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Birders flock to the woods on snowshoes to explore and identify winter species


With binoculars in hand and separated into two groups, more than a dozen nature enthusiasts crunched along wooded trails on snowshoes while ducking and clamouring over branches Saturday morning in Abrams Village nature reserve while in search of their feathered friends.

Nature enthusiasts were in for an adventure as they ducked and clamoured over branches.
Nature enthusiasts were in for an adventure as they ducked and clamoured over branches.

“We wanted to get outside in winter to see what species use the area. We don’t have a very good list of birds this time of year in this location, so it was a fun opportunity for a bird count,” said Courtney Thompson, the volunteer coordinator for the Atlantic region of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

"All the best adventures begin before the sun rises."
- Kerry Lee Morris-Cormier

Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) owns 174-acres of land in Abrams Village for conservation.

“The more you get people out enjoying nature, the more they care about it,” said Lana Campbell, the P.E.I. program director.

Among the common residents found along the salt marsh, river, and coastal forest were crows, chickadees, and blue jays, including an unexpected songbird.

“We saw a northern shrike, which is a bird of prey, and it’s the first time I have heard of this bird but everyone in our group was very excited to see it perched on a branch,” said Campbell.

Survival of the fittest

Northern shrike sighted during the snowshoe.
Northern shrike sighted during the snowshoe.

“A northern shrike is a songbird that preys on animals and other smaller birds. It has a hooked beak, and you don’t seem them often but the way they hunt is unique. The birds are known for skewering their prey such as chickadees on thorns or sharp twigs,” said Thompson.

The bird wedges the prey into a tight space, so it can consume it more easily.

“We do our best to get people out, engaged, and connecting to nature,” said Campbell.

Kerry Lee Morris-Cormier was the leader of the second group.

“We were really impressed with how much snow there was on this side of the bridge to get to the river’s edge. But I came with a group from New Brunswick, so we left in the dark at 6:30 am. But all the best adventures begin before the sun rises, and we will head back shortly.”

Sponsors of the event that helped make it possible included TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

“We are a charitable organization, so we rely on sponsors and donations for events like this to happen,” said Campbell.

The event began and ended at the Abram Village library.

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