Birdsong is silenced when natural habitats disappear.

Warning: this is a rant!

This year, there will be fewer nests in our neighbourhood. Birds returning to the area will find mud, tree stumps, and bulldozed land.

Their home is no longer.

Their song will be silenced because there is nowhere for birds to nest.

Nest with four eggs by Louise Primeau
Nest with four eggs. The promise of life.


When natural habitats are destroyed...

A Little Bird Told Me So - Mixed media painting
"A Little Bird Told Me So".  Mixed media on 9x12 wood cradle.  The sides are painted bright red.

In our small city in eastern Ontario, forests and natural habitats for birds and small mammals are indiscriminately destroyed to make way for new housing.

Huge swaths of land are being deforested in several sectors before the city even has specific bylaws that will spell out how builders are to replace urban canopies and preserve mature trees.

In an age when we are more than ever aware of climate change, the benefits of protecting wooded areas within city limits, the advantages of preserving mature trees are many:

  • reduce storm water run-off,
  • remove street level air pollution,
  • provide habitat for pollinators and a range of birds that feed on insects
  • alleviate heat stress in our community among so many other benefits some less quantifiable than those listed.


Where are the bylaws?

Last year, one of our favourite tree-lined local biking and walking paths (only 5 minutes away) was forever changed. Our small but growing city indiscriminately allowed a builder to cut down the wooded area along the path all in the name of progress.

This is only one of several areas being entirely clear cut to allow for new housing. There were no bylaws at the time (fall 2022) to spell out any type of restitution going forward.

The forest was a habitat for many birds and other small mammals. More importantly perhaps, the forest canopy cooled the pathway and nearby homes by providing much needed shade on sweltering hot summer days. (our home does not border this path).

No one can stop progress. I get that. And many Ontario cities do have bylaws that protect already established mature trees in addition to providing guidelines for builders of large subdivisions.

When a community as ours is growing by leaps and bounds, it’s crucial to have that proverbial horse tied in front of the cart, not the other way around. 

Three eggs in a nest by Louise Primeau.
Three eggs in a nest painted in loose style.

Careful urban planning looks to the future and imagines a city where a healthy and lush mature tree canopy is preserved for future generations.

Gourd - empty real estate.
Empty real estate.

Good timber does not grow with ease,

The stronger wind, the stronger trees,

The further sky, the greater length,

By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

In trees and men good timbers grow.


Where thickest lies the forest growth

We find the patriarchs of both.

And they hold counsel with the stars

Whose broken branches show the scars

Of many winds and much of strife.

This is the common law of life.


Good Timber by Douglas Malloch, American poet, 1877-1938.

Sketchbook entry from 2014 by Louise Primeau.
Gourd home - 2014 sketchbook entry.

Art featuring bird theme.

Over the years I have painted birds including hummingbirds, and more hummingbirds, a blue-footed Booby of Galapagos, a nest, an owl, and a dove.

5 Responses

  • Not much different here either, although this morning I complained to our local council in regards to self sown trees inundating a small path near us, making it almost impossible to pass.

    • It was awful last fall when all the trees were being chopped and all the birds were flying in circles as their homes were destroyed. Unfortunately, the city doesn’t have a plan in place to preserve a percentage of the wooded areas in the these new sections being developed for housing. Nor does it have any policies for mature trees within the city limits. Discouraging.

  • Dear Louise, the bird theme and all what you tells about is very touching for me. Here in Germany we have also the problem that more and more birds disappear or decrease. It’s a sad truth that the human is the reason. Therefore we try to protect our birds and help them to survive. My favorite is the picture ” A little bird told me so”…How beautiful and touching!!!!

    • Hi Birgit,

      So sad this is happening in Germany also! We are losing so many species of plants and animals that I don’t know what kind of world we are leaving for future generations. Thank you for stopping by dear friend!

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