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Species Spotlight: Monarch
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Species Spotlight: Monarch

[separator headline="h3" title="Here are some interesting facts about Monarch butterflies!"] [caption id="attachment_1715" align="alignleft" width="300"]Monarch butterfly Monarch butterfly[/caption] Scientific Name:  Danaus plexippus SARA status:  Special Concern; Ontario: Special Concern Taxonomic Group:  Arthropods Size:  wingspan of 8.6-10.5 cm Adult monarch butterflies are orange and black with white spots on the borders of the wings. The caterpillars are black, white and yellow stripped and can be found on milkweed plants. The chrysalis is a distinctive green and gold. Monarchs can sometimes be confused with the similar-looking, but smaller Viceroy, but are easily distinguished by the lack of a black band on the hind wing that runs parallel to the wing edge. During the summer months, you can find adult Monarchs feeding on the nectar of wildflowers, while the caterpillars can be found feeding on milkweed plants. You can encourage monarchs to come to your yard by planting a butterfly garden full of milkweeds and nectar-producing flowers, such as goldenrod, asters and black-eyed Susan. Want to plant your own monarch friendly garden? Check out Nature Canada’s tips here. [caption id="attachment_1716" align="alignright" width="300"]Monarch caterpillar Photo Credit: Shutterstock Monarch caterpillar
Photo Credit: Shutterstock[/caption] Monarchs have been in news lately as record low population numbers have been recorded in Mexico both this winter and during winter 0f 2013-14. It was hoped that during the 2014 summer breeding season, numbers of monarchs would improve. It appears, however, that this year the numbers of adult monarchs overwintering in Mexico are down by 80% compared to the historic average (source: WWF-Mexico). And if this spring is cold like last year's, the spring migration could be delayed and fewer monarch sightings may be reported in their northernmost breeding grounds in Canada. There is fear that this year’s numbers could again be low, leading to an even longer road to recovery for the monarch population. But let's hope that they will make a rebound this coming summer as monarchs, like most insects, can produce large numbers of offspring each year - and you can help them find the habitat they need! On February 9th 2015 the US government announced $3.2 million in funding to help conserve habitat for monarch butterflies throughout their life cycle. This is a significant move by the US since the species is not yet listed under the US Endangered Species Act, despite the fact that the southern US and Texas are home to the first generation of monarchs that must survive to continue migrating north each year. Where Can You See This Species? There are two populations of Monarchs in North America, one to the west of the Rockies and the one to the East. The western population lives as far north as southern British Columbia and overwinters along the California coast. The population east of the Rocky Mountains is the population known for overwintering in the Oyamel Fir forests of Mexico. Monarchs can also be found in Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and many other islands in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Monarch are most commonly seen in eastern Canada from late spring to early fall. Did You Know? • Larvae ingest toxins from the milkweed making them poisonous to predators. The toxins stay in the body as the caterpillar pupates and the adult carries the toxins too. • On their migration south, monarchs gather in large numbers along the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie as they prepare to cross the water. • The overwintering generation is the longest lived of the four or five monarch generations produced each year. These individuals can live about seven or eight months and are the ones that have migrated from their northern breeding grounds to the overwintering grounds in Mexico and they begin the journey north again in the spring. The other generations, living in the spring and summer months, survive for about two months. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or by registering for a free account at ebutterfly.ca. A photo and a location are very helpful! This post is an update prepared by Alex MacDonald. Much of the content originally appeared as part of our Species Spotlight series under the NatureHood program, and was written by guest blogger Michelle Locke, then a contract research technician at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. 

Species Spotlight: Henslow’s Sparrow
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Species Spotlight: Henslow’s Sparrow

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Henslow’s Sparrow [caption id="attachment_2047" align="alignleft" width="300"]Henslow Sparrow Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider Henslow Sparrow
Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider[/caption] Scientific Name: Ammodramus henslowii SARA status: Endangered Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: length of 13 cm Henslow’s Sparrow is one of the rarest breeding birds in Canada, listed as Endangered in 1993 by the Province of Ontario, and in 2000 by the Canadian government. It is one of the small, large-headed, short-tailed sparrows in the Ammodramus genus along with Le Conte’s, Nelson’s and Grasshopper Sparrows. Henslow’s Sparrow is the rarest member of this group in Canada, limited to a few individuals any one year in Southern Ontario. Henslow’s Sparrow stays low to the ground, rarely affording a good view of its boldly marked olive head and brown body streaked with black, unless it pops up to “sing” briefly on the top of a plant stalk before dropping back to the ground. “Song” is a flattering way to describe the sound emitted by Henslow’s Sparrow. It is more like a hiccup that has been described as a two syllable “tsislick.” Its preferred habitat is damp hay fields and meadows with dense grasses or sedges, and some scattered shrubs. Where else Can You See This Species? It’s main breeding range stretches from Kansas to upper New York State, south of Lake Ontario. In Ontario Henslow’s Sparrow is an infrequent and rare breeder. Henslow’s Sparrow’s wintering range extends from Georgia to Texas across the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Walpoll Island in extreme south-western Ontario is one of very few sites in Ontario, where this species has been regularly observed in the past two decades. The most recent record of Henslow’s Sparrow in the Ottawa-Gatineau area was an individual near Gloucester in 1999 that was present for two days in June. Prior to this record, it had been over 20 years since the last Henslow’s Sparrow observation in the Ottawa region. Did You Know? • During the second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005, the Henslow’s Sparrow was found in only nine squares, and was not confirmed as breeding, as compared to 38 squares in the first Atlas (1981 – 1985). • Henslow’s Sparrow, like many other grassland bird species, has declined due to loss of habitats from the intensification of agricultural practices including draining of marginal lands, row-cropping, and more intensive harvest of hay. • At breeding colonies, Henslow’s Sparrow often sings at night. Surveying for Henslow’s Sparrows typically involves visiting road-side habitat around midnight or very early morning hours in mid-June. 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: Yellow Rail
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Species Spotlight: Yellow Rail

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Yellow Rail [caption id="attachment_2020" align="alignleft" width="300"]Yellow Rail Photo by Dominic Sherony Yellow Rail
Photo by Dominic Sherony[/caption] Scientific Name: Coturnicops noveboracensis SARA status: Special Concern Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: length of 13-18 cm, wingspan of 28-32 cm The Yellow Rail is a small marsh bird with an elusive nature.  Only slightly larger than a sparrow, they are recognized by their yellow face and chest. They are yellow and black striped above with white flashes on the upper wing. Their bill is short and yellow and they have a dark crown and dark stripe through the eye. This colouration allows them to camouflage with the habitat they live in, making them difficult to see. Yellow Rails feed on insects, snails, crayfish, tadpoles, grasses and reeds. They are found in wetlands that are dominated by grasses and sedges, with a low water level, as they nest on the ground. Due to their secretive nature little is known about their life history. Where Else Can You See This Species? During the breeding season Yellow Rails are found in wetlands from Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, east to the Maritimes and south to the northeastern United States. The Yellow Rail overwinters in salt marshes and rice fields along the southeastern coastal United States, from North Carolina to Texas. The can be found in their breeding grounds from late April to early September. Around the Ottawa area you can find Yellow Rails in the Richmond Fen, where there is a breeding colony. Yellow Rails are infrequently seen in the Lac Deschênes IBA and Mud Lake. Did You Know? • The biggest threat to the Yellow Rail is habitat loss. Wetlands are often drained for agricultural or urban development, destroying breeding grounds. • The young are semi-precocial, which means they are able to leave the nest soon after hatching. At two days old they leave the nest with their mother. At five days old they are capable of feeding themselves and at 35 days old they are able to fly. • Males make a distinct clicking sound, "tic-tic, tictictic”. The sound resembles two stones being banged together. This call is often heard at night. 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 Michelle Locke for this post. Michelle is a contract research technician at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. She studies flies of the family Syrphidae, the flower flies, but enjoys opportunities to work with and study all other forms of wildlife when she can.

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Species Spotlight: Peregrine Falcon
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Species Spotlight: Peregrine Falcon

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Peregrine Falcon [caption id="attachment_2111" align="alignleft" width="269"]Peregrine Falcon Photo by Jen St. Louis Peregrine Falcon
Photo by Jen St. Louis[/caption] Scientific Name: Falco perefrinus SARA status: Special Concern Ontario: Special Concern Quebec: Vulnerable Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: 100 cm wingspan The Peregrine Falcon is often called the fasted bird in the world. It travels at speeds of 40-55 km/h when flying and speeds up to 112 km/h when chasing after prey. It has a special dive called a stoop, where it dives from heights over a kilometre above the ground and pulls its wings in to reach speeds of 300 km/h as it drops! With its speed and manoeuvrability the Peregrine Falcon is able to catch birds in the air or pick out one bird from a flock. If you’re hoping to see a Peregrine Falcon be sure to look up. They like to perch in high places like on high-rises, radio towers or other tall structures in the city where they can survey a large area for prey below. Look for the distinctive black head which makes the Peregrine Falcon look like it is wearing a helmet. It also has bright yellow feet and legs and the sharp talons and hooked beak of a bird of prey. Another distinctive feature of this species is the broad, dark, vertical stripe on each cheek called a malar stripe. Between the 1950s -1970s Peregrine Falcons were only one of many species who suffered dramatic population declines due to pesticide poisoning from the chemical DDT in particular. At its worst the Peregrine Falcon was almost lost from the wild which spurred conservationists to act. The Peregrine Falcon was declared an Endangered Species and since then intensive recovery efforts have rebounded wild populations to a point where most are now stable or increasing. Today the Peregrine Falcon is still threatened by habitat loss and destruction, disturbance and persecution by people, and poisoning from environmental contaminants. Where Else Can You See This Species? The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most widespread birds in the world, and is found on all continents except Antarctica. They nest on steep cliff ledges, or on tall buildings in urban areas. These birds travel to Central and South America to spend the winter. A couple of pairs are known to nest in Ottawa’s downtown area, and birds are often spotted along the Ottawa River. Did You Know? • As with most raptors, female Peregrine Falcons grow to be larger than males. • "Peregrine" means wanderer, an apt name since the population that spends the summer in the tundra, travels all the way to South America to spend the winter. This journey is a distance of 25,000km - one of the longest migrations of any North American bird. • The Ottawa Peregrine Falcon Watch (http://falconwatch.ca/) is an organization dedicated to the protection and recovery of the peregrine falcon. Volunteers monitor nesting Peregrine Falcons and assist young birds who are just learning to fly in an urban environment full of dangers. Check out the Falcon Watch website to learn more or to sign up to be a volunteer today! 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: Butternut
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Species Spotlight: Butternut

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Butternut [caption id="attachment_2015" align="alignleft" width="300"]Butternut Tree Butternut Tree[/caption] Scientific Name: Juglans cinerea SARA status: Endangered Taxonomic Group: Vascular Plants Size: Grows to a maximum of 30 m tall and 90 cm in diameter The Butternut is a medium-sized tree that belongs to the walnut family. Its leaves are compound with 11 to 17 stalkless leaflets (9 – 15 cm long each) arranged in an opposite, feather-like pattern. The terminal leaflet is large and similar in size to that of the other leaflets. The bark is grey and smooth in texture in young trees. As the tree ages wide, irregular, flat-topped ridges form in the bark. The fruit is a large, oval nut that contains one seed and is surrounded by a green, hairy husk. This is an important food source for birds, squirrels and other small mammals. Butternut is similar in appearance to Black Walnut, which differs in the alternately arranged and stalked leaflets and the terminal leaflet is underdeveloped or missing. The biggest threat to the Butternut is a fungus called the Butternut Canker. Diseased areas, called cankers, develop under the bark and surround the trunk and branches. The cankers cut off the flow of water and nutrients, strangling the tree. It is estimated that in some area the fungus has killed 80% of the Butternut trees. The fungus typically kills the tree quickly, but some trees have been known to live for 30 years with the disease. It is hoped that the uninfected trees carry some resistance and that propagating them will lead to the recovery of the species. Where Else Can You See This Species? The butternut is native to eastern North America. It grows as far north as southern Ontario and Quebec and as far [caption id="attachment_2016" align="alignright" width="300"]Butternut tree Butternut tree[/caption] south as northern Arkansas and Alabama. It is mainly found in stands of deciduous forest and flood plains and prefers moist, well-drained soils and sunny areas. Butternut can often be found along streams, forest edges, fence lines and in open fields. You can find these trees scattered throughout the Lac Deschênes IBA. Did You Know? • Butternut has a wide variety of uses. It has been used medicinally to treat toothaches and digestive troubles. As a food source, it is eaten either on its own or mixed in to breads, sauces and other dishes. The tree can be tapped and the sap boiled into syrup and yellowish-brown dye can be made by boiling the inner bark. • The Butternut is a relatively short-lived tree, rarely growing more than 100 years. • It is estimated that there are about 13,000 Butternut trees in Ontario, but because they are scattered throughout the region it is difficult to do an accurate inventory of the species. • Butternut trees produce the chemical juglone, which can kill or stunt the growth of neighbouring plants. 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 Michelle Locke for this post. Michelle is a contract research technician at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. She studies flies of the family Syrphidae, the flower flies, but enjoys opportunities to work with and study all other forms of wildlife when she can.

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Species Spotlight: Lake Sturgeon
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Species Spotlight: Lake Sturgeon

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Lake Sturgeon [caption id="attachment_2226" align="alignleft" width="300"]Lake Sturgeon Lake Sturgeon[/caption] Scientific Name: Acipanser fulvescens SARA status: Not listed, Ontario: Threatened, Quebec:  Likely to be designated Taxonomic group: Fishes Size: Up to 180 kilograms, and over 2 meters long The largest freshwater fish in Canada, the Lake Sturgeon, can be easily recognized by its external bony scutes which are noticeable ridges along the fish’s body which are more noticeable in larvae and juveniles. They also have a pointed snout and 4 dangling whisker-like organs, called barbells, located around the mouth. The Lake Sturgeon has shark-like features such as a cartilaginous skeleton and an extra fin at the back to help it maneuver known as a caudal fin. Lake Sturgeons can be found at depths of at least 5 meters but no greater than 20 meters. They move to shallower water, at depths of 0.6 and 5 meters to spawn in both rivers and lakes in areas with high currents, as well as in open shoals. The water Lake Sturgeon use to spawn is fast flowing, usually under waterfalls, rapids or dams. The substrates of these areas generally include hard-pan clay, sand, gravel and boulders. Lake Sturgeon will travel up to 400 km to their spawning areas, returning every year to the same location they were born in. If the Lake Sturgeon is unable to spawn in their usual areas they will spawn in deeper water where a similar habitat is available. Males will take up to 18-20 years to reach sexual maturity, while females take a longer 20-24 years. However females live to approximately 150 years while males only live an average of 55 years. The number of eggs produced during spawning can range between 50,000 to over 1,000,000 depending on the size of the fish. The eggs incubate for between 7-10 days, and in water with temperatures of 13-15 ̊C. Lake Sturgeon is a threatened species because it was overfished starting in late 1800’s early 1900’s. At first these fish were caught because of the damage they did to fishing gear, but soon there became a market for the fish and their eggs and they became a commercial product. Where else can you see this species? Lake Sturgeon can be found in Canada from Alberta to the St. Lawrence drainage in Quebec, and from the southern Hudson Bay region to lower Mississippi and Alabama. Lake Sturgeon are largely found in the Great Lakes-upper St. Lawrence river, northwestern Ontario, and southern Hudson Bay- James Bay. Did you know? • Lake Sturgeon are considered living fossils due to the lack of changes they have undergone from the Devonian period to today. • The largest Sturgeon ever recorded was found in Roseau River, Manitoba weighing 185kg and measuring 4.6 meters long. • The Lake Sturgeon is the only strictly freshwater species of Sturgeon found in Canadian waters. • The oldest recorded Lake Sturgeon recorded was 155 years old; and was found in Lake Huron. • Lake Sturgeon are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and animals. 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 Rebecca Perrin for this post. Rebecca is a Co-op student with Nature Canada who loves to spend time enjoying the beauty of nature.

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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: Northern Map Turtle
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Species Spotlight: Northern Map Turtle

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Northern Map Turtle [caption id="attachment_1826" align="alignleft" width="300"]Map Turtle_Todd Pierson2 Photograph by
Todd Pierson[/caption] Scientific Name: Graptemys geographica SARA Status: Special Concern; Ontario: Special Concern; Quebec: Vulnerable Taxonomic Group: Reptile Size: Males are much smaller than females. Males typically measure 9 to 15.9 cm in length, while females are 18 to 27.3 cm in length. The head of the female is also proportionally larger than the head of the male. The northern map turtle is an aquatic species that prefers the clear waters of large rivers or lakes. The carapace of this turtle is decorated with light yellow or tan lines that resemble the contour lines on a map. The edges of their shell are flared, giving the map turtle a hydrodynamic look. It also has a yellow spot behind the eye. These turtles feed almost exclusively on snails, mussels, and insect larvae. Females generally consume more snails and mussels than males because the larger size of their heads makes it easier for them to process this food item. Comparatively, males consume more insect larvae. Like other freshwater turtle species, the northern map turtle hibernates during the winter months. Because they are intolerant to the low availability of oxygen typical of most hibernation sites, their choice of overwintering site is more limited than that of other species. Consequently, these turtles will usually hibernate in large groups in the few locations where oxygen remains available throughout the winter season. In the spring, large groups of map turtle can be seen basking nearby their overwintering site. Later in the warm season, they will disperse into the surrounding lakes and rivers. Where Else Can You See This Species? The northern map turtle is found in southeastern Québec and Ontario and in northern Vermont in the St-Lawrence watershed. The western limit to their distribution is the Appalachians, and the southern limit is Kansas. Did you know? • This species exhibits extreme sexual size dimorphism which means that the females are much larger than the males. • The difference in size between males and females is accompanied by a difference in age when the turtles reach sexual maturity. On average, females become mature 5 to 10 years later than the males. 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 Julie Châteauvert for this post. Julie is a biologist from Gatineau Québec who is interested in herpetology and natural history.

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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: Snapping Turtle
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Species Spotlight: Snapping Turtle

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Common Snapping Turtle [caption id="attachment_1811" align="alignleft" width="300"]Photo by Ken Fager Photo by Ken Fager[/caption] Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina SARA Status: Special Concern; Ontario: Special Concern Taxonomic Group: Reptile Size: Typically between 20.3 and 36 cm long, although the largest individual on record was 49.4 cm long. Snapping turtles can inhabit any permanent freshwater bodies. They are omnivorous: they eat fish, mollusks, insects, birds, and even other reptiles and carrion. They also consume a large amount of vegetation, although they might simply be accidentally ingesting plant material while consuming other prey. Snapping turtles are ambush predators: they slowly crawl along the bottom or sit motionless waiting for their prey to come along. The common snapping turtle does not bask so it is seldom seen in its aquatic environment.  However, in the late spring and early summer, females can be seen out of the water looking for good nesting sites. Road gravel shoulders are a prime nesting sites for this species because these types of roadsides offer optimal temperatures for egg incubation. Therefore, females are often seen near or on roads. Males also come onto land when travelling between freshwater bodies. Where Else Can You See This Species? The common snapping turtle can be found in southern Canada and in the United-States all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Its range goes across the continent from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. Did you know? • The snapping turtle is the second largest freshwater turtle species in North-America. Adult males are larger than females. • Sex determination in eggs is controlled by the temperature of the nest. Eggs hatched at cooler temperatures tend to produce males, and those at higher temperatures, females. Global warming could therefore influence sex ratios in this species. • These turtles are known to be quite vicious on land, but they are inoffensive while in the water. On land, they may strike perceived predators by opening their mouths and lunging forward repeatedly. They have a strong bite force and can injure people that are trying to carry them away from roads. • They are economically important as they are harvested for human consumption. In Ontario, anyone with a regular fishing license can collect two snapping turtles per day. However, human consumption is not advisable because of the amount of contaminants that these turtles can accumulate in their tissues and because of their SARA status. 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 Julie Châteauvert for this post. Julie is a biologist from Gatineau Québec who is interested in herpetology and natural history.

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