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Species Spotlight: Eastern Whip-poor-will
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Species Spotlight: Eastern Whip-poor-will

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Eastern Whip-poor-will [caption id="attachment_2039" align="alignleft" width="300"]Eastern Whip-poor-will Eastern Whip-poor-will[/caption] Scientific Name: Antrostomus vociferus SARA and COSEWIC Status: Threatened Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: length of 22-27 cm, wingspan of 45-50cm, weight 42-59 g The Whip-poor-will is a nocturnal bird of medium size. It has a large flattened head with big eyes and a small bill. The corner of their mouth has long, fine feathers that serve as sensory bristles. Their wings are rounded and do not reach the tip of the tail when folded. Their colour is a scattered mix of black dark gray and brown. Both the male and the female have lighter coloured underpants. They have a necklace which is whiter for the male and yellowish for the female that contrast with their dark throat. The males have a white patch on both sides of the tail while they are buff for the female. The Whip-poor-will got its name from their call, which literally sounds like a loud ‘’whip poor will’’ that the male repeats over and over at night during mating season. They can also make a cluck sound especially in flight. The Whip-Poor-Will has an erratic mothlike flight. At night it will fly close to the ground and catch large insects. The Whip-poor-will likes to sit on low branches and on leaf litter on the ground, or on the sides of gravel roads. It is a master of camouflage as its colouring blends easily with its surroundings. For this reason it is much easier to hear a Whip-poor-will than to see one. The female Whip-Poor-Will doesn't make a nest, but instead lays her 2 eggs directly on the ground. Population have reduced by more than 30% over the last 10 years mainly as a result of habitat loss caused by fragmentation and degradation of the environment. In additional populations are being impacted by the reduction in insect numbers mainly due to pesticide use. Whip-poor-wills are also very vulnerable to collision with vehicles due to their behaviour of swooping low to the ground and sitting on the side of roads. Where else can you see this species? During the mating season, the Whip-poor-will can be found in south eastern Canada from east Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia and from Oklahoma to South Carolina in the United State. During the winter the Whip-poor-will migrate to the south of Florida, Central America and north Mexico. Because they are less vocal outside their breeding season and difficult to study, much about their migration routes remain a mystery. The Whip-poor-will dislikes open space and dense forest but shows some preference for oak and pine trees for both breeding and wintering area. For the breeding area it prefers semi-open forests with a clearing nearby and ground vegetation. Did you know? • The Whip-poor-will appears often in literature, poems and songs. • Whip-poor-will lay their eggs with the moon cycle, so when they hatch it is close to a full moon. They can catch more insect to feed their nestling this way. • Like other animal active at night, the eyes of the Whip-poor-will reflect the light giving them a red shine. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful! We would like to thank guest blogger Rachel Thibodeau for this post. Rachel is a technician in applied ecology. She has worked for more than three years in Nova Scotia on different species at risk including Blanding Turtle and Ribbon Snake. Since 2012, she has volunteer in the Ottawa - Gatineau area.

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Species Spotlight: Loggerhead Shrike
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Species Spotlight: Loggerhead Shrike

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the:  Loggerhead Shrike [caption id="attachment_1855" align="alignleft" width="300"]Photo by Matthew Paulson Photo by Matthew Paulson[/caption] Scientific Name: Lanius ludovicianus SARA Status: Endangered; Ontario: Endangered; Quebec: Threatened Taxonomic group: Birds Size: 20-23 cm size, with a wingspan of 28-32 cm, and weigh 35-50 g The Loggerhead Shrike is a medium-sized songbird, with a large head and a thick black, hooked upper bill. It is mostly white with grey on its crown and back, mainly black wings and a bandit-like black mask covering the eyes. Males are slightly larger. The Loggerhead Shrike may be a songbird but it is perhaps best known for its overt, often inelegant predatory behaviour. This hunter likes to perch, ready on tree branches to ambush its prey, which includes large insects like grasshoppers, but also frogs, rodents, lizards and even small birds. Since the Loggerhead Shrike has no sharp claws like other birds of prey, it will actually impale its prey on thorns or barbed wires and use their hooked bill to tear it into bite sized pieces. This behavior is also used as a method of food 'storage'. Look for the Loggerhead Shrike in open and semi-open areas of short grassland and pastures with scattered low trees and shrubs. It can also be found along mowed roadsides, in golf courses, agricultural fields and open woodlands.  Loggerhead Shrikes nest in small trees or shrubs. The females build the nest deep inside the branches. The parents will not usually defend the eggs, but will defend their young very aggressively. When the chicks are able mom and dad help them learn the art of hunting. The Loggerhead Shrike populations have suffered a dramatic decline in the last decades. Unfortunately the causes have been difficult to identify. The threats may include habitat loss and fragmentation, accumulation of toxins in pretty species due to pesticides and territorial competition with non-migratory Shrikes when migrating. Cars and trucks also pose a threat to Loggerhead Shrikes perched along roads. Where Else Can You See This Species? This species lives only in North America, and only the northern populations are migratory birds, flying from southern Ontario and Quebec to United States and Mexico.  They return to their breeding range in late March or early April  and return south in September, migrating alone. In Ontario their range is restricted to the Carden and Napanee limestone plains, the Smith Falls plain, the Pembroke and Renfrew areas, the Bruce Peninsula, and Manitoulin Island.  There have been very few observations within the IBA - largely on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River - but be sure to keep an eye out for this rare species. The similar-looking Northern Shrike can be spotted more readily in the IBA. Did you know? •    This bird is also known as the butcher bird because it impales its prey to feed. •    The Loggerhead Shrike can carry prey as heavy as itself with its feet or smaller prey with its beak. •    In 2013, only 24 pairs were found in Ontario, and it is believed that only 100 pairs remain in North America. •    There is a captive breeding program for Loggerhead Shrike in Ontario and Quebec which has released 18 captive-bred birds between 2001 and 2009. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful! We would like to thank our guest blogger Monica Reyes for this post. Monica is a conservation volunteer for Nature Canada. She is a biologist from Mexico interested in wildlife conservation and environmental education.

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Species Spotlight: Eastern Meadowlark
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Species Spotlight: Eastern Meadowlark

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”.  Today meet the: Eastern Meadowlark [caption id="attachment_1850" align="alignleft" width="300"]Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider[/caption] Scientific Name: Sturnella magna SARA Status: No Status; Ontario: Threatened Taxonomic group: Birds Size: 19- 26 cm size, with a wingspan of 35-40 cm, and weighing 90-150 g The Eastern Meadowlark is a medium-size songbird, with a short tail and a long, slender bill. They are pale brown on the back with bright yellow throat and belly, and a large black “V” on the chest.  There is also a yellow line above the eyes to the bill. Wing and tail feathers are brown with black stripes, and the white outer tail feathers are visible when flying. Both sexes are similar, but females are smaller and slightly less marked than males. Eastern Meadowlarks live mainly in native grasslands and prairies, but also in pastures, hay and alfalfa fields, airports, roadsides, golf fields and other open areas.  They like to sing flute-like songs from small trees, fence posts and telephone lines.  Their unique nests with an overhead roofs and tunnel entrances are build on the ground in grassland habitats. When nesting, males establish a 6 acre territory with he shares with two females, rarely three. Eastern Meadowlarks forage along the ground searching for insects to eat. They also eat seeds and berries. Eastern Meadowlarks have been declining in much of their range due to land use changes and human disturbance, such as early mowing, livestock overgrazing and use of pesticides. In Ontario, their numbers have declined by almost 65% during the last 40 years. Where Else Can You See This Species? [caption id="attachment_1852" align="alignright" width="300"]Eastern Meadowlark nest and eggs Photo by Mike Allen Eastern Meadowlark nest and eggs
Photo by Mike Allen[/caption] This species is a permanent resident in most of its range and only the northern birds migrate. They usually leave by the end of November and return in May in small to large flocks. The Eastern Meadowlark has one of the widest distributions of the songbirds, from South America through Central America and into to North America. The northern breeding range includes Minnesota and Michigan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. But it also breeds in the rest of its range. Locally, you can observe the Eastern Meadowlark in the Deschênes area and along the Ottawa River. This species has also been spotted along the roads and in several agricultural areas. Did you know? •    Eastern and Western Meadowlarks look very similar, but sound very different. You don’t have to worry about identifying between the two here though as their ranges overlap only in central US. •    Eastern meadowlarks can sing several variations of a song. An analysis of an Eastern Meadowlark vocalizations discovered more than 100 different patterns in the song. •    This is a polytypic species which means that there is a lot of variation in the species. In fact, there are 16 subspecies! Only one of these subspecies is found in Canada, the Sturnella magna magna. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or onthe MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website.  A photo and a location are very helpful! We would like to thank our guest blogger Monica Reyes for this post. Monica is a conservation volunteer for Nature Canada. She is a biologist from Mexico interested in wildlife conservation and environmental education.

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Species Spotlight: Chimney Swift
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Species Spotlight: Chimney Swift

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Chimney Swift [caption id="attachment_1822" align="alignleft" width="300"]Chimney Swift in flight Dominic Sherony Chimney Swift in flight
Dominic Sherony[/caption] Scientific Name: Chaetura pelagica SARA Status: Threatened; Ontario: Threatened; Quebec: Special Concern Taxonomic group: Birds Size: 12-14 cm size, with a wingspan of 27-30 cm. and weighing 17-30g Chimney Swifts fly constantly and are almost never seen perched.  They are easily identified in flight by their silhouette characterised by long, narrow, curved wings. The Chimney Swift’s song is easy to notice once you’ve heard it. You’ll be surprised how often you can hear the high-pitched twittery cacophony once you start listening for it. When Chimney Swifts do stop flying they cling to the walls of rough, vertical surfaces with their long claws. Before European settlement these birds would have roosted in caves and hollow tress. The construction of stone and brick chimneys provided the perfect alternative at the same time as much of their natural roosts were removed by forestry. These birds thrived with the early construction of cities and became common. Today their numbers are suffering from changes in chimney design. Covered or narrow flutes make the chimney inaccessible, and updating chimneys with a smooth interior mean that there is nowhere for these birds to cling onto. At the same time, fewer buildings are being built with chimneys as a chimney’s function has become obsolete with advances in heating technology. One of the most fascinating behaviors of the Chimney Swift is how large flocks of them simultaneously fly head first into their chimney roost at dusk without injury. Watching a group funnel into a chimney it is easy to believe that Chimney Swifts nest in colonies. While hundreds of non-breeding swifts may share a roost during the spring, only one pair nests in a chimney at a time. So every chimney is crucial.   Where Else Can You See This Species? Chimney Swifts are associated with urban settings, although they travel to river-edge forest and other edge habitats to forage. They breed in eastern North America and winter in north western South America. You can see this species in our region when it’s migrating mainly in early May and again in the fall leading up to Labour Day. The Chimney Swift breeds and roosts in spots throughout the city, and is seen and heard foraging in small numbers throughout the summer months. Did you know? •    The Chimney Swift is often called the “flying cigar”. •    As members of the guild of aerial insectivores Chimney Swifts have the specialized ability to catch insects in mid flight. They have a significant role to play in controlling insect populations as a single bird is capable of eating more than 1,000 insects in one day. •    Many roosting sites in Ottawa are monitored by “Ontario Swift Watch”, a program of Bird Studies Canada. Help Ontario Swift Watch monitor Chimney Swift populations by reporting any roosting sites in your neighbourhood. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful!

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Species Spotlight: Least Bittern
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Species Spotlight: Least Bittern

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”.  Today meet the: Least Bittern [caption id="attachment_1803" align="alignleft" width="300"]Photo by Eric Begin Photo by Eric Begin[/caption] Scientific Name:  Ixobrychus exilis SARA Status: Threatened; Ontario: Threatened; Quebec: Vulnerable Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: length of 28-36 cm, wingspan of 41-46 cm Least Bitterns are slightly larger than an American Robin.  The Least Bittern has buffy and brown plumage with buff streaks on its white underside. Its back and crown are black in males and lighter in females and juveniles. It has a buffy patch on its wing that is visible in flight. The biggest threats to them are loss and degradation of habitat. Least Bitterns have declined in Canada by 30% in the last ten years. They eat frogs, small fish and aquatic insects. They nest on a platform of marsh vegetation above the water. Their typically heard call is a hollow, quiet “coo-coo-coo”. Where else can you see this species? Least Bitterns are found from southern Canada to South America. In Canada they are found in southern Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and New Brunswick. They can be found foraging in cattail marshes that have open water.  You may find Least Bitterns in the Ottawa area at Constance Creek and at Lac La Pech and they have been found in the Lac Deschenes IBA at Mud Lake.   They are migratory and spend the winter in the southern United States and in Central America. Did you know? •    There is a rare colour variation called the Cory’s bittern which has a darker plumage than the Least Bittern. It used to be found at Ashbrides Bay Marsh in Toronto but is now much rarer throughout North America. •    Least Bitterns are the smallest member of the heron family in North America. Other members include the Great Blue Heron, the Boat-billed Heron and all of the Egret species. •    Least Bitterns are masters of disguise in their marshy habitats, so listen for this bird in the early morning and evening. •    When alarmed, the Least Bittern freezes in place to resemble the vegetation in its habitat. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful! We would like to thank our regular guest blogger, Carlos Barber, for this post. Carlos has been watching birds since he was five-years-old. He has been actively involved the past few years in three different Christmas Bird Counts in Ottawa, Dunrobin and Algonquin Park. He participates in several Citizen Science Projects, including Feederwatch, the Great Backyard Bird Count and Nestwatch and actively logs his bird sightings in eBird. He is a member of the Ottawa Field Naturalist’s Macoun Club and has served as its president. You can read other blogs he has written on the 2013 Braillie Birdathon and his experience birding in his backyard and birding in winter.

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Species Spotlight: Bobolink
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Species Spotlight: Bobolink

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Bobolink [caption id="attachment_1761" align="alignleft" width="225"]Bobolink - male breeding plumage photo by Kenneth Cole Bobolink - male breeding plumage
photo by Kenneth Cole[/caption] Scientific Name: Dolichonyx oryzivorus SARA Status: No status; Ontario: Threatened Taxonomic group: Birds Size: 15.2-20.5 cm size, with a wingspan of 27 cm. Males weighs 34-56g and females 29-49g The Bobolink is medium-sized, grassland, song bird. It has a short, pointed tail, and a short, conical bill. During the breeding season, the male’s plumage is very unique and distinctive. Black underneath  and white on the shoulders and rump contrasts sharply with the bright yellow patch on the back of its head. In the non breeding season males and females look similar with a pale bill and yellowish brown with black stripes on head and back. Immature Bobolink look similar to the female, except with more yellow. Historically bobolink lived in North American tall grass prairies and other meadows. These habitats were altered by intensive agriculture, and today the bobolink rely on hayfields and open grasslands. Bobolinks migrate between their wintering grounds in the grasslands of central South America and their breeding areas across the northern US and southern portions of Canada. Bobolink nests on the ground between tall grasses where nests are usually well hidden. Individuals will return to the same site year after year to nest. Like many grassland birds Bobolinks have been declining over the last fifty years. The main threat to this species is loss of breeding habitat in part caused by loss of low-intensity agricultural to more intensive farming or urban expansion. In South America the Bobolink has been perceived as an agricultural pest and exposed to the pesticides used in agriculture. [caption id="attachment_1762" align="alignright" width="300"]Female Bobolink photo by Kelly Colgan Azar Female Bobolink
photo by Kelly Colgan Azar[/caption] Where Else Can You See This Species? In the breeding season, Bobolink can be found in Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland, and northern United States. The winter grounds are in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. You can see this species in our region when it’s migrating mainly in mid-May and June and again in early to mid-August. You can also spot the Bobolink during its breeding season in suitable grassland areas. Did you know? •    Bobolink has one of the longest annual migrations for songbirds; they fly around 20,000 km round trip. •    Males and Females migrate separate groups in the spring, but together in the fall. •    During breeding season, males like to sing a long bubbling song while flying low in their territories displaying a distinctive circular flight. This song sounds very similar to the beeping of the Star Wars robot R2-D2. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful! We would like to thank our guest blogger Monica Reyes for this post. Monica is a conservation volunteer for Nature Canada. She is a biologist from Mexico interested in wildlife conservation and environmental education.

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Species Spotlight: Black Tern
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Species Spotlight: Black Tern

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Black tern [caption id="attachment_1751" align="alignleft" width="300"]Black Tern Photo by Ingrid Taylar Black Tern in breeding season
Photo by Ingrid Taylar[/caption] Scientific Name: Chlidonias niger SARA Status: Not listed; Ontario: Special Concern Taxonomic group: Birds Size: 20 to 26 cm long, with a wingspan of 57-60 cm. Weight of 50-60 g. The Black Tern is a small, dark and fresh water bird. It has a forked tail, straight pointed black bill, slender shape and long, narrow wings. During breeding season, the head is black and chest and wings are grey. In non breeding season, the head and underside are white, wings are grey, and there is a dark spot behind eye and dusky crown and nape. Black Terns like to nest in shallow wetlands like marshes surrounded by emergent vegetation, where they build weak and floating nests, which can be easily destroyed from changing water levels. To overcome these difficulties, black terns can re-nest until late July if an attempt at nesting is unsuccessful.  Another adaptation is that Black Tern eggs have a special eggshell which is suited to wet conditions. Black Terns like to eat mainly insects but also like fish. They catch their prey when they are flying close to water surface. In Ontario, the Black Tern populations have been reduced or destroyed in many places; the cause is more likely to be the loss of wetland habitat for breeding and migration routes. Some of these habitats are also threatened by invasive plant species which are replacing native vegetation, mainly in coastal and inland wetlands in the Great Lakes basin. Another threat is the reduction of food supply due to the use of pesticides in agriculture and over fishing in the marine winter range. To maintain and improve the viability of Ontario’s Black Tern population the Ontario government has developed a Plan Management for this species in the province. [caption id="attachment_1752" align="alignright" width="300"]Black Tern Photo by Maggie Smith Black Tern in non-breeding season
Photo by Maggie Smith[/caption] Where Else Can You See This Species? The Black Tern can be found on inland marshes across Canada, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In Ontario, the Black Tern is found across the province, north to Big Trout Lake and Fort Albany, along the lower Great Lakes coastlines, Bruce Peninsula, Manitoulin Island, the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. Also, small concentrations are found in the Clay Belt, Lake-of-the-Woods and wetlands adjacent to southern James Bay. Locally, there have been several observations of Black Terns at the Gatineau- Rapides Deschenes area. The Black Tern migrates long distances and returns to Ontario in early May to breed. It usually departs by early September. Did you know? •    The Black Tern is a very social species. In the breeding season it forms semi-colonies, but when it forages, roosts and migrates, they do it in large flocks of a few to more than 100 birds, occasionally up to tens of thousands. •    Their eggs have porous shells to be able to live on their wet environment. •    Black terns, male and female, protect the areas immediately around the nest sites, within two meters. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful! We would like to thank our guest blogger Monica Reyes for this post. Monica is a conservation volunteer for Nature Canada. She is a biologist from Mexico interested in wildlife conservation and environmental education.

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eBirding – tools to help birders to bird better
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eBirding – tools to help birders to bird better

Many birders keep lists of their sightings, life lists, year lists, local patch lists, garden lists etc and traditionally they have kept their records in notebooks, spreadsheets or in one of the several proprietary databases on the market.  More and more birders however are now keeping their life lists on-line at eBird where they can combine simple personal record keeping with the knowledge that every sighting they add to this international database becomes available to help scientists working on population studies of birds.  Citizen science, in fact at its most useful. The eBird computers live at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in New York while the gateway to eBird-Canada is managed by Bird Studies Canada. In return, eBirders get access to the database to look up information about the birds and the birding sites that interest them.  Now, with the growing popularity of smartphones, tools have become available that allow us to interact ever more closely with this massive database while we are out in the field actually looking at the birds. There are two smartphone ‘apps’ that will interest birders, both produced by the eBird people. The first is called BirdLog.  It allows birders to record their sightings in the field with just two or three touches of the smartphone screen and then to upload the sightings, complete with accurate latitude and loingitude coordinates, to eBird to be added to their database and also to your life list.  This is especially useful if you are travelling between birding sites as it helps you to keep and report from each place you stop. [caption id="attachment_1526" align="aligncenter" width="402"] screen capture from Bird Log[/caption] The second ‘app’ is called BirdsEye.  It has been around for a couple of years but now the team behind it have just released a new and much more capable version which you may want to try out. If you are not familiar with this app you have a treat awaiting you. As soon as you start it up, it uses the location capability of your phone to mark where you are and then, using real-time information downloaded from the eBird computers, tells you what birds have been seen recently nearby, which of them are rarities and – the clincher – which of them you don’t have on your life list and might want to look for.  It even shows you on a map where the birds of interest have been seen and when they were seen. Armed with this information any birder can head off to find the really interesting birds without wasting time with the more common species. Click here to see a demo video of the BirdsEye Smartphone App. Add to this the provision of abundance graphs and sound recordings for each species.  There are versions that work in most countries in the world so it’s great for travelling. It’s main features (this list is taken from their website) are: ✔   You can discover which bird species are in your immediate area right now. ✔  It provides monthly abundance graphs which indicate which birds are most likely to be seen in your area at different times of the year. ✔  It helps you to find Birding Hotspots and to locate unusual species – especially useful when you are away from home. ✔   It synchronises with your eBird life list and it can help you fill in the gaps in your lists. It Easily filters for only those birds in your area that aren't already on your list. ✔   You can carry your eBird checklists with you ✔   It connects to Wikipedia and Flickr from within BirdsEye to give you more information on your sightings ✔   Most species have photos and sound recordings of songs and calls. Using these apps has transformed my birding.  Quite apart form everything being lighter and more compact I have instant access to so much more information and I can share it with those who care and are interested. Why don’t you try it out? You will be doing yourself and bird science a favour. We would like to thank guest blogger Richard Gregson for this post. Richard is a biologist from England who has been living in Quebec since 1998. Although recently retired, Richard is busy as President of Bird Protection Quebec, a director of the Friends of the Morgan Arboretum, works with the McGill Bird Observatory and he maintains the website for Green Birders.

The Heron Spirals: Book celebrates Mud Lake’s resident wading birds
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The Heron Spirals: Book celebrates Mud Lake’s resident wading birds

[caption id="attachment_1632" align="alignleft" width="300"]The author reading from her book at the Britannia Yacht Club launch event. The author reading from her book at the Britannia Yacht Club launch event.[/caption] Last week Nature Canada had the great pleasure of cosponsoring a launch for Canadian author Caroline Balderston Parry's latest book, The Heron Spirals: A Commonplace Book. The launch event was held at the beautiful Britannia Yacht Club, right inside the Lac Deschênes - Ottawa River IBA, and was enjoyed by more than 50 people from the area. Both the Yacht Club and the Britannia Village Community Association helped to sponsor and publicize the launch. Balderston Parry's book is a journey through a bittersweet 15-year period in her adult life surrounding the sudden loss of her husband, through which the Great Blue Herons of Mud Lake, Ottawa – a natural gem of the Lac Deschênes - Ottawa River IBA – provided her spiritual support and an opportunity to commune with nature near her home.  Her journey is depicted through an artful mélange of evocative diary entries, poetry, song and beautiful bird illustrations by artist Roderick MacIver, founder of Heron Dance Art Studio. In some ways both the structure and prose of The Heron Spirals reminded me of Canadian author Graeme Gibson's bestselling work The Bedside Book of Birds - An Avian Miscellany, though Balderston Parry's work is more reflective and emotive, documenting a first person journey through the healing and inspirational powers of birds and nature. The following are passages from The Heron Spirals:

I stand up and watch the ducks flap out of the water, awkward and noisy in contrast to the great blues' [herons] silent rising; the ducks' wing movements actually whistle – in a rusty, inefficient-sounding way –as they go. Herons, in comparison, seem so deliberate and slow, so sure. It's as if they decide to move on merely because their human observers are being inconsiderate. They may fly off, but prudently, never in a panic like the ducks literally "in a flap". Despite their size, those great grey wings are hushed, and when the herons quonk at me, they may seem annoyed in a superior way, but not to scold out of fear, like their smaller feathered fellows. from 'Mid-September 1996', p. 118.
A huge feathered bird, rising from a murky swamp, doesn't seem to be the same as a caring pair of arms. Yet when I see the motionless profile of a patient heron, my thoughts move on from the knowledge that the Sacred is somehow my still point, spiral on through a consciousness of Spirit as bedrock, to an awareness of being held while growing, being safe while taking risks. Above all, I rejoice in a sense of being encouraged and cherished by the Divine arms — or Divine wings!  from 'First Spiral - Before', p. 49.
For information on how to purchase The Heron Spirals please visit Caroline's website. An e-book is currently in development. In Caroline's own words inscribed in Nature Canada's copy of her book, "heron blessings".

The Heron Spirals: A Commonplace Book
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The Heron Spirals: A Commonplace Book

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="320"]Image of a woman speaker Caroline Balderston Parry[/caption] Last week Nature Canada had the great pleasure of cosponsoring a launch for Canadian author Caroline Balderston Parry's latest book, The Heron Spirals: A Commonplace Book. The launch event was held at the beautiful Britannia Yacht Club, right inside the Lac Deschenes - Ottawa River IBA, and was enjoyed by more than 50 people from the area. Both the Yacht Club and the Britannia Village Community Association helped to sponsor and publicize the launch. Balderston Parry's book is a journey through a bittersweet 15-year period in her adult life surrounding the sudden loss of her husband, through which the Great Blue Herons of Mud Lake, Ottawa – a natural gem of the Lac Deschênes-Ottawa River IBA – provided her spiritual support and an opportunity to commune with nature near her home.  Her journey is depicted through an artful mélange of evocative diary entries, poetry, song and beautiful bird illustrations by artist Roderick MacIver, founder of Heron Dance Art Studio. In some ways both the structure and prose of The Heron Spirals reminded me of Canadian author Graeme Gibson's bestselling work The Bedside Book of Birds - An Avian Miscellany, though Balderston Parry's work is more reflective and emotive, documenting a first person journey through the healing and inspirational powers of birds and nature. The following are passages from The Heron Spirals:

I stand up and watch the ducks flap out of the water, awkward and noisy in contrast to the great blues' [herons] silent rising; the ducks' wing movements actually whistle – in a rusty, inefficient-sounding way –as they go. Herons, in comparison, seem so deliberate and slow, so sure. It's as if they decide to move on merely because their human observers are being inconsiderate. They may fly off, but prudently, never in a panic like the ducks literally "in a flap". Despite their size, those great grey wings are hushed, and when the herons quonk at me, they may seem annoyed in a superior way, but not to scold out of fear, like their smaller feathered fellows.  from 'Mid-September 1996', p. 118.
A huge feathered bird, rising from a murky swamp, doesn't seem to be the same as a caring pair of arms. Yet when I see the motionless profile of a patient heron, my thoughts move on from the knowledge that the Sacred is somehow my still point, spiral on through a consciousness of Spirit as bedrock, to an awareness of being held while growing, being safe while taking risks. Above all, I rejoice in a sense of being encouraged and cherished by the Divine arms — or Divine wings! from 'First Spiral - Before', p. 49.
For information on how to purchase The Heron Spirals please visit Caroline's website. An e-book is currently in development. In Caroline's own words inscribed in Nature Canada's copy of her book, "heron blessings".

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