Technoparc Bird Walk
aims to protect biodiversity
Important wetlands home to endangered species under threat of development
By Lisa Mintz
Groups working to protect biodiversity in St. Laurent’s Technoparc and adjoining ADM (Airport authority) wetlands held their third annual Good Friday Bird Walk on April 19. Some 100 participants in this event collectively sighted 60 different bird species in a few hours on Friday morning.
“We are trying to emphasize that this unprotected area, which is under multiple threats, still remains the #1 bird-watching spot on Montreal Island and is one of the top spots in Quebec,” says Joel Coutu, one of the organizers and a noted ornithologist. Bird watchers, environmentalists, and the Westmount Park United Church (WPUC) jointly organized this Good Friday event.
“Historically, we have documented 191 bird species in this area since 2016, of which some 80 species nest here,” continues Coutu. “This includes four endangered nesting species: Least Bitterns, Barn swallows, Peewees, and the Wood Thrush. Two other endangered species (Rusty Blackbirds and Short-Eared Owls) use the area as a vital stopover during migrations, but do not nest here.”
“The Least Bittern (Canada’s smallest heron) has been observed nesting here in 2016, 2017, and 2018. But instead of recognizing this area as critical habitat for six endangered species, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is just looking the other way. This means that the ADM could set up shop tomorrow to start building another terminal.”
Coutu lists the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) train and the ironically named Hubert Reeves “Eco-Campus” development as other major threats. Work on the REM has already destroyed the largest Green heron rookery in Quebec and greatly increased truck traffic in the area. Coutu also deplores how REM workers are throwing coffee cups and other garbage into local ponds and marshes.
… (federal Environment Minister Catherine) McKenna has the power to put a moratorium on work here; she could show some leadership. Mayor Valérie Plante could help us to convince McKenna; the ADM land here should be protected.
Reverend Neil Whitehouse explains the involvement of WPUC with the event: “Technoparc is a unique and irreplaceable bird hot spot. We do this human migration on Good Friday because it is a different sort of crucifixion. We are saying ‘You shall not pass!’ to the unnecessary destruction of this place for speculative profit.”
“This will soon be the fourth consecutive year that Least Bitterns have nested at the Marais des Sources,” says Coutu. “McKenna has the power to put a moratorium on work here; she could show some leadership. Mayor Valérie Plante could help us to convince McKenna; the ADM land here should be protected. I am at least glad that Luc Ferrandez of the Plante administration and St. Laurent borough mayor Alan DeSousa both want to see the Marais des Sources and its Least Bitterns protected.”
Coutu thanks everyone who participated in the 2019 event, inviting all next year, April 9, 2020, “for our 4th Bird-watching Walk for the Protection of Threatened and Vulnerable Species and their Habitats. Continue sharing your observations and photos on TechnoparcOiseaux’s Facebook page. We appreciate it; this helps us prove that Montreal’s wetlands must be saved.”
Feature image: male Yellow Warbler, by Jim HarrisRead also: other articles by Lisa Mintz
Lisa Mintz sits on the board of the Green Coalition and is the founder of Sauvons la falaise. She is also an experienced community organizer, professional events coordinator and passionate birdwatcher.