Lambda

Birdhouses on campus target declining songbird population

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By Danish Alla, For the Lambda

Members of the Laurentian University community may have noticed the numerous birdhouses located around campus: what they may not have noticed is that this is an attempt to save the decreasing songbird population.

Songbird populations are decreasing – not just in Sudbury, but all over the world. Some of the many reasons why songbird populations are decreasing are due to the fact that birds are losing much of their habitat, and due to increasing levels of toxins in the environment.

It has also been noted that cats may play a large role in the declining population: a recent study found that  cats kill around 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals in the United States alone each year.

Charles Ramcharan is an associate professor in Laurentian’s School of Environment.

As an aquatic ecologist, Ramcharan does not typically study birds: however, after reading about the rapidly decreasing population, he wanted to take action.

“In order to give the birds a helping hand, I thought we could try and build these birdhouses to increase the population,” said Ramcharan.

The goals of the experiment are now to determine if the birdhouses have an effect on the local songbird population. Although it is not entirely known whether these birdhouses will work to increase the population or whether the birds will accept them, it is still part of the experiment.

As the birdhouses were installed during mid-summer of this year, it’s unclear whether local birds will take to the houses this year: regardless, Ramcharan plans to have junior rangers from the Ministry of Natural Resources monitor the birdhouses, to determine whether birds are using the birdhouses and also to determine what species may have nested in them.

This experiment was funded by Project Impact, a project of the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury, an organization which is aimed at bettering and supporting small towns and communities. Although the organization had around thirty other projects waiting to be funded, sixteen were successfully funded: of the sixteen projects that were successfully funded, this experiment was rated the second or third highest. Ramcharan said he was “delighted to get funding” for this experiment.

After funding was received, Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School built the birdhouses.

In total, ten birdhouses were installed on campus and six were placed along Loach’s Trail.

Depending on the success of this year’s experiment, Ramcharan will decide  whether more birdhouses should be built, noting that he hopes to see hundreds of birdhouses installed in the Greater Sudbury area, particularly along the Minnow Lake trail, the conservation area behind Laurentian campus, and green spaces in the city such as Bell Park.

-Photo by Kayla Perry