By Kaitlyn Clark
The Haldimand Press
JARVIS—Chantal Theijn, Founder of Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge, has combined a need to help both birds and seniors in a new project.
“Hobbitstee has joined Nature Canada in an effort to create bird friendly cities, so I was contemplating how to meet some of the criteria,” explained Theijn of how she came up with the plan over the holidays to bring bird feeders to long-term care (LTC) facilities. The bird friendly city needs to encourage citizen science and people to participate in bird watch programs, and Theijn saw an opportunity for seniors to join in.
“I was being plagued by trying to come up with an idea to provide some form of an activity for people stuck in a long-term care facility during this pandemic. I did this while looking at the bird at our bird feeder and the idea kind of popped in my head,” added Theijn. “I firmly believe that during this unprecedented time of lockdowns and covid scares we have a moral obligation to do what we can for our fellow humans. This bird feeder project is our modest contribution.”
The project, organized by Hobbitstee’s board of directors, contacts the LTCs for permission, sources the bird feeders and supplies needed, and then recruits and assigns volunteers to install bird feeding stations, which are then cleaned and refilled multiple times per week by that same volunteer.
Home Hardware Paris has provided a discount on feeders, but Theijn noted there have been supply issues for shepherd’s hooks and feeders.
Additionally, Bogle Seed from Millgrove has provided bird seed at a reduced rate. Setting up a bird feeder at an LTC home costs around $100, and the annual maintenance is estimated at $350 per home.
Hobbitstee has been covering the entire cost of the program, although they are hoping businesses may step forward to sponsor a long-term care home near them.
Bird guides donated by Bird Studies Canada have been donated to each of the participating homes so that residents can identify any visiting birds to their feeder. So far, 10 homes have joined the project in St. Catharines, Welland, Fort Erie, Brantford, Hamilton, Simcoe, Guelph, Peterborough, Dundas, and Burlington.
“The goal of the project is to provide a pleasant distraction for the LTC residents. We hope that the participating LTCs will join the Big Backyard Bird Count or Project Feeder Watch to help provide citizens science data for our area to help towards the goal of bird friendly cities,” said Theijn.
Next up, the group is working on getting the project into Windsor, although distance has complicated things, and Theijn added, “We are really hoping for some of the Haldimand LTCs to give us permission.”
Theijn shared a comment she received from one of the participating LTC facilities, which read, “I wanted to thank you very much for the bird feeder project initiative you launched. Our residents LOVE the bird feeder. It has drawn many residents outside – many of whom want to sit bundled up outside for long hours, watching the birds and animal life. Thank you so much for bringing ‘new life’ into our home. You’ve created many new bird-watching enthusiasts.”
Those interested in donating to this project can visit
hobbitstee.com/birdfeeder.php or canadahelps.org/en/charities/hobbitstee-wildlife-refuge.
Hobbitstee is continuing with its wildlife rehabilitation and public education efforts. They are providing free Zoom lessons on a variety of topics “to try and break the monotony and perhaps bring a smile to someones face that otherwise wouldn’t have been there.”
Find more information on their website or Facebook page.