World-wide, it is estimated by BirdLife International that almost 1,500 bird species face extinction, largely because of climate-related change and human activity such as urbanization.

Birds add irreplaceable value to our natural environment and that is why the Roberta Bondar Foundation is working to raise awareness about the threats facing our precious birds, and to advocate for their more hopeful future.

Disrupting migratory bird corridors will ultimately result in the loss of large and diverse populations of birds that need to nest and rest, refuel and overwinter in order to survive.

For some, like Dr. Bondar, hearing the sound of birds in their life lifts the soul, even if the birds can’t be seen.

But healthy wildlife is also a sign of a healthy planet.

They are important members of any ecosystem, and a disruption in their presence will have consequences, many of which we are unaware.

Birds in their diversity continue to teach us about flight, resilience and survival. Their feathers have hidden secrets of design and technology; navigation expertise for us to research and to mimic. There are lessons for us in how they care for their young. They also give us something that is in short supply these days — consistency of presence (predictability, unless they no longer exist), calming (they take us out of ourselves), and they give us hope and are a source of inspiration.

Partnering with Dr. David Saint-Jacques

In partnership with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, the Foundation is working with Dr. David Saint-Jacques and other international partners to embark on an ambitious new research and educational program. It will illustrate and document the migratory paths of several birds that are declared as threatened or endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The endangered Whooping Crane in North America and the threatened Lesser Flamingo in Africa, are outstanding examples that will help humanity visualize the challenges that these magnificent birds face during their annual migrations

The public will get a unique perspective of the lives of several such birds through photographic images captured on land, by air and from space. This collaboration will combine surface and aerial photography by Dr. Bondar and images from well above the Earth taken by Dr. Saint-Jacques during his 2018-19 spaceflight on the International Space Station (ISS).

We will follow the species studied from their breeding sites along their migratory pathways to their non-breeding seasonal areas, illustrating the obstacles and endangered habitats they face along the way.

The Foundation will share these images with the public through a travelling photography exhibit, and will use them in educational tools for children and youth, who are the protectors of our planet well into the future.

A More Hopeful Future

There is hope.

Birds and mammals are resilient but can become extinct. And humans want a healthy planet. By advocating for a way for us to live together in harmony, the Foundation hopes to encourage individuals, communities, corporations and governments to make a difference.

Calls for action are of critical importance. For example, we can prevent birds from becoming ill when they eat tainted garbage or seeds coated with pesticides and drink contaminated water. Oil spills from recreational water vehicles also contaminate water our birds need to survive. And heavy waves made by boats and ships disrupt our shorelines, keeping birds away. We can prevent bird strikes on high buildings through the use of bird-safe windows and diminish bird navigational disruption because of non-essential lights at night on tall city structures.

The Protecting Space for Birds project is inspired by the natural phenomena of avian migration coupled with Dr. Bondar’s lifelong passion for flight and her unique perspective about the wonders of Earth gained while on her pioneering international space mission in 1992.

This interdisciplinary and global project fuses environmental science, biology and dynamic imagery through photography of the natural world, and brings together many partners from several countries, private and public institutions and agencies of several levels of government.

Through it, the Foundation will intensify its mandate of engagement, creativity and ethical responsibility for the natural environment.

Part of the Roberta Bondar Foundation’s mission is to conduct research and produce publications that increase awareness, education, and contribute to the world’s knowledge of biodiversity, its challenges, and its needs for continuous support.

Get a preview of the Protecting Space for Birds project by listening to Dr. Bondar’s conversation with Dr. Saint-Jacques from the ISS that took place January 22 by clicking on this link to CSA/NASA YouTube.

Follow the conversation on social media at #SpaceForBirds.

Click here to donate and join us with your support to Protect Space for Birds.


AMASS (Avian Migration Air Surface Space)

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