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!
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 →
To most Canadians the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a sure sign of summer. Yet catching a glimpse of this seasonal icon along roadsides and fields is becoming an increasingly rare event. While not at immediate risk of extinction, monarch populations are being monitored for signs of trouble. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has listed the monarch butterfly as a species of “special concern” since 1997. A wonderful way to help monarch butterflies is to create a butterfly haven in your own backyard or balcony.
If you live on a lake, river or by the ocean, then you probably already know how lucky you are. (And you may hear me sighing as I sit in my little yard in the middle of Ottawa’s suburbia.) Having a home — or a cottage — by a body of water means wonderful sunsets, the call of loons, summertime fun on the waves…and shoreline maintenance. There are plenty of things you’ll want to do to protect your shoreline and safeguard the value of your investment, while saving time, money, and the environment.
Many, many years ago, a mentor suggested to me that it was all about “search image.” I am not talking about the internet, but rather an individual’s own internal system or ability to observe and process information to find what he or she is looking for. This probably relates to so many aspects of our lives . . . emotional, sexual, material, just about everything. Evidently this ability is refined for certain vocations such as detective work, but really the ability to notice and find what we are looking for is in some ways a reflection of our connection to the world around us. It is fair to say that everyone is different but also that there are patterns to… read more →
So you love birdwatching? But you’re starting to wince a little about the trains, planes and automobiles you use in your quest to complete your life list? Try carbon-free birdwatching. Check out this friendly competition that combines birding with a truly lighter carbon footprint. It’s called the Big Green Big Year, and the challenge is to compile a list that includes only birds you see within walking or cycling distance of your home or place of work. True, this does by definition mean you won’t be able to add that South American crippler species you’ve had on your list for ages, but then, the birds will thank you for it.