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The Resource for the Global Finance Profession

Bottom Line: Quiet Border Crossings

  • By Elizabeth Johns
  • Published: 2014-06-12

Last month, the United Nations issued a lengthy report on the possible impact of climate change on municipalities and businesses. TD Bank followed with a similar report that focused on Canada.

Although the reports were full of doom and gloom, they prompted news articles speculating that a potentially warming climate might benefit Canada in several ways. For example, the North American continent’s agricultural belt might shift northward to the benefit of farms located in the Canadian plains. Cooler cities like Winnipeg might experience a population boom. Northern ports such as Vancouver might grow busier.

What the reports failed to note was the financial impact, however small, of the elusive bird known as the Baird’s Sparrow.

This little songbird, which is considered an endangered species, spends its summer criss-crossing the prairies that stretch from North Dakota into Canada before migrating to Mexico in the winter. It is named after Spencer Fullerton Baird, first curator of the Smithsonian Institution, whose buildings will host at least one event during the AFP Annual Conference in November. Except by avid ornithologists, the Baird’s Sparrow is rarely seen by humans.

New research from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science Center shows that the Baird’s Sparrow might spend its summer breeding season completely in Canada by 2025 if North Dakota summers continue to grow warmer and if grasslands continue to be converted to farming.

An article last month by Dirk Lammers of the Associated Press went so far as to say that the Baird’s Sparrow soon “could be opting for sole Canadian residency.”

Though tiny, brown and completely non-descript, the bird’s migration could be a benefit to tourism. There is speculation that an enthusiastic birding community may begin to convene in Canada just to catch a glimpse.

It seems the smallest border crossing could have a big impact.

This article appears in the June edition of AFP Exchange.


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