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Canadian Projects

Canadian Blog

by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate

Born Free USA's Canadian Representative


Barry is an artist, both with words and with paint. He has been associated with our organization for nearly three decades and is our go-to guy for any wildlife question. He knows his animals — especially birds — and the issues that affect them. His blogs will give you just the tip of his wildlife-knowledge iceberg, so be sure to stay and delve deeper into his Canadian Project articles. If you like wildlife and reading, Barry's your man. (And we're happy to have him as part of our team, too!)

Wildlife (Mis)Management Myths Prevail

This Too Shall Pass (Or Will It?): What Animal Advocates Should Know!

Published 01/10/14

One of my favorite lines from the Bible does not, according to those who actually read the Bible, occur in it. The line is “This too shall pass,” and, Biblical or not, I have often thought about it, and the concept has given me strength. But three recent events (and many others like them) challenge the notion.

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National Bird Day 2014: The Lies Parrot Keepers Tell

The Timneh Parrot

Published 01/07/14

In celebration of National Bird Day 2014, Barry Kent MacKay, Senior Program Associate for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiast, is writing a special six-part blog series in December and January where he will describe some of his favorite avian species. Below is the fifth installment.

Ironic. A couple of weeks ago – mid-December – I had decided to do a National Bird Day blog about the Timneh Parrot. You won’t see the blog I nearly completed because, as I was finishing it, I took a brief break to check my e-mails—and in one, there was a link to an online article by Scott Malone entitled “U.S. parrot rescuers struggle to keep up with unwanted birds.” As anyone who has seen the wonderful new film, Parrot Confidential, is well aware, most parrots are extremely ill-suited to be “pets” or “companion animals,” and a huge number are doomed to lifelong imprisonment under cruel conditions. Sanctuaries, as the title of Malone’s article said, can’t keep up with the demand for suitable homes for these birds—especially the largest and noisiest of them, who become unwanted once the novelty of owning them wears out.

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National Bird Day 2014: Cockamamie, Contrarian Cockatoos

Why You Really Do NOT Want to Have this Group of Parrots for "Pets"

Published 01/05/14

In celebration of National Bird Day 2014, Barry Kent MacKay, Senior Program Associate for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiast, is writing a special six-part blog series in December and January where he will describe some of his favorite avian species. Below is the fourth installment.

Scientists are a bit at odds: do the 21 species of birds collectively known as “cockatoos” belong in their own family, or are they members of the same family as other parrots?

Answer: it doesn’t matter to anyone but those scientists. To the rest of us, they’re all parrots.

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National Bird Day 2014: Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

Published 12/31/13

In celebration of National Bird Day 2014, Barry Kent MacKay, Senior Program Associate for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiast, is writing a special six-part blog series in December and January where he will describe some of his favorite avian species. Below is the third installment.

There are at least 429 species of birds in the family Tyrannidae, the so-called Tyrant-Flycatchers. All of them are restricted to the Western Hemisphere, ranging from northern Alaska to the tip of Tierra del Fuego, and including the West Indies, the Galapagos Islands (where two species breed), and the Falkland Islands (where one species breeds). There are probably quite a few “hidden” species – now considered subspecies of known species, but who should probably be considered full species, as defined by biologists. The term “tyrant” derives from the fact that many, including the Eastern and Western Kingbirds so familiar to us across nearly all of temperate North America, will boldly chase much larger birds, such as hawks and crows, from their nesting territories.

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Kathleen Wynne's Christmas Gift: Slow Death to Bear Cubs

As Bears Give Birth, Guess What's Waiting for Them...

Published 12/27/13

Okay, I admit it; I was fooled. When the Premier of Ontario and leader of the Liberal Party, Dalton McGuinty, suddenly quit office in 2012 amid various spending scandals, he was replaced by Kathleen Wynne. Because Wynne was a bit of an outsider – Ontario’s first female and openly gay premier – I hoped that transparency and citizen democracy would benefit, and policy would derive from logic and compassion.

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Long-tailed Tyrant: a National Bird Day blog

Published 12/23/13

In celebration of National Bird Day 2014, Barry Kent MacKay, Senior Program Associate for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiast, is writing a special six-part blog series in December and January where he will describe some of his favorite avian species. Below is the second installment.

Here is the good news. You are unlikely to see the vast number of birds in the world in cages, either in pet stores or zoos.

Here is the bad news. The trade that generates the species you do see in cages is a cruel and wasteful exercise.

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National Bird Day 2014: Royal Flycatcher

Published 12/18/13

In celebration of National Bird Day 2014, Barry Kent MacKay, Senior Program Associate for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiast, is writing a special six-part blog series in December and January where he will describe some of his favorite avian species. Below is the first installment.

When I first visited tropical American forests four decades ago, I expected that a disproportionate number of birds would have gaudy, bright colors. Many do, but the majority of the smaller birds I saw seemed to be coloured in shades of tawny, rust, rufous, tan, and brown – the earth colours, often like the reddish soil underfoot. That would include the Royal Flycatcher (Onychorynchus coronatus), a small, reddish-brown bird, similar to so many other small birds in the neotropical jungles and forests, although one notices an oddly shaped head. A long beak seems to be almost equally counterbalanced by a similar length of feathers—a crest – sticking out from the back of the head. It is almost a “hammerhead” look. If you are close enough, or the bird is in enough light, you may notice that the folded crest is partly orange or red.

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You've Got to be Taught to Hate

What Drives Fear in Invermere; Why Kill Deer?

Published 12/06/13

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

-The famed Broadway musical, South Pacific

I last blogged about canvasing the community of Invermere, British Columbia, population around 4,000, prior to a referendum that asked the overly-simplistic question: Should there be a cull of mule deer?

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