Three Stettler volunteers pitched in March 1 to stock Cold Lake’s bird habitat with straw (from left): Wally McComish, Al Campbell and Bob Rawlusyk. ECA Review/S.SalkeldStu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Many who live in and around the “Heart of Alberta,” Stettler, feel the community is a friendly, welcoming place where people pitch in and help out their neighbours. Well, a group of Stettler men are proving that adage true by helping out some fine feathered neighbours who will soon be returning from a trip south.

Bob Rawlusyk, Wally McComish and Al Campbell donned their cold weather gear, boarded their off-road vehicles and headed out into the freshly fallen snow March 1 intending to fortify living conditions for geese and ducks on the aptly-named Cold Lake.

With Hwy. #12 on the south side and 44 Ave. on the north side of the water, virtually all Stettler residents and most regional visitors pass by Cold Lake on the east side of Stettler; many don’t realize the large water body has a name. 

Most motorists are familiar with it for massive numbers of geese and ducks during the warmer months plus ample signage on nearby roads warning them of “ducks crossing.”

For roughly the past 20 years Stettler volunteers including these three local gents have been trekking out on the frozen lake to place clean, warm straw in man-made bird habitat across the lake. The metal nest stands are several metres tall and include a tire at the top for protection and to keep the straw where it’s needed most: underneath the birds.

Rawlusyk reminisced that Stettler resident Dave Dennis put the stands in about 20 years ago, safe habitat for the birds regardless of the water level. Some rocky habitat was also placed to give the birds even more perches.

Campbell chipped in that bird nesting areas can be sometimes taken away by expansion and development, while these stands are a safe, reliable place for the birds to spend their time in Stettler.

While volunteers tend to care for the stands out of their own pockets Rawlusyk stated quite a number of people and businesses pitch in and help out with supplies: a local farmer donates the straw, McComish placed the tires, and nearby Romar Powersports donated a vehicle to help the volunteers out.

Rawlusyk added the birds seem to enjoy their lakefront property on the water in Stettler, as there are always plenty of them around and volunteers never hear a word of complaint.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 14, 2024 at 10:36

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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