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Species Spotlight: Monarch
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Species Spotlight: Monarch

[separator headline="h3" title="Here are some interesting facts about Monarch butterflies!"] [caption id="attachment_1715" align="alignleft" width="300"]Monarch butterfly Monarch butterfly[/caption] Scientific Name:  Danaus plexippus SARA status:  Special Concern; Ontario: Special Concern Taxonomic Group:  Arthropods Size:  wingspan of 8.6-10.5 cm Adult monarch butterflies are orange and black with white spots on the borders of the wings. The caterpillars are black, white and yellow stripped and can be found on milkweed plants. The chrysalis is a distinctive green and gold. Monarchs can sometimes be confused with the similar-looking, but smaller Viceroy, but are easily distinguished by the lack of a black band on the hind wing that runs parallel to the wing edge. During the summer months, you can find adult Monarchs feeding on the nectar of wildflowers, while the caterpillars can be found feeding on milkweed plants. You can encourage monarchs to come to your yard by planting a butterfly garden full of milkweeds and nectar-producing flowers, such as goldenrod, asters and black-eyed Susan. Want to plant your own monarch friendly garden? Check out Nature Canada’s tips here. [caption id="attachment_1716" align="alignright" width="300"]Monarch caterpillar Photo Credit: Shutterstock Monarch caterpillar
Photo Credit: Shutterstock[/caption] Monarchs have been in news lately as record low population numbers have been recorded in Mexico both this winter and during winter 0f 2013-14. It was hoped that during the 2014 summer breeding season, numbers of monarchs would improve. It appears, however, that this year the numbers of adult monarchs overwintering in Mexico are down by 80% compared to the historic average (source: WWF-Mexico). And if this spring is cold like last year's, the spring migration could be delayed and fewer monarch sightings may be reported in their northernmost breeding grounds in Canada. There is fear that this year’s numbers could again be low, leading to an even longer road to recovery for the monarch population. But let's hope that they will make a rebound this coming summer as monarchs, like most insects, can produce large numbers of offspring each year - and you can help them find the habitat they need! On February 9th 2015 the US government announced $3.2 million in funding to help conserve habitat for monarch butterflies throughout their life cycle. This is a significant move by the US since the species is not yet listed under the US Endangered Species Act, despite the fact that the southern US and Texas are home to the first generation of monarchs that must survive to continue migrating north each year. Where Can You See This Species? There are two populations of Monarchs in North America, one to the west of the Rockies and the one to the East. The western population lives as far north as southern British Columbia and overwinters along the California coast. The population east of the Rocky Mountains is the population known for overwintering in the Oyamel Fir forests of Mexico. Monarchs can also be found in Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and many other islands in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Monarch are most commonly seen in eastern Canada from late spring to early fall. Did You Know? • Larvae ingest toxins from the milkweed making them poisonous to predators. The toxins stay in the body as the caterpillar pupates and the adult carries the toxins too. • On their migration south, monarchs gather in large numbers along the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie as they prepare to cross the water. • The overwintering generation is the longest lived of the four or five monarch generations produced each year. These individuals can live about seven or eight months and are the ones that have migrated from their northern breeding grounds to the overwintering grounds in Mexico and they begin the journey north again in the spring. The other generations, living in the spring and summer months, survive for about two months. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or by registering for a free account at ebutterfly.ca. A photo and a location are very helpful! This post is an update prepared by Alex MacDonald. Much of the content originally appeared as part of our Species Spotlight series under the NatureHood program, and was written by guest blogger Michelle Locke, then a contract research technician at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. 

Species Spotlight: West Virginia White
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Species Spotlight: West Virginia White

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: West Virginia White West Virginia WhiteScientific Name: Pieris virginiensis SARA status: Special concern Taxonomic Group: Anthropods Size: 3-5 cm wingspan The West Virginia White is a small white butterfly with wings that are translucent on the underside. Its veins have grey-brown scaling, causing it to look like a lace pattern. As a caterpillar, it is yellow-green with a green stripe along each side. Adults feed on flower nectar of toothworts, spring beauty, violets, and other plants. The larvae feed only on the leaves of toothwort, a small, spring-blooming plant of the forest floor. Currently, there are couple threats to the West Virginia White such as forest fragmentation and invasive species, such as the garlic mustard. The butterfly is restricted to rich, moist deciduous woods. Since it refuses to cross open areas its sensitivity to forest fragmentation is the largest threat to this butterfly’s survival. Where Else Can You See This Species? This butterfly has a very limited North America range. In Canada, it can be found in localized colonies in southern and eastern Ontario, as far north as Manitoulin Island, Batchawana Bay north of Sault Ste.Marie and Sharbot Lake north of Kingston. There are also records of this butterfly in the Montreal area. The largest populations are in the western Lake Ontario region. Did You Know? • The West Virgina White butterfly is 2-3 times more likely to lay their eggs on garlic mustard over a native host plant. This is unfortunate as the hatched larvae will not survive on this invasive species. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful!

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We would like to thank our guest blogger Kelsey Ha for this post. Kelsey is a high school student volunteer at Nature Canada and is interested in biology and environmental sciences.

Species Spotlight: Red Knot
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Species Spotlight: Red Knot

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Red Knot [caption id="attachment_14839" align="alignleft" width="300"]Red Knot Red Knots in flight[/caption] Scientific Name: Calidris canutus SARA status: Least Concern Ontario: Endangered Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: 23-26 cm in length, 47-53 cm wingspan Red Knots are medium sized shorebirds with a short, straight bill and olive-coloured legs. It is named for its brick-red face, throat and breast when in breeding plumage. Its back is a speckled grey-brown colour. In the winter, they are mostly grey with a white belly. The Red Knot feeds on invertebrates such as small snails, bivalves and crustaceans. The Red Knot makes one of the longest yearly migrations of any bird, traveling 15 000 km from its Arctic habitat to Tierra del Fuego in southern South America. They are generally found in marine habitats, near coastal lagoons, and they breed in drier tundra areas. The population of Red Knots in South America during migration season has decreased over 50% from the mid 1980s to 2003. The main threat is the loss of key resources at their migration sites. Another threat is the habitat destruction due to pollution, recreation and development. Where Else Can You See This Species? The coastal mudflats along the southwest coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay are important spring and fall migration sites for the Red Knot. They can also be seen during the fall along the Great Lakes beaches. Around mid-summer, Red Knots can be found in the Delaware Bay, feeding in large numbers on the eggs of horseshoe crabs. Did You Know? • Red Knot eggs camouflage very well with the bare tundra, which is very helpful since their nests don’t offer the best protection from predators. • During courtship, a male Red Knot will fly up into the air, start singing while gliding around and then they will land with his wings pointed upwards. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful!

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We would like to thank our guest blogger Kelsey Ha for this post. Kelsey is a high school student volunteer at Nature Canada and is interested in biology and environmental sciences.

Species Spotlight: American Ginseng
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Species Spotlight: American Ginseng

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: American Ginseng [caption id="attachment_14860" align="alignleft" width="300"]American Ginseng American Ginseng Photographed by Kerry Wixted on Flicker[/caption] Scientific Name: Panax quinquefolius SARA status: Endangered Ontario: Endangered Taxonomic Group: Perennial plant Size: Up to 60 cm tall American Ginseng is a perennial herb commonly used as herbal medicine. It is a light tan, gnarled root that often looks like a human body with stringy shoots for arms and legs. The single stem ends in a whorl of one to four or five leaves. Mature plants will have a cluster of 6-20 greenish-white flowers that produce bright-red berries. American ginseng is effective in boosting the immune system and as an antioxidant. Many studies have shown that American ginseng may help reduce the risk of cancer and improve one’s mental performance and well-being. Native Americans used the root as a stimulant and to treat headaches, fever, indigestion and infertility. Populations of American ginseng have decreased significantly in Ontario over the past century due to harvesting, timber extraction and the destruction of agricultural land and development. American ginseng generally reproduces very slowly, which makes it even harder to grow and harvest. It is currently widely grown in Ontario compared to other parts of North America. The American ginseng is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act. Where Else Can You See This Species? In Ontario, American ginseng grows in rich, moist but well-drained deciduous woods dominated by Sugar Maple, White Ash and American Basswood. It typically grows in deep, nutrient rich soil over limestone or marble bedrock. The range of American ginseng extends from southwestern Quebec and eastern and central Ontario. Did You Know?

  • Several studies found that American ginseng lowers blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes
  • American ginseng has been shown to inhibit tumor growth.
  • The largest wild ginseng root, found in Michigan, weighed 1.2 kg
  Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful!

this initiative is funded by

  We would like to thank our guest blogger Kelsey Ha for this post. Kelsey is a high school student volunteer at Nature Canada and is interested in biology and environmental sciences.

Species Spotlight: Golden Eagle
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Species Spotlight: Golden Eagle

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Golden Eagle [caption id="attachment_14003" align="alignleft" width="300"]golden eagle Golden Eagle
Photography by BlueRidgeKitties on Flicker[/caption] Scientific Name: Aquila chrysaetos SARA status: Least Concern Ontario: Endangered Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: 84-97 cm wingspan As one of the largest birds in North America, Golden Eagles are extremely powerful and agile. They can reach up to speeds of over 240km/h when they dive for their prey. Golden Eagles use their speed and sharp talons to hunt animals such as rabbits, marmots, squirrels or even smaller birds. A mature Golden Eagle is dark brown with a golden sheen on the back of the head and neck. Young ones will have white patches at the base of the tail and in the wings. Open country, especially around mountains, hills and cliffs is the preferred habitat of the Golden Eagle. They also live in a variety of habitats such as grasslands, forests, arctic, tundra and desert. There large birds enjoy nesting in high places and they make large nests, in which they may return to for several breeding years. Golden Eagles are most common in western North America but can also be found in Asia and Europe. Golden Eagles are very sensitive to disturbances near their nests. They have suffered many years from human persecution such as illegal shooting and trapping. These problems have been reduced in the recent decades but other human activities are a constant threat such as collisions with wind turbines or chemicals and toxins introduced into their food chain. Currently, the Golden Eagle and its habitat are protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. Where Else Can You See This Species? Golden Eagles can be found all over North America but they are most common in the western area and even in Alaska. There are several reports in southern Ontario, including around 15 in the Ottawa area, mainly along the Lac Deschênes - Ottawa River Important Bird Area. You might also get a chance to spot the Golden Eagle in Gatineau Park. Did You Know? • The Golden Eagle is the national bird of Mexico. It is also the national animal of Albania, Egypt, Germany and Italy • Golden Eagles have been known to attack a full grown deer. • When a large bird like the Golden Eagle accidently touches two lines on a power-pole at the same time, it gets electrocuted. Biologists, engineers and government officials are cooperating in developing new designs to prevent this occurrence. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful!

this initiative is funded by

We would like to thank our guest blogger Kelsey Ha for this post. Kelsey is a high school student volunteer at Nature Canada and is interested in biology and environmental sciences.

My Experience with the Great Backyard Bird Count
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My Experience with the Great Backyard Bird Count

I'm a senior at St. Peters High School in Orleans, Ontario. I was looking for a new way to earn community service hours for my HS diploma and came across this event. I thought, 'I look out my window and walk or drive through my neighborhood everyday; so this would be a neat thing to do'. Bluejay in winter_shutterstock_LRG I was surprised at how few birds I saw. Maybe because it’s the winter, maybe the area I live in? I live in a residential area, with schools, parks etc and trees all around, but I just didn’t see that many when I was looking. The ones I did see, a blue jay, an American kestrel, some black crows and wild turkeys (not in my neighborhood!) were fun to see. I think that we take for granted seeing these birds all the time, funny how when you look for them, they were harder to spot. I took part in this activity with my Mom or my younger sister, she liked to help me look for the birds, especially when we were driving. Jack

7 ways to help infographic
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7 ways to help infographic

Tweet and share this infographic with your neighbours in the NatureHood   Be a good neighbour in the NatureHood - 7 Ways to Help Species At Risk

Species Spotlight: Henslow’s Sparrow
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Species Spotlight: Henslow’s Sparrow

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Henslow’s Sparrow [caption id="attachment_2047" align="alignleft" width="300"]Henslow Sparrow Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider Henslow Sparrow
Photo by Kenneth Cole Schneider[/caption] Scientific Name: Ammodramus henslowii SARA status: Endangered Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: length of 13 cm Henslow’s Sparrow is one of the rarest breeding birds in Canada, listed as Endangered in 1993 by the Province of Ontario, and in 2000 by the Canadian government. It is one of the small, large-headed, short-tailed sparrows in the Ammodramus genus along with Le Conte’s, Nelson’s and Grasshopper Sparrows. Henslow’s Sparrow is the rarest member of this group in Canada, limited to a few individuals any one year in Southern Ontario. Henslow’s Sparrow stays low to the ground, rarely affording a good view of its boldly marked olive head and brown body streaked with black, unless it pops up to “sing” briefly on the top of a plant stalk before dropping back to the ground. “Song” is a flattering way to describe the sound emitted by Henslow’s Sparrow. It is more like a hiccup that has been described as a two syllable “tsislick.” Its preferred habitat is damp hay fields and meadows with dense grasses or sedges, and some scattered shrubs. Where else Can You See This Species? It’s main breeding range stretches from Kansas to upper New York State, south of Lake Ontario. In Ontario Henslow’s Sparrow is an infrequent and rare breeder. Henslow’s Sparrow’s wintering range extends from Georgia to Texas across the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Walpoll Island in extreme south-western Ontario is one of very few sites in Ontario, where this species has been regularly observed in the past two decades. The most recent record of Henslow’s Sparrow in the Ottawa-Gatineau area was an individual near Gloucester in 1999 that was present for two days in June. Prior to this record, it had been over 20 years since the last Henslow’s Sparrow observation in the Ottawa region. Did You Know? • During the second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005, the Henslow’s Sparrow was found in only nine squares, and was not confirmed as breeding, as compared to 38 squares in the first Atlas (1981 – 1985). • Henslow’s Sparrow, like many other grassland bird species, has declined due to loss of habitats from the intensification of agricultural practices including draining of marginal lands, row-cropping, and more intensive harvest of hay. • At breeding colonies, Henslow’s Sparrow often sings at night. Surveying for Henslow’s Sparrows typically involves visiting road-side habitat around midnight or very early morning hours in mid-June. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful!

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Species Spotlight: Yellow Rail
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Species Spotlight: Yellow Rail

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Yellow Rail [caption id="attachment_2020" align="alignleft" width="300"]Yellow Rail Photo by Dominic Sherony Yellow Rail
Photo by Dominic Sherony[/caption] Scientific Name: Coturnicops noveboracensis SARA status: Special Concern Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: length of 13-18 cm, wingspan of 28-32 cm The Yellow Rail is a small marsh bird with an elusive nature.  Only slightly larger than a sparrow, they are recognized by their yellow face and chest. They are yellow and black striped above with white flashes on the upper wing. Their bill is short and yellow and they have a dark crown and dark stripe through the eye. This colouration allows them to camouflage with the habitat they live in, making them difficult to see. Yellow Rails feed on insects, snails, crayfish, tadpoles, grasses and reeds. They are found in wetlands that are dominated by grasses and sedges, with a low water level, as they nest on the ground. Due to their secretive nature little is known about their life history. Where Else Can You See This Species? During the breeding season Yellow Rails are found in wetlands from Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, east to the Maritimes and south to the northeastern United States. The Yellow Rail overwinters in salt marshes and rice fields along the southeastern coastal United States, from North Carolina to Texas. The can be found in their breeding grounds from late April to early September. Around the Ottawa area you can find Yellow Rails in the Richmond Fen, where there is a breeding colony. Yellow Rails are infrequently seen in the Lac Deschênes IBA and Mud Lake. Did You Know? • The biggest threat to the Yellow Rail is habitat loss. Wetlands are often drained for agricultural or urban development, destroying breeding grounds. • The young are semi-precocial, which means they are able to leave the nest soon after hatching. At two days old they leave the nest with their mother. At five days old they are capable of feeding themselves and at 35 days old they are able to fly. • Males make a distinct clicking sound, "tic-tic, tictictic”. The sound resembles two stones being banged together. This call is often heard at night. Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful! We would like to thank our guest blogger Michelle Locke for this post. Michelle is a contract research technician at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. She studies flies of the family Syrphidae, the flower flies, but enjoys opportunities to work with and study all other forms of wildlife when she can.

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Species Spotlight: Peregrine Falcon
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Species Spotlight: Peregrine Falcon

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Peregrine Falcon [caption id="attachment_2111" align="alignleft" width="269"]Peregrine Falcon Photo by Jen St. Louis Peregrine Falcon
Photo by Jen St. Louis[/caption] Scientific Name: Falco perefrinus SARA status: Special Concern Ontario: Special Concern Quebec: Vulnerable Taxonomic Group: Birds Size: 100 cm wingspan The Peregrine Falcon is often called the fasted bird in the world. It travels at speeds of 40-55 km/h when flying and speeds up to 112 km/h when chasing after prey. It has a special dive called a stoop, where it dives from heights over a kilometre above the ground and pulls its wings in to reach speeds of 300 km/h as it drops! With its speed and manoeuvrability the Peregrine Falcon is able to catch birds in the air or pick out one bird from a flock. If you’re hoping to see a Peregrine Falcon be sure to look up. They like to perch in high places like on high-rises, radio towers or other tall structures in the city where they can survey a large area for prey below. Look for the distinctive black head which makes the Peregrine Falcon look like it is wearing a helmet. It also has bright yellow feet and legs and the sharp talons and hooked beak of a bird of prey. Another distinctive feature of this species is the broad, dark, vertical stripe on each cheek called a malar stripe. Between the 1950s -1970s Peregrine Falcons were only one of many species who suffered dramatic population declines due to pesticide poisoning from the chemical DDT in particular. At its worst the Peregrine Falcon was almost lost from the wild which spurred conservationists to act. The Peregrine Falcon was declared an Endangered Species and since then intensive recovery efforts have rebounded wild populations to a point where most are now stable or increasing. Today the Peregrine Falcon is still threatened by habitat loss and destruction, disturbance and persecution by people, and poisoning from environmental contaminants. Where Else Can You See This Species? The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most widespread birds in the world, and is found on all continents except Antarctica. They nest on steep cliff ledges, or on tall buildings in urban areas. These birds travel to Central and South America to spend the winter. A couple of pairs are known to nest in Ottawa’s downtown area, and birds are often spotted along the Ottawa River. Did You Know? • As with most raptors, female Peregrine Falcons grow to be larger than males. • "Peregrine" means wanderer, an apt name since the population that spends the summer in the tundra, travels all the way to South America to spend the winter. This journey is a distance of 25,000km - one of the longest migrations of any North American bird. • The Ottawa Peregrine Falcon Watch (http://falconwatch.ca/) is an organization dedicated to the protection and recovery of the peregrine falcon. Volunteers monitor nesting Peregrine Falcons and assist young birds who are just learning to fly in an urban environment full of dangers. Check out the Falcon Watch website to learn more or to sign up to be a volunteer today! Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes. You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful!

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