• Nick Zacharias

New Nichoir leaders continue to aim for the sky


PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS

The newly appointed members of the Board of Directors at Hudson’s Le Nichoir Wild Bird Conservation Centre Wendy Dollinger (left) and Peter McBride (second from right) join staff biologist Weiyi Liu (second from left) and Education Program Coordinator Jo-Annie Gagnon (right). The team hopes to improve on bird care, reach a wider audience and continue to meet the increasing demands for their services.

Le Nichoir, Hudson’s wild bird conservation centre that admitted over 2,100 injured birds from 200 Quebec municipalities last year alone, have a pair of energized new leaders to guide the board of directors. Leaving after many years and a long list of accomplishments are Lindsay D’Aoust and Frank Hicks, both of whom will be greatly missed for their tireless contributions.

Incoming Chairman of the Board Peter McBride has a solid background to bring to the table, having chaired and served on numerous boards from Centraide to sailing clubs, and new President Wendy Dollinger has a scientific education and several years’ experience as an active member at Le Nichoir, including through the last few years that have seen the operation transform from a small bird rescue in a converted old barn to a large new building with greatly expanded bird care services and educational programs.

Valued contributions

“Le Nichoir has grown tremendously under Lindsay’s leadership and with sound guidance from Frank and the entire board,” said Dollinger. The operation is now supported by seven volunteer directors, an expanded staff of four wildlife biologists and a small army of volunteers who contributed more than 4,600 hours of their time last year.

“Much of our current success can be traced back to Lindsay’s efforts,” said McBride. “She spearheaded a range of fundraising efforts that resulted in the construction of our new $1,100,000 centre in 2016 and, very importantly, launched our education program aimed at informing and changing human behavior towards conservation.”

PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS

The bird-friendly premises of Le Nichoir extend beyond the buildings’ walls as these content Chickadees can attest.

Current activities

Le Nichoir now feeds, rehabilitates, and reintroduces to the wild up to 400 injured or orphaned birds at a time in peak season, from the local area and as far afield as Sept-Îles. They also run an extensive education program, both in their own classroom and on visits to area schools. A big part of education is also helping people to know when a distressed bird does not need intervention. They responded to over 12,000 calls and e-mails from concerned citizens last year, and according to biologist Weiyi Liu, “That’s our first line of triage for distressed birds. A lot of times a bird that looks like it’s in trouble just needs a bit of time to sort itself out; it’s important to know what the situation is so people can know if the bird should be put through the stress of a trip in to us, or if all they need is someone to keep an eye out for cats or foxes for a little while and they can be on their way. People can call us and we’re here to help them know what to do.”

Aiming for the sky

“We have some big shoes to fill,” said McBride, “and we have a strategic plan that is under review with the board for the coming years.” They have some lofty goals, including continuing to improve bird care, reaching a greater audience with their educational programs, growing their IT infrastructure to even better meet the increasing demand for their services and finding ways to increase indoor capacity for year-round care for aquatic birds.

All of this of course requires money, and with only four per cent of funds coming from governments, fundraising is key to their continued success. At the visitors’ centre and other locations they sell ecologically managed Christmas trees, bird-friendly coffee and feeders and more, but they also host large targeted fundraisers. The next event on the horizon is the ‘Taste of Hudson’ on March 28, held at the Whitlock Golf and Country Club, which is Audubon certified for eco-friendly stewardship. All are invited to enjoy a sampling from several local chefs while raising money to help the cause. For more information or tickets, to learn more about Le Nichoir or how to donate, or to join the team of much-needed volunteers who make it all possible visit www.lenichoir.org.

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