Nature Notes

Fence Reflections
By Steph Weizenbach

The birds are back, making it a very enjoyable time of year, as the entire countryside springs to life. Every little puddle has a duck, or two, or a hundred. They’re busy flying after each other and staying alert for looming predators.

Something we tend not to think about, is the danger our barbed wire fences can pose to the ducks near the water’s edge. From certain angles, the barbed wire can be difficult to see, and can end the story for one little duck, shorebird, or even predatory bird. It’s a danger that can cause an entire family of ducklings to become orphaned.
At the Edmonton and Area Land Trust, we identify high risk areas in our fence line, like areas that are very near to water, or span over an intermittent wetland. We attempt to remedy the danger by placing reflectors, staggered along each strand of barbed wire, in these high risk areas.

Fence reflectors are easy to make and install. We make our own reflectors by cutting pieces of vinyl siding into small sections and then attaching reflective tape to both sides. Then we just snap the homemade reflector onto the strand of wire and it makes the fence more visible to all birds. You can even just use white plastic bottles, if you don’t mind the eye sore – anything to make the wires more visible will help keep the wildlife on your land a little safer.

Do you have a fence going through an area with deep water that you can’t get to? Make note, and snowshoe to the fence in winter conditions to install reflectors to make it wildlife friendly for years to come. That is what we were up to this past February.

There’s a section of fence along our northern boundary at Ministik Conservation Lands that goes through a section of a large wetland. We didn’t feel much like swimming there last summer; so instead, we hiked seven kilometres in our snowshoes to the frozen wetland on a nice winter day. We attached about 40 homemade fence reflectors to make the fence more visible to birds as they come in for a landing or swim in the calm waters, creating a safer habitat.

You can learn more about conservation projects in your area, and support the Edmonton and Area Land Trust’s mission to keep it natural, by visiting