Birds at Risk: The Importance of Canada's Boreal Wetlands and Waterways

October 26, 2011

Image Credits: Background, bottom left and right ©Ducks Unlimited; all others ©Jeff Nadler

The boreal forest of Canada is a critical stronghold of our planet's bird life, supporting large portions of the global population of many species. Billions of birds migrate to and from the boreal region and reproduce in the short boreal summers, largely because of the region's abundant wetlands and undammed waterways.

The prodigious number of insects hatched from the water, and creatures living in it, are staples of birds' diets. This watery habitat provides shelter and nesting grounds as well as food for migrants. It has also, until recently, contributed to keeping industrial development in check.

But the boreal forest is under pressure from industrial development and climate change. Hydropower has flooded former habitat, while logging and industry such as tar sands oil extraction, strip-mining, and drilling operations have impacted forest habitat and decreased water quality. Climate change is melting permafrost, desiccating wetlands, and potentially creating ecological imbalances that could undermine the land's ability to support the large percentage of the world's bird populations that depend on the boreal forest.

This report looks at three natural areas in the boreal forest that are critical for birds, but that are coming under pressure from industry, hydropower, and climate change. We discuss some strong policy steps governments must take in order to protect the watery forest and the great biodiversity of birds it supports.

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Photos for Media

All photos below are offered on one-time use basis solely for covering the report 'Birds at Risk: The Importance of Canada's Boreal Wetlands and Waterways'. By downloading and posting on an external site you agree not to use the following photos for purposes other than covering this report unless otherwise authorized by the Boreal Songbird Initiative or the photographer.


Rusty Blackbird
©Jeff Nadler


Canada Warbler
©Jeff Nadler


Short-billed Dowitcher
©Jeff Nadler


American Black Duck
©Jeff Nadler


Boreal Scenery:

Oscar Lake in the Northwest Territories
©D. Langhorst, Ducks Unlimited


Nahanni National Park
©Steve Kallick, International Boreal Conservation Campaign

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Maps for Media

Major flyways coming out of Canada's boreal forest
©Boreal Songbird Initiative


Global freshwater cover percentage
©International Boreal Conservation Campaign


Percent of Canada's boreal forest covered by wetlands
©International Boreal Conservation Campaign


Human-induced disturbances within Canada
©International Boreal Conservation Campaign

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B-roll for Media

All videos are high-resolution 1080i .MOV files. Downloads expire November 21, 2011. Download links are below video preview.

Various boreal bird shots (478MB download):

BSI B-roll: Boreal Birds

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Aerial shots of the boreal forest (441MB download):


BSI B-roll: Aerial Shots of the Boreal Forest

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