Dear Premier McGuinty,
I don’t know if you have ever heard the soft flutely song of a Swainson’s Thrush but try to imagine three million of them singing at once. That’s the sound emanating into the sky on a June morning from the number of Swainson’s Thrushes that would be found in the 55 million acres of northern Ontario’s Boreal that you have just announced will now be protected. Even better yet imagine 4.5 million renditions of the “Oh-sweet-Canada-Canada-Canada” song of the White-throated Sparrow echoing across the Boreal.
That’s a sound that should be heard around the world. I have no doubt that if they knew, those Swainson’s Thrushes and White-throated Sparrows would be joined by the five million Dark-eyed Juncos, four million Magnolia Warblers, three million Palm Warblers, two million Tennessee Warblersâ€”the total number found in the 55 million acres would likely be in the hundreds of millionsâ€”in a chorus of songs of thanks so deafening that it would make us all stop whatever we were doing.
I’d like to imagine what it would sound like to hear the 70 million bird enthusiasts in the U.S. celebrating the news that chances just went up that their grandkids would be able to experience the same joy and excitement and connection to birds that they experience. In the next few weeks, fall migration will start sending those hundreds of millions of birds pouring south into the U.S. and beyond where we will feed them, watch them, photograph them.
Well not all of them will leave. The two million Gray Jays and one million Boreal Chickadees who live in those 55 million acres of soon-to-be protected Ontario Boreal habitat will stay put for the winter.
But one-and-a-half million Blackpoll Warblers from those 55 million acres will soon start their long journey to the Amazon Basinâ€”maybe you’ll get a thanks from Peru or Ecuador or Brazil too. Or from the Caribbean for the half a million Cape May Warblers you will be increasing the odds that they will receive from Ontario’s protected areas each winter.
Protecting 55 million acres is an amazing and boldly important move at a time when we need good news that recognizes the balance of human values that all of us care about.
Thank you for one of the world’s most significant conservation actions in history. Thank you that my son will still have the opportunity to step outside on the porch with his son or daughter beside him on some crisp October night here in Maine and listen to a sky filled with the sounds of migrating birds. Birds that raised their own families in a safe and secure habitat far to our north in a special place called Ontario.