Erica Nol, Songbird Research – Feb 16, 2017

Members and friends of Northumberland and Lone Pine Land Trusts attended Dr. Erica Nol’s talk on February 16 at the Cobourg Public Library entitled, “Can humans and songbirds coexist in southern Ontario.” Dr. Nol is a professor at Trent University and along with her graduate students, she studies influences on bird population dynamics.

Dr. Nol first put her talk in context; birds compete with humans for lands that are converted into more and more houses. Woodland song birds such as Veery and Rose-breasted Grosbeak are facing mild declines while grassland birds like Bobolink and Field Sparrows are showing steep declines. Common native birds such as Robins, Grackles, and Brown-headed Cowbirds are increasing. As examples, Dr. Nol expanded on various studies she has participated in that focus on songbirds in forests or grasslands including: Ovenbirds, the impact of trails on songbirds, Bank Swallows, Brown Creepers, and Bobolinks.

A male bobolink enjoys the meadow at the Braham tract. (credit: Doug McRae, Shrew Solutions Inc.)

The ovenbird nests on the ground and their success is related to the abundance of their invertebrate food source. The research found that larger woodlots have more ovenbirds. This is related to lower temperature, higher moisture, and less wind in larger woodlots. Large woodlots are therefore better for maintaining ovenbird populations.
Next Dr. Nol highlighted research conducted in the Northumberland Forest that related trail width to abundance of forest-interior songbirds. When trails were wider, the researcher was less likely to hear songbirds, especially compared to areas that did not have trails. Nest success of Eastern Wood Peewee was less in pine plantations compared to deciduous forests and was positively influenced by forest gaps. Early thinning of pine plantations that results in faster deciduous regeneration is advantageous for this species.
The Bank swallow, a threatened species in Ontario, can reproduce in aggregate pits with appropriate soils. Compared to the Lake Ontario lakeshore, the abundance of nests was lower in aggregate sites but clutch and hatchling number were similar. Gull predation was higher at the lakeshore sites.
Brown Creepers nest under bark. A study conducted in Algonquin park found that any tree harvesting reduced numbers of creepers but populations were more likely to be sustained when yellow birch trees were left standing.
In a study examining rotational grazing effects on Bobolink, any grazing reduced the bobolink population by half (cattle were good at trampling nests). Cattle in larger fields with lower stocking densities had a lower impact but Bobolinks had the greatest reproductive success in hay fields that were cut after July 1.

I found Dr. Nol’s explanation of impacts of humans on various aspects of songbird success to be enlightening. The research examples presented demonstrated the myriad of ways that birds are influenced by our development.
While Dr. Nol did not truly answer whether humans and songbirds can coexist, it is clear that human choices have often unlikely impacts.

Lone Pine Land Trust in the Community

Lone Pine Land Trust attends events in the community to reach out to potential members and support local events. Here are photos of us at some events we participated in 2016.

Earl Arsenault, property steward (right), at For the Love of Wood (Hilton Hall), May 2016.
Earl Arsenault, property steward (right), at For the Love of Wood (Hilton Hall), May 2016.

 

Gary Bugg (left) at Codrington Farmers’ Market, Aug 2016.

 

Sara Kelly and Dalila Seckar at Prairie Day (Alderville Black Oak Savannah), Sep 10, 2016.

 

Speaker attendees at Keeler Centre, Nov 17, 2016.

If you have a suggestion of where we should bring our display, let us know!

Species of Concern – Nov 17, 2016

On November 17, Donald Sutherland spoke to members and friends of the Lone Pine and Northumberland Land Trusts about Species of Concern. Don Sutherland is a zoologist with the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC).
The Natural Heritage Information Centre of Ontario is a member of NatureServe. NatureServe is a network of data centres in North and South America that maintain data on species’ abundances and distributions. A common methodology is used by all of the data centres and this makes the observations comparable across the full geographic area.
NatureServe’s most important definition is the element occurrence. NHIC defines an element occurrence as:

an area of land and/or water where a species or plant community is or was present. They represent areas important to the conservation of a species or plant community such as the courtship, nesting, rearing and feeding areas of a bird.

Element occurrences are used to produce species ranks that estimate the risk of extinction of a species (or subspecies). There are subnational ranks (defined in Ontario by NHIC), national ranks, and global ranks. Don Sutherland provided examples of species that meeting the five levels of subnational ranks in Ontario with photos and descriptions. The examples helped the audience understand the ranks and types of species that meet the criteria.
For more information on the Natural Heritage Information Centre or NatureServe, click the above links in the article.

Don Sutherland talks about Species of Concern, Nov 17, 2016. (credit: Dalila Seckar)

There are two more speakers in our winter speaker series partnership (with Northumberland Land Trust). Erica Nol will speak about songbirds on Feb 16 and James Conolly will talk about human settlement in Northumberland County. Both talks will take place at the Cobourg Library Rotary Room at 7pm.

Benefit Concert – Oct 1, 2016

The benefit concert held on the evening of October 1 for the newly designated Lone Pine Land Trust (LPLT) has been, to date, the event highlight this year. Local musical sensation The Fade Kings gave their talent and time back to the community by hosting an entertaining evening of music that spanned several generations. The evening was made special by The Old Church Theatre venue where comfortable casual seating and refreshments gave an ‘at home’ ambiance to the performance.
LPLT board member Doug McRae introduced The Fade Kings thanking them for their contribution to local habitat conservation, then turned the evening over to the band. More heads were bobbing than a peep convention on a Presqu’ile beach as the audience enjoyed old favourites with a new twist, sweetened by the fine acoustics of The Old Church Theatre. Regular Fade Kings David Impey (percussion), John de Vries (base), Leigh Moore (keyboard), and Eric Fry (lead guitar) were joined by guest artist Ian Kojima (saxophone) for the first 60-minute set. Ian is accomplished in his own right, having played with a palette of notable artists around the world including BB King, and toured for 15 years internationally with singer-songwriter instrumentalist Chris de Burgh. Ian added a unique dimension to the evening’s sound and soul. And just before intermission the audience was treated to a surprise performance by the legendary Ila Vann whose voice has joined those of iconic performers such as Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. Ms. Vann was one of Ray Charles’ “Rayettes” and in the 1970s had a #1 hit in the UK, “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man”.

Fade Kings at Old Church Theatre, Oct 1, 2016.

Sincere thanks go to The Fade Kings for donation of their time and talent in the interest of local conservation. The band’s proceeds were presented to LPLT for ongoing habitat preservation on its four constituent properties. You can follow The Fade Kings at www.fadekings.com to view their upcoming schedule and catch another one of their local performances. And a calendar of presentations at The Old Church Theatre, possibly the best kept secret in the area, can be found at www.oldchurchtheatre.ca.