Fraser River - Fowl Territory
Farmers profit by feeding migrating birds
A key stopover of the so-called Pacific Flyway, the delta of the Fraser
River, provides vital habitat for millions of migratory waterfowl.
The estuary and surrounding uplands support the highest winter densities of waterfowl,
shorebirds, raptors, and Great Blue Herons in Canada. It is also one of the most productive
farm districts in the country.
As part of the Greenfields project sponsored by the Fraser River Action Plan, farmers
are planting winter cover crops such as winter wheat, oats, barley, and clover after
the cash crop has been safely harvested.. The crops enrich the land for farmers and
provide food for the migrating birds.
The annual influx of birds was not always welcomed by local farmers. Birds were sometimes
seen as pests that ate valuable crops. But the winter cover crops help farmers three
- they protect top soil from erosion
- they discourage weeds
- when ploughed under in spring, they improve the organic and structural quality
of the soil.
For the visiting birds, the fields of oats and barley offer good habitat for their
winter stay in the delta. The rich estuary of the Fraser is now more productive than
ever for both wildlife and agriculture.
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