Nina Padden and her teenage son Harlen Dunn are celebrating Mother’s Day in a unique way: they’re birdwatching at the St-Jacques Escarpment.
“We’re definitely at the birding-for-dummies level,” said Padden, who was at the escarpment for the first time.
“I knew about it but I would have never thought to go down here. I would’ve thought it’s someplace you’re not allowed to go to or come visit… It’s really cool to see.”
Padden and her son were among a couple dozen people partaking in the activity, organized by environmental group Sauvons la Falaise.
Dubbed a “Mother’s Day bird walk in the Falaise St-Jacques,” the event aims to not only show people a good time but also create greater environmental awareness of the four-kilometre stretch of land that spans Highway 20.
“The birds don’t vote so I have to help protect them,” said Sauvons la Falaise founder Lisa Mintz. “We have 65 species of birds here. I wanted to show people them.”
It’s the first year the event is taking place, thanks to the TD Park People Grants program.
“It’s all about showing people our beautiful green spaces and stewardship for this area,” Mintz told Global News.
WATCH: Group strives to save trees in St-Jacques Escarpment
The group of birdwatchers got treated to the sights and sounds of grackles, blue jays and chimney swifts, among other bird species, guided by members of Bird Protection Quebec.
“We’re helping them identify some of the birds coming through during spring migration,” said Jane Cormack, president of the organization.
“The species who spent their winters down south start to head north towards the boreal forest up in northern Quebec. We try to catch them on the way through, and there will also be species that are coming back and will be nesting here during spring and summer,” added Sheldon Harvey, the organization’s vice-president.
Birdwatching is soaring in popularity
Also known as “birding,” the activity has become one of the fastest-growing hobbies in North America, creating a multibillion-dollar industry.
One in five Canadians is doing it, and according to the most recent Canadian Nature Survey, birdwatchers will spend an average of 133 days a year on the activity.
“It’s great news,” said Cormack. “People are going to want to protect the habitat that the birds are using.”
WATCH: Birding hobby soars in popularity across North America
“We want to make people aware not just of the birds but what could happen if places are not protected or looked after. There may not be places for people to go birdwatching,” explained Harvey. “We’re losing different types of habitat in certain areas.”
Harvey says part of Bird Protection Quebec’s work is to protect properties across the province. In Canada, over 80 bird species and subspecies are now listed as “species at risk.”
“It’s really important for people to be aware what’s going on around us environmentally,” he said.
—With files from Global’s Brayden Jagger-Haines and Patricia Kozicka