The Halifax Regional Municipality is home to over 1,000 lakes, more than 20 rivers, innumerable streams, and 23 major coastal shorelines places for recreation, and fish and wildlife habitats. Through our Regional Plan, we've committed to study watersheds and natural watercourses before secondary planning takes place in an effort to maintain the health of water and meet body contact recreation standards in its lakes, waterways and coastal waters.
Migratory Bird Day
Saturday, May 13 is Migratory Bird Day. In recognition of this year's theme, which focuses on water and its importance to bird life, we're highlighting the ways we're working to protect these populations and sharing tips on how we can all have a positive impact.
North American bird populations are under severe threat, having dropped by more than 25 per cent in the last 50 years. Insect-eating birds (also known as aerial insectivores) like swallows and flycatchers are declining faster than any other group, but we’re also seeing sharp declines in shorebirds and grassland birds. Since 1970, we’ve lost three billion birds in North America, including common species that live in our towns and cities. Learn more by reading the NABCI Canada State of the Birds report.
Urban areas can be particularly dangerous for birds, with threats including light pollution, window collisions, exposure to pesticides, predation from outdoor cats and loss of habitat. The municipality was recently awarded Bird Friendly City status at the entry level, which means that we're taking steps toward giving birds a chance to thrive, according to Nature Canada.
Our human population has grown rapidly in recent years, and this increase is putting the more than four hundred bird species that live here at greater risk. Through the Green Network Plan, the Integrated Mobility Plan and HalifACT, we’re committing to sustainable development.
We're helping preserve bird habitats in both rural and urban areas through tree planting initiatives and efforts to maintain our green spaces. We've also reduced our use of pesticides through our Integrated Pest Management Strategy and replaced our streetlights with downward facing LEDs. As a municipality we are just at the beginning of our Bird Friendly City journey; we still have more work to do become an even friendlier place for birds and every living creature who calls this place home.
Doing your part
We need your help and the support of all levels of government to make the municipality even more welcoming to bird life. Here are some actions you can take:
- Get to know the birds in your area by trying out an app like eBird.
- Use the iNaturalist app, created by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, to learn about local bird species and share observations about invasive species.
- Since water quality is an important part of a healthy ecosystem, remember to protect the water by picking up garbage and picking up after your pet along lakes.
- Add decals and stickers to your windows to reduce the chance of window strikes, especially during migration season when birds are on the move.
- Choose native species of shrubs and perennials for your garden to attract and feed birds. Some good options are Serviceberry or Elderberry.
- Attend events organized by the Nova Scotia Bird Society and Nature Nova Scotia. These are great opportunities to learn more about birds and other wildlife from local experts. May 13-20 is Bird Week in the Halifax Regional Municipality, and the Halifax Bird Friendly City committee has organized a series of local bird walks. We encourage you to register and attend the event nearest you.
To learn more about taking climate action in the municipality, visit halifax.ca/climate.
How can I improve the health of lakes, rivers and watersheds?
Watersheds are interconnected. Every action that effects the land also has indirect effects on lakes, rivers, and the ocean waters they drain into.
Simple individual actions can help preserve and improve the quality and health of these waters:
- reduce and/or eliminate the use of household and commercial hazardous products
- make use of Household Hazardous Waste Depots and avoid pouring used cleaners, paints, chemicals or other materials down your drains or into storm water systems such as gutters, ditches, storm sewers, or streams
- pick up after your pet, and dispose of the waste in the garbage
- limit your use of lawn fertilizers, or try alternatives such as compost
Invasive aquatic species
Local waterways are home to both native and non-native plants and animals. Non-native species whose introduction causes—or is likely to cause—harm to people, the environment, or the economy, are called invasive species. The Municipality has a few invasive species on its radar.
The Regional Watersheds Advisory Board
Halifax Regional Council appointed the Regional Watersheds Advisory Board in 2013. The board advises the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee of Regional Council and conducts duties as may be assigned by Regional Council or the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee.