Program and Publication Manager
Laura McFarlane Tranquilla
My interest in birds began with studying songbirds in the blackfly-infested forests of my home province, New Brunswick; but my heart was stolen by seabirds after my first step onto a stormy, remote seabird colony. Since then, I have devoted the past 20-odd years to bird ecology, physiology, tracking, and conservation on both east and west coasts of Canada. One of my life’s highlights has been living in Newfoundland to study seabirds, under the direction of Bill Montevecchi at Memorial University, where I developed a deep appreciation for the wild beauty of this province and its people. As Birds Canada’s Atlantic Director, I am delighted to continue my working connections to Newfoundland through the NL Breeding Bird Atlas project. My favorite Newfoundland bird is the Leach’s Storm Petrel, especially when I am listening to them from my tent on Baccalieu Island (with apologies to my PhD birds, the fine and stoic Thick-billed and Common murres).
I first became interested in birds as an undergraduate student, when I worked on a project studying Tree Swallows in eastern Ontario. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to do ornithological fieldwork in as many amazing places as possible, including Sable Island and the Okanagan Valley. I moved to St. John’s in 2019 to coordinate the Breeding Bird Atlas and am very excited to explore some of the far-flung corners of Newfoundland for the Atlas. I got into studying birds because I’m fascinated by animal behaviour, and I particularly enjoy the breeding evidence aspect of atlassing. My favourite Newfoundland bird has to be the Black Guillemot— because who can resist that potbelly and those bright red feet?
I am very excited to be a part of the first Breeding Bird Atlas in Newfoundland. My love of birds began in Ontario during an opportunity working with Wood Thrush. A series of field contracts eventually led me to a graduate program in Newfoundland, studying Gray-cheeked Thrush. I am always excited to explore new, remote areas of the island, and to observe and learn more about bird behaviour as the Atlas progresses. My favourite Newfoundland bird is the Boreal Chickadee.
Database and Website
Denis Lepage is the Senior Director, Data Science and Technology for Birds Canada. He has been working with Birds Canada since 2000. He completed his doctoral thesis (Ph.D.) on the nesting biology of Greater Snow Geese on Bylot Island (Nunavut) in 1997, and conducted a post-doctoral study on bird ecology in South African from 1998 to 2000. His work has led him to become a skilled programmer and database manager, and to develop information systems for use with ornithological data, including the NatureCounts database and the Motus Wildlife Tracking System. As well as managing the central database for BSC, he has participated in the planning and realisation of seven atlas projects in Canada (Ontario-2, British Columbia, Maritimes, Manitoba, Québec, Newfoundland and Ontario-3). Denis is responsible for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas database, and for the majority of the technical aspects of the website. Denis also devotes much of his free time to his website Avibase, one of the most visited ornithology websites in the world.
I’m passionate about engaging people in the wonders of the natural world, through my work with Birds Canada and also as a guide in Antarctica, coastal BC, and at the Iona Island Bird Observatory.
In my role with Birds Canada, I facilitate data sharing from large scale monitoring programs to support research and conservation. My primary projects include the Canadian Wind Energy Bird and Bat Monitoring Database and the Motus Wildlife Tracking System.
Spatial Analysis and Mapping
I’m proud to have pioneered work on mapping the distribution, abundance, and migratory connections of birds that is featured regularly in scientific papers, books, popular publications, websites, and field guides.
My achievements in bird conservation include election to the College of Fellows of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. I represent Birds Canada on numerous regional, national, and international conservation initiatives, including Bird Atlases, North American Bird Conservation Initiative, BirdLife International, Partners in Flight, Key Biodiversity Areas, and others. It has been rewarding to see my two decades of leadership at Birds Canada help propel the organization from a locally focused one to a respected national and international partner. I find inspiration in nature, birds, and music, and in sharing these passions with family, friends, and strangers alike.
I first fell in love with birds during my undergraduate degree in Ecology and Environmental Biology in the beautiful grassland interior of British Columbia. Since then my career has taken me across to country to study Chimney Swift Roost abundance in northern Ontario, Barn Swallow post-fledging ecology in southern Ontario for my Masters degree, and boreal landbird distribution and abundance in the Northwest Territories. During this time, I have developed many technical skills for the management and automation of count, acoustic, and spatial bird data. In my current role at Birds Canada I am a part of the Landscape Science and Conservation team where I work as GIS Spatial Analyst. Here I am able use my technical expertise to aid in the understanding and conservation of wild bird species.
My interest is in preventing habitat deterioration and animal population decline. Like many others, I am deeply saddened knowing that beautiful species have become extinct and will never return to the earth because of lack of planning and human comprehension.
I am passionate about geospatial technologies and applying them to improve the world around us. I firmly believe that making decisions based on geography is basic to human thinking.
My academic knowledge and experience is in Ecology, Digital Geography and GIS, Database Management, Web GIS, GIS mobile apps, automation, and spatial data collection. Being part of Birds Canada, I have the opportunity to work for a science-based organization and contribute my experience and knowledge to conserve wild birds and prevent their extinction.