by Chandler Swain
Look at this photo and try to imagine the impact of many other nests like this being clumsily sprayed with herbicide by booms on trucks on our rural roadsides this season.
This precious little nest, belonging to a field sparrow, was found during a work bee last summer to hand-pull dozens of Wild Parsnips out of ditches on a 2-km section of adopted rural road. The pulling required only regular gardening gloves and no one was harmed by the plant.
We know now after seeing the shoddy work of the spraying program last year that many areas were sprayed where NO PARSNIP grew. It was sprayed where people had already maintained their roadway and had opted out. It was sprayed far away from agriculture areas. It is dangerous (and banned in numerous jurisdictions) and unnecessary. Our roadside ecosystems are way too important to mess with, in a time of mass species extinction.
A group of us had a lot of fun, some decent exercise (but not so that this unfit, 66-year-old grannie couldn’t participate), learned a lot about the pollinator-friendly way to go and will happily participate again this year.
Please think of the little brown mother sparrow, flitting around anxiously when we discovered her nest. We were able to leave it in the base of this big Wild Parsnip plant and mark it for removal later.
Now write to your Mississippi Mills councillor and to Abby Armstrong at Roads and Public Works demand they stop the lazy, expensive spraying program. There are way smarter, proven ways to deal with invasive plants that have been well described to Council by many botanical and other experts for a number of years. Enough!