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When Breeding Bird Surveys are Required

Red Winged BlackbirdMany construction tenders, especially land clearing works, have special provisions for breeding bird surveys during the nesting season. Green Bird Horticultural Ltd. (A Devison of Beautiful Trees), provides prompt response times and scheduling to meet special provision requirements and ensure that migratory bird species are not disturbed or harmed because of construction activities.

Canada is the seasonal home to over 450 native migratory bird species, with 390 species protected under the 1994 Migratory Birds Convention Act (MCBA) and the 2022 Migratory Bird Regulations (MBR) to prevent population declines. It is unlawful to capture, kill, injure, or disturb migratory birds, their eggs and their nest once listed under the MBCA.

Before a contractor begins developing or clearing land during the breeding season, a nesting bird survey should be conducted by a Qualified Biologist who understands the legal implications and has the expertise to ensure these birds are not disrupted. The breeding season for birds in southern Ontario is designated to begin as early as late March and extends to late August, depending on the zone.

The Nesting Period

Breeding Bird SurveysLegend for map of nesting birds C1Breeding Bird Surveys AreasThe best way to adhere to the MBCA is to conduct land clearing projects outside of the active breeding window for protected species (September to late March). The nesting period begins when a bird has laid its first egg and ends when the young have naturally left the nest vicinity (fledged) and can survive on their own. During this period there is a higher chance of discovering, and therefore impacting, the listed birds. The nesting period is important as nests provide a place for egg-laying, incubation, and rearing offspring, while decreasing the chance of predation and increasing reproductive success. 

To assist individuals with determining when a bird protected by the MBCA might be nesting, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has highlighted specific geographical areas as nesting zones that roughly correspond to Bird Conservation Regions. These zones identify the general nesting period of the migratory birds in this area. ECCC has identified five zones within Canada, Zones A through D and N. Ontario is classified as part of Zone C (C1 to C6), where the nesting period occurs from the earliest at late march and can extend until late August.

Why is it important to obtain a Qualified Biologist?

Breeding Bird Survey FieldConducting these surveys requires an understanding of bird biology because trees, shrubs and grassy areas provide habitat options that can host a wide range of bird species, each with their own nesting preferences.

An empty nest doesn’t always indicate a nest is not in use, as some birds return each year to reuse the same nest, while others will return to use the same nest multiple times in a breeding season. An empty nest may also indicate eggs are soon to be laid, and removing this nest could present problems for the bird if it cannot rebuild its nest in time.

When it is not possible to wait until the nesting period had concluded, a survey should be conducted within 1-3 days or immediately before land clearing or land disturbance work is conducted.

Meeting The Requirements for Breeding Bird Survey

Acquiring a nesting bird survey by a Qualified Biologist will ensure the proper protocol is followed, ensuring your project gets started quickly, and Canada’s native migratory birds remain safe. At Green Bird Horticultural Ltd.,(a division of Beautiful Trees) our qualified biologists can perform time-sensitive, breeding bird surveys to help protect breeding birds for your project.

Contact Us Today

Call us today to book your Breeding Bird Survey to help ensure you are compliant in by-laws and regulations.

Why Breeding Bird Surveys are Important

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