BirdLife International is running its own “Bird Olympics” while the Games are going on in China. Every few days, they’re posting a new event — today is the high jump — and asking you to select which avian competitor has what it takes to win. Last week was the diving competition. The questions aren’t easy, but the answers provide fascinating information about birds from all over the world.
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 →
A friend of mine, Michelle Paton, who used to be the office manager here, has a cat named Crash, who has a predilection for skunks (Michelle believes it’s because Crash thinks they look like him). Last week, Crash helped draw a neighbour’s attention to a skunk who had his head caught in a Tim Horton’s ice cap container – now I generally hustle the other way when a skunk crosses my path, but thankfully this neighbour did come to the aid of the poor creature as he staggered up and down the street trying to alternately pry or shake the cup off. Though it was only plastic, it must have started to feel very heavy after a while – who… 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 →
On my family’s annual beach holiday last month in Maine, we shared the beach with a large enclosure and signs designed to protect the nest of a pair of endangered Piping Plovers from danger (including predatory gulls, beachgoers and dogs). I wasn’t lucky enough to see any plovers, but hopefully this is because they had successfully fledged their chicks and had already departed the beach as a family. The alternative, however – that the nest failed due to disturbance or predation – is an all-too likely scenario for these endangered birds. This possibility has made me think that next year, perhaps a better time for my family to enjoy the beach is at the end of the summer when we… 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.
The list of threats that the tar sands pose to Canada’s environment gets longer and longer… Check out this news release for details of why the Métis Nation of Alberta are concerned about the future of Canada’s largest freshwater aquifer. (Please note that there is a mistake in the contact number for Rick Boucher; the correct number is (780) 520-0258)