Welcome to the Queens County Heritage
For The Birds
In 1997 Queens County Heritage received a collection of bird specimens prepared by a local woman, Leora Simpson (1856-1951). Miss Simpson was descended from Loyalists on her mother's side and members of her family were long-time residents of Gagetown and Queens County. Besides serving as the local postmistress, Miss Simpson also had an interest in natural history and science, and taxidermy and birds specifically. Upon her death in 1951, the collection and original cabinets were bequeathed to the local school. In 1997 the collection was given to Queens County Heritage and consists of over 100 specimens featuring several species of hawks, owls, ducks, geese, songbirds, shorebirds and others. As a reflection of the natural heritage of Queens County, the Simpson Bird Collection is a premier example. It showcases not only the talents of a woman in a period when females did not seek employment outside the home, but also captures the environmental heritage of our region. For the Birds was the signature summer exhibition at the Court House in 2013 which featured selections from the Simpson Collection.
Explore pages about the collector, Miss Simpson, find birds common to our area, and don't miss the special learning section for lessons and activities!
Fields and Forests
An abundance of agricultural and woodlands lie within the boundaries of Queens County. There is also land intermediate between these two - previously farmed land which is now reverting to forest. Further, the Gagetown military base, which makes up about 20 % of the county has a multitude of upland habitat types. Here, some of the previously cleared farm land has already returned to forest and in other locations forest lands have been converted to grass and shrub lands for military purposes. The human hand continues to play a role both in the creation and in the demise of wildlife habitats.
Pasture and hay land provide habitat for an assortment of birds, large and small. Northern harrier and American kestrel use open fields to hunt for food, primarily small mammals. Canada geese graze in grass lands and some waterfowl nest here as do bobolink, savannah sparrow and to a lesser extent song sparrow. Fields that have grown up with shrubs are habitat for a variety of insect eating species like common yellowthroat, alder flycatcher and yellow warbler and, if there are wet areas, perhaps American Woodcock.
Forests can be either deciduous or coniferous, a mixture of the two, and have trees of different species, ages and heights. Each of these forest types has a distinctive birdlife associated with it. Some bird species such as barred owl and pileated woodpecker nest only where there are older trees because they require a large cavity in which to nest. Hairy and downy woodpeckers, white breasted nuthatch and black-capped chickadee are also cavity nesters but don't require large trees. Most warblers and thrushes use forest lands and have preferences in terms of tree species composition and age. For instance, the magnolia warbler prefers to nest in regenerating conifer forest while the ovenbird nests on the ground and is found mainly in open deciduous and mixed wood forest.
If we are to have an abundance of birdlife in Queens County it is essential to maintain a good variety and mix of forest types and agricultural lands. The richness and diversity of wildlife in our county is one of the factors that attracts the seasonal visitor and long term resident. The Stewart Mcleod Park in Chipman and the Robinson Trail and the Pines Conservation Forest in Cambridge-Narrows are but a few of the areas now serving to protect habitat for our many bird species. Conservancy organizations also play a part. Indeed, we all have a role to play.