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Bird counting day at Arboretum spots 35 species in first half hour

Lucia Yglesias

News Reporter

Migratory birds are starting to fly because of the warmer temperatures and Toronto is at the intersection of two bird flyways, a flight path for bird migration, which presents an opportunity to spend some time in nature.

“When you spend time in nature and you slow down, you observe wildlife. It’s good for people’s mental health, and it makes us better people in a lot of the aspects,” said Emily Rondel, Urban Projects Biologist at Bird Studies Canada.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health projected to have a 60 per cent increase in patients for the next two decades, to which Canadian Mental Health Association recommended spending more time outdoors.

“In Toronto, people underestimate the amount of wildlife that there is in the city. Part of the point of our partnership (with Humber Arboretum) is to show how diversity is like here,” said Rondel.

Humber Arboretum is home to roughly 100 bird species during a year period said Rondel. During the Great Backyard Bird Count that took place last Friday, 35 type of birds were seen in a lapse of 30 minutes.

The Bird Counting event combined mindfulness and nature awareness. More than 20 people were part of a previous Yoga session before going into the woods to identify different species of birds in the area.

“We’re a combination of display gardens, floral connections, ponds, bridges, beautiful land spaces and natural trails. Students can see all kinds of different habits, and they can enjoy our botanical collection from all over the world,” said Marilyn Campbell, Communication Assistant at Humber Arboretum.

“It was a fantastic event. I really enjoyed the experience of mindfulness meditation and birding which is something I haven’t done before.”  said Warren Schlote, a Guelph-Humber student.

Less green spaces and the technology era we live in are two main reasons why people should start recognizing the importance of mindfulness, explained Harold St. George, from Project Soul.

“We have so many things taking our minds apart. Mindfulness exercise helps nature to open its windows to us so that we can be fully at the moment,” said St. George, who guided the yoga session. “Coming here to connect to ourselves, it gives us more tenacity to go back to the world we live in.”

Great Backyard Counting started in 1999, and this was the first time, Humber Arboretum became part of it. The partnership between Humber College and Bird Studies Canada will bring garden work and wildlife workshops.

The Great Backyard Bird Count had a total of 32 people attending. There were 15 different species seen and approximately 94 individual birds.

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