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 →
As we await recommendations from a panel considering an EnCana proposal to put nearly 1,300 shallow gas wells inside the federally protected Suffield National Wildlife Area (news on this could come as early as next week), along comes this news item from State-side: Bush legacy leaves uphill climb for U.S. parks, critics say …[T]he federal Bureau of Land Management decided in November to auction oil and gas leases on 360,000 acres of public land in Utah, including 93 parcels on or near the boundaries of these parks and nearby Dinosaur National Monument.The leasing decision was put on hold by a judge Jan. 17, after protests from the park service and environmentalists who complained that the view from the famed sandstone… read more →
If you’re looking for resolutions to adopt for the new year…you’re already 10 days late! But that’s okay because the following ideas for reducing your carbon footprint are great to try anytime. Here are some resolutions for your home (in a later post I’ll provide resolutions for the road): Resolutions For Your HomeOn the menu: healthy, organic and local Out with the old — fast food and supermarkets – and in with the new – organic and local produce.The production of organic food causes much less environmental damage than conventional agriculture. It’s pesticide-free, and with demand growing every year it’s becoming easier to find in communities almost everywhere. Buying locally grown food is even better; it helps reduce aviation pollution,… read more →
I enjoy winter for many reasons — you have to if you’re going to live in Ottawa! — and one of the things I look forward to most is the tranquility and peace that comes after a snowfall. I take my dog Jasper into the woods behind my house and we make our own path through the newly fallen snow, and the only sounds I hear are our laboured breathing. I’ll look up every now and then, scan the area, and usually not a thing is moving. Everything is frozen in place. This month’s photo of the month evokes that same feeling of calm, of stasis after a snowfall. It’s taken by Donna Cork, from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and a… 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 →
We have a winner! We received many creative, wonderful videos showcasing your favourite places in nature, for Nature Canada’s Favourite Places Video Contest. Now, for your viewing pleasure, I’d like to present Laura Parsley’s video, “Mapleton Park.” (Laura is now the owner of an Apple iPod touch.) We also have an honorable mention who came very close to being selected as the favourite among the gang here at Nature Canada. From Joan Ouellette, Conversation with a Wolf: Congratulations Laura, and thank you to everyone who shared their favourite place in nature with us! Visit our contest web site to view all nature videos submitted to us. Enjoy!
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.
In a sad sign of society’s continuing estrangement from nature, the Oxford Junior Dictionary is banishing more than 90 nature words from its newest edition. (see full list of removed words) Children will no longer see the following words in their dictionary: Beaver, boar, cheetah, colt, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, porcupine, porpoise, raven, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren. Acorn, almond, apricot, ash, beech, beetroot, blackberry, bluebell, bramble, brook, buttercup, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, fern, fungus, gooseberry, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, melon, mint, mistletoe, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, poppy, primrose, prune,… read more →