Today’s Globe and Mail has a great editorial on the recent bird deaths in Alberta. The Globe’s editors make several important points: 1. Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board has only 100 inspectors, but there are 297,000 active and abandoned oil and gas wells in the province. How in the world are they expected to properly inspect them all? 2. There are some important dates coming up — this month Alberta Environment will decide whether Syncrude should face charges for the deaths of 500 waterfowl who were killed upon landing in a toxic tailings pond. And October 6, a hearing begins on whether EnCana should be allowed to drill 1,275 wells inside a national wildlife area in Suffield. Nature Canada will… read more →
A recent article in the journal Nature suggests that old growth forests continue to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigate climate change for hundreds of years. The authors make a strong recommendation to keep old growth systems intact as a strategy of mitigation. Nature Canada has worked for decades to protect old growth forests primarily in protected areas like National Parks and National Wildlife Areas. In the past we did it to protect biodiversity and now there is another huge reason to establish protected areas!
Online community member Jim Dubois sent me these terrific images of a crab spider (family Thomisidae) and I’m finally getting around to posting them. Here’s what Jim had to say: “I finally found a crab spider. It’s about 1″ across the front legs, and has a small victim that was about 3/8” of an inch long. The spider’s a goldenrod spider, [Misumena vatia] and the meal’s a little halictid bee, a tiny wild bee.” “You can see the pollen all over the bee, it was having a pretty good day to this point. I find those spiders fascinating, the way they sit in a flower bloom with their legs out ready to clutch the first thing that comes into range.… read more →
Last weekend my wife and I decided to try out a baby backpack that a friend lent us, so we made the short drive into Quebec to visit Gatineau Park, one of the real treats of living in the Capital Region. Gatineau Park — which, at 70 years old this year, is one year older than Nature Canada — is a 361-square kilometre jewel of a park located where the Canadian Shield and the Saint Lawrence lowlands meet. Those who are familiar with the park’s history know that it took pressure from nature lovers and conservationists to cajole the government of the day to establish the park (thank you to the citizens of 30’s Canada who raised their voice for… read more →
A very interesting article from the Globe and Mail on the impact of wind turbines on bats. Unfortunately, whatever source of energy we humans decide to produce, there will be impacts on other species. Another reason to focus on conserving energy!
A growing body of research is revealing that climate change is affecting birds in many different ways. Last month on this blog, Sarah wrote about a study in Global Change Biology that provided more evidence that birds migrating to or through the eastern U.S. are arriving earlier to correspond to optimal food and habitat conditions like insect emergence and leaf budding, which occur earlier in the spring as the climate warms. Now, yet another study has added to our understanding, this one out of the UK., where British birds are apparently laying their eggs earlier in the year as a result of climate change. From The Herald: The report said birds were being forced to rapidly adapt their behaviour in… read more →
Misty Harris wrote a good article for Canwest News called “Too much Yoda, not enough Magpie, show tackles kids’ weak nature knowledge.” This article highlighted the imminent release of a series of Hinterland Who’s Who (Canadian Wildlife Federation and Environment Canada) vignettes on television to get kids outdoors. I am quoted in the article as saying that part of the problem for why kids these days know so little about nature is “a failure in parenting.” Of course much more was said, likely several pages of text, but only a few words were chosen to make her point. What my point really was is that it is our social and cultural values that are the root of this issue. We… read more →
This year, for the first time, I’m trying my hand at backyard vegetable gardening as a way to eat (very!) locally and teach my daughter about where food comes from. I decided to try out square foot gardening after reading about the high vegetable yields that can be achieved from a small amount of garden space. An added bonus: this intensive method has required little thinning and weeding and no chemical inputs. My square foot garden has 18 one foot by one foot squares growing everything from Thai basil to cherry tomatoes to peppers to beets. We’ve been eating fresh radishes, peas, beans, and lettuce for quite a few weeks now, and we are quite enjoying the garden. So is… read more →
Last week we posted our latest Quick Poll online, where we posed the question: Should people try to attract wildlife to their backyard? The results: Of 476 people (so far), 88.9% said yes. (Update: on August 25, the results were 86.7% of 482 voters.) Though these results may not show it, this issue can be contentious. On the one hand, it is so important that people find ways to connect with nature — observe it, appreciate it, interact with it and learn from it. And with over 50% of the world’s population now living in urban areas, a person’s backyard is becoming one of the few places to engage regularly with anything approaching the natural world. Although Canada is endowed… read more →
All aboard! Check out the Merganser train depicted in these photos from Jim Dubois, a member of Nature Canada’s online community. Says Jim: I’m inclined to think that all of those are her babies, but that may be more my heart thinking than my brain. I know they lay up to twelve eggs, but with the mine field of predators they live among, raising the whole batch would take some pretty exceptional mothering skills. Some pretty exceptional luck, too. There’s another female in the same area with 11 young, but there are also a couple with none at all. Perhaps the two with the big broods have collected the survivors of the others. The area I took these shots in… read more →