York prof’s songbird migration study will help conservation efforts

A York University researcher, Bridget Stutchbury, has tracked the migration of 14 wood thrushes and 20 purple martins by outfitting them with tiny, dime-sized geolocator “backpacks” – a world first, wrote The Peterborough Examiner March 24. The geolocators have revealed that the birds fly south three times faster than expected. This is the first time songbirds have been tracked day by day for their entire migratory trip.  The researchers were amazed that the birds could return so quickly.

Being able to track birds to their wintering grounds will be very useful for conservation programs, especially in terms of predicting the impact on a given species by tropical habitat loss and climate change. Songbirds throughout the world have been declining steadily for decades. Wood thrushes, still a fairly common species in the Kawarthas, have declined by 30 per cent since 1966. As Stutchbury said, “Until now, our hands have been tied in many ways, because we didn’t know where the birds were going. They would just disappear and then come back in the spring. It’s wonderful to now have a window into their journey.”

Green votes with red tape

Most councillors should be tickled green with their midterm report card from one of the city’s largest environmental lobby groups but the Toronto Environmental Alliance warns City Hall bureaucracy is choking council’s green agenda, wrote The Toronto Sun March 24.

Mayor David Miller said the group’s criticisms of civic red tape are “misguided”, and although some projects have been delayed the city is acting decisively to combat climate change, noting the city’s large hybrid bus fleet, Transit City, and the subway line to York University as examples.

Mortgage woes dog an increasing number of Canadians

To stave off a rise in mortgage defaults, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) is launching a public awareness campaign this week urging hard-pressed homeowners to go to their banks to talk about mortgage relief, wrote the Hamilton Spectator March 24.

Moshe Milevsky, a York University finance professor in the Schulich School of Business, says the CMHC campaign is much needed. “You definitely do not want to wait until you are in deep financial trouble before speaking to the lender. By waiting until it’s too late, your credit rating gets hurt, you end up with less budget flexibility and you signal to the lender that you are being irresponsible.”

On air

  • James Morton, adjunct professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the inquiry into the taser death of Robert Dziekanski on CBC Radio’s “World Report” March 23.
  • Kenneth McRoberts, principal of York’s Glendon College, spoke about a new joint course offering in communications with La Cité Collégiale d’Ottawa, on Radio Canada March 23.