• James Armstrong

Hudson’s Le Nichoir annual event fêting birds and nature


A young Downy woodpecker takes wing as Le Nichoir’s Antonia Ibanez releases it into a recovery enclosure.

Le Nichoir Wild Life Bird Rehabilitation Centre in Hudson is celebrating its second annual Festival of Birds and Nature Saturday, July 20.The festival grew out of the annual open house event that gave visitors a chance to see and explore the centre’s facilities and services while participating in various activities.

“This year, it’s a bit different,” said the Education Program Coordinator Jo-Annie Gagnon. Festival events will run from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. and will include a lot of invited organizations such as the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Sierra Club Quebec, Bird Protection Quebec, Club Ornithologique Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Nature Action Canada and Terre Humana Solution. A seminar about wetlands will be presented by experienced birder Joël Coutu and visitors will have the opportunity of guided bird and nature walks by the experts.

“There will also be face painting, a food truck and a coffee tasting event,” said Gagnon. The coffee on offer is Le Nichoir’s own brand made from beans certified organic, bird friendly, shade raised, and fair trade.

Launch of bilingual self-guided tour

With the assistance of a $20,000 grant from Développement Vaudreuil-Soulanges (DEV), Le Nichoir has developed and launched a self-guided bilingual tour. As of May 2019, individual visitors and small groups receive a printed guidebook that contains explanatory text, images, and diagrams that match up with panels and wall stickers displayed in the centre and around the site.

“There are tidbits of information everywhere,” said Gagnon. The tour is organized around points of interest in numerical order that are easy to follow. The self-guided tour was developed during the 2018 -2019 fall and winter season.

“There was lots of editing and proofreading that needed to be done,” said Gagnon. The end result is a visually interesting and attention-getting display of information. Throughout the summer months, an educator will be on-site some days to provide visitors with a guided tour free of charge. Advance booking for groups of 10 people or more is required.

“An educator is usually available from Friday through Monday, for the summer,” said Gagnon.

Education component

Education has always played an important role in Le Nichoir’s mandate. The goal is for visitors to gain an understanding about the rehabilitation work of the non-profit organization and to learn about birds, their history, diversity, and the ecosystems they inhabit. Since it was founded in 1996, Le Nichoir has developed an interactive hands-on educational program aimed at specific age groups. For example, there is a program for prekindergarten and kindergarten children in the age range of four to five years that introduces them to birds and the things that make them unique and different from other animals. Older children, ages eight to 14, learn how a rehabilitation centre works and why and how birds are injured.

Injured bird rehabilitation

Currently, there are approximately 300 birds in recovery from a variety of injuries. Some of them, such as Mallard ducklings and Canada goose goslings, have been rescued from situations where the mother duck was no longer available. The unusually high levels of water during the recent spring floods may have had an effect on the nesting habitat ducks and geese Gagnon noted although she said there haven’t been any studies done to prove the theory.

Baby cliff and tree swallows were making a noisy recovery in the nursery where they awaited hand feeding. Human contact is kept to a minimum to avoid the young birds becoming attached to humans.

“The goal is they stay wild,” said Gagnon. “It increases their chances of survival when they’re released.” The flock of ducklings and goslings in the enclosures tended to shy away from anyone approaching them. This was evidence the practice was working, according to Gagnon. For further information, visit www.lenichoir.org.