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Niagara Falls
Thursday, April 18, 2024
Rare birds spotted near outlet mall in Glendale


Steve Hardaker

Community Correspondent

An abundance of rarely seen birds have been spotted at the storm water pond near the Outlet Collection of Niagara in Glendale.

The area has proven to be a mecca for bird watchers this year. 

Rarely seen birds like great egrets, black-crowned night herons, green herons, yellow-legs and soras have joined the more commonly seen mute swans, great blue herons, mallards and spotted sand pipers to provide a wonderful opportunity for bird watchers and photographers to add to their lists of identified birds.

My wife, Linda Hardaker, is an amateur photographer who lives in Glendale and walks the recreational trail at the Outlet Collection ponds early each morning as part of her post hip-replacement therapy. She has enjoyed the experience of seeing many of these birds.  

“The trails at the pond are made of crushed limestone that are much easier on my joints than walking on concrete or asphalt.  It is also very serene,” Linda said.

Last Thursday morning during her regular 7 a.m. walk, she spotted 20 great egrets, three black-crowned night herons, and an adult and juvenile great blue heron wading in the pond.

“It was an incredible sight, a sight I have never seen before. I really don’t know what to make of this, to see so many. There has to be a reason for the increase in numbers,” said Linda.

So, why are we seeing so many great egrets and other less common waterfowl and shorebirds in Niagara this year?

According to Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology, “Great egrets were hunted nearly to extinction for their plumes in the late 19th century, sparking conservation movements and some of the first laws to protect birds.”

According to the latest "Trends in Canada’s Bird Populations" published by Environment and Climate Change Canada in 2019, “between 1970 and 2016, waterfowl populations increased by 150 per cent.” 

That is in contrast to shore birds, which have declined during the same period by 40 per cent. The report suggests “the increase in waterfowl populations is due to wetland habitat protection and restoration, careful hunting management and increased waste grain in agricultural areas.”

Why this year we are seeing an abundance of great egrets and other less-common birds here in Niagara remains a mystery. Perhaps we can thank, or blame, climate change and a northern push of southern migratory birds.

Whatever the reason, these rarely seen bird species are providing a wonderful glimpse for avid bird watchers and photographers in Niagara to add to their collections of identified birds. 

* Steve Hardaker has lived in Glendale for 10 years and is active in many community organizations.

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