The Gray Ratsnake, sometimes called the Eastern Ratsnake or Black Ratsnake, is Canada’s largest snake, reaching a length of up to 190 cm. Their colouring differs from region to region, but they are generally a shiny black or gray with a white chin and throat. In Canada, this snake is only found in two distinct parts of Ontario: the Carolinian forest region of Lake Erie, and the St. Lawrence region in counties such as Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, and Frontenac. The Gray Ratsnake is a constrictor, mainly preying on small mammals and, since it is an efficient arboreal hunter, birds and their nests. Its natural predators include Red-tailed Hawk, Osprey, Raccoon, Fisher and Mink. Major threats to the species include… read more →
Do you know what an alvar is? Most people don’t, and I certainly didn’t until three and a half years ago when we heard a quarry expansion would probably destroy the alvar ridge we live on. Alvar is a Scandinavian word for a geological formation of flat, open areas of limestone bedrock where the soil is either shallow or absent. Due to extreme environmental conditions such as alternating flood and drought, unique and often rare plant, insect and bird habitats are formed. Alvars are globally rare; most are centred around the Great Lakes of North America with a very few in Europe. Many alvars have already been destroyed by aggregate quarrying as the limestone is at or close to the… read more →
Even though we’ve just passed the Labour Day weekend, there are still a couple of weeks of summer left. September can have some of the hottest days of the year; stay cool with our top tips for your home: Create a stir. Circulating air keeps you cooler, and fans use 90% less energy than air conditioners. If you can, set up a cross-current with window fans. Invest in low-E. Windows with low-E films keep out the summer heat. As a bonus, they’ll also keep heat inside during the winter. Make sure all windows are properly sealed to avoid drafts. Go green – from the top down. Consider a green roof that will not only cool your home, but can provide… read more →
Judith Blakeley shared this photo of Indian Pipes with us. She writes: One doesn’t often see indian pipes in perfect condition. This group was photographed in the deep woods near Torbay, Newfoundland last August, soon after they emerged from the sphagnum moss. You may remember that one of our staff members snapped a photo of this exceptional, non-photosynthetic plant a couple of weeks ago. Have you run across any interesting or unusual plants in the woods? Let us know in the comments below!
Through its international program, Nature Canada works to promote biodiversity conservation for people and birds in the Americas. In Paraguay, we are working with our Canadian partner Place aux agricultrices : nourricieres du monde and our local partners Guyra Paraguay and Fortaleser, to improve the livelihoods of women farmers and increase their awareness of biodiversity. The Canadian International Development Agency, our primary funder, has highlighted our project in a recent communique. Visit our website for more information about this project and our international program. Also, stay tuned for an update in October, as I return from a visit to our project partners and the women farmers we are working with in Paraguay. Photo: Vulnerable Pipile jacutinga by Jose Luis Cartes
As a cross country ski racer we get to take part in a sport that is not only very demanding, but also requires year-round training even though it is a winter sport. Because of this we get to put some incredible workouts in, workouts which are very unique to the sport which require special equipment and must appear odd to someone who is not familiar with non-winter cross-country ski training. Whether it is long runs in the mountains, or big days on the road rollerskiing, or biking. most of this training is in nature and we get to see some extremely incredible stuff. This is one aspect which has made me love the sport so much, being outside and seeing… read more →
The 2010 Robert Bateman Get to Know Contest Calendar features winning artwork and writing by youth from this year’s contest. In addition to regular Canadian holidays and noteworthy environmental dates, it also includes descriptions of what your wild neighbours are doing.
The Norway Rat Rattus norvegicus has made it to the news recently as Alberta (which claim to be rat-free), watches a rat population explosion in Swift Current Saskatchewan, little over 100 kilometres from the Alberta border. This is an interesting story as it raises the profile of the much hated and much maligned rodent that some predict will survive long after humans have perished. While the Disney-Pixar movie Ratatouille may have persuaded some that rats are in fact interesting creatures, human repulsion to rats seems as strong as ever, based on the media coming out of western Canada. Rats are rarely seen, but omnipresent in our settled landscapes. This is probably the most adaptable mammal on the planet which in… read more →
In January 1994, over 1,000 wild horses were removed from Canadian Forces Base Suffield on the unsupported charge that they were damaging biodiversity in the National Wildlife Area. These were the last wild horses in the Canadian prairies. Now there are none. In her book Caught in the Spin: The Wild Horses of CFB Suffield, Dawn Dickinson tells the story of the public consultation process (actually closed to the public) that unfolded over the year and a half prior to their removal from the base. While the preface notes that some things have changed, Caught in the Spin tells a story every engaged citizen needs to hear, in particular, anyone interested in transparency, public participation and science-based decision-making. It also… read more →
Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake introduced readers to a future world where genetic modification is the norm and environmental degradation runs rampant. Her new novel, The Year of the Flood, revisits this world and tells the story of the God’s Gardeners – a religion devoted to the melding of science, religion and nature. Atwood has penned a semi-dramatic theatrical performance based on The Year of the Flood. She will act as the narrator in each city and, using local actors and choirs to reduce the carbon footprint of the tour, present a one-hour performance that breaks away from a traditional book tour. The performances in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver will be fundraisers for Nature Canada. Come out to… read more →