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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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Last Minute Gift Ideas for Nature Lovers
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Last Minute Gift Ideas for Nature Lovers

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] Need gift ideas for yourself or the nature lover in your family? We have a few suggestions that are sure to fill you and your family with holiday cheer!

Snow shoes

We're in for a long winter. Turn it into a positive and explore nature by snow shoe!

Chutneys, Relishes, and Other Preserves

Great if they’re from your own garden, or purchased from a local grower. If you know someone with a real appreciation for good food, you can make them happy all year long with a membership in an organic cooperative that keeps them supplied with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Head Lamp

For night time hikes and cross-country skiing a headlamp can really come in handy! Try to find one that’s light-weight (2-5 ounces), waterproof and has an adjustable light. [caption id="attachment_23536" align="alignright" width="225"]Image of binoculars Photo of binoculars[/caption]

Binoculars

Binoculars are a great gift for your bird watching friends and loved ones! Be sure to get ones with a strap so that way they can carry them around in their bird watching activities.

Bird Feed

Birds depend on reliable food sources during the winter. Suggestions: Sunflower seeds are favored by chickadees, evening grosbeaks, tufted titmice, blue jays, finches and cardinals, among others. White proso millet is preferred by ground-feeding birds such as sparrows. Corn, on or off the cob, are enjoyed by medium sized birds including the mourning dove and common grackle.

Bird Feeder Accessories

Spruce up the feeder! Consider attaching a convenience perch – simply a small tree branch or stick – to the side of the feeder to reduce congestion and provide a place for birds to crack open seeds.

Bicycle Accessories

Anything bicycle-related makes a good gift, such as a new bike helmet or a gift certificate for a comprehensive bicycle tune-up. A pass for a guided hike or wilderness trip is just the thing to get someone active outdoors! [caption id="attachment_23542" align="alignleft" width="245"]bike-926063_1920 Grad some great bicycle accessories![/caption]

Compost Bin

If you’re a gardener, composting is an ideal way to turn non-animal kitchen and yard waste into free fertilizer. If you’re not a gardener, composting is still a practical way to reduce the volume of solid waste that your household produces. Lee Valley Tools has a cool indoor stainless steel compost bin; it’s attractive enough to put on your countertop, and it comes with biodegradable compost bags.

Singing Bird Clock

Keep track of the time and learn common bird calls with a singing bird clock. Most models allow you to turn the sound off at night, and during the day, the top of each hour is hailed by a house finch, mourning dove, blue jay, house wren, tufted titmouse, or many other species.

Tree Faces

These amusing outdoor décor items add whimsy to your backyard or garden. It’s also fun to see a person’s reaction when they finally notice your tree has a face! Caution: Get the faces with the wrap-around attachments; don’t nail to the tree!

The Bedside Book of Birds, by Graeme Gibson

For armchair naturalists who appreciate words as much as birds. Poetry, prose, myths and beautiful illustrations make this book a true joy to read. Available in virtually any book store, including Chapters.

The Birder's Conservation Handbook: 100 North American Birds at Risk by Jeff Wells

Finally! An easy-to-read book written specifically to help birders and researchers understand the status of North America's most threatened birds, and what can be done to protect them. The Birder's Conservation Handbook is beautifully illustrated and a must-read for anyone who loves birds. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="134"] The Birder's Conservation Handbook[/caption]

Waterproof Notebooks

Don’t let wet weather keep you indoors! Bird listing and sketching is still possible with a waterproof notebook, and we especially like the ones that fit inside a pocket.

Breeding Bird Atlas

For the serious birder in your family, a bird atlas is a survey of the nesting areas of birds in a particular region. You can even contribute to a bird atlas by participating in local bird counts.

Programmable Thermostat or Water-saving Showerhead

Conserving energy means preserving wildlife. There are plenty of ways to reduce energy consumption around the home.

Make a donation in someone’s name to Nature Canada or the conservation organization of your choice

There are many worthy causes that work on the local, regional and national level to protect nature. Give you and your loved ones peace of mind this year.
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Connect with Nature: Take a Fall Hike
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Connect with Nature: Take a Fall Hike

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] This is a great time to take a hike in nature. The scenery is absolutely stunning and there are still a few weeks before you have to break out your winter jacket. Here are five tips to make the most of your trek through the freshly fallen leaves. 1) Bird watching: There is lots of bird watching to be done as our feathered friends migrate south for the winter. Before you head out on your hike, check out our e-Books to see what birds you could see. Also it is a great idea to pack a nature guide to help identify different species and to record your findings. 2) Join a guided nature walk: Many communities across Canada have clubs that engage local experts to lead public hikes. This is a great way to meet fellow nature lovers and learn more about the natural geography of your area. Keep an eye on local publications or perform a quick internet search to find a guided hike in your area.People walking in the forest 3) Bring your camera: There are few times of the year when nature is more beautiful than it is now. Pack your camera and capture some of the beautiful fall scenery you encounter along the way. 4) Take a snack (or two): Before you head out, prepare some nutritious snacks that will keep you fueled along the way. Cheese and crackers, apple slices and trail mix are a few easy-to-pack snacks that offer valuable nutrients for your hike. For a more seasonal treat, save the seeds from the inside of your pumpkin and roast them the night before you head out. 5) Do a leaf craft: Want to create a souvenir of your adventure? Bring a large hardbound book and a roll of wax or parchment paper. Collect a few leaves of different shapes and sizes, press them between two sheets of paper and tuck them in the book to keep them safe. When you get home, place the leaves between two pieces of white paper, rub with a crayon and you’re done! Be sure to stay on the trails you encounter and share with us any other tips you have on taking a fall hike!

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Connect with Nature: Enjoy Fall Colours
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Connect with Nature: Enjoy Fall Colours

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] All fall begins, there is still plenty of fun to be had in the great outdoors. Beginning in October, a steady autumn wave makes its way across the country, transforming local leaves into vibrant colours of red, yellow and orange. This creates an absolutely spectacular backdrop for an adventure in nature! There are lots of ways to soak up the fall colours. Five great fall activities include:

  1. Taking time to head to a local park for a walk and bringing along a camera to capture your picturesque surroundings. [caption id="attachment_24800" align="alignright" width="296"]Image of a Bufflehead Image of a Bufflehead[/caption]
  2. Go out for a bike ride and enjoy various paths through Canada's National Parks filled with colour changing trees. Plus this year, you can get free admission with the 2017 Discovery Pass.
  3. Don't put away your binoculars just yet! There are still various birds in fall migration. For example, All Buffleheads Day celebrates the migration of this species in British Columbia. As well, Point Pelee is a great spot to see a wide variety of birds making their way south.
  4. Grab the whole family and enjoy a picnic in the fall foliage! Studies have shown numerous health benefits of both adults and children spending time in nature.
  5. Do a fall craft! Use the colourful leaves as placemats for your home. Full instructions to this craft can be found here.
The timing of the change in colour depends on a number of variables so be sure to check regional foliage reports for the best time to experience the vibrant colours of fall in your area. Can't make it to a park? Take a stroll through your neighborhood to see how your local trees have changed with the colder weather! No matter where you choose to view the foliage, take advantage of this colourful time to enjoy nature and all it has to offer.
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Green Office: Make Your Workplace Environmentally Friendly
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Green Office: Make Your Workplace Environmentally Friendly

[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. Earth Day is in the spring, but that doesn’t mean your workplace can’t be green all year round! Even small changes, like switching to a reusable coffee cup or choosing not to print a long document, can add up to make a big difference. In addition to helping the environment, taking steps to work greener can also help you become a healthier person, whether it's adding walking to your commute, making more mindful eating choices, or breathing in cleaner air in your cubicle. As the summer winds down and many of us return to the regular daily grind this autumn, let's consider taking up some of these easy suggestions for creating an environmentally friendly work space. Change up your daily commute. It is common knowledge now that automobiles contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Try alternative modes of getting to work besides driving alone—carpool, take public transit, bike, walk all or partway. Even doing this once or twice a week will make a difference. At Nature Canada, 90% of our staff bike, walk, or bus to work! aloe_veraPut a plant in your workspace. Not only do live plants liven up a dreary, sterile indoor space, they also boost oxygen levels and remove harmful indoor pollutants such as carbon dioxide and formaldehyde from the air. English ivy and the snake plant are two examples that do not require a lot of sunlight. If you have ample sunlight, try aloe vera. Mother Nature Network has a handy infographic to help you pick out the plant ideal for your office environment. Use paper prudently. Think carefully before printing—can you read a document on screen or save it to your desktop or network instead of placing it in your file cabinet? Set up your computers and copiers to use both sides of paper when printing or photocopying. Review the length of your document before you print. If possible, adjust to reduce the number of pages printed. Save old envelopes and reuse them—stick a label over the previous address. Use less-attractive used envelopes for inter-office delivery if you don’t want to mail them out. coffee beansProvide and use shade-grown coffee to be bird-friendly. Organic and fair-trade coffee as well is even better. What makes shade-grown coffee in particular bird-friendly? The clearcutting of forests for sun-grown coffee “is believed to be one of the more significant causes of habitat loss on the Andean slopes of the Canada Warbler’s wintering grounds.” For more information, see “How You Can Help” on our Canada Warbler International Conservation Initiative page. Ditch the disposable cups. Canadians use 1.6 billion disposable coffee cups annually, and it can be confusing on how or if to recycle them. Bring a standard or a good-quality commuter mug to work instead to use for your daily cup(s) of joe. Coffee shops like Tim Hortons and Starbucks will even give you a small discount for bringing in a reusable cup.  Use and encourage the use of reusable containers for food. Store both homemade or take-out lunches and snacks in glassware or reusable lunch bags. Plastic bags are often not recycled, clog drainage systems, and cause serious harm to animals—pieces of them have been found lodged in the stomachs of birds. Use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies. Conventional cleaning products can release fumes that cause dizziness, asthma, and other health problems. Voice your support for healthier cleaning products to your institution's appropriate contacts. In your workspace, use nature-friendly cleaning supplies such as white vinegar. Also check out the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning for vetted recommendations. recycling_containersDispose of waste responsibly. Sometimes items that can be recycled or composted ends up in the garbage. Create clear signage that lets everyone know what goes into each bin. Make sure there are plenty of recycling containers near printers, photocopiers, and desks. Reduce workspace energy consumption. Turn off your computer monitor when you leave your desk or set your monitor to power off after a certain amount of time. Turn lights on only when needed, and turn all office lights off at night. Have the last person to leave the workplace check that unneeded lights are out. Turning off building lights not only saves energy, it also helps enable safer migration of birds. Talk to and collaborate with your colleagues to share and spread ideas for going green. Set up a carpool calendar. Start a staff piggy bank to buy sugar and creamer in bulk instead of individual packets. Encourage each other to bring lunch from home and perhaps eat together. As a group, ask management to make environmentally friendly changes to your workplace. We hope these ideas are helpful! How do you keep your workplace green?

Connect with Nature: 5 Easy End-of-Summer Activities
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Connect with Nature: 5 Easy End-of-Summer Activities

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] Summer may be starting to wind down, but before we all head back to school and work, take a few minutes to connect with nature. Here are some of our top choices for some end-of-summer outdoor activities: 1. Get in one last camping trip. Pack up and head out for a day or a weekend surrounded by nature. Check out these five tips to be a nature-friendly camper! 2. Explore your city by bike. Get two wheels on the road and tour your town on a family bike outing. Ride familiar routes or discover a new favourite trail.Image of a man biking on a path 3. Go on a nature scavenger hunt. There is so much to explore right in your own backyard! Put a new spin on your familiar surroundings by turning each nature experience into a challenge that can be checked off your list. 4. Stay up late stargazing. Evenings are still fairly warm, but the sun sets just a bit earlier these days, providing ample time to explore the night skies. Lie in the grass and watch the stars dance through the dark. 5. Throw a nature tea party. Pack up some healthy snacks, juice or tea and your best picnic blanket to have an afternoon treat in the outdoors. Enjoy the decorations and soundtrack provided by Mother Nature. What are you doing to celebrate nature as summer winds down? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!

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Your guide to fun summer activities at Canada’s national parks and historic sites
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Your guide to fun summer activities at Canada’s national parks and historic sites

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption]

As summer is in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about how you can make the most of those long, hot summer days.

Here’s an idea: plan a trip to one of Canada’s 200 national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas! Plus, this year these sites are all free to access with the 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass! Whether you need a pit-stop where you can cool off, take a swim and have lunch, or you have always dreamed of a family vacation where you can tune into nature or immerse yourself in our nation’s history, there’s an adventure waiting for you at these of natural and historic areas.

10 things to do in a day

1. Grab a bite – With benches, washroom facilities and food concession stands, national parks and historic sites can be great places to stop for a snack and some fresh air. Walk along a trail and find a quieter, shaded area for a perfect afternoon picnic. 2. Hike a trail – You don’t need to be an ambitious hiker to enjoy the trails at most national parks. Take a walk along the coast, hike to a viewpoint or find an interpretive trail where you’ll learn more about the wildlife that calls this park home. You can follow this guide of 5 easy tips to prepare for any hike! [caption id="attachment_23400" align="alignright" width="313"]algonquin outlook Algonquin National Park[/caption] 3. Get out on the water – A relaxing and peaceful way to explore the rivers, lakes and coasts of Canada’s national parks is by boat. Canoeing, kayaking and row boating are the best ways to enjoy the lakes at parks like the La Mauricie National Park. You can glide quietly, closely observing the natural world on and around the water. 4. Get snap-happy – You never know when the perfect photo opportunity will come along when you’re exploring national parks. Teeming with wildlife and spectacular vistas, national parks are a great place for amateur and professional photographers alike to capture iconic species and landmarks on film. With your best photos, be sure to submit them to our Nature Photo Contest for a chance to win some amazing prizes! 5. Relax for a picnic - Sit at a picnic bench or on the ground, either way, you will be able to relax in the beauty of nature! See what wildlife you can spot and get some shade under a tree. Be sure to bring your food in tupperware to reduce waste and leave nothing behind. 6. Enjoy a performance – During the summer, you can watch re-enactments of famous battles, military drills and everyday Victorian life at many national historic sites. If you’re visiting Montreal, why not discover Old Montreal's little-known heritage jewel the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site in honour of our famous Father of Confederation? 7. Take a step back in time – Ever wonder what life was really like just a few hundred years ago? Step right into 19th-century life by dressing up in period costumes, becoming a Mountie for a day and sampling heritage recipes at places like Fort Walsh. [caption id="attachment_10588" align="alignleft" width="288"]Image of a flock of common terns Common Terns at Pelee Point, Point Pelee National Park[/caption] 8. Get to know our feathered friends – Try to identify as many birds species as you can as you stroll along a trail or drive through a national park. At the southernmost point in Canada, Point Pelee National Park is also one of the most spectacular nature hotspots in North America. 9. Explore an underwater world – Discover a world of vibrant marine life at Canada’s four national marine conservation areas. Check for sea stars in tidal pools. Spy whales off the coast. And don’t forget to look up – you don’t want to miss seabirds flying to their nesting colonies. Want to take an even closer look? Explore shipwrecks as you snorkel or take the glass bottom boat at Fathom Five National Marine Park. 10. Tour the past – Let Parks Canada interpreters guide you through key moments in Canada’s history. Their wealth of knowledge brings the stories to life as you walk in the footsteps of some of our most famous Canadians. If you’re in the Maritimes this summer, don’t miss the Halifax Citadel – this attraction is a nationally recognized site is a "must see" for any history buff. Got more time? If you plan on staying for more than just one day, there are plenty of activities that will bring you closer to nature. Extend your day-hike to a multi-day hike, add an overnight stay at a campground or spend another day practicing your surfing skills.
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Common Bird Feeding Myths
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Common Bird Feeding Myths

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] Feeding birds can be a rewarding experience, and a great way to connect with nature. But are you really helping your feathered friends? Here's the truth about some common bird feeding myths:

Myth: Feeding birds prevents them from migrating.

Fact: Birds migrate in response to factors such as length of daylight and weather, not because of food availability. In fact, birds need more food during long migrations, so your feeder may be a welcome stop for species you don't normally see in your area.

Myth: Birds become dependent on feeders.Image of a bird at a bird feeder

Fact: Most birds use many sources of food and do not rely on just one. If your feeder happens to go empty, most birds will find food elsewhere, although you'll have to work harder to bring them back to your yard. Loss of natural habitat due to human development does make it more difficult each year for birds to find the necessary food, particularly during the winter months, so providing a ready source of seeds, fruits or suet can give many birds a leg up.

Myth: The mixed seed at the grocery store is bad.

Fact: Some mixed seed can be bad, while other grocery-store varieties will provide quality for your feeder; the key is in the ingredients. Filler in cheap feed includes lots of milo, wheat, and barley. There may also be inedible objects such as sticks and empty hulls visible in the mix. These seeds are more likely to attract pesky birds and result in more wasted seed on the ground around your feeder. A good mix will have some form of sunflower seed and may also include peanut bits, safflower and millet.
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Connect with Nature: April Showers
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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

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Spring Tips to Green Your Home
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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.

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