With over 350 species of birds in Manitoba, it can be hard for a beginner to remember all their names and faces. We invited Luc Blanchette to introduce us to our local birds. According to Blanchette, 44 birds nest, winter, or pass through South Central Manitoba throughout the year.

70 people attended this talk, showing that this is a topic of interest. The workshop drew beginners, experts and in-between. This was demonstrated when several people shared their mnemonics for remembering the call of the Western Meadowlark, which included ‘I-was-here-a-year-ago’, ‘gosh-darn-my-feet-are-cold’, and ‘peter-peter-peed-his-pants’.

The diversity in behaviour between each bird species was fascinating to learn. The White-breasted Nuthatch is an acrobat, able to climb both up and down trees. The Eastern Phoebe can’t stay still and bobs its tail feathers when it is perched. The House Wren is an over-achiever, filling up multiple bird houses with sticks and frequenting them all to confuse predators. The Baltimore Oriole can untie knots to steal materials for their nests.

Blanchette also explained how to attract birds to your yard. Native plants that provide seeds, berries and insects are the best sources of food. The sound of water is like a magnet to birds, even if it is just a slow drip. Shelter is especially important in the winter and evergreens are an excellent option. A variety of nesting options helps attract a variety of birds. Bushes, trees, houses and open spaces are utilized by various birds.

This workshop was put on in partnership with the Winkler Horticultural Society, which has recently initiated two projects to support wildlife populations in Winkler. Each project was highlighted at the end of this workshop.

Margaret Klassen explained the Horticultural Society’s effort to set up a nature park in Winkler. The park’s intended location is the water retention area on the SW corner of Highway 14 and Eastview Drive. The park would include a half mile walking trail, interpretive signage, a dock, nesting boxes, and planting native trees, bushes, grasses, and flowers.

The Horticultural Society is also planning to develop a butterfly garden on Park Street beside Winkler’s art gallery. The garden will support 10 native butterfly species. Also, it will be registered under several butterfly certifications.

If you would like to learn more or be involved in either of these projects, please contact us.