In our latest highly unscientific (but fun!) Quick Poll we asked our online community members how they like to spend their winters. Do they grab the wax and head for the slopes, or cosy up to the fire and stay toasty indoors? Do they start building the outdoor hockey rink or start packing their bags for Florida? Turns out many of you see the winter months as a good time to wildlife watch. According to our Quick Poll results, 41% of voters chose wildlife watching as their favourite winter activity. While the next largest group – 24% – preferred staying indoors, a review of the posted comments reveal many people actually do their wildlife watching from the comfort of their… read more →
North American scientists have demonstrated that more diverse bird populations can help to buffer people against infection from West Nile virus, according to recent research highlighted in BirdLife International’s News section today. The article (available in full from PLoS ONE, here) demonstrates a link between high bird diversity and low incidence of West Nile virus in humans in eastern North America. According to the authors, these results “illustrate an important ecosystem service provided by biodiversity, further supporting the growing view that protecting biodiversity should be considered in public health and safety plans.” The study contributes to our growing understanding of the importance of preserving bird diversity – the many benefits include maintaining important ecosystem services (like buffering humans from infectious… read more →
An important new analysis on the effects of climate change on birds was released this week by our BirdLife partner in the United States, the National Audubon Society. The analysis of four decades of Christmas Bird Count observations reveals that North American birds are moving northward and inland towards cooler temperatures in response to a changing climate. Specifically, 58% of the 305 widespread species that winter on the continent have shifted significantly north since 1968, some by hundreds of kilometres. The ongoing trend of movement of these species is closely correlated to long-term winter temperature increases. The evidence is striking for some species: Purple Finch, Pine Siskin and Boreal Chickadee have dramatically shifted their home ranges by hundreds of kilometres… read more →
This weekend, the New Jersey Star-Ledger published an interesting article highlighting the plight of two species of shorebirds, Red Knots and Semipalmated Sandpipers, that refuel in Delaware Bay before continuing on their migrations: Tiny and easily overlooked among the hordes of more spectacular shorebirds streaming up and down the Atlantic Coast, the semipalmated sandpiper is suddenly standing out in the fragile ecological ballet that unfolds annually at the Delaware Bay. The little brown bird, named because of its partially webbed feet, is providing new insight into the link scientists have drawn between the plummeting population of the more celebrated red knot sandpiper and dwindling number of horseshoe crab eggs on the New Jersey and Delaware shores. A team of five… read more →
Nature Canada, like many other groups (such as the Boreal Songbird Initiative), fight for the birds of the Canadian boreal forest. While birds are just one part of this ecosystem, it is one of national importance because most are protected under the Migratory Bird Convention Act. This Act is our federal government’s law that states that it is illegal to harm, capture or have in your possession any of the species of birds listed in the Act, which includes most of the birds in Canada and over 90 percent of those in the boreal forest of north-eastern Alberta. According to the law, it is also illegal to damage eggs or an active nest. This is the law that gave Environment… read more →
In my stocking this Christmas I received a pocket-sized book called 1,001 Ways to Save the Earth — a guidebook, really, for incorporating a conservation ethic into your life. There’s a Choose Your Own Adventure vibe to this little compendium. There isn’t any particular order to the 1,001 actions author Joanna Yarrow has pulled together; just open up to any page and start anywhere. Some suggestions are straightforward, easy and on everyone’s list: 129 No energy to spare. Don’t waste energy heating or cooling rooms you rarely use. Minimize air flow to registers in spare rooms and keep doors to unused rooms closed. But there are plenty of ideas you may not have thought of. Here are a couple that… read more →
My colleague Lori received an excited phone call from her husband Peter on Friday, saying that there was a Snowy Owl in a tree outside the suburban business park building where he works. The Snowy Owl was being pestered by many crows but it was resolutely standing its ground in a pine tree in the parking lot. We excitedly asked Peter to get some photos and send them to us. One of Peter’s colleagues dashed out and snapped these great photos. So, what’s this owl doing in a parking lot in Ottawa? Snowy Owls breed on the northern tundra, and in some years many of them remain on their breeding grounds year round, hunting diurnally for rodents. Each winter, some… read more →
Check out this cute and funny video with a serious message… The video is part of the BBC’s ‘Breathing Places’ project, which includes a practical and easy-to-navigate website designed to help people help some of the UK’s most beautiful environments and their inhabitants.
From one of our favourite photo contributors in Nature Canada’s online community, Jim Dubois. Striking resemblance, no? Dilbert’s boss… Dilbert’s boss’s twin? Jim’s got his own web site, you should check it out. Thanks Jim!
Raise your holiday spirits while lowering your carbon footprint. From christmas trees to gift wrap to lighting, try these eco-tips for celebrating a green Christmas. Looking for a Christmas tree? Get real! Many artificial trees contain contaminants and all are made from petroleum products. Fake trees also travel long distances to reach your local store, which means each one leaves a hefty carbon footprint. A real tree is a better alternative, but often even real trees come from a significant distance, creating a bigger carbon footprint than the ecologically minded person would like. You can try to buy from a local tree farmer, but there is a third option, one that is becoming more and more popular every year: live… read more →