Twenty-five years ago, four bird lovers founded Le Nichoir in an abandoned barn. It was a humble beginning for what would become the largest wild bird conservation centre of its kind in Canada. In those 25 years, wild bird conservation and rehabilitation practices have evolved from well-meaning but largely instinctive efforts to save needy birds into a professional, science-based activity practised worldwide. Le Nichoir rode the crest of that wave throughout the period and, thankfully, we no longer work in an old barn!
Our Conservation Centre, opened in 2016, houses a nursery, a bird-food kitchen, a classroom, a reception area, staff offices and our bird boutique, La Plume Verte. Appropriate housing for wild birds in their recovery period is critical. Outside the main building are individual aviaries for insectivores, songbirds, aquatic birds and woodpeckers. With a fulltime staff of four, aided by part-time summer employees and an army of volunteers, the Centre delivers environmental education programs and treats upwards of 3,000 injured or orphaned wild birds per year.
It’s an impressive history but where do we go from here? Here are three trends that we feel will help shape our future:
Ever Increasing Public Awareness and Support
An understanding that we all need to do a better job of looking after our planet is finally taking hold, most recently driven by widespread concern about climate change. This new-found momentum will likely lead to more environmental laws to safeguard the “rights” of nature and wildlife, and hopefully more government funding for organizations like Le Nichoir.
Ever More Professionalism in Wild Bird Conservation
The past 25 years has been a period of rapid professional development in wildlife rehabilitation with several organizations, such as the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, rising to the fore with education programs and resources for wildlife conservation worldwide. Looking ahead, it seems inevitable that this body of knowledge will continue to grow and form the basis of formal education opportunities in colleges and universities, providing Le Nichoir and others with a reliable source of interns and skilled employees.
Ever Growing Demand for Our Services
As human activity encroaches further and further into wild bird habitats and migratory routes, and with public concern about environmental degradation growing apace, Le Nichoir will likely have a very busy time of it. Even now, our Centre bulges at its seams with nestlings and fledglings in spring and early summer. We are actively looking at ways to boost our capacity. We are also developing teaching programs in order to pass our knowledge on to others so that additional wild bird conservation centres can be established to increase the availability of services and expand geographic coverage.
It has been an exciting and very rewarding first 25 years at Le Nichoir. It is never easy to predict the future but when we look down our road, we foresee very few dull moments!