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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!)

Urban Pioneers: Quaker Parakeets

Published 12/24/12

In celebration of National Bird Day 2013, Barry Kent MacKay and Monica Engebretson — senior campaign associates for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiasts — are taking turns in December and January to describe some of their favorite avian species. Below is the fourth installment, written by Monica.

Each year thousands of birds are sold into the pet trade to individuals who are under the mistaken impression that a bird will make a low maintenance “pet.” Eventually, whether due to frustration, disinterest or concern for the birds’ welfare, many people attempt to rid themselves of the responsibility of caring for their birds. Unfortunately, few of these birds will find a loving home, and most will spend their days isolated and confined to their cages. Others bounce from home to home as “owners” tire of them, and some may be abandoned at local shelters and bird rescues.

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National Bird of a Great Little Country: The Clay-Colored Thrush

Published 12/17/12

In celebration of National Bird Day 2013, Barry Kent MacKay and Monica Engebretson — senior campaign associates for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiasts — are taking turns in December and January to describe some of their favorite avian species. Below is the third installment, written by Barry.

Last week Monica talked about one of the world’s most beautiful birds, the resplendent quetzal, national bird of Guatemala. Oh, how I remember the excitement of seeing my first one, as it flew low over the road in front of the Land Rover I was in as we drove up the rain-swept slopes of volcanic Mount Poas, Costa Rica, many years ago. And I remember all the more seeing the birds amid swirling cold fog and mist-filtered sunlight, perched on moss-festooned, vine-draped limbs amid the giant, maroon-colored bromeliads near the apex of Cerro del la Muerte, the “mountain of death,” in the middle of Costa Rica’s central mountain range. Good choice.

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Symbol of Liberty: The Resplendent Quetzal

Published 12/11/12

In celebration of National Bird Day 2013, Barry Kent MacKay and Monica Engebretson — senior campaign associates for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiasts — are taking turns in December and January to describe some of their favorite avian species. Below is the second installment, written by Monica.

With so many beautiful and fascinating birds in the world it is difficult to select just one as a personal favorite. But someone asked me once, “If you were to get a tattoo of a bird, what would you choose?” Without hesitation (OK, I paused for a moment because I don’t have any tattoos and don’t know that I ever will), I said quetzal. The specific species I was envisioning was the resplendent quetzal.

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The Flasher in the Forest: The American Redstart

Published 12/04/12

In celebration of National Bird Day 2013, Barry Kent MacKay and Monica Engebretson — senior campaign associates for Born Free USA and lifelong bird enthusiasts — are taking turns in December and January to describe some of their favorite avian species. Below is the first installment, written by Barry.

When I was asked by Environment for the Americas to be its official 2013 artist for International Migratory Bird Day (see: www.birdday.org), I jumped at the chance. Each year it chooses a different theme and species, but always the focus is on the truly international nature of migratory birds. And the species chosen? The American Redstart.

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Was This the Dumbest Question of the Decade?

Cranbrook Councillor’s Query Comes Close

Published 11/29/12

It probably was not the dumbest question I’ve ever heard, maybe not even the dumbest of, say, the last decade. But if not the dumbest, it was certainly in the running.

I paraphrase, but it went something like, “What do I tell the mother of a child who has been hurt by a deer?” What perhaps made it extra-dumb was the fact that it was made by someone who was actually elected by the people (mind you, when I review all the super-dumb things that elected politicians have done through my lifetime, I realize that being elected in no way guarantees the presence of an IQ above that of a watermelon). The question was asked of my colleague, Liz White, by a councillor for the city of Cranbrook, British Columbia, where, as discussed last week I went to help with the urban deer issue.

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Nuts to Deer, Swallows and What Next?

We Have Nothing to Fear, But Are Still Afraid

Published 11/15/12

I just got back from a trip to Cranbrook and Kimberly, amid the beautiful Kootenay Rocky Mountains of southeastern British Columbia. While there I tried to respond to what may not be the dumbest question I ever heard, but probably the dumbest of the decade, and mouthed by, of all people, an elected city councillor. It deserves a blog of its own, and will get one next week.

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Why Do I Bother Trying to Save the World?

Published 10/26/12

After a three-hour drive, and a long meeting with two knowledgeable animal protectionists and an accurate and precise lawyer and a wonderful dinner provided by a colleague, I spent several hours in an “overflow” room in London, Ontario’s City Hall. TV monitors relayed an ongoing series of deputations by property owners, their agents, lawyers and senior company executives, all fighting to maximize profits from the planned “development” of a large swath of nearby land. It was a massive topic.

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Zoos Tell Lies; Animals Suffer

Stealing Belugas Is Not Conservation

Published 10/10/12

Ever hear of a leaf-scaled sea-snake, an Araripe manakin, a Rio Pescado stubfoot toad, or an Amsterdam Island albatross? They are among 100 species of wild animals and plants recently designated as the world’s 100 most endangered species on a list compiled by 8,000 scientists at the World Conservation Congress.

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