The season has arrived for the air to to filled with birdsong and much activity around the bird feeders and bird baths. The migratory birds have arrived and some have even moved on further north, as Mother Nature has intended it to be. But no worries. You will get another glimpse of them this autumn when they make the migratory journey back south again.
The first legislation for the protection of birds in Nova Scotia was enacted in 1794 to protect Black Ducks and Ruffed Grouse during their breeding periods; Indians and poor settlers were exempt. No further laws concerning game birds were introduced until 1900, when Spruce Grouse were given year-round protection; this is still in effect. In Canada, protection of birds was the responsibility of the provinces. However, the argument that migratory birds do not know political boundaries resulted in the signing of the international Migratory Bird Treaty in 1916 and its ratification by the Act in 1917. This treaty extended protection, or jointly agreed-upon designations as game species, to most migratory birds in North America and has stood as a model of enlightened legislation which the rest of the world has yet fully to follow. In the last few decades there has been increased concern for particular species that are rated as "threatened" or "endangered" by national and international agencies. Thus government and other organizations have become more involved in focused efforts to restore nesting habitats, protect from disturbance and in some cases reintroduce populations of depleted species. Examples of such efforts can be found in the species accounts on the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Piping Plover.
The first list of Nova Scotia birds was prepared by Samuel de Champlain (1922 edition) when he visited the outer Tusket islands off Yarmouth and Shelburne counties in the seventeenth century. He noted a surprising variety of identifiable birds, including nesting Northern Gannets, Atlantic Puffins and Common Murres, all since extirpated.
South-west Nova Scotia is one of the best birding destinations in Canada. With the mixed woodlands, coastal salt marshes and beaches, to open ocean there is a great diversity of species year around. Strong prevailing winds and regular Atlantic storms often blow rare birds, such as the Painted Bunting, our way.
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