About the Birds of Steel Project
The Hamilton (aka Steel Town) harbour is
considered the biggest toxic coal-tar deposit in Canada; a byproduct of
more than 100 years of industrial waste. It is home to the largest and
most contaminated site within the Canadian side of the Great Lakes.
While many improvements have been made to reduce pollution in the
Harbour for the past two decades, the problem of contaminated sediment
remains. People often make jokes at the possible maladies and
deformities that could result from going for a quick dip in the water.
Problematically, steel companies in Hamilton had a legacy of pollution,
and spills continue right up to the present day. There is still much
work to be done in terms of the restoration and rehabilitation of
For many people, Hamilton harbour evokes only the imagery of hazy
smokestacks and industrial sprawl. However, every summer, one can be
treated to an amazing natural phenomenon. The return of thousands of
colonially-nesting waterbirds that breed, lay eggs, and raise chicks in
the murky waters. The interesting part is these water-birds colony breed
in multiple artificial islands that was originally built to host hydro
towers. And today these islands are transformed into a vibrant bird
paradise from Double-Crescent Cormorants, Gulls, Ducks, Caspian Terns,
Geese…etc. raising families in nests made of sticks, mud, plastic bags
and other garbage the birds have scavenged from the contaminated
Double-Crescent Cormorants that are indigenous to the Great Lakes.
have been persecuted for many generations and were pushed to (near)
extinction in the '60s and '70s. Due to this long-time persecution,
their recorded history is sketchy, leading some to claim incorrectly
that they are an invasive species. Cormorants are integral to the
thriving, native ecosystem, and today, cormorants are known to feed on
invasive fish species such as alewife and round gobies in the
contaminated harbour waters.
Since 1930 man was banned to swim in these contaminated waters and it
fascinates me to witness such a vibrant colony of birds in a place one
would never expect for a living eco-system to survive let along thrive.
However, with this rebound of birds came a renewal of the old rivalry
between birds and humans. The bird colony are again under threat due to
their now-robust population and a variety of misinformation regarding
their habits and diet. Some people consider the birds as a "nuisance”
while others find the recovery of the birds colony a near "miracle" in
the contaminated waters.
There's the giant steel mills and there's a vibrant beautiful bird
Where else can you see a vibrant nesting bird colony in a steel town.
The birds ability to adapt to the exceptionally harsh environment
stunning example of nature's resilience.
My hope is through the photographs to create a greater appreciation,
respect, and love for the native birds colony in this steel town and in
the Great Lakes landscape to aid in the protection of biodiversity and
Scapegoat - Cormorants of East Sand Island
VIDEO - Killing Cormorants Won't Help Salmon, Says Government’s Own
This video produced by Portland Audubon Society tells the story of the
the worlds largest Double-crested Cormorant Colony at East Sand Island
in the Columbia River Estuary, After years of relentless killing and
harassment of the cormorants by federal agencies, the colony now stands
at the brink of collapse.
Federal Agencies' Relentless Slaughter of Cormorants
“The agency’s own analysis makes clear that its persecution of
cormorants is doing nothing to help endangered fish. It needs to stop
Astonishing amount’ of pollution in Ontario’s lakes, rivers:
BOOK - Plight of a Feathered Pariah, Conservation biologist Linda