April 1, 2023

Community members of all ages participated in giving local wildlife a gift of their own for the winter on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Festive Feeding event in Shade’s Mills park, Cambridge, Ont.

Grand River Conservation Authority’s Shade’s Mills hosted the event where people were guided in how to make treats for wildlife to nibble on as food becomes more scarce in the winter months.

“The event is a community event to … bring families out to nature, as well as it’s a time where you can provide food for our critters outside,” said Rachel Morrison, an interpretive program guide with the GRCA. “So squirrels, birds, anything like that. Really, it’s like giving a Christmas gift to them. And it’s a good way to also bring nature to your household. So if you have a backyard filled with trees, you can invite some more birds and squirrels to visit.”

Attendees made hanging treats for wildlife out of pine cones, mixed bird seed, lard, dog treats, cereal, bread and pipe cleaners and were invited to either bring their crafts home or hang them in the park.

“The bird seed is already a pre-made mix designed for songbirds, so you’re attracting the birds that are here during the winter time to come to your feeders,” said Morrison. “The bread is unbleached, whole wheat bread that’s healthier. But they’re really only eating the seeds off of the bread. For squirrels, dog treats actually work really well. They have different nutrients in them that squirrels thoroughly enjoy.”

The GRCA holds events similar to this one that focus on educating the community on wildlife and nature often. This particular event brought in around 40 people on Saturday, according to Morrison and fellow interpretive program guide Sarah Sims. Attendance included families with young children, adolescents and adults from a community home.

Morrison and Sims said that the GRCA aims to provide an opportunity with events such as this one to connect with people from the community who may not know about what the conservation authority does, and that the importance of these events to them is teaching people, especially kids, about respecting and connecting with nature.

“We don’t try to shape them all into environmental scientists or naturalists or anything like that, but I still think the awareness is good,” said Sims. “And I think that it helps build morals and values, stuff like that. So I really think it’s important to do stuff like this.”

All photos below by Clara Montgomery, Spoke News.

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