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Indigenous Action and The Red Knot
The Red Knot
The Rufa Red Knot is a subspecies of arctic-breeding shorebird that breed in the central arctic of Canada. It has a long, thin beak for probing sand, silt and mud. Its long legs allow it to navigate the shallow waters of the tidal flats, beaches, rocky headlands and coastal wetlands where it gathers to find safety in numbers from predators. Long wings allow it to travel thousands of kilometres per day during its migratory period. Rufa Red Knots fly over 30,000 kilometers a year, traveling from the central arctic of Canada to the southern tip of Chile. They brood up to four eggs in June for about three weeks, after which the mother starts her migration soon after the eggs hatch, while the father continues to tend its young until they can fly. These unique and vital birds are officially endangered, with only one Red Knot currently living for every ten that were alive 50 years ago.
Red Knots face many challenges when migrating, which have become only more numerous over the years due to humanity’s influence on the environment. Stop-over habitats are especially at risk of being destroyed by industrial and urban development projects that range from city expansion to resorts and to even shrimp farms. Recreational human activities, as well as feral cats and dogs, can often scare away shorebirds from stop over areas, leaving them unable to rest or feed appropriately on their journey south. These difficulties are further complicated by their migration season lining up with tropical storm season.
[button link="http://naturecanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Rufus.pdf" size="medium" target="_self" color="red" lightbox="true "]Make sure to check out our short comic illustrating the struggles of being Rufus the Red Knot here![/button]
James Bay Cree Community Involvement with the Red Knot
Communities such as the Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) on southern James Bay are very interested in conserving Red Knot populations that pass through their homelands on James Bay, with the help of their partners in government, research, and non-governmental groups.
The habitat used by the knots is the same habitat that supports geese that migrate through at a different time. Geese are a staple of the Cree diet. The MCFN are increasingly participating in surveys of shorebirds, including Red Knots. For the knots, many are outfitted with bands on their lets, including a coloured “flag” that, based on the colour, can be used to determine where the bird was captured.
Keeping an eye out for the colored flags of previously banded birds is one way that local people are able to add to the knowledge of this species. Furthermore, to help scientists further track the movements of Red Knots, MCFN has participated in CWS-led efforts to attach nano transmitters to little backpacks on some birds that can be detected by receiver antennae erected around the James Bay and throughout other locations in North, Central and South America. This system is known as Motus, and is a project of Bird Studies Canada that allows for tracking of bird movements in real time. The transmitter’s signal can be detected within about 15 kilometres of a receiving station.
The Moose Cree First Nation is pursuing nomination of the coastal area of James Bay within their homelands as a WHSRN (Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network) site. A WHSRN is a conservation strategy created in the 1980s aimed at preserving nesting, breeding, and staging habitats. Establishing a WHSRN in James Bay would be a great achievement for the Cree, and the shorebird conservation community, who have recognized the importance of this area for shorebirds for decades. Nature Canada has been supporting MCFN efforts with the nomination, and continues to do so, through the support of the Commission on Environmental Cooperation.
Learn more about what the Moose Cree First Nation are doing for Shorebird populations here:
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Wasp trap TRAPSTIK should be banned immediately
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Nature Canada is happy to report that efforts to ban the sale and use of Rescue’s Trapstik product have resulted in the Producer pulling its product from the shelves of its distributors. We commend the company on taking this decision so fast, and hopefully preventing any further unnecessary suffering of wildlife. We also urge anyone who has the product in use currently to immediately remove it from the environment and dispose of it safely. If you find birds or bats stuck to the product, please transport it/ them immediately to an animal care centre on this list.
[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"] Ted Cheskey Senior Conservation Manager[/caption]
We call on the stores that market the RESCUE product called Trapstik, a wasp and insect trap, to remove the product from their shelves immediately. The product is a visual lure designed to attract wasps, then hold them to a sticky surface until they die. It also can capture small birds, such as a flock of Chickadees, as shown in the images on this news clip from CTV.
The company claims to have sold over a million and received 12 people reports of bird captures. Let’s be clear what their damage control statement means and doesn’t mean. Twelve people may have reported bird kills, but how many others observed bird kills but did not report them? How many people felt guilt or fear of prosecution because they thought that they had broken a law (which they had – it is illegal to harm a migratory bird in Canada or the US for that matter), or because they simply didn’t care? Probably the number of unreported bird deaths is far higher than the reported number.
[caption id="attachment_14783" align="alignright" width="252"] Red-Breasted Nuthatch[/caption]
In reviewing some website postings on the product, I came across the following one that sings praises to the product but in the video of “proof” of its effectiveness, inadvertently shows that it catches many other animals than those targeted, including even a bat! The Little Brown Myotis (formerly Little Brown Bat) is an endangered species in Canada.
Based on the number of insects on the killing stick in the video, it is not a stretch to imagine the Red-breasted Nuthatch, which is calling in the background in the video, landing on the stick to feed on the insects and becoming entrapped itself.
In our view, this product poses far too great a risk to wildlife and should be immediately removed from store shelves and banned in Canada. We call on the retailers and any other distributors to immediately remove this product from their shelves and on the federal government to declare this product a hazardous substance to birds and bats and ban its use. We also call on Canadians, including retailers and distributors, to be more vigilant and skeptical about these types of products that result in environmental damages not foreseen by their designers. Companies that sell and these types of products ultimately share in the liabilities resulting from their use.
Western Wood-Pewees by Tony LePrieur
Wood-Pewees — East versus West
[caption id="attachment_31795" align="alignleft" width="150"] Amanda Simard, Writing Intern[/caption]
This blog was written by writing intern Amanda Simard.
This month’s calendar photo features three young Wood-Pewees sitting on a branch at Fish Creek National Park, in Calgary. The birds in the photo are Western Wood-Pewees, but Canada is home to both the Western and Eastern variety. Here is an overview of both species!
Both varieties of Wood-Pewees nest in trees. Their nests are made of woven grass and are covered in moss or lichen for camouflage. Their eggs are white or creamy with brown blotches.
While it is difficult to visually distinguish between the pewees, the Eastern Wood-Pewee has a very distinctive “Pee-ah-wee” call. In contrast, the Western Wood-Pewee has a harsh, burry “pee-eer” call.
Take a listen to the Eastern Wood-Pewee.Where to find them
As their name suggest, Western Wood-Pewees are found in western Canada and the western United States. As you might expect, Eastern Wood-Pewee are found in southeastern Canada and the eastern United States. Their range intersects along a narrow strip in the Great Plains.
Both species are common but have seen a 51% decline in their population between 1966 and 2014. As of 2012, the Eastern Wood-Pewee is listed under Special Concern according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and both species have no status under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).
What you can do
You can help protect the Wood-Pewees by contributing to bird conservation efforts. Make your voice heard through your ongoing and valued support to the many conservation initiatives of Nature Canada.
Why make the switch to bird-friendly coffee
[caption id="attachment_31138" align="alignleft" width="150"] Sarantia Katsaras, Bird Conservation Program Technician[/caption]
One simple way to help birds is to support shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee! In the last 30 years, over half of the shade coffee farms have been converted to sun coffee farms in order to increase production. Sun coffee farms require clear cutting forests which destroy critical bird habitat. The conversion from shade-grown to sun-grown coffee has greatly contributed to the decline of Canadian bird species that overwinter in Latin America. This includes species at risk such as the Canada Warbler and Wood Thrush.
Bird-friendly coffee has various requirements that provide a healthy habitat for birds. In order for a farm to become certified as bird-friendly, it must have the organic certification, have a minimum of 40% canopy cover and have a minimum canopy height of 12m. There is also criteria regarding the diversity of tree and shrub species, buffer zones for waterways and ground layer and leaf litter presence. Bird-friendly certified coffee farms also must be recertified every three years to ensure that they are keeping up with standards.
North Americans should support shade coffee farms in Latin America and reward the farmers for their efforts in protecting birds. If we do not support shade coffee farmers, they may be forced to abandon their practices and turn to the alternative: sun coffee, which generates higher yields but has much higher environmental costs. Because shade-grown coffee generates lower yields, it costs more to buy in stores (which is the one negative aspect of bird-friendly coffee!).
However, by paying a little extra for your coffee, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that your purchase is conserving critical habitat for birds overwintering in Latin America. Next time you purchase coffee look for the bird-friendly certification. A good place to look is Birds and Beans, all of their coffee is bird-friendly certified and they have a variety of options to suit every coffee drinker needs.
Lastly, North Americans drink one-third of the world’s coffee, which means that by making this small change, we can make a difference! Help migratory birds by making the switch today!
A brush with the Louisiana Waterthrush
This blog is written by guest blogger Eric Davidson.
While the Louisiana Waterthrush closely resembles a thrush, it’s actually a warbler. You can recognize this small bird by its dusty brown and white feathers, pink legs and always-bobbing tail.
The Louisiana Waterthrush’s habit of living along moving streams and rivers as well as their distinctive call, with the first notes of its song falling in pitch, set the bird apart from the Northern Waterthrush. The Northern Waterthrush prefers swamps and bogs, and its calls keep the same pitch.
The early bird gets the worm
The Louisiana Waterthrush makes a presence in Southern Ontario known with loud, ringing chirps. It gets there early in the spring before most other birds have arrived. Unlike many of its fellow warblers, the male Louisiana Waterthrush doesn’t sing at its wintering ground before leaving, but bursts into song when it arrives at its summer breeding territory.
And it’s not just after worms. The Louisiana Waterthrush likes to feed on insects like beetles and ants, as well as dragonflies, crustaceans, snails, small fish and seeds.
Home is where the heat is
While some Louisiana Waterthrushes make regular summer stops in southern Ontario, most live south of the border. There are between 105 and 195 pairsof the species in Canada, less than one percent of the global population, which is around 360,000. Belying its name one again, the Louisiana Waterthrush can be found from Maine, Indiana and Minnesota, to Nabraska and Kansas, down to Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.
To the envy of most Canadians, the Louisiana Waterthrush spends its winters in warm weather in the West Indies, Mexico and Central and South America.
Deforestation and habit loss have caused the number of Louisiana Woodthrush to drop over the past few years. The bird is currently protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Environment Canada has released a plan to maintain the species by encouraging conservation of breeding sites and cooperation with international bodies like Partners in Flight.
The Louisiana Waterthrush sometimes takes naps in the middle of the day—birds need a break too!
The oldest known Louisiana Waterthrush was at least 11 years old, while the average lifespan for the birds is eight years.
The Louisiana Watherthrush’s distinct, bobbing walk is noted in its genus, Motacilla, which means “wagtail” in Latin.
The Louisiana Waterthrush is a quick eater, performing up to 10 feeding maneuvers per minute.
A group of warblers can be called a “bouquet”, “confusion”, “fall”, or “wrench”.
[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"] Ted Cheskey Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks[/caption]
In 2015, nearly 150,000 individual checklists were submitted that documented over 18 million birds observed during the 4 day long Great Backyard Bird Count(GBBC). This citizen science initiative is a great way to watch birds at your feeders, keep track of what you see, and contribute to our knowledge on the distribution and abundance of birds.
In 2016, the GBBC runs from February 12 through 15. Participating is fun, simple and easy so get the whole family involved!
Here’s how it works:
All you need to do is count the number of individuals of each species you see during a single counting session, and submit a checklist for each counting session. A counting session can take 5 minutes or 30 minutes, however much time you wish to observe. You can do multiple counting sessions over a day or over all four days. From each session, you record the maximum number that you observe at any one time for each species. You can count in more than one location—but you submit a separate checklist for each location each time you count. The birds you count don’t need to be just at your feeder, but can be flying over, or anywhere that you can observed them from your observation point.
Organizers of this event are predicting a large number of unusual observations, with the El Niño weather phenomenon warming Pacific waters to temperatures matching the highest ever recorded. Information gathered and reported online at birdcount.org will help track changes in bird distribution, some of which may be traced to El Niño storms and unusual weather patterns.
Though rarities and out-of-range species are exciting, it’s important to keep track of more common birds too. Many species around the world are in steep decline and tracking changes in distribution and numbers over time is vital to determine if conservation measures are needed. Everyone can play a role.
Learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count at birdcount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada and is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
And just ‘who’ is this?
[caption id="attachment_23299" align="alignleft" width="150"] Valerie Assinewe, Guest Blogger[/caption]
The Long-Eared Owl is this month's calendar photo! This owl is generally a medium-sized bird, who is approximately 38 cm in length with a 91 cm wingspread. Many people do not know that much about this bird, so outlined below is all the basics about the bird, plus some cool facts so check them out!
Ear-tufts are prominent at the centre of its head and mainly blackish-brown with tawny edges.
Tawny-orange facial disk with blackish rim.
A white “X” across the face.
The cere is brown.
They have a grey-black beak.
Plumage is brown and buff with heavy mottling and barring over most of the body.
Where do they live?
The Long-Eared Owl is found throughout temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. In Canada, you are likely to see this owl living in open woodland in the more southern regions. This bird prefers to nest and roost in dense coniferous thickets or trees with nearby open areas that they would use for hunting.
What does it eat?
These owls primarily eat small rodents, with voles being a favourite. As well, they eat small birds, lizards, frogs, snakes and bats!
Long-Eared Owls are stealth nocturnal hunters made possible by the following adaptations:
Silent hunting made possible by flight feathers with fringed edges and downy surfaces that mute the sound of its passage through air.
Large, rounded wings allow buoyant and effortless flying without too much flapping and loss of energy. This means they glide easily and fly slowly for long periods while hunting ground-dwelling prey.
A highly developed auditory system, asymmetrically placed ear openings (ears are on the side, behind the eyes), and large, sound-catching facial disk make for precision night hunting.
The position of the eyes gives the owl its “wise” appearance but more importantly for its hunting lifestyle binocular vision.
In order to improve efficiency in low light the owl’s eye tubes, not balls, have large cornea, pupil and retina. The retina has more of the light-sensitive (rod) than the colour-sensitive (cone) cells.
What you may not have known. . .
Females Long-Eared Owls are actually larger than the males.
Plumage colouration provides excellent camouflage when roosting in dense foliage.
They swallow their prey whole and then regurgitate the indigestible parts in pellets, and this usually happens once per day.
They do not build their own nests but appropriate stick nests built in trees by crows and magpies.
Nature Canada continues supporting Canada’s most important sites for birds!
[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"] Ted Cheskey Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks[/caption]
The Important Bird and Biodiversity Program (IBA) has been active in Canada since 1996, and Nature Canada has been there to help guide its development every step of the way. A program of BirdLife International, developed and implemented in Canada by Nature Canada and its BirdLife Canada partner, Bird Studies Canada, IBAs are about identifying, recognizing and protecting (either formally or through voluntary stewardship) the network of the most important places for birds.
IBAs are discrete sites supporting specific groups of birds: threatened birds, large groups of birds, and birds restricted by range or by habitat. IBAs range in size from very tiny patches of habitat to large tracts of land or water. They may encompass any combination of private and public land, and indigenous homelands. A recent study of Canada’s IBAs revealed that only about 1/3 of IBA area is legally protected (e.g. in a national or provincial park or some other form of protected area). That means that 2/3's of these ecological treasures lack protection.
IBAs are identified using criteria that are internationally agreed upon, standardized, quantitative, and scientifically defensible. This gives them a conservation currency that transcends international borders and promotes international collaboration for the conservation of the world’s birds. It also makes IBAs an important tool for identifying conservation priorities and for fostering greater success in the conservation of bird populations.
Since 2008, Nature Canada, BSC and their partners have established a network of local stewards or Caretakers in about 250 of Canada’s 600 IBA. Caretakers are individuals or groups who are the natural stewards of IBAs, involved in monitoring, outreach, education, stewardship and advocacy, depending upon the interest and skills of the Caretakers.
This year, Nature Canada was successful in receiving two grants from the Habitat Stewardship Program of Environment Canada to inject funds and capacity into the regional IBA programs in Quebec and Alberta. One of the key activities in both provinces will be holding workshops with our regional partners (Nature Quebec and Nature Alberta) to bring IBA Caretakers together to assess the state of their IBAs, reaffirm their interest and commitment, and orient conservation efforts towards declining bird species found within their IBAs. The State of Canada’s Birds 2012 determined that aerial insectivores (swallows, martins, swifts, nightjars, and flycatchers), grassland species, and shorebirds have declined by 30 to 60% over the past 40 years. Many species within these three groups are in trouble. These groups of species will be the focus of conservation attention in these workshops.
The first workshop (en français) is scheduled later this month in Sainte Adelle Quebec, and is part of Nature Quebec’s “conservation workshop” series. Our goal is to emerge with practical actions to help birds in individual IBAs. Stay tuned for the results.
***Postponed*** Ottawa children take part in a ‘migration’ parade
***POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO SHOOTING ON PARADE ROUTE***
October 22, 2014 (OTTAWA) - Nature Canada would like to invite media to attend a one-of-a-kind parade in the heart of Ottawa today, October 22, 2014. In celebration of Canada’s migratory birds, kindergarten children from Ottawa-area schools will participate in a guided ‘migratory’ walk from Parliament Hill to Ottawa City Hall where they will be welcomed by the Mexican Embassy and Eleanor Fast, Nature Canada’s Executive Director.
Just over 200 children carrying colourful masks depicting the vibrant plumage of migratory birds and butterflies will encounter ‘obstacles’ along their walk, such as windy weather, that will raise awareness of the challenges facing migratory birds as they make their perilous journey to wintering grounds in the southern hemisphere.
The Mexican Embassy will be providing refreshments at the end of the ‘migratory journey’ and there will be a brief presentation about the shared interest Canada and Mexico have in protecting migratory birds.
The parade will begin at the Metcalfe Street entrance of Parliament Hill at 11:00am and will end at 12:25pm in front of Ottawa City Hall.
If you are interested in attending and photographing or filming the event, please contact Nature Canada. Although it is a public event, some parents have requested that their child not be photographed or filmed and we would like to do our best to honour their wishes.
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Senior Communications Manager
613-562-3447 ext 248
613-562-3447 ext 241
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Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada.[/one_third]
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Climate change impacting birds – Interview on Banff Centre Radio
Climate change seriously threatens bird species across Canada and the United States according to a new groundbreaking report released by Nature Canada’s partner organization, the Audubon Society. The report concludes that half of all birds studied could see their populations drop dramatically on account of climate change.
Paul Jorgenson, Nature Canada's Senior Communcations Manager, was on hand to respond to questions on the topic. Here he is interviewed by Banff Centre Radio to bring to light the challenges birds now face.
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