As a rehabber, I know the joy and heartbreak involved in caring for wildlife that has come off second best in interactions with us. Oil spills are only one of the assaults to our environment, however, it is one that I have also studied, especially the long term impacts the toxicity of oil has on the avian body. Oil disrupts many essential pathways; impacting pair bonding and breeding behaviours, egg production and producing deformed embryos. I pursued this research for many reasons, but one especially hits close to home. I know we at Le Nichoir may face the results of a spill along our waterways at some time. The last major spill on the St Lawrence was in the late 70’s, so we are overdue!

The team at Le Nichoir are very capable of caring for the few oiled birds we may admit each year. Yes, we use Dawn dish detergent. They come in covered in many types of oil and oily products; cooking oil, tars, diesel, etc. How we could care for the potential of thousands of oiled birds; Canada geese, ducks and herons, is beyond imagination. Let’s hope this remains a possibility only and the seaway remains open, safe for shipping and birds alike.