Some of my Nature Canada colleagues have returned from the BirdLife International conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and packed into Ruth’s bag was a magnificent — and heavy — book called Birds and People: Bonds in a Timeless Journey. It’s a BirdLife publication, one of those massive coffee table books where every photograph is the length of my arm and takes my breath away. I just wanted to share part of what appears on the inside jacket of this book, because I think it beautifully captures the enduring relationship between people and birds and helps explain our endless fascination with these creatures: “In equal measure birds have given us lore and legend, inspiration and imagery, logos and leitmotivs, money and… read more →
You’ve heard or read it here and elsewhere: the environment is the number one voting issue for Canadians this year (or should be, yes, even more than the economy). The “environment” encompasses alot of ground though – from water issues to endangered species to air quality to urban growth. And overarching everything: climate change. Global warming is the single biggest challenge facing humanity today. For Canada, leadership on climate change will require changing the way we produce and use energy. As a northern country, Canada is particularly vulnerable to global warming. Canada’s Arctic landscape and people are already being severely affected by rising temperatures. Arctic sea ice, once considered permanent, is melting. The animals that depend on Arctic ecosystems, such… read more →
In its September 22 edition, Maclean’s magazine took the unusual step of devoting its back page column, “The End”, to recounting the life of Delinda, a well-known Alpha female wolf of the Bow Valley pack in Alberta. The End usually contains obituaries of noteworthy people, so I found it interesting (and moving), that the the death of this amazing animal in August — she was struck by a vehicle on the Trans-Canada Highway — was written about in this forum. Delinda was well-known by the people of Banff and its surroundings; her image even appeared on public transit buses throughout town. It was surprisingly poignant to read about her life in the pages of a national magazine. No free link… read more →
Many of the world’s most active bird conservation folks are gathering — flocking you might say — to BirdLife International’s World Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which begins today! Our President Julie Gelfand will be sending updates on the conference over the coming week. To kick off the conference, BirdLife International is releasing the report, State of the World’s Birds, and launching a web site, in which they warn that common birds are in decline across the world, providing evidence of a rapid deterioration in the global environment affecting all life on Earth – including human life. In our part of the world, the report highlights population declines of more than 50% over the last 40 years for 20 of… read more →
With the federal government’s announcement last month that three new National Wildlife Areas will be established in Nunavut, I have a suggestion on where they can next turn their attention — the Atlantic Coastal Islands. Over the past two decades, the Canadian Coast Guard has decommissioned several lighthouse stations in Atlantic Canada that are also significant areas for birds. Endangered birds like the Piping Plover, Peregrine Falcon and Harlequin Duck, huge colonies of sea birds like Storm Petrels and eider colonies inhabit these areas. This is not unusual as lighthouses are typically located on remote sites such as islands or the tip of a peninsula where seabirds feel safe from most predators and therefore establish colonies.Currently, though many of these… read more →
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!