Return of the ‘hoodies’: Tough little bird flies off endangered list

The Wild Side, Part Four

Published August  26, 2012

John Allair checks on a Hooded Warbler nest for Bird Studies Canada. Glenn Lowson photo

By Margaret Munro

PORT ROWAN, Ont. – Jody Allair isn’t out of his truck two minutes when he tilts his head ever so slightly and picks up the song of a hooded warbler.

“There’s the male,” he says, as a tiny yellow bird flits away in the maples overhead.

Then Allair ducks into the forest, skips across a swampy patch and gingerly approaches a small shrub looking for the female. He gives the thumbs up.

“She’s sitting on the nest looking at us right now,” he whispers, pointing at what looks like a clump of dead leaves.

But Allair knows his birds – and he really knows “hoodies,” having spent 10 years with Bird Studies Canada helping document the hooded warbler’s remarkable recovery.

Sure enough, there is a female on a nest less than a metre off the ground.

Hooded warblers used to be one of Canada’s rarest birds. Fifteen years ago, there were believed to be about 100 breeding pairs in the country.

But the hoodies’ fortunes have improved – dramatically. The population is now estimated to be between 1,000 and 2,000 adult hooded warblers in Canada, and wildlife experts are recommending the hooded warbler be dropped from the list of 650 species at risk in Canada. Continue reading


Grassland, shorebirds face deep declines

Once common species like the Barn Swallow, shown here, have declined to less than a quarter of their 1970 level. Photo credit: Nick Saunders


The barn swallows and chimney swifts that swoop through Canada’s skies devouring insects are in serious trouble, with populations down more than 75 per cent since 1970.

Shorebirds are also dis-appearing – their numbers are down by almost half, according to the first comprehensive report on the health of Canada’s birds, to be released Wednesday.

The news is not all bad. Eagles and other raptors have made dramatic recoveries thanks to bans on pesticides such as DDT.

And duck and geese populations are booming, says the report on the billions of birds that spend at least part of the year in Canada. Continue reading