Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada
Be careful – Turtles Crossing
News

Be careful – Turtles Crossing

This blog post was written by Nature Canada guest blogger Robin Wakelin. Do you see signs like this around where you work or live? Or maybe you see them on your way to the cottage. I’ve encountered a surprising amount of people in my life who have not seen these signs before moving to the area where I currently work. These signs let you know that the road you’re driving on might run through a turtle habitat. Roads fragment most wetlands in Southern Ontario[1] and these are the preferred habitat of turtles. In the early summer, turtles look for mates and for territory to call their own[2]. Toward the end of summer, baby turtles have hatched and are usually travelling in small packs to find their new home.


It breaks my heart so see so many crushed turtles along these roads. We can easily prevent this and save turtles with a few small measures.
  1. Slow down. You don’t have to drive like you’re in a school zone when you see these signs, but obey the speed limit and…
  2. Keep your eyes peeled. Pay attention farther ahead on the road and start slowing down early if you see a small, dark spot up ahead. It may just be a turtle.
  3. Watch out in marshy areas. It would be redundant to keep posting the same sign intermittently along the road. Turtles tend to cross near marshy areas or small bodies of water.

When you do see a turtle, there are some important things to remember.

  1. Turtles may carry diseases. Therefore, keep a box of latex gloves in your car. If you ever need to help move a turtle, make sure to wear some gloves.
  2. Do your best to direct a turtle to a safe area rather than physically moving it. Especially in the case of snapping turtles. With turtles that are on the endangered list, like the Painted Turtle, it is encouraged that you do not move, disturb or pick up the turtle unless it is in immediate danger. If the turtle is found on the road and it is necessary to pick it up, remember to clasp both its shell and its stomach together. Do not pick it up by its shell as this can injure the turtle.
  3. Report the sighting. Something I just learned about is that you can help monitor the health of turtle populations just by reporting when and where you see them.
  4. If you see a turtle and there weren’t any signs in the area, request one! Find out more about that here.
  5. If a turtle is injured, you have contacted a wildlife centre and will transport it to its destination, the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre instructs us to:
    1. Put the turtle in a sturdy container (either a cardboard box, or plastic tote)
    2. Do not feed the turtle or add water - the centre will take care of that.
    3. Keep the turtle in a safe, cool, dark place so the he/she is not encouraged to move and worsen injuries.
If you see an injured turtle, call a local Turtle Conservation organization or other local wildlife centre for further instructions. Try to keep a number in your phone of a local group if there’s an area you frequent with turtle road signs. If you are in Ontario, the Ontario Turtle Conservation Center is the best place to contact.

Ontario Turtles in 2018

This information was provided to Nature Canada by the Ontario Turtle Conservation centre in Peterborough, Ontario. To date, as of May 31st 2018 there have been 225 individual turtles that have been brought into the centre. Of the 225, 164 have been admitted to the hospital after being hit by a car. See the table below for the breakdown of turtle species that have been brought into the centre.
Species
Up to 31 May 2018
Painted turtle
140
Snapping turtle
63
Blanding’s turtle
12
Map turtle
7
Wood turtle
3
Spotted turtle
0
Spiny softshell turtle
0
For those in and around the South East and Western Ontario, if you see a turtle that is in need of help, the centre recommends to contact them (705-741-5000) and, if possible, drive the turtle to the centre in Peterborough, Ontario. If the centre cannot find a ride for the turtle to our centre in Peterborough, they will link up with one of their First Response Centres, who have been trained by our veterinarian to provide immediate care, fluids, and stabilization of fractures to injured turtles.
Signup for Email

Want more nature news?

Sign up to learn how you can protect the nature you love.


Read this article published last year by the CBC on the impact that human activity, specifically cars, had on turtles Sources [1] https://ontarioturtle.ca/get-involved/roads/ [2]http://www.turtlerescueleague.com/turtle-in-road

Earth Awakes
News

Earth Awakes

This blog was written by Nature Canada member Steve Gahbauer and edited by Sam Nurse. With the winter largely behind us, the ground bare of snow, and a few warm days during which the first tender signs of the infant season appear in the form of spring flowers, budding trees and emerging wildlife, Mother Earth is ready to enchant us anew. The approach of spring means the return of migratory birds. “Spring showers bring May flowers” an old saying goes. They also cause an onslaught of bugs and pesky insects, such as blackflies, gadflies, horseflies, deer flies – and the most hated – mosquitoes. I will concentrate on our recently recommended national bird, the Gray Jay, and our national tree, the maple tree, as this is the 150th anniversary year of our young nation. The Gray Jay: [caption id="attachment_32736" align="alignright" width="288"]Image of a Gray Jay Photo of a Gray Jay[/caption] The Royal Canadian Geographical Society nominated the Gray Jay, also known as Whiskey Jack, to be Canada’s national bird. In an article about this bird, retired McGill University professor David Bird, wrote about the overall virtues of this tough bird. He says that well before most local migratory bird species have returned north to the boreal forest to breed, Gray Jays, who are not migratory and stay put for the winter, have already gotten an early start with breeding. Adults have been documented sitting on their three-egg clutches or young in their nests at temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius. Gray Jay nests are hefty structures, consisting of twigs and bark strips, thickly insulated with animal hair, lichens and feathers. The bird’s strikingly thick plumage can be “fluffed out” to create an extra layer of warm air between feathers and skin. Gray Jays like to sunbathe, but when the sun sets, they will sit on a perch through the long, cold winter nights in a state of nocturnal hypothermia, lowering their body temperature to save energy. Whiskey Jacks are known for their cheery whistled notes, effortless flight, their opportunely and crafty way of stealing food from picnic tables, and their resourcefulness in seeking food, as well as adapting to winter conditions. Their range spans the boreal and coniferous forests in every province and territory. Each bird breeds and overwinters in the same territory year-round. The Gray Jay population has been fairly stable in Canada since 1970. However, the species is declining along the southern edge of its range. The Canadian Maple: To mark Canada’s 150th birthday this year, let’s celebrate one of the most iconic and symbolic wild species that Canada knows – the maple tree. Of the many species of maples in the world, only ten are native to Canada. These are the sugar maple, black maple, mountain maple, big-leaf maple, red maple, Douglas maple, vine maple, Manitoba maple, silver maple and striped maple. The sugar maple prefers deep, fertile, moist, well-drained soils with some lime content. It is found on the Canadian Shield, throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Decomposing leaves enrich the soil by reducing the acidity and increasing the mineral content. Sugar maples tolerate heavy shade for many years and begin to grow normally when an opening in the canopy occurs. [caption id="attachment_33174" align="alignleft" width="411"]Image of a maple tree Photo of a maple tree[/caption] Honeybees favour the maple’s flowers at the beginning of spring, while many butterflies will feast on the tree’s sap. Animals like the Moose, Snowshoe Hare, White-tailed Deer, as well as Red, Grey and Flying Squirrels, all nourish themselves with the sugar maple’s buds, branches, seeds and leaves. Even Porcupines aren’t averse to chomping down on its bark and upper stem. The maple also offers shelter for many birds and insects. Its leaves are home (at least for a time) to nearly 300 moth and butterfly species. Songbirds build their nests in the spring in the sugar maple, while cavity nesters like Wood Ducks, Screech Owls, Pileated Woodpeckers, Common Goldeneye and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers use the tree for shelter and to raise their young. You can thank First Nations peoples the next time you dig into a pancake breakfast as they have been collecting sap from the sugar maple tree years before Europeans landed on Canadian soil. At the first signs of spring, First Nations groups packed up their belongings and created temporary huts in a sugar bush. They cut the bark, fixed hand-carved wooden troughs into the trunks and collected the sap with wooden bowls. Then they brought the bowls to their sugar huts to turn the sap into syrup by placing hot stones inside the pots of sap, reducing the sap until it reached a syrupy consistency. Canada produces 80% of the world’s maple syrup; in 2014 alone, our maple product exports were valued at $310 million. How the Maple Leaf landed on the Canada Flag: In 1925, the Privy Council started the search for a design for the Canadian flag. Little did they know that it would take 40 years for a flag design to be officially adopted by the nation. There were plenty of clues that the maple leaf would have a starring role. Both French and English Canadians considered the maple leaf a Canadian emblem since the 1700s. In 1834, the St. Jean-Baptiste Society of Quebec even adopted the maple leaf as a symbol for the region. Moreover, the maple leaf adorned the badges of sailors and soldiers in the first and second world wars. The maple leaf was a shoe-in. After years of indecision, a House of Commons committee took charge of the process, worked their way through more than 2,000 designs, and finally agreed on the single maple leaf. On February 15, 1965, the National Flag of Canada was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill.  (Source: Canadian Wildlife Federation) Sources: Canadian Wildlife Federation, Ontario Nature, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Bird Studies Canada, and field notes. Earlier Nature Notes are archived and accessible here by clicking on “Nature Notes”.

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Join our 50,000 nature lovers raising their voices for nature!

Recipe for a garden full of birds, butterflies and bees through native plants
News

Recipe for a garden full of birds, butterflies and bees through native plants

[caption id="attachment_32837" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Nina M. Zitani Nina M. Zitani, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Nina M. Zitani.  Gardening is a great way to de-stress by communing with nature and getting some fresh air and mild exercise. Gardeners know this from personal experience.  But you may not know that gardening can also be a means of conserving biodiversity.  Biodiversity is the living part of the natural world, from species to ecosystems. Biodiversity is in decline worldwide due to habitat loss, and various other anthropogenic causes.  You can create habitat and increase biodiversity in your backyard -- including wild birds, native butterflies and bees -- by choosing the right plants - native plants! [caption id="attachment_32996" align="alignright" width="255"]Image of a Lycaenid Butterfly nectaring on common milkweed Photo of a native Lycaenid Butterfly nectaring on common milkweed by Nina M. Zitani[/caption] Many insect species feed directly on living plants; they’re called herbivores. A long time ago our native insect herbivores coevolved with native plants – the plant species that were here in North America before the European settlers arrived. Most native insect herbivores, such as caterpillars -- the larval form of butterflies and moths -- can eat only the living green leaves of native species they coevolved with. By planting native species you’ll greatly increase insect diversity and abundance in your garden because you’ll be providing insect herbivores with the particular foods they need to survive. Now, some people might be thinking, “I don’t want more insects in my yard, I want less!” This point of view is understandable. The problem is, most of our beloved wild birds depend on abundant insect populations to feed their young.  If you want birds, you’ve got to have bugs! And, if you want lots of bugs to feed your birds, you’ve got to have their native food plants. Furthermore, the fruits and seeds of native plants will provide food for adult birds. Native plants play a key role in maintaining food webs, or the relationships between animals and what they eat. However, most garden plants are non-native species. “Non-native” means that the species did not evolve in North America but evolved elsewhere, such as temperate Europe or Asia. Most gardens are full of non-native plants, and therefore devoid of food for native insects, the insects themselves, and the animals that depend on these insects for food.  But this can be reversed, simply by planting native species. [caption id="attachment_32933" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of Photo of a Robin eating fruits of Elderberry Photo of a Robin eating fruits of Elderberry by Nina M. Zitani.[/caption] A native plant garden is also the best all-around pollinator garden. Native plants provide abundant floral resources (pollen and nectar) that pollinators depend on for food. Canada is home to hundreds of species of native insect pollinators such as Solitary Bees, Bumble Bees, beetles, flies and butterflies.  And, as mentioned above, many butterflies and moths depend on the leaves of native plants.  The larvae need their native food plants to eat, grow and ultimately become the beautiful, colourful winged adult forms we love to see flitting around our gardens.  Caterpillars are bird food, and the winged adults, also eaten by birds, are important pollinators.  Beetle pollinators, native fly pollinators such as syrphids, wild bees, and the non-native Honey Bee will find plenty of pollen and nectar to eat in a native plant garden. In a nutshell, native plants do triple-duty: they provide fresh green leaves for insect herbivores, floral resources for nectar-and-pollen-eaters, and fruits and seeds for adult birds and mammals. Native plants are the only plants that provide all three of these key food resources that keep our native animals thriving and our ecosystems functioning.  Native plants feed everyone!

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Discover more about the nature you love.

Connect with Nature: April Showers
News

Connect with Nature: April Showers

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Variations of the English saying “April showers bring May flowers” date back as far back as 1660. With its longer days and warmer temperatures, spring across much of Canada typically means snowmelt and increased rainfall. Take pleasure in the new season with these ideas. Observe worms. After a rain shower, you have probably noticed earthworms on sidewalks or in the grass. Why do they surface when it rains? Contrary to a commonly held opinion, it is not to prevent themselves from drowning. Many scientists think that worms come above ground after rainfall to migrate (as they can move greater distances above than within soil) or to escape predators (as the vibration of raindrops on soil mimics that of roving moles). If you’d like to volunteer to monitor worms, learn about the WormWatch program. umbrellaLearn about clouds. There are three main groups – cirrus, stratus and cumulus. These are further broken down into ten general types, varying in their basic form and altitude. Clouds cover 60–70% of the Earth at any particular time, and only certain ones produce precipitation. Clouds even exist in outer space! The US National Weather Service provides a straightforward overview to get you started. Download the CloudSpotter app for iPhone by the Cloud Appreciation Society and develop a keener eye for formations in the sky. Watch a film. Stay dry indoors and spend a rainy day on the couch. The beautifully rendered animated film Ponyo, by Hayao Miyazake, features water prominently, and human relationships with the elements as a theme. Singin’ in the Rain is a classic Hollywood musical that is sure to put some “spring” in your step, especially with its exuberant and iconic sequence of the title number. And who can forget the final scene of downpour and declarations in Four Weddings and a Funeral? For more ideas of movies with memorable rain scenes, see this list by Taste of Cinema. Acknowledgements: Scientific AmericanEncyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences, 2nd ed.National Geographic SocietyThe Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Discover more about the nature you love.

Eat in season: vegetables to put on your plate this spring!
News

Eat in season: vegetables to put on your plate this spring!

[caption id="attachment_32211" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Leanne Lovsin, Guest Blogger Leanne Lovsin, Guest Blogger[/caption]

This blog was written by guest blogger Leanne Lovsin.

Did you know that choosing to eat locally grown fruits and vegetables is good for the environment? Local produce doesn’t have to travel very far to arrive on your plate; this helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win-win situation! You help support the local economy, eat fresh and delicious food, and improve your carbon footprint.

Hungry yet? Here are four seasonal vegetables that can be found at your local farmers’ market this spring!

Radishes (available March-November in Western Canada and May-November in Central and Atlantic Canada)

These root vegetables pack quite the punch! Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, radishes are full of vitamin C and potassium and are a refreshing change from the other root vegetables we’ve been eating all winter long.

Try eating them raw (with some hummus on the side), sliced on top of a salad, pickled, fermented (it’s great in homemade kimchi), grilled, or roasted. The options are endless!

Image of a Radish

Asparagus (available March-June in Western Canada and May-June in Central and Atlantic Canada)

When asparagus is in season, you can find it just about anywhere! Take advantage of the availability, because it’s basically a superfood—asparagus is loaded with nutrients (folate, vitamins A, C, E, K, and chromium), antioxidants, and cancer-fighting compounds such as glutathione, which helps to break down carcinogens and free radicals.

The nutrients in asparagus are best preserved when the vegetable is roasted, grilled, or stir-fried (not boiled). Celebrate the return of warm weather by firing up those barbecues and putting some asparagus on the grill!

Image of asparagus

Morel Mushrooms (available April-June in Canada)

Morels are a highly coveted mushroom. Adored by food-lovers all around the world, this mushroom cannot be farmed; it must be foraged in its natural environment. These honeycomb-shaped fungi are bursting with vitamin D, antioxidants, iron, and B vitamins.

Due to their spongy texture, make sure to clean morels really well before cooking them! Like other mushrooms, morels are great sautéed with butter or oil. Morels make a delicious, earthy side dish for spring dinners.

Image of morel mushrooms

Rhubarb (available March-June in Western and Central Canada and May-June in Atlantic Canada)

Perhaps you’re already well-acquainted with this vegetable—strawberry-rhubarb pie, anyone? Rhubarb is a stalky, tart plant commonly used in sugary desserts. High in potassium, calcium, and vitamin C, it is the perfect ingredient to add to a dessert to make it more nutritious. Just don’t eat the leaves—they’re poisonous!

Take advantage of all the fresh rhubarb coming your way this Spring and whip up some pies and crumbles! These desserts typically freeze well, so get baking now and you’ll be fully stocked for summer.

Image of rhubarb

Happy eating! Share your favourite springtime recipes in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

Spring Tips to Green Your Home
News

Spring Tips to Green Your Home

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] Living an environmentally friendly lifestyle can be much simpler than you think. Often, it is the small decisions we make in our day-to-day lives that can have the largest impact on the environment. Want to help promote a clean and healthy environment? Here are a few simple yet effective tips on things you can do at home to live a more sustainable lifestyle. 1. Try larger packs with recyclable packaging. Did you know that the average person uses about 100 rolls of toilet paper each year? That's nearly five kilometres worth of paper! From your bathroom to your kitchen and even your office, you can greatly reduce your impact on the environment by purchasing larger pack sizes with recyclable packaging. 2. Use energy-efficient lightbulbs. A great way to reduce your household energy consumption and save money while you're at it is to switch to compact fluorescent lightbulbs or LED bulbs on all of your lighting fixtures. These bulbs typically last longer than standard incandescent bulbs, and can use as little as one-fifth the amount of energy to emit the same amount of light. vegetable basket3. Plant the garden you have always wanted! A great way to get fresh vegetables in your home and be kinder to the environment is by planting your own garden. Foodstuffs often travel extremely long distances from their production site to the grocery shelf, and their processing and transport contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Check out our tips for growing flowers and vegetables here - Connect With Nature: Start Planning Your Spring Garden. If you live in an urban environment, consider growing some of your plants indoors or producing your own balcony garden. 4. Give your clothes a fresh smell by hanging them outside to dry. Hang a clothesline in your backyard or on your balcony, or invest in a foldable clothes rack that you can set up indoors. Doing this will reduce pollution, cut your energy bill and even extend the life of your clothes. clothespins5. Use eco-friendly cleaning products. The harsh chemicals found in most household cleaning supplies get washed down the drain and end up polluting our lakes, rivers, oceans and streams. Organic, all-natural and biodegradable cleaning products are just as effective as most chemical cleaners, and are much friendlier to the environment. Or simply make your own cleaning supplies - check out our 5 Nature-Friendly Products for Spring Cleaning! 6. Adjust your thermostat. Now as the weather is slightly warmer, you can reduce the heat at your home. Let the spring sun warm up your home and by doing so you will save considerable amount of energy and thus money. Cool down by opening your windows for a cool, refreshing breeze. At bedtime, set your bedroom temperature to 18°C, which is ideal for sleep, as your body temperature will drop slightly to prepare for slumber. Turn down the thermostat a bit more if you tend to use a lot of blankets. Sleeping in cooler temperatures may reduce insomnia. For many more ways to save energy in and around your home, visit the US Department of Energy's Spring and Summer Energy Saving Tips. As you can see, there are plenty of ways this spring that you can make your home more green. A lot of these changes are minor and can also save you money while helping the environment. Let us know if you have any other ways to make your home green! Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy contributed to this post.

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Subscribe to Nature Canada's online community!

5 Nature-Friendly Products for Spring Cleaning
News

5 Nature-Friendly Products for Spring Cleaning

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Roll up your sleeves and dig out those rubber gloves - winter is officially coming to a close, and that means it's almost time for spring cleaning! It’s easy to clean your home safely and responsibly using products you already own or that are easily found at the supermarket. To spruce up your abode, here are five everyday items that are better for both nature and the environment, as well as your family’s health. 

  1. Old towels and t-shirts. Instead of disposable wipes or washcloths, create some reusable ones by cutting up some towels or t-shirts into squares. They can be laundered in the washing machine (cold water, hang dry!) when they get grubby. For added cleaning power, use microfiber cloths, which have a natural charge that attracts dust and can be used dry or damp.
  1. baking sodaWhite vinegar. Ah, versatile vinegar! Combine a 1:1 mix of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle for a DIY all-purpose household cleaner. (If you don’t like the smell of the vinegar, add a few drops of essential oil, perhaps lemon or lavender. Choose tea tree oil if you’re looking for a natural disinfectant.) Use the spray to clean laminate counters, stainless steel appliances and chrome surfaces. Spray vinegar on your shower curtain and walls to remove or prevent residue. Use (without added essential oils) as a mirror and glass cleaner.
  1. Baking soda. Employ this pantry staple as a scouring powder. For those stubborn bits of dried food on the kitchen counter or in the sink, sprinkle a bit of baking soda over the surface and then wash with a damp cloth, applying a bit of pressure. To clean the toilet: Sprinkle the bowl with 1 cup of baking soda. Wait 30 minutes and then spray with vinegar (see the DIY spray above). Scrub with a toilet brush and then flush.
  1. Lemon. To clean the buildup in your microwave: Put half of an unpeeled lemon and bit of the juice into a small bowl of water. Heat the bowl in the microwave to boiling, about 3 minutes. Leave the microwave door closed for an additional 5 minutes. (The steam created will moisten the gunk inside and allow for easy removal.) Open and wipe the interior with a clean cloth. Cut up the used lemon and run the pieces in your garbage disposal to clean and freshen.
  1. tulips in windowOlive oil. Many commercially manufactured wood polish aerosols are harmful if inhaled, sometimes causing dizziness or headaches. Mix your own polish instead by combining 1 cup of olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice in a plastic spray bottle. Spray onto a soft reusable cloth (never directly onto the surface) then rub on the wood to create shiny goodness. Squeaky door? Put a drop or two of olive oil in the hinge.
Last, but certainly not least, don’t underestimate the importance of fresh air. During the winter, many of us (understandably) keep our homes shut tight. As a result, residual gases from cooking and cleaning products can linger, making the indoor air unsafe and unhealthy, particularly to those with allergies or respiratory issues. Throw open your windows on a dry, warm day and get the air circulating. Happy cleaning! Share your own green cleaning tips in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter! Acknowledgements: HowStuffWorks, MedlinePlus
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Discover more about the nature you love.

Connect With Nature: Start Planning Your Spring Garden
News

Connect With Nature: Start Planning Your Spring Garden

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. As the winter weather starts to slowly fade and the first signs of milder weather begin to show, now is the perfect time to think about and prepare for planting a spring garden. Whether you choose to plant flowers or vegetables, you should always plan out your garden in advance. The more prepared you are, the more fun you’ll have planting your bulbs and seeds, and the more rewarding it will be later on in the spring when your plants have started to grow and bloom. One of the first things to do is figure out the type of garden you want to grow. A vegetable garden is always a great choice and offers some fantastic rewards. You can easily grow just about any type of vegetable right in your own backyard without having to be an expert. As an added bonus, eating food that you’ve grown yourself is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. cabbage2The “Growing Vegetables Guide” from The Old Farmer’s Almanac can get you started on types of vegetables and their care. Better Homes and Gardens provides a list of the best cold-tolerant vegetables. Nature Canada staff have their own favourites as well! Megan, our Purple Martin Coordinator, recommends mint. Sam, our Website and Social Media Coordinator, loves growing green onions and basil in the spring. She says, “Green onions are easy to grow, multiply and taste amazing fresh out of the ground. I also love basil, mainly because I was surprised at how large it can grow! And it means fresh herbs for cooking!” Flower gardens are equally great, and they incorporate the creative and artistic vision of the gardener into the final product in a unique way. In the initial stages of planning a flower garden, you will have to think about what type of flowers or plants you would like to plant (for example, annuals or perennials) and where you would like to plant them (for example, in a shaded or sunlit part of your yard). If you want to plant flowers that will benefit and help the Monarch Butterfly, check out our Monarch Butterfly Guide! Better Homes and Gardens has a recommended list of spring flowers that can handle chillier weather.basil Says Jodi, our Director of Development: "My son Noah loves marigolds because he likes that they keep mosquitos away from biting him. My daughter Keira loves any purple spring flower, but especially salvia, which brings the honeybees to our little garden." For both vegetables and flowers, you will want to make sure you’re planning on putting the right plants in the right places, so it’s important to do a little bit of research on which plants grow best in shady areas and which plants grow best in full sunlight. marigoldMany people like to buy their seeds and bulbs early so they’re not rushed when the time comes to plant, so now’s as good a time as any to start! You can also choose to start growing certain plants right away by potting them indoors. You can then transplant them to an outdoor garden later. This method can be very helpful, especially for plants that are more sensitive to the colder and less predictable outdoor weather in the early spring. While a lot of hard work can sometimes be required to maintain a garden, you can choose to plant flowers or vegetables that require minimal upkeep. Even if there is a little bit of hard work involved, remember to have fun above all else! Do you have suggestions on what types of flowers or vegetables are best to plant in early spring? Let us know in the comments section below.

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Discover more about the nature you love.

Nature In Spring
News

Nature In Spring

[caption id="attachment_26918" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Blair Scott Blair Scott,
Professional Writing Intern[/caption]

This blog was written by Nature Canada member Steve Gahbauer and edited by our Professional Writing Intern, Blair Scott. 

I hope all of you had a relaxing long weekend at Easter, good maple syrup outings, and an enjoyable March break. I also hope that you have not missed the nature events of January and February – male raccoons leaving their winter dens to search for females; Eastern Grey Squirrels starting their first annual breeding season; Snowy Owls returning to their Arctic breeding grounds. And I trust you did not forget to celebrate Earth Hour on March 19. In our region – around the Rouge Urban National Park – we had a mild winter with very little snow and only a few extremely cold days. But now it is spring. Each season has its own beauty and wonder, but there is something special about spring. Ephemeral wetlands form, teeming with biodiversity and supporting a number of rare plants and animals. At winter’s end, tiny frogs with big voices awake from hibernation to sing their songs of spring in search of food and mates. This is the time when we reconnect with nature after the long, dark winter days. This is when we are ready to rediscover wild places; when we are reminded how important it is to protect and conserve them. There is something thrilling about caring for our few remaining wild places and keeping them that way – forests that have not been logged; wetlands where the only soundtrack is the buzz of dragonfly wings; and streams where the most regular anglers are Kingfishers. As Doug Larson says, “spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe-full of sludge.” [caption id="attachment_22401" align="alignright" width="243"]Magnolia Warbler, birds, perch Magnolia Warbler perched on a branch.[/caption] But spring is also a very dangerous time for migrating birds. Birds have migrated for centuries along very particular flight corridors. Unfortunately, as our cities and suburbs have expanded, and as our buildings have reached greater heights, birds have stayed the course – to their peril. Ornithologists have identified collisions with human-built structures to be a leading cause of death for birds in North America. Every year, approximately 25 million birds fatally collide into the windows of homes, offices, stores, cottages and buildings in Canada. As migratory birds make their way home to Canada, they often do so under the cover of darkness. But when bad weather hits — particularly high cloud cover, precipitation or fog — these birds are forced to fly at lower altitudes where they’ll be attracted to tall lit buildings, communication towers, light beams at airports and lighthouses. When you’re flying at up to 50 km/h, you don’t have much of a chance of survival when you strike glass head on. In fact, most birds die upon impact due to brain damage, and the lucky ones that survive a collision can easily become trapped in streams of artificial lights — flapping in the beam until they collapse from exhaustion or become disoriented. Special Note:  The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Birds Convention between Canada and the United States, which was the first international treaty to conserve wildlife, with a focus on the skies. Unfortunately, many important winged species are at risk of becoming endangered due to multiple threats including habitat loss, impacts from pesticides and climate change. As CWF’s national Wildlife Week ambassador, Yasmin Warsame says, “We need to act now to conserve wildlife for future generations.” Our winged friends give us so much: songbirds let us know sunnier days are on the way, butterflies visit our flower gardens, bats snack on pesky mosquitoes in our backyards, and bees are so crucial to the pollination process – one in three bites of food we eat can be attributed to the work of these busy insects. Have a great Spring season and keep in touch with nature.
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Subscribe to Nature Canada's online community!

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.

Donate