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Eastern Quebec discovers a passion for birds

According to Guy Michaud, chairman of the board of directors of the Club des ornithologues du Bas-Saint-Laurent, the club’s Facebook group has more than 3,750 members, an increase of 23% over the past 12 months. On certain days, the site is consulted by more than 1,900 members.

The phenomenon is similar in Gaspésie. According to a quick estimate, the Facebook page of the Club des ornithologues de la Gaspésie would have gone from around 2,000 members at the start of 2021 to 3,300 members currently.specifies an administrator of the page, Carmen St-Denis.

As for the club’s members in good standing, who pay dues and participate in activities, 42 of the 104 members are new registrations, reports Ms. St-Denis. It’s a very nice progression.

The vice-president of the club, Pierre Poulin, believes that the passage of the emperor eagle, a totally exceptional phenomenonwas able to stimulate the interest of people who, he adds, want to take more air in the context of a pandemic.

Moreover, the famous bird was seen in Matane this summer, after passing through Gaspé and Matapédia. Latest news, according to a CBC text (New window)he was in Nova Scotia.

A Boreal Chickadee

Photo: Michael April

Nice sightings

Louis Fradette, a hiker from Matanese, calls himself a bird watcher. He’s noticed that interest, especially this year. It’s phenomenalhe believes.

It appears that bird watchers are as plentiful as the highly visible snowy owls this year. It must be said that their presence is cyclical, recalls Louis Fradette. It’s not exceptional to see them here, but this year there are a lot more than usual. It’s not every year that you can see so many.

Louis Fradette noticed that these lemming eaters, in the north, adapt their diet here, their own south. I see them feeding on seabirds, gulls, mallards, guillemots. They are almost sea owlshe said, laughing.

Eagles.

Eagles by the sea in Petit-Matane

Photo: Raynald Ouellet

Like other observers, Louis Fradette notes a greater presence of the sea eagle, sometimes erroneously called bald eagle. There are regulars in the bay of the Matane River and all along the coast between Baie-des-Sables and Matane, he mentions. In Matane, they stand near the river. Some are also held in Petit-Matane.

Impressive, but not exceptional

The strong presence of snowy owls this season is impressive, confirms Pierre-Alexandre Dumas, biologist at the Tadoussac Bird Observatory, but not exceptional.

This species […] will show higher abundance during certain winters depending on breeding and food abundance in the Arctiche explains.

The biologist points out that the increase in mentions of sightings of snowy owls can also be explained by the growing popularity of amateur ornithology. But this does not necessarily translate into extraordinary abundance, considers Pierre-Alexandre Dumas. We have to wait for a more in-depth assessment.

He observes that the bald eagle is a rapidly growing species in Quebec and throughout North America following the banning of organochlorine type pesticides.

The Birds of Prey Recovery Team even suggests removing the eagle from the list of protected species.

According to him, it is therefore completely normal to observe more of them over the past twenty years. Before that, it was worthy of a trophy to see one!

A bald eagle.

The majestic bald eagle photographed in Val-Brillant

Photo: Marie-Mikelina Jalbert

Human behaviors dangerous to birds

Although he is delighted to see the public’s growing interest in birds, Pierre-Alexandre Dumas notes that some photographers and observers are not always respectful of the code of conduct for ornithologists. (New window).

People are seen trying to lure owls with pet store mice to take better pictureshe gives as an example.

If we get too close, the birds will suffer from the disturbance, he raises. For some species, the consequences can be significant.

Each time it is disturbed, the bird flies away and this may mean to miss prey, thus going a longer period without eating. »

A quote from Pierre-Alexandre Dumas, biologist at the Tadoussac Bird Observatory

The biologist adds that the bird can associate the too frequent presence of humans in a place with predation and that this can lead to the abandonment of nests.

A passionate and pampered observer

La Matanaise Monique Ouellet has the immense privilege of receiving the occasional visit from a cardinal, a real little prince dressed in a flamboyant red livery that every bird lover dreams of seeing.

A cardinal through branches.

Nicknamed Toxedo, the cardinal spent the winter in Matane.

Photo: Monique Ouellet

Its presence is not impossible, but it is exceptional, at least in Matane, mentions this amateur ornithologist who has been seriously interested in birds for three years. I don’t see him often, but I saw him on Monday in the storm. He comes to get sunflower seedsshe reports.

But what is even more exceptional is that Mr. Cardinal, baptized Tuxedo, is not single. Ms. Ouellet had the immense pleasure of seeing him with his partner, Scarlett, and their two little ones this summer. That is extraordinaryshe believes.

She also notes that the craze for ornithology creates a certain madness.

People write to him asking permission to come to his yard to photograph the two birds.

Monique Ouellet opposes it. They should not be disturbed under any circumstances, she believes. To tell you the truth, I run into the house when I see them, I want them back so I don’t disturb them. The photos I took, I took them from the house.

People were asking him where the nest is. I don’t know and even if I did, I would never say it, she assures, almost horrified. It’s unthinkable for me to go and disturb a small family of birds.

Two little baby cardinals.

Two little baby cardinals 100% from Matanese

Photo: Monique Ouellet

Her interest in birds turned into a passion, which led her to acquire a lot of knowledge.

She documents her out-of-the-ordinary sightings and reports them to the eBird platform, which provides researchers and birdwatchers with real-time information on bird abundance and distribution.

In principle, the cardinal does not nest in the area, but as I declared my observation to eBird, it will be one of our breeding birdsshe points out.

She also says that she reported to eBird the presence of a Shoveler duck at Lac à Luc, a small paradise for birds in Matane. Plus they had babies! she wonders.

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