Migratory Birds

Photograph of Great Skua, Downy Woodpecker, Blue-winged Teal.

Photo: Noel Reynolds, Andrew A Reding, Isaac Sanchez © Environment and Climate Change Canada, 2015.

Canada's diverse landscapes support a great abundance and variety of birds. More than 450 native bird species regularly make use of Canada's natural and human-modified landscapes for at least part of their annual cycle. Most of these species are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and so are collectively referred to as “migratory birds”.

Birds are an integral part of our Canadian heritage. Through bird-watching, and recreational and subsistence hunting, birds make a significant contribution to our quality of life and our economy. They also play important ecological and biological roles in our environment by eating insects, dispersing seeds, and pollinating plants, to name a few. Bird populations are important environmental indicators - the health of our birds tells us much about the health of our planet.

Canadian bird populations are changing, as shown in a recent collaborative report by Environment and Climate Change Canada and its partners called the State of Canada's Birds 2012. While some bird groups are doing well thanks to targeted management and reductions in historical contaminants, many others are declining. Birds face many threats, including habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, illegal hunting, collisions with human-built structures and climate change. Some species have already declined to the point that they are listed under Canada's Species at Risk Act. If we are to prevent additional species from becoming at risk, we must act. Successful conservation requires committed action and international cooperation.

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