Changing Colours with the Seasons

American Goldfinch

Moulting is the process of shedding something old to give way for something new. In birds, moulting involves replacing some or all their feathers at least once a year, usually in the fall. For many birds, this means having fresh feathers for the long migration ahead, the most dangerous time of the year for most birds. Blackpoll Warblers, for example, need perfect plumage to undertake their incredible migration and complete a non-stop 88-hour 3,000 km flight over the Atlantic Ocean.

ChickadeeSome species such as the Cardinal or the Chickadee merely use the annual moult to refresh their plumage; the feather colours remain the same all year-round. Others, however, use the moult as an opportunity for change. Vibrant breeding colours are swapped for camouflage, either adapted to the winter conditions for those that stay, or for the long journey and winter habitats of migratory species. And that means going through a second moult in the spring, to regain the breeding colours.

American GoldfinchAmerican Goldfinches are an example. The bright yellow male of summer is still at your feeders all winter; he’s just not yellow anymore but has assumed colours more like the female’s greyish green. Most warblers will do the same; the bright blues, oranges, yellows, stripes and patterns of the summer are exchanged for drab greens, olives and yellows that make most species appear very similar to one another.

Many birds will have this pattern of being colourful in the summer and camouflaged in the winter. However, there are some exceptions. Ducks are a perfect example. Unlike most other birds which usually meet on the breeding grounds or are already mated, ducks usually bond in the winter and migrate back as a pair to the breeding grounds. It thus makes sense to have your best attire in the winter when it is time to impress the ladies. Have you ever noticed that there are no male duck to be seen in July and August? This is because Ducks moult their flight feathers in the summer and during this time they will have a hard time flying. Bright colours and flightlessness are not a good combination when there are predators around, so males ducks take on the drab appearance of the females during this dangerous time.

An Exciting Day at Le Nichoir

Groundbreaking Ceremony

The rain stopped and the clouds parted as guests arrived at the new Conservation Centre groundbreaking ceremony August 14th.

 “We’ve been looking forward to this day for some time” says Susan Wylie Executive Director.”

The new main building will house an avian wildlife rehabilitation facility that will ensure the public year round access to the professional services of Le Nichoir as well as providing the region with emergency response services and an important centre of expertise.

In addition, the building will house a multi-function classroom facility that will permit a significant expansion of Le Nichoir’s on-site environmental education program, providing a unique learning environment that links the classroom and the adjacent nature reserve.

The building was designed by Studio MMA, a Montreal architecture firm with a long-standing commitment to environmentally responsible architecture.

 “The guiding vision for this project is of a building integrated into its community and integrated into its site, a building that fulfills its educational vocation both in terms of ornithology and as an example of sustainable construction: a ‘green’ building that reflects the environmental values of Le Nichoir” says Vouli Mamfredis, partner in charge of the project.

Construction Managers for the project are eSpace Construction Inc, a company with a solid reputation in executing sustainable construction projects. The building will be completed in 2016 in time for Le Nichoir’s 20th anniversary of conserving avian wildlife.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place in the presence of Mme Marie-Claude Nichols MNA Vaudreuil, M. Jamie Nicholls MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, M. Jean Lalonde Préfet de la MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges, M. Ed Prévost Mayor of Hudson, M. Julien Turcotte General Manager CLD Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Mme. Nathalie Zinger Regional Vice-President Nature Conservancy of Canada, Mme Lynn Miller co-founder of Le Nichoir as well as representatives from partner organizations and individual supporters of the project.

Humane Society International’s Aviva Vetter and Le Nichoir’s President Lindsay D’Aoust

Humane Society International’s Aviva Vetter and Le Nichoir’s President Lindsay D’Aoust

Nicholas Gilman, Executive Director SPCA Montreal and Le Nichoir’s Executive Director Susan Wylie.

Nicholas Gilman, Executive Director SPCA Montreal and Le Nichoir’s Executive Director Susan Wylie.

Open House Invitation

Open House

Come participate in a guided tour of our facility, take a bird watching walk with a naturalist, or have your face painted by one of our volunteers.

Saturday July 18, 2015
10 am – 2 pm
637 Main, Hudson QC J0P 1H0

There will be a variety of fun activities, a cash BBQ lunch as well as other non-profit organizations for you to meet.

This is a rain-or-shine event that gives you the opportunity to get to know Le Nichoir’s volunteers and staff and, most importantly, offers the opportunity to observe many of the different species of birds found in Quebec. Admission is free and everyone is invited!

Press Release

Le Nichoir on the Trail …

… at the Clarke Sydenham Nature Reserve

Clarke Sydenham Nature Reserve

To love your neighbour like yourself, it certainly helps to pick the right neighbourhood! Le Nichoir is very fortunate to be right next door to a small but immensely valuable natural jewel, the Clarke Sydenham Nature Reserve. Owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, this 47-acre site is adjacent to Le Nichoir, and has been a perfect haven for the centre to release many of our birds.

Despite its modest size, the reserve features many different habitats, from old forests to fields and temporary ponds, and hosts an impressive variety of fauna and flora. It is home to some of our most colourful birds, such as the Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) and the Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea). The Clarke Sydenham Nature Reserve also serves as a feeding ground for declining aerial insectivores such as the Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) and the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) nesting close by.

Interpretation Panel

Building on this symbiotic relationship with our neighbour, last year Le Nichoir embarked upon a project to promote the reserve and its treasures. Supported by grants from the Fondation Hydro-Québec pour l’environnement and the Fondation de la faune du Québec, this project involved the design, production and installation of six interpretation panels, with information about the habitats and avian species along the trail through the reserve. As part of the project, a more current, detailed map of the reserve’s trail system was developed, with the invaluable assistance of six McGill students who walked all the trails and produced a map as an environmental research project.

UPDATE – July 18

The unveiling took place in the presence of Ed Prévost, the Mayor of Hudson, Jamie Nicholls, MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and Martine Hamel, project coordinator at the Fondation Hydro-Québec pour l’environnement as well as representatives from the other parties involved in the project.

Press Release

The Bird’s Eye View

Great Horned Owl

While we revel in the beauty of their plumage and admire the magnificence of their flight, to really appreciate them it actually helps to understand how birds see the world around them. Their eyes’ focus, perspective and colour sense are finely-tuned adaptations needed to locate food, evade predators, and navigate through perils.

Compared to our own eyes, and those of most other mammals, bird eyes provide better and wider ranging colour vision, greater depth of field, and much faster ability to focus. On the other hand, most birds are not able to move their eyes, and must turn their heads instead. If eyes are on either side of the head, they have a wide field — useful for detecting predators. Conversely birds of prey typically have forward-facing eyes, thereby benefitting from binocular vision, allowing them to judge perspective and distances accurately. [Read more…]

Designing a Bird-Friendly Garden

Imagine you were looking for a new home. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to fly from one property to another, have a quick look around at the layout, décor and local amenities, and then have the owner beg you to move into the one you like best? That’s what it’s like being a bird!

We’d all love to attract our feathered friends into our gardens, but they can be quite picky about what they expect from their surroundings. If the spring sunshine is spurring you to look at your garden and think about its design, keeping in mind the needs and desires of the birds you’d like to attract will help inspire your efforts.

A garden will appeal to avian visitors by providing food, water and places to hide and nest. Here we suggest a few simple guidelines that will soon pay off in sightings of many new species. [Read more…]

It’s time once again for Le Grand Défi

Équipe Le NichoirTwo years ago, Team Le Nichoir participated for the first time in le Grand Défi and despite a cold wet day, was able to observe 46 species and ranked 9th overall for the total amount of money raised to support bird conservation. Last year, we observed 49 species and raise over 1100$ ranking 8th.  Can we break our record again?  We believe we can! But, we need your help.

Our team’s goal this year is to raise $1200 and observe 50 species.  Sponsoring our team is easy. You can pledge an amount per species observed by our team over the 24-hour period or, a fixed amount to support our participation.  Our Défi will start on Friday the 16th at 7pm and will last until the next day same time. Some of our team members will even spend the night on-site in the hopes of adding some nocturnal birds like owls or woodcocks to the list.

The Grand Défi QuebecOiseaux is a friendly competition and fundraiser for bird conservation involving birders from across the province. The rule: observe as many bird species as possible from a fixed location over a 24-hour period. The goal: raise awareness and money to support the conservation of wild birds.

Part of the money raised will go to conservation projects such as the reduction of the decline of insectivorous bird populations, such as the Bank Swallow and the Purple Martin.  Another portion of the funds will go to help injured and orphaned birds being treated at Le Nichoir this summer.

Please consider supporting Team Le Nichoir with your pledge.

There are many ways to make a pledge for our team:

Wild Bird Conservation Centre Update

Building upon Success

New Main Building

In 2013 our supporters helped us complete the new multi-unit aviary complex. And, in 2014 while the birds were benefiting from their greatly improved housing,  we have been concentrating on designing and seeking support for a new main building.  We are thrilled to be able to share with you the news that we are now less than $100,000 away from reaching our goal of $944,000. [Read more…]

A Taste of Hudson Raises $41,000

Elias Makos

Now a highlight of the region’s social calendar, this year’s A Taste of Hudson was a resounding success. The culinary extravaganza and live auction, which took place at St. James’ Hall on March 28th, raised an amazing $41,000 for Le Nichoir.

The money raised will be used to provide bird care, expand the children’s educational program, and fund student employment over the coming summer.

Thank you to all those who contributed to a wonderful evening. Chefs, auction donors, sponsors, musicians, auctioneers, our Master of Ceremonies, staff and 35 volunteers worked together to create this event in support of Le Nichoir. Our list of people to thank is long but includes: [Read more…]

La Plume Verte – Online

La Plume Verte - Online

La Plume Verte – Le Nichoir’s retail adventure – is now online!

We sell bird feeders including specialty water feeders, hummingbird feeders and squirrel resistant feeders in our store. Looking for ways to prevent birds colliding with your windows? Try Window Alert decals.  Want to put out nesting boxes? We offer nesting boxes for swallows and bluebirds as well as chickadees and wrens.  We even have bat boxes!

Most of the bird feeders and feeder accessories we have tried out ourselves.

Shop with a purpose as all profits from sales at La Plume Verte are used to support Le Nichoir’s conservation programs including the care of injured and orphaned wild birds and environmental education programs.

And, because we are still a small enterprise so we do not charge sales tax.

Visit the store