birds.

It’s a history worth celebrating, so stay tuned! We will retrace the steps of our history throughout this year’s newsletters, beginning with this one and continuing with those that follow. We hope you enjoy the trail!