Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada Nature Canada
Pileated Woodpecker Taking Suet
News

Pileated Woodpecker Taking Suet

Jim Dubois, from Nature Canada's online community, just sent us these pics of a Pileated Woodpecker and a Northern Flicker in his yard -- enjoy!
From Jim: I have a pair of Flickers, and a female Pileated Woodpecker getting suet to take back to their nests at the moment. Since I flat refuse to feed Starlings, I take the feeder down when they're around, and only put it back up when I hear the woodpeckers yelling. The Pileated did today, so I went out and hung it up. She only climbed a little bit up the tree, then watched me as I hung it beneath her, and was at it before I got to the back steps. I sat on the rail, about ten feet away, and watched her eat. While she kept on eye on me, it didn't bother her much. Unless, that is, you count the last shot of her (below). I recognize that look from somewhere. There's a video of her here: http://www.vimeo.com/5254022 and of the Flicker here: http://www.vimeo.com/5044969 Thanks for sharing the nature photos Jim! Check out other photos on Jim's site.

Quick Poll: Wildlife Watching Top Winter Activity
News

Quick Poll: Wildlife Watching Top Winter Activity

In our latest highly unscientific (but fun!) Quick Poll we asked our online community members how they like to spend their winters. Do they grab the wax and head for the slopes, or cosy up to the fire and stay toasty indoors? Do they start building the outdoor hockey rink or start packing their bags for Florida? Turns out many of you see the winter months as a good time to wildlife watch. According to our Quick Poll results, 41% of voters chose wildlife watching as their favourite winter activity. While the next largest group - 24% - preferred staying indoors, a review of the posted comments reveal many people actually do their wildlife watching from the comfort of their home, spying the birds, squirrels and other urban wildlife through their kitchen windows. Check out the full results here. We also asked where people like to go during winter, either to celebrate the season or escape it. A sampling of some of the responses is below, but my favourite: "I live in the Northwest Territories. I don't go anywhere for winter, it comes to me." Stay in my own back yard and area of Deep Cove, Nova Scotia. If I go for warmer climate I go to ECO/Bird watching areas, like Costa Rica etc. I walk with the Toronto Field Naturalists along Toronto's waterfront and in ravines or cemeteries to observe birds, and identify winter trees. I also go into my local ravine, The Don Valley to check on the wood ducks, kingfishers and herons. Walking around the many beautiful parks and natural beauty spots around Vancouver Island, watching the birds and waterfowl. In March, my friend and I go to New England where he skis at Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire and I enjoy reading and loafing at an excellent inn - Homestead, a B&B at Sugar Hill, near Franconia. We stay pretty much at home in the winter. Love to watch the eagles that hang around our back yard. They nest here in the summer, great hearing their family squabbles. In the winter they fly effortlessly in circles above and sometimes chase each other. I go to the Atlantic shores to look for birds, seals, etc. Always something of interest around. Today, I saw an Ivory Gull (really, I'm not kidding). I love winter and the snow. Ice skating has always been one of my favorites. But just a nice, brisk walk outdoors is totally awesome. Bird feeding during the winter months is exciting too! I live in the boreal forest of northern Saskatchewan and work further north. This offers me the chance firsthand to view all sorts of wildlife from diving ospreys to grey wolves and bears. Hiking on the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland with my brother and dog, including out to Gunners Cove to see and hear the waves crash onto the cliffs across Freshwater Bay while standing in the sun drinking hot cocoa. Read all of the comments here. And we now have a new Quick Poll up on our web site (check out our home page) -- If convicted, what penalty should Syncrude receive for the deaths of 500 ducks last year?

Nature Photo of the Month – Ssssss…
News

Nature Photo of the Month – Ssssss…

I wanted to share our latest Photo of the Month. Even if you're not a fan of snakes (although how can you not be?) I think you'll appreciate this nature pic for its technical merits. Here's what photographer Doris Potter, from St. Laurent, Quebec, wrote to us:
At the Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary near Ingleside, Ontario, I encountered a lovely Garter Snake. I have never met such a friendly snake. He posed for a good 10 minutes and I photographed him from every angle. He repeatedly came closer to me and I kept backing up so as to keep him in focus with my telephoto lens. I regret not putting down the camera just to see if he would come right to my hand. It was a special experience.
Thank you, Doris, for the fantastic nature image. The technical clarity of the shot is impressive -- note how the pattern on the leaves is similar to the scales on the snake. Another nice detail is the shadow the tongue casts as it darts out of the snake's mouth. We loved it!
By the way, this isn't the first time a snake was chosen for our Photo of the Month.

December’s Nature Photo of the Month
News

December’s Nature Photo of the Month

I enjoy winter for many reasons -- you have to if you're going to live in Ottawa! -- and one of the things I look forward to most is the tranquility and peace that comes after a snowfall. I take my dog Jasper into the woods behind my house and we make our own path through the newly fallen snow, and the only sounds I hear are our laboured breathing. I'll look up every now and then, scan the area, and usually not a thing is moving. Everything is frozen in place. This month's photo of the month evokes that same feeling of calm, of stasis after a snowfall. It's taken by Donna Cork, from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and a member of Nature Canada's online community. From Donna:

When our parents died we purchased a bench for our local park area. Our first winter snow storm in October gave this lovely view.
Thanks Donna!

Snowy Owl Visitor
News

Snowy Owl Visitor

My colleague Lori received an excited phone call from her husband Peter on Friday, saying that there was a Snowy Owl in a tree outside the suburban business park building where he works. The Snowy Owl was being pestered by many crows but it was resolutely standing its ground in a pine tree in the parking lot. We excitedly asked Peter to get some photos and send them to us. One of Peter's colleagues dashed out and snapped these great photos.

So, what's this owl doing in a parking lot in Ottawa? Snowy Owls breed on the northern tundra, and in some years many of them remain on their breeding grounds year round, hunting diurnally for rodents. Each winter, some Snowy Owls do migrate to areas of southern Canada and the northeastern US. Some winters, however, there are larger Snowy Owl "irruptions" where the owls are seen in larger numbers and in places where they are not regularly seen. It seems that this year is one of those times: Snowy Owls have turned up on Prince Edward Island in large numbers, and birding reports are replete with mentions of Snowy Owls in Ontario and the northeastern US. What's behind these southern irruptions? Conventional wisdom holds that Snowy Owls move south in the winter in years when their main prey source, lemmings, undergo a cyclical population crash. When food levels are low, the owls come further south searching for winter food. Something else that might be coming into play this year is that there was a very good breeding season for Snowy Owls this past summer, because lemming numbers then were high. This combination of a high number of juveniles in the population and what looks like a lemming crash this fall is what is likely behind this Snowy Owl irruption. Here's a great listserv posting that further explains these two factors.
Looks like Eastern Canada might be in for a snowy (owl) Christmas!

Concerned citizen saves endangered trees
News

Concerned citizen saves endangered trees

Most of our work to protect nature takes a long time to bear fruit. We can spend more than a year involved in an environmental assessment, like the one for EnCana's project at Suffield NWA, or we can campaign for more than a decade to establish a new law or a new national park. So when our actions and those of our supporters have an immediate impact, we celebrate!

On October 22nd we got a call from a resident of Erieau, Ontario. She was concerned that a sand dune area in her community, that has hoptrees and other species at risk, was being cleared by construction work. It appeared the developers had obtained a permit, so she wasn't sure what, if anything, she could do. We put together some contacts for her to try, including experts who are working with the government to recover this species, and friends from local naturalist clubs. She made a few calls that afternoon, and the next morning, an environmental enforcement officer from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources showed up with an order to stop all development at the site. Our friend was thrilled and so were we! Only one third of the (approximately 400 square feet) area had been cleared and the majority of the hoptrees were saved! There are an estimated 875 to 1,025 mature individuals of the Common Hoptree in Canada, so every single one counts.
The Common Hoptree Ptelea trifoliata is listed as threatened under the Species at Risk Act and under Ontario's Endangered Species Act 2007. Experts identify loss of habitat (primarily through cottage development), replacement of indigenous vegetation by cultivated plants, intensive beach grooming, and the construction of seawalls and other structures as the main threats to the Common Hoptree.
Few people are aware that there are many endangered species and habitats in Canada, and the authorities face many challenges to ensure all these species and habitats are not harmed. So we are lucky that there are naturalists out there who can identify species at risk and are willing to take the time to try to save them when they are threatened. To our friend in Erieau, we say: thanks for caring!

Forget Football. It’s all about Birdwatching!
News

Forget Football. It’s all about Birdwatching!

More than 71 million Americans -- that's one in 3 people over the age of 16 -- participated in wildlife watching in 2006. That's more than four times the total attendance of all National Football League games that year. I found this, and many other interesting stats, in a recent US Fish and Wildlife Service report that describes the importance of wildlife watching to the US economy.

Here are some more:
    • Expenditures for wildlife watching are equivalent to the revenues generated from all spectator sports, amusement parks and arcades, non-hotel casinos, bowling centers and skiing facilities combined.
 
  • In 2006, the direct expenditures of wildlife watchers generated $122.6 billion in total industrial output. Wildlife watchers spent their bucks on items such as cameras, binoculars and bird food, as well as trip-related expenses such as lodging, transportation and food.
 
  • About 95% of the 71 million people who connected with nature did so within one mile of their own homes.
Using data from the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, the Service found that wildlife watching not only contributes significantly to people’s enjoyment of the outdoors but is a major factor in the state and national economies.
This resulted in 1,063,482 jobs, a federal tax revenue of $9.3 billion, and a state and local tax revenue of $8.9 billion. The top 5 States ranked by economic output include California, Florida, Texas, Georgia and New York.
Once upon a time, the Canadian Government funded a similar report, called the Survey on the Importance of Nature to Canadians, but the last report was written more than ten years ago. Too bad: reports like these help to make the argument that our natural capital has tangible, measurable value and that our environmental goods and services are valuable for more than simply resource extraction.

Young and not so young naturalists gather in Ottawa
News

Young and not so young naturalists gather in Ottawa

Two weekends ago, 17 participants of all ages gathered in Ottawa to put their collective brain power to identifying and addressing common issues facing young naturalist clubs in Canada, in particular the question of how to get more youth involved in nature. Seven youth and eleven adult leaders/mentors came from six provinces to share their perspectives and wisdom, thanks to a grant from the Mountain Equipment Co-op. Award-winning environmental educator Lisa Glithero opened the workshop with an inspiring talk on developing leadership skills and qualities in youth through experiences in nature. The group spent the next two days exploring solutions and strategies to deal with common issues. Across Canada, it is apparent that many clubs and organizations such as the Young Naturalists Club of BC or the Cercle des Jeunes Naturalistes of Quebec, which represent many clubs, are popular, doing good work and successfully reaching many children and youth. It became clear that through networking, groups will be able to help each other by sharing programs, strategies and ideas. The seven youth brought great energy to the meeting, as well as a perspective that it is through the school systems that strategies to engage youth in nature need to be elaborated, as the school is the centre of their world. In addition to developing the elements of a national strategy for connecting youth to nature, the group "lucked in" to a rally featuring Canadian environmental icon Dr. David Suzuki. Dr. Suzuki delivered a powerful and inspiring speech as part of a the FLICK-OFF campaign rally to get to 100% renewable energy for Canada that was held in nearby Confederation Park. That's some of our workshop participants signing their names to the campaign below.

Want to Help?

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

Donate