Birds at the Ellis Bird Farm jump in and out of nests. (File photo by Advocate staff) Birds at the Ellis Bird Farm jump in and out of nests. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Tree planting volunteers needed at Ellis Bird Farm

Arbour Day activities at Ellis Bird Farm

Thick swaths of trees at Ellis Bird Farm will be getting a manicure during Arbour Day celebrations on May 4.

The bird sanctuary is looking for strong and able volunteers, age 16 years or older, to lend a hand in the morning to move spruce seedlings to new locations on the farm.

Myrna Pearman, biologist and site services manager, said the trees were planted about 60 years ago by Charlie and Winnie Ellis, who owned the land and made it into a haven for birds. Now the aging trees need to be thinned out.

“There are still lots of healthy ones, but some are dying and some are dead. That’s just what happens to an old forest,” Pearman said.

Thinning out the shelter belts filled with “Charlie’s trees” will make room for growing seedlings. Some will be planted elsewhere on the property where trees are needed.

The public is also invited to visit from 10 a.m. to noon to make a donation and take seedlings home. Bring a spade and pots.

“We’re always trying to improve, and we thought it was fitting now that the forest is becoming really overcrowded with young spruce, that this would be a wonderful way to not only improve biodiversity of the site, and spread those Charlie trees around, but also to share his legacy.”


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She said in five or 10 years, those seedlings will be too big to move, so the time to spread Winnie and Charlie’s trees throughout central Alberta is now.

A Lacombe County Environmental Improvement Grant helped purchase fruit trees and bushes that will also be planted on Arbour Day.

“Despite the challenges presented by the frost and the weather, we will still have plenty of trees for volunteers to plant for anyone who wants to come out,” Pearman said.

The grant will also cover the cost of hiring a tree spade to move clumps of trees around the site at a later date.

Volunteers need to be on site at 9:30 a.m. and will receive lunch. They must register by emailing

Ellis Bird Farm, located across from the MEGlobal petrochemical facility, will officially open for the season on May 20.

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