Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada
Time To Get Use To A New Acronym – Key Biodiversity Areas or KBAs
News

Time To Get Use To A New Acronym – Key Biodiversity Areas or KBAs

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Ted Cheskey Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager[/caption] Get ready Canada for a new site-based conservation tool. Nature Canada is thrilled to be part of the leading edge of groups charged with introducing Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) to Canada.  Building on Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), which are about birds if you weren’t sure, KBA covers all visible forms of biodiversity from mammals to millipedes. Identifying and protecting them will contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, just as IBA protection is helping birds. KBAs are identified by applying the criteria and thresholds included in the “A Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas” approved by the Council of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in April 2016. This standard applies to all levels of biodiversity (genetic, species and ecosystems). There are 11 criteria grouped under five categories:

  1. Threatened biodiversity;
  2. Geographically restricted biodiversity;
  3. Ecological integrity;
  4. Biological processes; and
  5. Irreplaceability through quantitative analysis.
The Standard and its criteria were developed through extensive consultation and build on four decades of experience in identifying sites of biodiversity importance including IBAs identified by BirdLife International, as well as efforts to identify Important Plant Areas, Alliance for Zero Extinction sites, KBAs under previous criteria and related approaches. KBAs are not legally protected areas though. They are much like IBAs in this respect. They do, however, provide a strong biological basis for protection–something that Nature Canada will be mobilizing its partners and supporters to help ensure. [one_half] [caption id="attachment_35690" align="alignnone" width="460"]Image of Red Knots Red Knots, photo by Ted Cheskey[/caption] [/one_half] [one_half_last] [caption id="attachment_35691" align="alignnone" width="460"]Image of bird watchers on Charlton Island Garry and Marc-Antoine on Charlton Island[/caption] [/one_half_last] KBAs were introduced to Canada during a workshop led by the IUCN and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) that was associated with the annual meeting of the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA) in Quebec this past fall. Emerging from that meeting was a National Coordination Group (NCG) for KBAs and the elements of a plan to introduce and implement a KBA program in Canada. Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada (BSC), as Canada’s official BirdLife Partners, with over 20 years of developing and implementing IBAs in Canada, are on the National Coordination Group for the Initiative. One of the first steps in the KBA process will be determining which IBAs satisfy the KBA criteria.   BSC is currently conducting that assessment, but at a crude scale, most of the IBAS in Canada that are “globally significant” (e.g. one percent or more of the global population of a species) will become KBAs. IBAs will not disappear, but some will gain the additional status of KBA. The federal government is very interested in supporting the KBA initiative, given the strong potential for KBAs to add value to its Pathway to Target One initiative to protect at least 17% of Canada’s lands and inland waters and at least 10% of its marine and coastal territories. Nature Canada is ready to engage its Nature Network, consisting of provincial and local partners, in the KBA initiative. Local naturalists are one of the best sources of knowledge on species occurrence and abundance. We believe that the naturalist community has tremendous knowledge to contribute to identifying and monitoring potential KBAs. We are also counting on local support to help secure legal protection for these areas. Stay tuned for more on KBAs!
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

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

Keeping Birds Safe At Your Feeder
News

Keeping Birds Safe At Your Feeder

The Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative (CWHC) has published a new technical report called “Strategies to Prevent and Control Bird-Feeder Associated Diseases and Threats.” The report was prompted by the widespread trichomonosis outbreak in 2017 that extended from Ontario to Newfoundland and Labrador. This and other bird feeder associated diseases and threats generate a great deal of public concern, so the CWHC released this report to ensure the availability of scientifically accurate information on how to reduce the risks. Feeding of wildlife is generally discouraged as part of the overall effort to reduce human-wildlife contact, conflicts and disease transmission. However, bird feeding is considered an exception to that rule, partly due to the fact birds do not become dependent on feeders - instead, birds tend to incorporate them into a ‘route’ that combines feeders and natural sources. The removal of any particular feeder along their route thus does not have the same impact as it might with wildlife who can become dependent on one particular food source. Even so, as the popularity of bird feeding increases with millions ofhouseholds providing huge quantities of supplementary food to wild birds, it has become increasingly important to ensure that people are aware of best practices to reduce the potential harm of their bird feeders, primarily from diseases and predators. Image of birds feeding

Recommendations

 
  1. Avoid the unintended consequences of feeding that result from predation or trauma.
  2. House residents need to keep an eye on the birds at their feeders and be able to recognize signs of disease to ensure prompt implementation of disease control strategies.
  3. Create circumstances that lead to reduced contact between uninfected and infected birds and/or contaminated environments by:
    • Promoting management for bird friendly habitat to avoid the need for supplemental Feed to attract or nourish birds.
    • Ensuring proper feeding techniques and hygienic feeding practices.

Best Practices

Placement
  • Bird feeders should not be further than 3.5 meters from cover that provides a route of escape and protection to avoid predation.
  • There should be an unobstructed view around bird feeders so that foraging birds can detect any predators in the area.
  • Any cover that could conceal predators attempting to attack should not be near feeders.
  • Feeders at lower levels should be surrounded by brush or fencing to preclude predator access.
  • Bird feeders should be placed less than one metre or more than 10 metres away from buildings to minimize the risk of window collisions.

Food and Feeder Selection and Maintenance

Use the right feeders the right way.
  • Good bird feeders are made from plastic, steel or glass as they are easier to clean.
  • Small feeders are best since they do not allow large numbers of birds to congregate, reducing contact rates, and they empty quickly which prevents seeds from getting wet or spoiled.
  • Feeders should have drainage holes to prevent water accumulating and they should also not have sharp points or edges that may cause injury.
  • They should be covered to prevent seed from getting wet and they should allow birds to perch away from the food to prevent fecal contamination.
  • Always wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly after cleaning your feeders.
Feed the right food.
  • Provide only high-quality birdseed by reading the ingredients on the packages as bargain brands often contain “filler” seeds such as milo, red millet, ax, oats, rice and wheat that are generally not eaten by birds and will readily absorb moisture promoting spoilage and fungal growth. Additionally, these “filler” seeds are often discarded by birds beneath the feeders, attracting rodents and other wildlife species.
  • Different bird species prefer different seed types so take this into consideration when selecting bird food and provide a variety. Sunflower seeds are the top choice among most birds. Suet is great, but only in the winter months, since it goes rancid quickly in the heat. Saffower seeds, nyjer seeds and peanuts are other good choices that will attract a variety of species.
  • Foods that have no nutritional value for birds or should not be fed to them include bread and chocolate.
Clean bird feeders and artificial water sources regularly.
  • They should be cleaned and disinfected twice a month while in use.
  • Use a scrub brush and hot soapy water to clean debris and bird feces off the feeders.
  • Special attention should be given to the perches and openings where the birds have to place their heads inside to get access to the bird feed.
  • After cleaning, they should be disinfected by immersion for two to three minutes in a solution of one part of liquid chlorine bleach and nine parts of warm water, then rinsed with clean water and allowed to air dry.
  • Remove feeders if an outbreak is detected, and consult your CWHC Regional Centre to find out when the danger has passed.
And:
  • Use visual markers or other means to make your windows visible to birds. Learn more here.
  • Keep domestic cats indoors or outdoors only on a leash or in an enclosure to prevent predation. Learn more here.
  • Surveil the birds at your feeders: this is an important aspect of disease prevention in particular, since the possibility of outbreaks is a constant threat. As well as keeping an eye on your backyard birds, listen for alerts from press outlets and management agencies on disease outbreaks.
For more information on the signs and symptoms of some of the more common diseases, download a full copy of the CWHC report.

Getting Out Into Nature Is For The Birds (Bird Enthusiasts That Is!)
News

Getting Out Into Nature Is For The Birds (Bird Enthusiasts That Is!)

[caption id="attachment_30818" align="alignleft" width="150"]Jill Sturdy Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager[/caption] Our NatureHood Partners were busy over the holidays helping kids explore nearby nature. From Sackville, NB across the country to Vancouver, BC, hundreds of kids and families took part in the annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids). Inspired by the Christmas Bird Count, CBC4Kids is a fun winter activity and a great way for families to learn more about local urban birds and bird conservation. Many of our NatureHood partners organized local CBC4Kids events that included nature walks led by volunteer guides to help identify local birds, followed by hot chocolate and snacks for the young citizen scientists to sip when they return. Their findings were then submitting through eBird, an online checklist managed by Bird Studies Canada. Christmas Bird Counts for Kids are a great way to get kids active outdoors during the winter months and learn more about local winter birds and wildlife found in their area. Spending time in nature year-round will encourage kids to continue to explore the natural world and develop a long-lasting relationship with nature. You don’t need an organized event to get out into nature! Why not plan your own family nature walk this weekend? You don’t need to go far to explore nearby nature. Go for a walk in your neighbourhood or NatureHood and observe the urban wildlife. You just might be surprised what you’ll see! Here’s a short list of some of the birds that were identified at the CBC4Kids events: [custom_table style="1"]

Black-capped Chickadee   Black-billed Magpie
Bohemian Waxwing  Canada Goose
 Downy Woodpecker  Hairy Woodpecker
 Mallard  Merlin
 Northern Flicker  Red-breasted Nuthatch
 White Cross Bill  White-breasted Nuthatch
Wood Duck
[/custom_table] To read more on these events, check out the latest article on the bird count in Saskatchewan and in Alberta.
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Discover more about the nature you love.

A Little Less Canada in 2018?
News

A Little Less Canada in 2018?

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Nature Canada’s Stephen Hazell asks whether the world actually needs a little less Canada in an op-ed published in Ottawa’s The Hill Times on January 17. Considering the harm to nature that Canadians cause, Hazell argues that if the world’s other species could vote on which humans should be voted off Turtle Island, "Canadians would be near the top of their list." By way of examples, he observes that Canada protects less of its land and ocean than any other developed country. Canada produces more GHGs per capita than other OECD countries aside from the U.S. and Australia, and more garbage per capita than any other country. Quick starts for the federal government to shift Canada to a more sustainable course in our 151st year? Hazell argues that a federal investment in protecting land and ocean for nature in Budget 2018 as proposed by the Green Budget Coalition is important. As well, enacting strong, innovative environmental laws this session would move Canada towards environmental, economic and social sustainability. Hazell’s hope for 2018?  Less destruction of Canadian nature, fewer Canadian GHG emissions, and less Canadian garbage. Get that done, and perhaps Canadians can more honestly say at year-end: “The world needs more Canada.

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

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

The Grizzly Bear – A Canadian Icon
News

The Grizzly Bear – A Canadian Icon

[caption id="attachment_23299" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Valerie Assinewe Valerie Assinewe,
Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Valerie Assinewe. This month's calendar photo is of a Grizzly Bear in Kananaskis country. In myth, in Indigenous tradition and in popular culture, few mammals loom as large as this month’s featured species, the magnificent Grizzly Bear. Here is some information about this iconic animal. Where do they live? The Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), a subspecies of the brown bear, inhabits western Canada.Image of a Grizzly Bear What do they look like? One of the largest of living carnivores, Brown Bears are 1-3 m in length from head to rump. They are 90-150 cm tall at the shoulder and they range in weight from 80-600 kg. On average, adult males are 8-10% larger than females. An adult Grizzly Bear standing upright on its hind legs is roughly the height of a basketball net and can have the weight of a Toyota Corolla. Grizzly Bears are extremely strong and have good endurance; they can kill a cow with one blow, outrun a horse, outswim an Olympian and drag a dead elk uphill. What do they eat? During warmer months, Grizzly Bears eat a massive amount of food so they can live off body fat during the winter. They may consume 40 kg of food each day, gaining over 1 kg/day of body weight. As omnivores, grizzlies will eat anything nutritious they can find, gorging on nuts, fruit, leaves, roots, fungi, insects and a variety of animals including salmon and other fish, rodents, sheep and elk. Their diet varies depending on what foods are available for the season, and consequently they will eat domestic animals, carrion and garbage. In the fall, as temperatures cool and food becomes scarcer, grizzlies dig dens in the sides of hills. The bears settle in their dens to hibernate for the winter. This deep sleep allows the grizzlies to conserve energy. Their heart rate slows from 40 beats/min to 8; and in case you’re wondering, they do not defecate or urinate during hibernation. How do they reproduce? Female bears have their first young when they are 5-7 years old, and typically have litters of 1-3 cubs. The young are born during January or February inside the overwintering den. At birth, the cubs are less than 22 cm long and weigh about 400 g. They gain weight rapidly and weigh about 8 kg when they emerge in the spring. The cubs learn from their mothers and stay with them for 2-4 years. As a result, female bears are only able to reproduce every three or four years. Grizzly Bears live an average of 20 years, although individuals as old as 34 have been recorded. Image of a Grizzly female and cubBlack vs Brown Bear It is not as simple as a black versus brown: hair colour is, in fact, the least reliable identifier. “Black” Bears can be black, blue-black, dark brown, brown, cinnamon or even white. Grizzly Bears, likewise, may range in colour, from black to blond. Similarly, size is also not a reliable identifier even though Grizzly Bears are, on average, significantly larger than Black Bears. Size varies with the age of the animal and the season. How can you tell? The following are the best indicators:

  • Grizzly Bears have a pronounced shoulder hump, which the Black Bear lacks.
  • Grizzly Bears have a concave or “dished” facial profile, whereas Black Bears have a straight face profile.
  • Grizzly Bears have smaller, more rounded ears. Black Bears have larger, longer, more erect, and pointed ears.
  • The Grizzly Bear have much larger claws than the Black Bear: 5-10 cm compared to 3.8 cm front claws, respectively.
As people and the Grizzly Bear interact more, remember that the bear will only attack if cornered, wounded or protecting their cubs. Wildlife officials advise that the best way to avoid a bear encounter is to make noise while hiking and carry bear spray. Habitat loss due to logging, development and mining has affected the Grizzly Bear in northwestern United States, and as a result, the Grizzly Bear is listed as threatened in the U.S.A. In Canada, human activity is also affecting the grizzly population. You can do your part by contributing to efforts to protect the habitat of Grizzly Bears, and through your ongoing and valued support to the many conservation initiatives of Nature Canada.
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

Subscribe to Nature Canada's online community!

Parliamentarians Call for Federal Budget for Nature
News

Parliamentarians Call for Federal Budget for Nature

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] 116 Members of Parliament and Senators have written to the Finance Minister Bill Morneau requesting that the upcoming federal budget include a “historic investment” to protect Canada’s land, freshwater and ocean. The Parliamentarian’s letter adopts the Green Budget Coalition’s request for an initial investment of $1.4-billion over the next three years to establish new National Wildlife Areas, National Parks and provincial and Indigenous protected areas, with $470-million annually to pay for the enhancement of protected areas. The Green Budget Coalition’s detailed funding request is included in its recommendations for the 2018 federal budget the Green Budget Coalition is a group of 19 of Canada's top nature and environmental organizations that is co-chaired by Nature Canada.   The Coalition and the Parliamentarians make the case that the proposed federal investment is essential to deliver on Canada’s commitment under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to protect at least 17% of Canada’s land and freshwater and 10% of our ocean by 2020. Right now the Prime Minister and federal finance minister are deciding what to fund in Budget 2018. With the support these Parliamentarians, I am excited to tell you that this could be the biggest single investment ever made to protect Canada's land, freshwater and ocean [button link="https://e-activist.com/page/17966/action/1" size="medium" target="_blank" icon="" style="light" color="red"]Please sign on to Nature Canada’s budget petition to make this investment happen.[/button]

Email Signup

Want more nature news?

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

‘Tis the Season … To Hibernate
News

‘Tis the Season … To Hibernate

With winter finally here in full force, I see the appeal of stuffing myself with food and sleeping until all this snow melts away. While snow-covered trees and trails are beautiful, there seems to be less wildlife to look at in the winter. As animal sightings are less frequent, it had me wondering where they all go.image of a Grizzly Bear and her cubs When you think of hibernation, most people probably think of bears first. And while this is true, they’re aren’t actually the “truest” kind of hibernator, which includes a lowered heart-rate, breathing, and metabolism. This is because bears are in a much lighter sleep and can still be awakened. They get up more frequently than true hibernators, but can still sleep for days, weeks, or months — they go into what is called torpor. Skunks and raccoons are other mammals that can sleep for long periods of time to avoid the winter elements, but aren’t true hibernators. Bats, however, have some of the longest hibernation capabilities and can survive on taking just one breath every two hours. And did you know that bees hibernate in holes in the soil? Well, the queen bee that is. Worker bees die off every winter, but the queen bee hibernates in the ground for six to eight months until it is warm enough to rebuild. Garter Snakes are relatively harmless, but the idea of stumbling into a den of hundreds or thousands of them is not a pleasant one. While most snakes just become less active in the winter, garter snakes actually hibernate in dens in large quantities to stay warm. One den in Canada was found to have 8,000 garter snakes! And did you know? Climate change is already affecting the hibernation patterns of some animals, like chipmunks. Bears also give birth and raise their young during the hibernation period, which could lead to very negative effects on their populations if hibernation times are reduced. Acknowledgments: Live Science, Science News, Earth Rangers

Do You Know What to Do If You Find An Injured Animal?
Arctic Hare resting in the tundra
News

Do You Know What to Do If You Find An Injured Animal?

[caption id="attachment_35593" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Aniko Pollak Aniko Pollak, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Aniko Pollak.  The air is getting colder and making you want to get cozy by the fire, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting some exercise and enjoying the outdoors! When you are outside, it is always fun to spot local wildlife in your area.  Let’s say you do encounter an animal, but the animal doesn’t seem to be behaving quite like you think it should.  That animal could be sick or injured, but how can you tell?

Here are some tips to identify if an animal is sick or injured:

  • Look for signs of injury such as limps, blood, or wounds.
  • Sleepiness, limited movement, or unresponsiveness when you approach the animal.
  • Other signs are dizziness, disorientation, or stumbling when it moves.Image of ducklings
  • If it’s a baby, it would be crying, covered in bugs, or cold. Monitor the baby to make sure the mother didn’t leave temporarily.
Once you identified that it could be injured the best thing to do is keep the animal in its natural habitat, keep your distance.

Call an authorized wildlife rehabilitator or your local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry district office right away!

Please do not:

  • Handle the animal or try to treat the animal as it can create stress and shock;
  • Offer food or water as animals have a unique diet; or
  • Try and keep the animal.
Wildlife rehabilitators commit their time to temporarily take care of wildlife and even save their lives! They will properly guide you in helping and capturing the animal if necessary. If you can’t get a hold of the Wildlife rehabilitators, keep trying and leave them a message so they can contact you easily. Their websites also have some great tips on what to do and what not to do. Nature Canada has a great and easily guided resource of contacts for each province in Canada to help guide you in the right direction for wildlife rehabilitators in your area. Please use and keep this information handy! Acknowledgments: BC SPCA, Ontario Wildlife Rescue
Email Signup

Want more nature news?

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

Want to Help?

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

Donate