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Tell President Trump:  No Oil and Gas Drilling on the Calving Grounds of the Porcupine Caribou
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Tell President Trump: No Oil and Gas Drilling on the Calving Grounds of the Porcupine Caribou

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] One of my best wilderness experiences happened on a rafting trip on the Firth River in northern Yukon in June 2006.  One day, a good part of the Porcupine caribou herd—we counted 10,000--crossed the flooding river and trotted past our camp on their way north to calving grounds on the coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic Refuge. Now U.S. President Donald Trump has recklessly decided to open up of the coastal plain to oil and gas development. The population of the Porcupine herd is still strong at 218,000 (unlike many other caribou herds across Canada), but the last thing they need is oil and gas development on their calving grounds. These caribou are extremely important as a food source and culturally to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in northern Yukon. The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is overseeing a 60-day comment period (winding up on June 19) during which folks can comment on the scope of environmental assessment of the drilling program; several other public consultation stages will follow before any drilling can start. Here is the link to the BLM site: https://www.blm.gov/programs/planning-and-nepa/plans-in-development/alaska/coastal-plain-eis. It is important to note that Canada has taken some significant action to defend these caribou by establishing two national parks (Vuntut and Ivvavik) along the Alaska border. As well,  Canada and U.S. also signed  a treaty in 1987 that requires the two countries to “take appropriate action to conserve the Porcupine Caribou Herd and its habitat”. Oil and gas development in the critical habitat of the calving grounds may well be a violation of the treaty as well as a breach of the human rights of the Vuntut Gwitchin.

Nature Canada urges Canadians to be a voice for conserving the Porcupine Caribou.

Tell President Trump:  no oil and gas drilling on the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou.


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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?
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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Eh?

[caption id="attachment_36590" align="alignleft" width="150"] Tina-Louise Rossit,
Guest Blogger.[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit. Canada is pretty lucky; we’re home to many animals that stay year-round annnnd we’re also a perfect summer home for a number of species! Around springtime, Canadians get to enjoy seeing spectacular birds, mammals and fish that migrate to Canada for summer. Some animals have pretty neat characteristics that set them apart. Sometimes it’s a funny appearance, other times it’s a unique behaviour, but there’s always an interesting evolutionary history. Learning about them makes us appreciate how fantastic wildlife actually is! Today’s honourary species is a fan favourite for bird watchers; hummingbirds! Have you ever noticed you can’t really focus on their wings, even if you take a photograph? Ever wonder, how is this tiny bird hovering so fast? Well, today is your day because it’s time to chat about these tiny flyers! Canada has five species of hummingbirds that migrate here during our warm months. The most widespread species is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird ranging from Nova Scotia to Alberta. It’s easy to recognized hummingbirds since before you see them, you’ll hear them. As their common name suggests, hummingbirds make humming sounds as they flap their wings 80 times per second. They can zip through gardens and flowerbeds foraging for food and hover in the air for long periods of time. All that flying needs energy, and hummingbirds will feed on nectar primarily, but also tree sap, small insects and pollen. A hummingbird will consume about twice their body weight in nectar per day! They forage for tubular-shaped flowers that fit their long beaks and tongues. When calculated, it’s a lot of non-stop flying! And then, add in the migration mileage every year, it’s no wonder their tiny bodies had to accommodate. Scientists use newer computer technologies to make 3D stimulations of hummingbird aerodynamics. Results show that hummingbirds have evolved a balanced middle between the insect and the avian flight mechanisms. A hummingbird’s wing is more triangular-shaped then other birds. Their shoulder-to-wrist bones are compacted near their abdomen, leaving a straighter wrist-to-phalanges. This shape allows optimal aerodynamics for lift, wingbeat, and manoeuverability for both hovering and rapid back-and-forth movement. Physiologically, hummingbirds can uptake oxygen very fast, allowing the heart to beat faster and constantly supply oxygen to their muscles to perform. Their metabolic rate is fast and surprisingly efficient despite the main source of energy being a sugary drink! Even their muscle-mass-specific metabolism, or how each muscle uses up fuel, was found to have the highest rates for vertebrates. Hummingbirds inhabit a variety of regions from the tropics to the mountains, however changes in altitude and air chemistry doesn’t seem to be a problem for a hummingbird’s cardiac and respiration systems to adapt. Honestly, hummingbirds should make any athletes jealous!   In all, hummingbirds represent many extremes in the natural world. Being so small and so fast is just what we see on the outside. Biologists want to continue studying hummingbird physiology, because there are still unanswered physics related questions! In the meantime, with springtime arriving, keep some binoculars handy to scope out hummingbirds in your area. You can watch them zip through your gardens, flying backwards and forwards, hear their wings humming and see their evolutionary adaptions for yourself!

Tune in every month for many more fantastic animals to read about!


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Sources http://www.simplywildcanada.com/hummingbirds-in-canada/ https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ruby-throated_Hummingbird/sounds https://www.nature.com/news/hummingbird-flight-has-a-clever-twist-1.9639 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12124359 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27595850 http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/colibri-hummingbird/En/Hummingbird/The-Life-Of-The-Hummingbird/diet.html

Environment Canada Failed to Provide National Biodiversity Leadership
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Environment Canada Failed to Provide National Biodiversity Leadership

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] "Environment and Climate Change Canada has failed to provide national leadership to conserve Canada’s biodiversity," says Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The Environment Commissioner’s Spring 2018 audit report focused on federal performance with respect to six of the nineteen so-called Aichi Targets developed in 2010 under the Convention for Biological Diversity. In her report, Gelfand said that “Environment and Climate Change Canada has focused its leadership efforts on attending international meetings on behalf of Canada.” “(T)he Department narrowly defined its role as Canada’s National Focal Point… “The Department’s priorities and efforts as National Focal Point did not include working with federal, provincial, and territorial partners to identify specific actions and initiatives required to achieve Canada’s biodiversity targets.” “(T)he Department did not establish an overall plan to meet Canada’s 2020 biodiversity targets . . . We also found that the Department did not define the actions and initiatives needed to achieve the targets.” Nature Canada is not surprised by the findings of the Environment Commissioner, given recent reports that populations of half of Canada’s wildlife species are shrinking, and populations of shorebirds and insectivore and grassland birds are falling rapidly. However, Nature Canada is encouraged by Environment Minister McKenna’s so-called “Pathway” initiative to work with provincial and territorial governments to establish protected areas representing 17% of Canada’s land and freshwater (which is one of these Aichi targets).  Nature Canada is also encouraged by the 2018 federal budget, which set aside $1.3 billion over five years to protect natural areas and species at risk.


For more about the Commissioners report, read the following, Federal government not doing enough to manage risk of fish farms, environmental watchdog says, from Susan Lunn at CBC News.
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Reflection: Inclusivity in the Outdoors
Waterlillies, Susanne Swayze
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Reflection: Inclusivity in the Outdoors

This guest blog was contributed by the Lilly Paddlers, Jocelyn Dockerty and Ledah McKellar.


Let’s have a look at a lot of our Outdoor Education programs. Who are your students? Are they diverse? Does your school intentionally try to provide outdoor education for a diverse cross section of their student populations? Or is it the other way? Are our outdoor education programs present simply to entice the typical outdoor education student? You know the one. They are comfortable outside. They have used a Leatherman before. You also have to remind them not to bring it to school. They climb rocks and stuff. Their parent(s) may provide recreational opportunities that include fishing, camping, hiking, or even a bonfire or two. But what about the other children? What about the less than athletic children who are creative geniuses? Our future writers? Our future computer programmers? Our female students who may be awkward and clumsy and scream when they see ants… even if they are annoying as all else? Our students of colour? Are you enticing them to our outdoor education programs? If we are to assess our outdoor education programming in public education, a great starting point is to consider who is facilitating said program. Having strong male mentors is incredibly important for young male students. Therefore, having male teachers in a school setting is invaluable. However, when outdoor education is stereotypically dominated by masculine white men, it is important to be conscientious of how that may be affecting who enters your outdoor education programming. Here are some following steps to reflect on your outdoor education program and how you can branch out to a more diverse cross-section of your student body.

If your outdoor education program is facilitated by traditionally masculine men, consider hiring a someone who doesn’t fit that role to co-facilitate your program.

Traditionally masculine men are still awesome. Students simply need to see that all people can connect to our nature outside. In today’s world of a warming climate and an urbanizing population, it is oh so important to encourage a connection between youth/children and their natural environment. This means that our outdoor education programming should attract ALL students. Not all students are enticed to learn in an environment facilitated by a traditionally masculine men as not all students want to learn only from women. If we want to grow all students’ respect and love for their natural environment (and reduce the effects of climate change), it is important to facilitate a program that entices all students to connect to nature.

If the only candidates available for an outdoor education program are traditionally masculine men, say yes to guest speakers.

Are there no or very few women, people of color, or people from the LGBTQI+ community applying to teach Outdoor Education in your school communities? That is unfortunate, but you can still create a welcoming environment! For starters, say you cannot hire a woman within your outdoor education program. Well, the world is full of women – working in forestry, in water treatment, in outdoor recreation and leisure, in nature writing. The list is long; there’s a lot of women in the world! Indigenous communities are also graced with the presence of awesome female Elders. So go find that female forester or awesome 70 year-old Elder. Invite them to your class. Most people say yes when the invite is given. Show your students that women have relationships with nature too! One of the more recent social media world communities I am loving is Unlikely Hikers started by Jenny Bruso. It is a virtual community that highlights people of color and people from the LGBTQ+ community who love hiking. It’s not that surprising. Hiking is pretty great. Your queer student body would also appreciate knowing other queer people who do this activity. We are beyond the discussion of why the needs of queer students need to be met, but it is important to recognize they deal with self-doubt, bullying, and isolation to a larger extent than the rest of the student body. Whether you are teaching outdoor education in Red Lake or Toronto, (1) connect yourself to the queer community, (2) find those lovers of the outdoors, and (3) invite them to your class. It just takes an email to that Pride Parade coordinator and they will know who to ask. Your guest could simply share a nearby outdoors trip they have done. They could share more if they are willing. Break the stereotypes, and make your class is more inclusive for your LGTBQ students while you do it!

Ask Yourself: Is My Outdoor Education Programming Welcoming to Newcomers to Canada?

For a variety of complex reasons, many recent newcomers to Canada do not have access to outdoor opportunities, are busy settling into a new country, or do not feel comfortable in outdoor activities. Some recent newcomers are. Either way, it is important to reflect on how we are increasing the accessibility of our outdoor education programming to those who do not solely have voyageur, pilgrim, or farm settler roots with European descent. By including those with different backgrounds and connections to natural environments, we all learn. People of all countries have connections to nature that we can learn from. Make sure that your programming encourages newcomer students to feel welcome. An invitation and explanation of your program may be all it takes. Think of how much you could learn too!

Consult These Wonderful Resources

The Lily Paddlers are late to the game of inclusivity in the world of outdoor education. Consider consulting the following resources to help improve your outdoor education programming. The best, or simply put, the true educators never stop learning. Go learn. Read this stuff.
  • Outdoor Foundation has published this website full of news articles, reports, journal articles, and more that discuss outdoor inclusivity.
    • Favorite: Social Difference, Justice, and Outdoor Education. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education. Winter 2003, 15(1). Available at: http://www.outdoorfoundation.org/pdf/SocialDifference.pdf  This issue of Pathways (a wonderfully Ontarioan journal) features many different discussions related to inclusivity in outdoor education.
  • The Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education also has this helpful website with articles “that make the case for why inclusiveness is important to the environmental movement and environmental education.”
    • Favorite: “Facing the Future” article by Audubon Magazine.
  • The Center for Diversity and the Environment is an excellent organization out of Oregon that values the power of racial and ethnic diversity to transform the environmental movement. Their website is full of resources to help explain why inclusivity matters for everyone.

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A Warming Planet – Can Wildlife Keep up with the Changes?
Roosevelt Elk. photo by Brian Miller.
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A Warming Planet – Can Wildlife Keep up with the Changes?

This blog is written by Steve Gahbauer, who has been regularly contributing Nature Notes for many years.


It is undeniable that climate change is one of the greatest problems that we are facing around the world. It is redrawing the boundaries of where plants, animals and living organisms can survive. The problem is that not only is the climate changing but that it is changing so fast. Nature always adapts, but can it do so quickly enough? The fast global warming creates a whole host of problems affecting birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, aquatic creatures, insects and plants in different ways. Roughly half of all animal species are on the move. The average range of poleward shift for land-based species has been pegged at between six and 17 km per decade. Marine species are moving more than four times as fast.

The indirect impacts of shifting of species ranges are just as profound. Climate change is altering the distribution of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, of insects that transmit the dengue and Zika viruses, and of various ticks. It also affects the determination of sex for animal offspring whose sex is determined by temperature. For Green Sea Turtles it is the temperature outside the egg that influences the sex of the growing embryo. This endangers their sex-balanced future ina warmer world. Some sea turtle populations are already so skewed by heat that the young reptiles are almost entirely female. [caption id="attachment_36499" align="alignright" width="300"] Maple Leaves, photo by Bea Gravelle.[/caption] Sugar Maples are also threatened by climate change. Warmer temperatures and dry conditions are a predicament for this drought-sensitive species. It has been observed that there is an earlier bud burst in Sugar Maples and an earlier flowering period for aspens. In fact, based on climate records from the previous 100 years, Canada’s growing season has increased considerably. Tree lines have also expanded upward and northward. Studies demonstrate that climate change has already an impact on Canada’s forests. As new species move into Canada, there’s always the risk of some of them being or becoming invasive. Just look at the Mountain Pine Beetle and the devastation it brought to British Columbia and Alberta forests, and the work of the destructive Spruce Bark Beetle in the Yukon. There is also the loss of aspens in the southern boreal forest and the western aspen parkland. The Gypsy Moth, a defoliating forest pest, is causing havoc in woodlands. The Kudzu plant, native to eastern Asia and introduced initially to the United States, is now spreading and taking over anything in its path. Caribou were once one of Canada’s widespread animals, but today their numbers are dropping dramatically. Boreal caribou rely on the boreal forest and wetland ecosystems for survival. In northeastern Alberta, industrial activity has resulted in the destruction and fragmentation of boreal caribou habitat, which also increases wolf predation on caribou. Seven out of 12 boreal caribou herds in Alberta are already in decline.

If we want to keep this threatened species from continuing down the road to extinction, we need to protect its habitat and shield caribou from the effects of human industrial activities, as well as from the consequences of climate change. Global warming increases rainfall that freezes on the ground and blocks the growth of plants and lichen on which caribou feed. It also means more insect harassment, which interrupts feeding and drains caribou energies. Inadequate industrial development planning affects migratory habits and caribou calving grounds, leading to reduced birthrate and lower survival of the calves. Where migratory caribou herds live, the environment is changing fast.

There is no doubt that climate change is having a serious impact on wildlife. Will some species be able to change their habitat? Which animals might we find in our own backyard that we never expected? Just how dire will the future look for our beloved species? One way for species to adapt is to shift or expand their range. There are many examples of species that are already on the move in response to climate change, or at least partially due to climate change. For instance, there are now Triggerfish (a tropical fish species) in Maritime waters, Giant Swallowtail Butterflies (once restricted to extreme southwestern Ontario) are now spreading northward in the province, and Blacklegged Ticks (deer ticks) are increasing their range in North America. As temperatures warm it also brings other issues for many species. Gray Jays, for instance, don’t migrate and therefore stash food in the fall to help them through the winter. Warmer autumns are causing a lot of their stored food to decay before it freezes. [caption id="attachment_36497" align="alignleft" width="300"] Polar Bear and Cub in Churchill Manitoba. Photo by Charmaine Paquette.[/caption] Arctic areas are warming quicker than other areas and sea ice melting along with glaciers and ice caps has far-reaching impacts. There is more at risk from a warming Arctic than just Polar Bears – there are also the Atlantic Walrus, Ringed Seals, Black Guillemots and many more that are affected. Atlantic Walrus’ like to climb out on ice or islands. With climate change, many areas are now ice-free and with rising sea levels some islands are no longer above water. Climate change also brings with it another threat for this species – increased shipping and people – definite threats to this sensitive and easily disturbed animal. Ringed Seals typically give birth in early April in areas that are dug in snowdrifts. But with warmer springs, these birth lairs can collapse, exposing the pups to predators, like Polar Bears. Black Guillemots are birds of the northern seas. Arctic Cod was the preferred food for the parents to feed the chicks, but with Arctic Cod becoming scarce due to an increase in sea surface temperatures, chicks are now fed sculpin which doesn’t offer near the same amount of nourishment. Not all species are able to move north and it seems that for many of them, even for those that can, climate change is happening too quickly for them to keep up. Even if they are able to expand their range, it doesn’t happen without consequences. Entering new territories could mean more competition for food and interactions with new species. Some species are already at their northern limit. Where would they go? While some animals are able to respond to these changes, many species won’t be able to move fast enough, which may result in die-offs if they are not able to adapt in other ways. Even some birds and butterflies – mobile species – are not able to expand their ranges fast enough to keep up with the speed of climate change, and for some there may be nowhere else to go. [caption id="attachment_35058" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of Northern Leopard Frog Northern Leopard Frog by Elena Kreuzbert[/caption] A warming planet changes the spread of invasive species (both animals and plants) and habitat loss threatens Canada’s ecologically significant species. Time is running out for the Northern Leopard Frog in the prairies and the Rocky Mountains; there are many more species of flora and fauna that are affected by global warming. We cannot continue to simply ignore climate change. Land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are three different faces of the same central challenge: the increasingly dangerous impact of our choices on the health of our natural environment. While global warming has happened in the past, it is – this time -- hastened by human activities. It is up to us to slow it down and mitigate its impact. Wild species are worth protecting. Let’s remember that we have a responsibility to other creatures and to the planet. Let us all do our part. Steve Gahbauer
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Sources: Canadian Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Toronto Wildlife Centre, CBC documentary, and field notes. Nature Notes are posted as blogs on the website of Nature Canada. Earlier editions are archived on the websites of the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre and of the Rouge Valley Naturalists.

Hazell: Testimony at the House of Commons for Bill C-69
Parliament of Canada, House of Commons.
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Hazell: Testimony at the House of Commons for Bill C-69

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] On Thursday, April 18th, Stephen Hazell, the Director of Conservation and General Counsel at Nature Canada testified before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The Committee is considering Bill C-69, an omnibus bill to reform laws governing environmental assessment, the National Energy Board, and navigable waters. Read the following brief for an update on Nature Canada's position of Bill C-69. Stephen remarked that the proposed Impact Assessment Act includes important reforms such as establishing a strong Impact Assessment Agency; requiring assessments to consider a project's contribution to sustainability, Indigenous knowledge and Canada's climate commitments; and increasing transparency in decisions by requiring the Minister and Cabinet to provide reasons for approvals.


Nature Canada argued in it’s brief  and in Stephen’s testimony that the Impact Assessment Act needed amendments to achieve the following:
  • Restore legal requirements and reduce Ministerial discretion to reduce process uncertainty and potential political interference
  • Ensure assessments of projects likely to have adverse environmental effects that are subject to a federal decision
  • Ensure meaningful public participation in impact assessments
  • Put the federal house in order by strengthening impact assessments of projects on federal lands or that are federally financed
  • Restrict the role of energy regulators in the review panel process
  • Establish a legislative framework that ensures that regional assessment and strategic assessment tools are workable.

If you want to protect nature in Canada, take this opportunity to restore and strengthen legal protections by signing our petition!


After the committee hearing, Stephen touched upon other facets of Bill C-69 and the Impact Assessment Act that would effect nature in Canada, such as the proposed hosting of the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Alberta. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78n_ywIHOgQ&feature=youtu.be
Maura Forrest at National Post quoted Stephen, highlighting that "Environmental groups point out that the government has yet to publish its project list, meaning it's still unclear which activities will be subject to assessment. Even those projects on the list won't necessarily be assessed, because the government can decide they don't require review after a new early planning phase the Liberals have introduced."

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Updated: Our Thoughts on Environmental Laws & Bill C-69
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Updated: Our Thoughts on Environmental Laws & Bill C-69

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="150"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] On April 12, Stephen Hazell, the Director of Conservation and General Counsel of Nature Canada was a featured guest on the Energy and the Environment segment with Before the Bell on the Sixth Estate. Appearing on the Energy and the Environment segment, Stephen discusses the concerns and issues surrounding Bill C-69, and the new environmental assessment review process. Click here to view the entire episode, with Stephen appearing between the 30:00 and 35:00 minute marks. After the segment, Before the Bell reporter Dale Smith highlighted Stephen's comment that “Having certainty at the political level is super important and we don’t have that with the bill,” Stephen noted that it makes it hard to judge intentions, and that while every government likes to have more discretion, the business and environmental communities like rules. “Impact assessment is about providing information for decision makers so that we can make sound decisions […] The Impact Assessment Act that has been proposed is a good step.” Although the bill is a good step,  Nature Canada's believes that the draft environmental assessment law is not nearly strong enough, and some industries are already lobbying to weaken it further. Nature Canada’s advocacy team is hard at work here in Ottawa standing up as your voice for nature. We testified in the House of Commons on April 18, and are working for amendments to better conserve nature in May and June. Over the summer, we will be preparing for additional debate of environmental law reform in the Senate this fall and working on the proposed regulations. In order to make sustainable, science-based decisions that will protect nature, wildlife and the health of all Canadians, here are some of the critical amendments to Bill C-69 we want included:

  • Expand the list of projects that trigger environmental assessment; merely evaluating the worst of the worst isn’t good enough.
  • Developments in National Parks and National Wildlife Areas, and in critical habitat for species at risk should be fully assessed as a matter of law.
  • The public must have a legal right to participate meaningfully in assessments, and the right to ask questions at hearings.
Click here to read our recent Letter to the Minister – outlining our concerns about “Project list” and how to improve and broaden consultation.
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Injured Baby Birds: Debunking Common Myths and Dispensing Practical Advice
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Injured Baby Birds: Debunking Common Myths and Dispensing Practical Advice

This blog was written by Helene Van Doninck, wildlife veterinarian at the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Truro, Nova Scotia, and edited by Samantha Nurse. Spring is the busiest season of all for wildlife rehabilitators. It’s baby bird season! This is the season that rehabilitation centres start to stock up on supplies and prepare for an exponential growth in phone calls. The first priority is to help injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife; however, we often spend a considerable amount of time talking to people to help us decide if an animal is really orphaned or in distress. Many times people just aren’t familiar with the natural history of that species and many situations that look like an animal in peril, really are just an animal exhibiting normal behaviour. We uncover the truth behind some of the myths associated with baby birds, as well as tips on what to do if you find a baby bird in your yard!

Myth #1: Baby birds found outside the nest have been orphaned.

[caption id="attachment_34262" align="alignright" width="394"]Image of a Bobolink feeding young Bobolinks feeding its young[/caption] It’s not common knowledge that most baby birds (especially songbirds) spend a lot of time alone once they fledge from the nest. People often see a young bird alone and assume it is an orphan  this is usually not true. Songbirds will hatch from their egg in a nest and are called nestlings at this point. When they make that first leap out of the nest (and are now called fledglings), they often either fall or flutter to the ground and spend several days on the ground under the watchful eye of the parents. The parents likely have up to five or six fledglings that have left the nest over a period of a few days. Both parents are working at top speed to find food from dawn till dusk.  They not only have to feed these young birds (one bug at a time!), but they need to keep track of where the babies are (they are often guided by the calls of their babies) before racing off to find the next morsel of food. They also protect them from predators,  try to lead them to areas where there is cover, and eventually teach them to forage and fly on their own. These behaviours are often learned by observing the parent, though the flight is instinctual for most birds. Young birds are at a high risk of predation. Other wild birds and mammals can prey on them, and in most parts of the world, the domestic cat is also the cause of millions of songbird deaths. We regularly ask people to keep cats as indoor pets, or at the very least limit their outdoor time during baby season. There are some types of birds that will spend most of their time with the parents, again due to their natural history. Birds like ducks, geese, and pheasants keep their young with them and many people have observed these species with the hatchlings following in a tight cluster. These species don’t manually feed their young; instead the young observe the foraging and pecking behaviour of the parents and learn to feed themselves in this manner. For this reason, anytime a down-covered young of any of these species is found alone it requires intervention, especially if it is calling loudly with no response from a parent.

Myth #2: Baby birds handled by humans are rejected by their parents.

A common myth we hear is that if a young bird is touched and has human scent on it, the parents will reject it. This is untrue as birds have an extremely poor sense of smell (though we don’t recommend handling wild birds unless it is absolutely necessary). We have successfully returned young birds back to their parents up to four days after they were taken. However, keep in mind that parents may abandon a nest that is repeatedly disturbed, so try to avoid this, especially when the young are very new. At this age they require high volumes of food and warmth and the parents need to be very vigilant to ward off predators. Excessive disturbance by curious humans may disturb normal activities, resulting in the loss of the nest. What can you do if you find a baby bird? [caption id="attachment_36370" align="alignleft" width="449"]Photo of Juvenile Western Wood-Pewees by Tony LePrieur. Photo of Juvenile Western Wood-Pewees by Tony LePrieur.[/caption] First, you need to determine if it is a baby bird. If it has no feathers or very few feathers, that makes it more obvious. Fledglings, however, are usually mostly feathered but have some obvious differences in comparison to adults:
  1. Fledglings have wispy or fluffy down feathers poking through the regular feathers, which are most commonly seen on the head.
  2. They have shorter tail feathers and often have gape flanges which look like large yellow/beige/orange “lips” protruding from the sides of the beak.
  3. They may also have only feather shafts, which look like a drinking straw with a feather growing from it, where one would expect to see flight or tail feathers.
Naked nestlings found on the ground from a destroyed nest always need help. The best option is to re-nest the birds if possible. If that can’t happen, an artificial nest can be constructed from a hanging plant basket or other basket, making sure there are drainage holes in the bottom. The best placement for this basket is as near as possible to the original nest and hopefully shielded somewhat from direct sunlight and rain. You can then back away and watch from a distance with binoculars. Once the nestlings are hungry and call, the parents will usually feed them in an artificial nest. They may be suspicious at first, but instinct often overrides that and the parents should accept this situation. If not, please contact a wildlife rehabilitator or your wildlife officials for more advice as these birds may need to be taken into care. We ALWAYS try to reunite the parents and young as the parents are much better at raising the offspring than any human. Fledglings by definition have left the nest. Sometimes well-meaning people who have been monitoring a nest will put them back, only to have them jump out again. This is normal! If you are unsure if a fledgling has parents tending to it, the best option is to watch from a distance with binoculars. The parents will stay away if you stand too close. If all is well, you will likely see a parent bird land next to the fledgling, poke a piece of food into its mouth and take off again to find more food. If you are unsure about this, another thing you can do is check for feces. Young birds will poop frequently when they are being fed regularly. If the parent is tending to them they usually produce poop after every feeding, often every 20 minutes to one hour. You can even place a shallow lid under the bird to look for this. If the parent bird is not showing up and the fledgling is calling repeatedly for hours with no response, this may be an orphan and you should call a rehabilitator. There are several other situations that warrant rescue of a bird, including obvious blood or injury, being  handled by a dog or cat and knowing for certain that the bird is an orphan. Keep in mind however, that most young birds on the ground are normal fledglings with parents. If you find one in a perilous situation, you can try to coax it to an area with cover or put it on a low branch, realizing that it may jump down again immediately. People often ask us what they can do to help baby birds. Reasons for songbird population declines are complex, but from our perspective, we have three key pieces of advice: 1- Preserve habitat: Leave brush piles for cover and preserve large trees and snags for cavity nesters. 2- Do not use pesticides birds need insects to feed their young. 3- Keep your cats indoors. These steps will lead to more young surviving the fledgling stage, which will lead to more breeding adults for the future. Watch more videos of baby birds under the care of the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. 
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Join Us for Bird Day 2018!
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Join Us for Bird Day 2018!

Join Nature Canada in celebrating World Migratory Bird Day with the Ottawa Children's Festival on Saturday, May 12th! Celebrations will be held at LeBreton Flats in Ottawa, and will be kicking off at 10:00 AM.


Nature Canada will be leading three Guided Nature Walks at 10:30 AM, 12:00 PM and 2:30 PM.  These walks will be lead by Nature Canada's Naturalist Director and resident bird-expert, Ted Cheskey, as well as other expert naturalists. These walks will enable everyone to explore their surroundings and discover the birds species with whom they share their local urban spaces. Between the guided nature walks there will also be Birds of Prey Flight Shows with Falcon Ed at 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Falcon Ed is a company that specializes in falconry, training birds of prey, ecological control and educational presentations. You can learn more at: http://fauconeduc.biz/. [caption id="attachment_32840" align="alignnone" width="940"]Image of 2016 Bird Day Event 2016 Bird Day Event. Photography by Nina Stavlund[/caption]

Schedule for the day

Here is the schedule for all activities in which Nature Canada will be involved at the World Migratory Bird Day event in Ottawa, in conjunction with the Ottawa Children's Festival: [custom_table style="1"]
10:00 AM  Opening Ceremony
10:30 AM  Guided Nature Walk (45 mins)
 11:15 AM  Birds of Prey Flight Show by Falcon Ed
 12:00 PM

Welcome from Environment and Climate, Change Minister, Catherine McKenna

 12:30 PM Guided Nature Walk (90 mins)
 1:30 PM Birds of Prey Flight Show by Falcon Ed
All Day Activities at the Nature Canada booth
[/custom_table] Our local partner, Earth Path will have some bird-related activities for kids at their booth between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Earth Path is a non-profit organization based in the Ottawa region, dedicated to fostering meaningful relationships between people and the natural world. For more information on Earth Path, please visit their official website. For more information on the many fun and interactive activities that will be taking place at the Ottawa Children's Festival, please visit their official website. Nature Canada would like to thank Science Odyssey for their financial support for the World Migratory Bird Day event in Ottawa. Science Odyssey is Canada's largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, featuring fun and inspiring experiences in museums, research centres, laboratories and classrooms from coast to coast.  Without them, we wouldn't be able to welcome back the birds! For more information on their mission and other events, visit their official website.

Plan your trip to Nature Canada’s World Migratory Bird Day!

The Ottawa World Migratory Bird Day event will be held at LeBreton Flats, off the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway, directly in front of the Canadian War Museum at 1 Vimy Place, Ottawa ON  K1A 0M8. For those commuting by bus, the closest transit station is the LeBreton Flats Station. Those that are planning on commuting by car, consult the information on indoor parking at the Canadian War Museum.
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The Iconic Gray Wolf
Photo by: Lynn Clement
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The Iconic Gray Wolf

Written by Nature Canada's writing intern, Gabriel Planas Nature Canada’s featured species for May is the Gray Wolf. Latin Name: Canis Lupus Life Span: 6-8 years Description: Also known as, timber or western wolves, Gray Wolves, are one of the most iconic and mythologized animals on planet earth. Known for their beautiful gray and sometimes golden brown coats, these wolves can be found in a variety of environments and continents, from Asia to Europe and North America. This notoriety almost lead to their extinction in the southern United States due to the popularity of their pelts and their tendency to hunt animals that humans have domesticated. Sometimes weighing up to 120 pounds and measuring almost six feet in length, these apex predators would be a frightening sight to stumble across in the wild. Despite their intimidating size and the 1500 pounds per square inch of pressure provided by their jaws, Gray Wolves hunt in packs to take down their prey. Hunting: Their preferred prey, ungulates (Deer, elk, moose, caribou, bison), are experts in evading wolves. 84-87 out of 100 of prey escape while being hunted, meaning that a pack of wolves may not eat for days. For this reason, Wolves will often eat 20% of their own body weight. When wolves do kill their prey, they will often be the young, the old or the sick of the herd they are hunting. Wolves live in packs of 2 to 20, depending on the amount of prey available within their territory. This territory is marked by all manner of bodily functions (urine mostly) and is protected against other packs. Packs follow a strict hierarchical structure with an alpha male at the top, while their mate acts as their second. This pair is often the only wolves to mate in a pack with the other wolves helping to take care of the offspring. Puppies! Wolf pups are born completely blind and deaf; however, they possess a well-developed sense of smell. Litters are typically about 4-6 pups which take up to 63 days to grow inside the womb with an additional 12 to 15 days to open their eyes. These pups are not like any puppies you would see in the dog park as they begin hunting with the rest of the pack after only 7-8 months. Before this however, pups are fed milk until 4-5 weeks after which meat is provided by all members of the pack. When pups are hungry at this age, they will lick around the mouth of another wolf, which prompts the wolf to regurgitate food stored in their stomach. This provides a sort of “baby food” for wolves.

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