This blog was written by guest blogger Aniko Pollak. Nature Canada’s February Calendar Month is the Snowy Owl and what a perfect month to choose the species! We are in the midst of winter and there have been many reports of Snowy Owls in southern cities and towns across Canada. This is the time to get all your winter gear on and go looking for them. Snowy Owls have so many interesting features: They are largest owl by weight in North America. Males are almost entirely white, with some brown spotting – while juveniles and females sport a much higher density of brown spots. Their feathers are thick and insulated keeping them warm in the cold arctic winter. They even… read more →
Species Spotlight: Burrowing Owl Vital Signs Common name: Burrowing Owl Latin name: Athene cunicularia Status under SARA: Endangered, 2006 COSEWIC assessment: Endangered Range: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba Life Span: three to four years Size: 23-28 cm tall; weighs 125-185 g Population Estimate: Fewer than 1,000 pairs in Canada The Facts Burrowing Owls often stand upright on their long thin legs so they can see farther out over the flat prairie. Often, the male will stand watch outside the burrow while the female and her young are underground. If an intruder comes near, the male sounds an alarm call and then tries to lure the intruder away from the nest with a series of short flights. If the intruder continues, the young birds go to the back of the… read more →
For volunteers with the Ontario Nocturnal Owl Survey, April means owls! Coordinated by Bird Studies Canada and now in its 19th year, the annual survey is a great opportunity for many of us to get into the field for an evening and contribute to Bird Studies Canada’s collaborative efforts to monitor owls, and other birds, across Ontario and Canada. An Ontario Nocturnal Owl Survey roadside route consists of 10 pre-determined stops, each about 2 kilometers from the previous point. At each location, a broadcast recording is played which incorporates silent listening periods and owl calls to solicit responses from nearby owls. Within the Ottawa area, the recording focuses on northern saw-whet owls and barred owls. While other species including Great… read more →
In early to mid May, while some of us were gearing up for the arrival of warblers and flycatchers, southern Saskatchewan was suffering snow storms and wintery weather. Perhaps it was to make the dozen or more Snowy Owls on Reed and Chaplin Lakes Important Bird Areas between Moose Jaw and Swift Current, feel at home! This spring, large numbers of this Arctic owl could be observed on Reed and Chaplin – as many as 25 in a day! Lori Wilson, Caretaker for the Reed Lake IBA, provided the photo, click to enlarge.
We usually write about efforts to protect the endangered burrowing owl population here is Canada, but now, news that the species is in severe decline in California. From the Center for Biological Diversity: New surveys show a 27-percent drop in the number of breeding burrowing owls in California’s Imperial Valley and provide some of the most striking evidence yet that the species is badly in need of state protections. The Imperial owl population has declined from an estimated 5,600 pairs in the early 1990s to 4,879 pairs in 2007, then dropped sharply to 3,557 pairs in 2008. “It’s alarming to see such a rapid, single-year drop in owl numbers in an area that is supposed to be a stronghold. Breeding owls… read more →
Burrowing Owl Photo by C. Wallis Four years after a recovery strategy for the Endangered Burrowing Owl was due, the federal government has released a plan that overlooks critical habitat within CFB Suffield National Wildlife Area (NWA). Burrowing owls are iconic small, long-legged grassland owls that were common summer residents in the southern regions of the prairie provinces and British Columbia until the mid-1900s when modern agriculture practices began. This species was first assessed as ‘Threatened’ in 1979 and designated as ‘Endangered’ in 1995. In the prairie provinces they continue to decline, with fewer than 800 pairs remaining in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Suffield NWA, located near Medicine Hat, Alberta, is one of the last large areas of unploughed mixed grass… read more →
The Harry Potter films seem to have inspired people to buy snowy owls as pets. A sanctuary has opened in the UK for owls that have been abandoned by some who later learn they are unable to take care of them. A similar problem arose after the 101 Dalmatians film and sequels. Sadly, more awareness about what’s involved in being a pet owner is needed. But perhaps also a better understanding of wild species might encourage people to let wildlife be wild. Learn more about the Snowy owl, the official bird of Quebec.
Sick, injured or orphaned wild animals If you find an injured, sick or orphaned wild animal, contact a wildlife rehabilitation centre that can provide specialized and immediate medical care. If you must handle the animal, wear protective clothing and equipment such as leather gloves to avoid bites or scratches and wash your hands well after handling the animal. Consult our list of wildlife rehabilitation centres below. This list is not exhaustive. Alberta Province-wide: Alberta Society for Injured Birds of Prey Tel: 780-922-3024 E-mail: email@example.com Calgary: Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (CWRS) Tel: 403-239-2488 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.calgarywildlife.org Cochrane: Cochrane Ecological Institute – Cochrane Wildlife Reserve Tel: 403-932-5632 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.ceinst.org Accept migratory/ song birds, as well as terrestrial wildlife ranging from small to large mammals, native amphibians, and avian… read more →
National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries Some of Canada’s best wildlife habitat has been set aside in a network of 51 National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) and 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBSs) that span all provinces and territories. This protected areas network is managed by Environment Canada and is critical to Canada’s efforts to conserve biodiversity: Safe Haven for Birds NWAs and MBSs protect Canada’s most important migratory bird habitat, including critical nesting areas, migration staging areas, and coastal seabird islands. Refuge for Species at Risk More than half of these areas provide a home for species at risk of extinction, such as polar bears, monarch butterflies, and burrowing owls. Ontario’s Long Point NWA alone is home to 31 species… read more →
Yesterday, Nature Canada joined partners in Canada, USA, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to develop an Americas-wide strategy to develop and support innovative initiatives to conserve and sustainably develop grasslands in the Western Hemisphere. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), less than 10% of our natural grasslands remain intact. One of our board members, Bob Peart, is the lead on the IUCN’s temperate grasslands conservation initiative (whose great work you can read about here). Working with ranchers and focusing on the most critical grassland areas is the focus of this newly developed alliance. Payment for ecological services and certified natural grass-fed beef are two initiatives being contemplated as strategies for working with producers to conserve imperilled grassroots. The State of Canada’s… read more →