Look but Don’t Disturb

by Ted Farnworth

The Fletcher Wildlife Garden is a place to find insects, plants, animals, and birds in a natural setting, in the middle of the city. Sometimes it takes a sharp eye to see some of the critters that visit the garden, and sometimes they pop up where you don’t expect them.

Regular visitors to the Interpretation Centre will remember the mother robin who last year decided to make a nest on the hydro box under the arbour at the entrance to the IC. She was very quiet and didn’t move too much once she had set her eggs, and so many people passed right by without seeing her.  Robins aren’t the only bird that often make nests under awning, or eve troughs or other sheltered areas, even when this means that they are in clear sight, once someone spots them. You have to wonder why they do it.

And of course that presents the dilemma. If you see a nest in a high traffic area, what should you do? I know last year many people in the volunteer groups knew she was there.  I also know that by the end of the plant sale, she was gone. Did she have her babies? Did we scare her off?  Not sure. It’s now May and I haven’t seen her yet.

But again this year there has been a lot of activity around the IC – this time it is a pair of Pheobes. Again they have chosen a spot to their liking, not necessarily the best in terms of human traffic going by. On the south facing wall of the IC there is a security light that appears to be the future site of a phoebe nest.

My main purpose in posting this note is to caution people. The fear is always that the publicity will attract people. Let’s hope that we can find a way of enjoying the birds in the garden without scaring them away. Successful nesting of robins, phoebes and other birds prove that we all understand and practice the policy of “look but don’t disturb.”

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