Education and Outreach

Education and outreach for a Bird Friendly City depends not just on the efforts of the Bird Friendly Calgary team but also in the City in general. See below for specific criteria, there may be a spot for your organization to help out! 

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World Migratory Bird Day Event

The Criteria:

World Migratory Bird Day must be proclaimed in the City and an event to celebrate it must be held annually.

How Calgary is meeting it:

There are two World Migratory Bird Days each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The City of Calgary has held an event in the spring in celebration of migratory birds since 2000.

Bird Friendly Calgary took the opportunity in 2022 to unveil the Official City Bird on World Migratory Bird Day.  

Outreach in Schools and Communities

The Criteria:

A significant percentage of local schools and other educational organizations (e.g. Scouts Canada, Earth Rangers, 4-H) provide students with opportunities to connect with nature, enjoy birds and learn how to help them. Local school boards, conservation authority, or municipality, has facilities/staffing to support outdoor/environmental education, including opportunities to observe birds. At least one school does a specific bird-related program such as Christmas bird count for kids or curriculum from Keep cats safe and save bird lives. Educational program must include specific elements designed to engage members of the public who could be considered underprivileged families and groups, racialized youth and recent arrivals to Canada.

How Calgary is meeting it: 

There are currently several independent organizations that work to educate youth with regards to birds in a variety of contexts. Alberta's largest school board, The Calgary Board of Education incorporates responsible stewardship of the environment into the core principals of its curriculum and the Calgary Catholic School district includes environmental courses. As part of these programs, often schools with engage with non-profit organizations to collaborate on presentations or learning events and many of those involve discussions of birds. The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation goes out to schools for presentations and incorporates keeping cats indoors, keeping birds safe into their discussions. The Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society also holds presentations in schools and adult presentations with three programs specifically geared towards birds, injuries that occur and how individuals can make a difference. The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area and Rothney Astrophyscial Observatory provide educational programs for youth throughout the year including their dark sky presentations which discuss the dangers of light pollution to birds. The Cochrane Ecological Institute provides similar educational opportunities. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) visits schools and hosts educational programs for youth and adults. They also have a program directly targeting new immigrants to Canada. While none of those programs are specifically about birds, they do include environmental stewardship messaging. The Weaselhead holds annual Christmas Bird Counts and hosts educational programs for youth which include information about birds. The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary holds a number of educational programs geared towards birds for schools, youth and adults. Additionally, the "Keep cats safe and save bird lives" curriculum is featured in programs at the AIWC, Weaselhead Preservation Society and Cochrane Ecological Institute.

The City also has numerous school/youth programs, including: Group nature programs for children and youth, Bird Studies, Guided walks, Birdwatching course, and "BioBlitz" school programs.

During our Official City Bird campaign, the Bird Friendly Calgary team engaged with both the public and Catholic school boards, providing resources about the candidate birds and ways for kids to help birds. Presentations from a member of our team were also available upon request. 

A. Elliot

D. Arndt

D. Arndt

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Bee City 

Secondary School Outreach

The Criteria: 

College and University campuses have adopted practices that actively reduce threats to birds or establish habitat that benefits birds. Implementation of practices should include or be driven by student committees or groups.

How Calgary is meeting it: 

The University of Calgary and SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) are Bee Campuses which provides habitat and mitigates threats to bees which also benefits birds. Mount Royal University campus contains several wetland areas which provide habitat and nesting areas for waterfowl.

Public Access to Resources

The Criteria:

Bird Team partners (including Municipality) provide public access to resources (web links, brochures etc.) that encourage and inform the public of the benefit to birds from native plant gardening or establishment of natural habitat patches on their property in support of birds and/or pollinators

How Calgary is meeting it: 

The City of Calgary has several programs geared towards education regarding the use of native plants for biodiversity incluidng resources related to Calgary's Bee City designation, yard smart program for homeowners and the backyard naturalization program. Other organizations that provide information regarding the benefit of native plants to biodiversity include: The Calgary Horticultural Club, the University of Calgary, Silver Springs Horticultural Club, Alberta Native Plant Council and Grow Wild YYC

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Nature Alberta 

Public Installations for Education 

The Criteria: 

Municipality and Bird City partners install demonstrations or displays in public areas that educate citizens on the benefits of bird friendly actions and encourage engagement (benefits of dark sky lighting, window modifications etc.)

How Calgary is meeting it: 

Partner organizations including the Calgary Urban Species Response Team and Royal Astronomical Society RASC) regularly work to educate the public about dangers including window strikes and light pollution on birds. RASC participates in public outreach events hosted by outside organizations including the Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society and the Friends of Fish Creek to help the public learn about the night sky and the effects of light pollution on people and birds.

The Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society often holds events discussing light pollution and the effects on migratory birds.  

Accessible Bird Watching Locations

The Criteria:

There is at least one birding location within your city or town that has infrastructure to facilitate the observation and appreciation of birds (e.g. signs, panels, observation tower, and trails). This facility is publicly accessible for people without a car (serviced by public transit and/or bicycle and pedestrian trails). Digital information on birding areas should be easily available

How Calgary is meeting it: 

The City of Calgary has several areas designed for Bird Watching including the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary which can be accessed by car, bike or walking (though, no cycling is permitted within the sanctuary). There are observation areas along the water and trails for people to follow throughout the Sanctuary that provide ample opportunity to observe a variety of bird species. Ralph Klein Park is also designed to be birdwatching destination. It is accessible by bike or car and has walkways available for people to walk through. There is extensive wetland coverage in the area and the building constructed in the Park is designed for people to birdwatch. The Weaselhead Natural Area and the connected Glenmore Park are accessible by transit, biking, walking or car. They are connected by a paved path that goes around the Glenmore reservoir. There are also extensive trail networks in both parks for people to enjoy and birdwatch. People can also connect from there to nearby Fish Creek Provincial Park which is also accessible by transit, bike, walking or car. Bowmont and Nose Hill Parks are accessible by transit, car, bike or walking and provide both paved paths and more rugged trails for people to bird watch. These areas also include picnic sites so people can sit and observe as well. Calgary has over 551 natural area parks, many accessible by walking in a community (see map). All of these areas provide a diversity of habitat for birds and offer opportunity for birders to observe many species. Educational signs regarding birds are posted in the Weaselhead Natural Area, Glenmore Park and Fish Creek Park.

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Nature Alberta 

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D. Arndt

Local Species Reference List

The Criteria: 

A Bird Team partner periodically publishes a “Bird checklist” for your city or town. This checklist should be easily available in digital form on the Internet. Alternatively, there are eBird hotspots in your City

How Calgary is meeting it: 

Nature Calgary publishes bird lists from both May and Christmas bird counts. Calgary also has a large e-bird community and Nature Calgary provides birding hotspot maps

Local Bird Friendly Businesses

The Criteria:

Businesses in your area promote bird friendly practices (e.g. sell or offer bird friendly coffee, no single use plastics, treat their windows with feather-friendly markers, etc.). These businesses should be recognized on partner websites.

How Calgary is meeting it: 

A few businesses in Calgary have bird friendly practices including: 1. The Wild Bird Store sells products related to birds including specific bird seed mixes for Calgary's birds, made in-house suet, birdhouses and birdbaths. In addition, they sell products to help keep birds safe including cat bibs and UV markers for windows. They collaborate with groups including the Calgary Urban Species Response Team (CUSRT), Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC), Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (CWRS) and Wild About Flowers Native Plant Nursery to support birds in the community.

2. Paradise Mountain Coffee is roasted in Calgary and is a certified bird friendly coffee.

3. Good Earth Cafe is actively working to reduce the use of single use plastic, they have composting programs to reduce their overall waste, they plant trees and sell shade grown coffee which acts to maintain habitat for birds where their coffee is grown.

4. Men in Kilts (the Calgary location of this window cleaning business), is currently conducting Research and Development on the possibility of including the application of "Feather Friendly window treatments" to residential homes as a service. 

Want to make your business bird friendly? Get in touch

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S. Jordan-McLachlan

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City Bird

The Criteria:

You have a “City Bird” species that was selected through a public engagement process.

How Calgary is meeting it: 

In May 2022, Calgary announced the winner of our Official City Bird Vote. Learn more here

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Inclusive Community Science Programs

The Criteria: 

There are active citizen science programs to monitor birds in your municipality including Christmas Bird Count, Swift Night Out, and Marsh Monitoring, and Global Bird Rescue, which monitor birds on areas that include public land. Public participation in these programs is promoted on local media. Demonstrate efforts to engage members of the public could be considered underprivileged, racialized or recent arrivals to Canada.

How Calgary is meeting it: 

Calgary has several community science programs in place including the Christmas Bird Count which has been ongoing for 65 years. In 2020 it attracted over 250 participants. In May there is the Calgary May Species Bird Count which has been ongoing for 41 years. In 2020 there were 109 participants.

The City Nature Challenge takes place in Calgary each year and encourages people to document all nature around them on iNaturalist including birds.

Finally, the Calgary Urban Species Response Team is run by volunteer community scientists who go out and record window strikes during migration in downtown Calgary. Each year they advertise and participate in Global Bird Rescue

 Bird Friendly Calgary is currently working on ways to ensure that these events are welcoming and accessible to underrepresented Calgarians, including underprivileged, racialized, and recent arrivals to Canada.

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S. Jordan-McLachlan