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Getting out into nature is for the birds
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Getting out into nature is for the birds

For bird enthusiasts that is!

Our NatureHood Partners were busy over the holidays helping kids and families explore nearby nature. From Halifax to Regina to Vancouver, hundreds of kids and families took part in the annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids). Inspired by the Christmas Bird Count, CBC4Kids is a fun winter activity and a great way for families to learn more about local urban birds and bird conservation.

Many of our NatureHood partners organized local CBC4Kids events that included nature walks led by volunteer guides to help identify local birds, followed by hot chocolate and snacks for the young citizen scientists to sip when they return. Their findings were then submitting through eBird, an online checklist managed by Bird Studies Canada.

Christmas Bird Counts for Kids are a great way to get kids active outdoors during the winter months and learn more about local winter birds and wildlife found in their area. Spending time in nature year-round will encourage kids to continue to explore the natural world and develop a long-lasting relationship with nature.

© Nature Alberta

Here’s a snapshot of a few of the CBC4Kids events that took place across the country:

Nova Scotia

The Young Naturalists Club of Nova Scotia held their 5th annual CBC4Kids at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax. They welcomed 100 participants and saw 25 bird species and 350 individual birds. Some kids even had the thrill of a chickadee land on their hand to eat seeds. The biggest excitement came when a bald eagle soared over the group!

Saskatchewan

Nature Saskatchewan held their annual CBC4Kids at Wascana Lake and had their best turn out yet with 93 participants. The four groups enjoyed the beautiful -5c weather as they counted a total of 12 bird species and 298 individuals. After the count, everyone enjoyed some hot chocolate and snacks as they listened to a presentation from Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation who brought two thirteen lined ground squirrels.

Alberta

Nature Alberta's Nature Kids had a great time looking for birds at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre in Red Deer. They started the day playing a bird migration game and then set off on the trails to explore nature. They found 8 different bird species such as Downy woodpeckers and Red-breasted nuthatches. They also found other animal signs such as, nests, moose droppings, and squirrel middens! (fun fact: squirrel middens is the mess they leave after eating).

British Columbia

NatureKids BC along with its partners held their 8th annual CBC4Kids at Stanley Park in Vancouver with 100 keen birdwatchers of all ages. Participants were led through a bird identification training session prior to the count to help identify the birds they saw. Here is a lovely message that was sent their way following the bird count:

"Our family had a wonderful time at the Christmas Bird Count at Stanley Park. We sincerely appreciated all of the care that went into putting this day together. The facilitators were extremely kind to us, we loved the activities/snacks, and we truly enjoyed going out for the count with our enthusiastic and joyful group leader. Thank you very much for your work in putting this together for all of us!"

With sincere gratitude,
Jen, Dylan, Nala & Makaio 

2nd Annual Event Helps Ottawa Residents Peek Inside City’s Most Important Chimneys
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2nd Annual Event Helps Ottawa Residents Peek Inside City’s Most Important Chimneys

Media Advisory

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Who: Hosted by Nature Canada Speakers include: Alex MacDonald, CBC Radio 1’s In Town and Out weekly bird tweeter and Senior Conservation Manager at Nature Canada

What: A Swift Evening Out is an outdoor event featuring presentations, activities and easy birdwatching to raise public awareness of the Chimney Swift, a provincially and nationally threatened bird found in Ottawa. Event participants will observe the sunset behaviour of the Chimney Swift; each evening the Swifts fly into suitable chimneys and human structures throughout the region – often hundreds of birds at a time – where they roost for the night in large groups. The birds dive headfirst into the chimneys, reaching speeds of 60 km/hr before entering, making this behaviour very impressive to behold.

Where: 755 Somerset Street West, Ottawa. The event will begin at the Dalhousie Community Centre and at 7:50pm will transition to the grounds of the Dominican University College, home to one of the region’s most important chimney roosts.

When: Thursday, August 11th, 2016 – 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm.

Why: Ottawa is home to nationally significant numbers of Chimney Swifts, whose numbers have declined by over 95% in the last 40 years. Despite this, many people are unaware of the Swifts’ presence or their plight. We want to change this. Additionally, many property owners misunderstand what they can do to help Chimney Swifts, such as delaying routine chimney maintenance until after the migration in early September. This event will help to raise public awareness of the plight of this amazing species.

Interviews: Interviews may be scheduled before, during or after the event. Opportunities to photograph the activities and the birds can be accommodated during the event. Photographs will be available upon request following the event.

Contact: Alex MacDonald, Senior Conservation Manager, Nature Canada 613-324-7003 (mobile); amacdonald@naturecanada.ca

### Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of more than 45,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country, with affiliates in every province.

Local Children Take Flight for Wildlife along the Ottawa River
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Local Children Take Flight for Wildlife along the Ottawa River

MEDIA ADVISORY

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Local Children Take Flight for Wildlife along the Ottawa River Who:                     Hosted by Nature Canada Speakers include: Alex MacDonald, CBC Radio 1’s In Town and Out weekly bird tweeter and Senior Conservation Manager at Nature Canada  What:                    Bird, Bat & Butterfly Migration Parade: the Migration Parade is a symbolic celebration of the seasonal migration journey that birds, bats, butterflies and even some dragonflies undertake each spring and fall. Over 130 students from 3 local elementary schools will walk, or ‘migrate’, 2.6 km along the Ottawa River Pathway (between Westboro Beach/Kitichissippi Lookout and the Rémic Rapids parking lot). This parade route represents the northward journey that so many of Canada’s migratory species take each spring from the US, Central America, the Caribbean and South America to Canada. Where:                 Parade begins at 10:30 am at the Kitchissippi Lookout/Westboro Beach, and finishes before 12:15 pm at the Rémic Rapids Parking Lot. When:                  Wednesday, May 25th, 2015 – 10:15 am to 12:15 pm. Why:                     More than three-quarters of Canada’s bird species are migratory and spend more than half the year beyond our borders. Of those, the species that migrate the greatest distances are more at-risk of extinction. Children are the best hope that some of these species have to being recovered before it is too late. In addition to birds, Canada is home to migratory bats, butterflies – such as the Monarch butterfly – and migratory dragonflies. Interviews:         Interviews may be scheduled before, during or after the event. Opportunities to photograph the activities can be accommodated during the event. Nature Canada will also have a photographer present, with photographs available upon request following the event. Contact:               Alex MacDonald, Senior Conservation Manager, Nature Canada 613-324-7003 (mobile); amacdonald (at) naturecanada.ca   ### Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of more than 45,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country, with affiliates in every province.

Our 2016 Spring Bird, Bat & Butterfly Migration Parade is coming!
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Our 2016 Spring Bird, Bat & Butterfly Migration Parade is coming!

[caption id="attachment_27792" align="alignleft" width="300"]kids with masks Kids taking part in May 2015's Spring Migration Parade[/caption] Nature Canada will be holding another of its annual Spring Migration Parade events on Wednesday, May 25th, along the Ottawa River between Westboro Beach and the Rémic Rapids from 10 am to noon. This section of the river falls within Ottawa's own internationally significant Lac Deschênes-Ottawa River Important Bird & Biodiversity Area. The parade, which is meant to symbolize the fantastic seasonal migrations of many of Canada's wildlife species, will be made  up of 125 elementary school students from three Ottawa area schools. The migration parade is one of our NatureHood program events aimed at connecting urban elementary school students to nearby nature - and nature throughout the hemisphere! Student participants in the parade will wear masks they've decorated to represent migratory species such as birds, butterflies, bats, caribou, dragonflies and even sea turtles and whales! The masks are created as part of in-class lessons Nature Canada conducts with the students at each school. The lessons focus on migratory species, the migration phenomenon, threats faced by migratory species and ways that the students can help migratory species. We also read a story to each class, Is this Panama?, written by Canadian author, Jan Thornhill. It's a fun, interactive way to learn about the natural sciences! And by taking part in the parade, the students get to be part of the migration story. Would you like to help with our migration parade? If so, send us an email with the subject line "Parade volunteer". Financial support for this event is provided by: Govt of Ontario logo         Print           Science Odyssey Logo            

Thanks for a Successful MacSkimming Centre NatureBlitz!
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Thanks for a Successful MacSkimming Centre NatureBlitz!

[caption id="attachment_27776" align="alignleft" width="300"]NatureBlitz participants on a walk Participants on an insect walk at the MacSkimming Centre NatureBlitz[/caption] Thanks to everyone who took part in our MacSkimming Centre NatureBlitz last weekend! A big success The NatureBlitz was a big success. Despite the weekend's poor weather forecast, a total of 100 people took part in the event between 2 pm Friday, May 13th and 2 pm Saturday, May 14th. It was wonderful to share the beauty and serenity of this natural area - which is part of the Beckett Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary - with participants of all ages! What did we find? In addition to seeing and hearing bats and owls, we observed lots of songbirds, frogs, insects, and even salamanders during the event. A full species list - including 34 lichens - is being compiled for publication here on Nature Canada's blog within the next couple of weeks. The trilliums were in full bloom during the event, providing a perfect backdrop for spring in the National Capital Region. [caption id="attachment_27777" align="alignright" width="300"]Mammals activity during the MacSkimming Centre NatureBlitz Participants listen to a presentation on fur-bearing mammals during the NatureBlitz[/caption] Get social! We're asking participants to share their photos from the event on social media using the hashtags #NatureBlitz and #OdySci. Our event was part of Canada's 2016 Science Odyssey celebrations so we're trying to spread the word about the value and importance natural and biological sciences using the #OdySci hashtag. You can use it,too! Thanks to our walk leaders & supporters!  NatureBlitz events can't happen without the willingness of local naturalists and experts to share their time, experience and knowledge with the community. On behalf of all of our walk leaders (shown in the schedule below), we thank everyone for their interest in nature! Day 1 Schedule for MacSkimming NatureBlitz - May 13, 2016 Day 2 Schedule for MacSkimming NatureBlitz - May 14, 2016               As a charity, Nature Canada relies on the support of members, funders and sponsors to help us be a voice for nature and deliver fun public events like NatureBlitzes and Bird Day celebrations. Consider becoming a voice for nature today: In addition to saying a BIG thank you to the OCDSB MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre staff, we would like to thank the following funders and sponsors for their financial support:   Thank you to sponsors/partners:  

Join the Lower Mainland’s First NatureBiltz!
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Join the Lower Mainland’s First NatureBiltz!

[caption id="attachment_24954" align="alignleft" width="200"]Kids feeding Chickadees at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary - Oct 14 2015 Feeding Chickadees & Nuthatches at the Reifel MBS. Photo by A. MacDonald[/caption] Join the Lower Mainland's first NatureBlitz on Saturday, February 27th in the Reifel Bird Sanctuary and Alaksen National Wildlife Area, located at 5191 and 5421 Robertson Rd (respectively) on Westham Island in Delta, BC. This free, family-friendly nature adventure offers a dawn to dusk line-up of wildlife walks, outdoor exploration and even a photography contest, all with the help of local naturalists and nature experts from NatureKids BC, Nature Canada, the BC Waterfowl Society, the Delta Naturalists Society, the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust and the Canadian Wildlife Service. PLEASE NOTE: Limited spaces are available for each activity during the NatureBlitz, so advance registration is required. You can register for free tickets by activity on our EventBrite page. We may open up additional spaces for activities that are over-subscribed.  Eventbrite - Lower Mainland NatureBlitz Participants will get an up-close, educational look at waterfowl and songbirds, small grassland mammals, invasive species, and possibly even owls, bats and other creatures of the night through a series of activities at each of these amazing natural areas. A full schedule and map are available below. So get your warm outdoor clothing (and rain gear), gum boots and flashlights ready and come join us as we explore the midwinter mysteries of nature right on Metro Vancouver’s doorstep. It's nearby nature – and it's your NatureHood! Don't forget to pack a camera or camera phone/Smartphone for the event, either! You can enter our draw for best NatureBlitz photos simply by posting your nature pics from the event on social media (Instagram, facebook, Twitter, etc.) using the hashtag #NatureBlitz! ** This is a RAIN or SHINE event. Some events will be modified in the event of rain. ** A limited number of binoculars, field guides and magnifying lenses will be available to borrow at the event. Light snacks will be available at noon but participants are encouraged to bring their own food. Limited on-site parking is available. Please consider carpooling to the event if possible.   Walk schedule for Lower Mainland NatureBlitz, February 27, 2016 Financial support for this initiative has been provided by: Environment and Climate Change Canada logo 55eTD logo         Email Signup

Punctual Duck Returns to Sidney, BC: The Celebration of All Buffleheads Day – and NatureHood on the Saanich Peninsula!
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Punctual Duck Returns to Sidney, BC: The Celebration of All Buffleheads Day – and NatureHood on the Saanich Peninsula!

[caption id="attachment_23059" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Bob Peart Bob Peart
Director, Nature Canada
Director, Friends of Shoal Harbour[/caption] [caption id="attachment_23070" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of a Bufflehead Photo of a Bufflehead[/caption] "There's a female, over there in the shade!" exclaims my friend.  We were standing on the edge of Roberts Bay in Sidney, British Columbia awaiting the arrival from the north of the first Buffleheads.  It's in small, protected shelters like Roberts Bay on the Saanich Peninsula where many of these delightful little  ducks spend the winter.  These energetic 'butter ball of a duck' return with clockwork regularity to the Sidney region on October 15th - the 298th day of the solar cycle. Buffleheads are the smallest of our diving ducks.  During nesting season they are found in woodlands along the lakes, ponds and rivers of the boreal forest and in the higher elevation rangelands of British Columbia's interior.  They nest in the cavities of living and dead trees, usually excavated and left over by the Northern Flicker.  For the winter many Buffleheads migrate to the sheltered salt bays of the Pacific coast. Their regular return at the same time every year is quite remarkable and it seems this timeliness has no match in the bird world - I've been told that they are even better the swallows of San Juan Capistrano! For over ten years now the Friends of Shoal Harbour have been building the public awareness of this amazing duck by celebrating their punctual return and highlighting the importance of conserving the habitat they need to feed and overwinter. [caption id="attachment_23095" align="alignleft" width="300"]Our Honourable guest, B.C. Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon. Image Credit: Steven Heywood Our Honourable guest, B.C. Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, delivering an address to students at Parkland Secondary School. Image Credit: Steven Heywood[/caption] Roberts Bay, where we are standing, is within the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Shoal Harbour is part of the ancestral home of the Salish (Wsikem) people, and was legally set aside as a federal bird sanctuary in 1931 to protect the foreshore and marine habitat for the numerous migratory birds - up to sixty species - that overwinter in the Shoal Harbour region of Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula. In addition, the broader Shoal Harbour region has been recognized as critical bird habitat through its designation as the Sidney Channel Important Bird Area. [caption id="attachment_23065" align="alignright" width="200"]Kids making Buffleheads, Sidney - Oct 17 2015 Children and their parents making Bufflehead puppets after a special bird-themed storytime at the Sidney Branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library. Photo credit: Alex MacDonald[/caption] Beyond the fascination and enjoyment that we found in their regular return, the Friends of Shoal Harbour began celebrating All Buffleheads Day for a number of reasons.  First, was to use the celebration as a way of reaching out to the two local Councils of Sidney and North Saanich to ensure that Shoal Harbour received official designation within their Official Community Plans.  Second, was to bring together all levels of government with First Nations, local businesses, community organizations and interested people to work cooperatively to develop an integrated management plan for the land and surrounding waters of the Saanich Peninsula.  And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, was to encourage children and families to get outside to enjoy nature - in their naturehood - and learn about such a fascinating duck as the Bufflehead and the web-of-life they exist within. To this end, Nature Canada has designated Shoal Harbour and the Saanich Peninsula as one of  its official 'NatureHoods'.  The NatureHoods are a series of seven communities across Canada (and growing!) where Nature Canada is partnering with local organizations to help children and families learn about the importance of their urban green spaces and the wildlife that we have within their communities, their city and their region.  NatureHood is about helping to set the scene so that people can learn about wildlife and their habitat right where they live, work and play. We were very fortunate to celebrate All Buffleheads Day and NatureHood on the Saanich Peninsula with a very special guest before an audience of 250 students at Sidney's Parkland Secondary School: Her Honour Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Prior to her appointment, Her Honour was a rancher and Holistic Management practitioner in BC's Interior and worked on a variety of regional agricultural and environmental matters that demonstrate her strong interest in community and nature. Her Honour's speech at Parkland underscored the importance of young people engaging and participating in enhancing their environment and community. After the celebrations we returned to Roberts Bay at the end of the day just to check on our female, and we found that one male and eight other females had now joined her.  It was wonderful to stand there and watch them swim around and feed and think about the grandeur of nature and the timeliness of this one little duck. To read more about All Buffleheads Day and the NatureHood initiative, click here to read the Peninsula News article. Email Signup

BC’s Lieutenant Governor to celebrate NatureHood & All Buffleheads Day in Sidney, BC
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BC’s Lieutenant Governor to celebrate NatureHood & All Buffleheads Day in Sidney, BC

Media Advisory

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Who: Hosted by Friends of Shoal Harbour Society & Nature Canada

Special Guests include:  

The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Lizanne Chicanot, Principal, Parkland Secondary School Bob Peart, Director, Friends of Shoal Harbour Society Sue Staniforth, Director, Friends of Shoal Harbour Society Alex MacDonald, CBC Radio 1’s In Town and Out weekly bird tweeter and Senior Conservation Manager at Nature Canada

[caption id="attachment_18871" align="alignright" width="300"]Bufflehead, bird, water, duck, waterfowl, nature, BC, naturehood Photo by K Finley, P Nicklen[/caption]

What: British Columbia's Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Judith Guichon, will join Nature Canada representatives, the Friends of Shoal Harbour Society and 200 students to celebrate NaureHood on the Saanich Peninsula and mark All Buffleheads Day. NatureHood is a national program of Nature Canada that focuses on connecting urban Canadians to nearby nature by engaging them in celebration, inspiration and stewardship  of wildlife and its habitats. NatureHood on the Saanich Peninsula, which is managed by the Friends of Shoal Harbour Society, has been in place since mid-2015 and is closely tied to annual All Buffleheads Day celebrations in the area, or "naturehood". The Bufflehead is a small seaduck that overwinters in the waters off of Sidney, BC. The Bufflehead is highly punctual with respect to the date of its arrival in the region from its breeding grounds in the boreal forest. All Buffleheads Day is an annual  celebration of this phenomenon and presents a key opportunity to highlight nearby nature and a rich, shared nature heritage for the residents of the Saanich Peninsula.

Where: Parkland Secondary School 10640 McDonald Park Road, North Saanich. Telephone: 250-655-2700

When: Friday, Oct 16th, 2015 – 9:30 am to 11:30 am.

Why: Oct 15th marks All Bufflehead Days given that this is the date on which migrating Buffleheads return en masse to the waters off of Sidney, BC. Because of their striking plumage, highly active nature and their proximity to humans on waterfront properties, buffleheads are one of the most popular birds amongst bird watchers. The bufflehead, also known as the spirit duck, was added to the coat of arms of the town of Sidney, British Columbia, in 1995. Buffleheads are hunted and are considered a gamebird. In contrast to many other seaducks that have declined in recent decades, bufflehead numbers have remained relatively constant. Habitat degradation is the major threat to this bird, since they depend on very limited coastal habitat on their wintering grounds, and very specific habitat in their boreal breeding grounds. Although buffleheads do use man-made nest boxes, they still need the forest habitat to thrive. This event will help to raise public awareness of the plight of this amazing species.

Interviews: Interviews may be scheduled before, during or after the event. Opportunities to photograph the activities and the birds can be accommodated during the event. A photographer will also be present, with photographs available upon request following the event.

Contact: Alex MacDonald, Senior Conservation Manager, Nature Canada 613-324-7003 (mobile); amacdonald@naturecanada.ca

Mr. Bob Peart, Director, Friends of Shoal Harbour Society (FOSH)

 250-655-0295, bobpeart@shaw.ca

### Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of more than 45,000 members and supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country, with affiliates in every province.

   

Join our 2015 Fall NatureBlitz at the Ottawa Forest & Nature School!
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Join our 2015 Fall NatureBlitz at the Ottawa Forest & Nature School!

Join Nature Canada, the Child & Nature Alliance and local nature experts for a NatureBlitz on Saturday, October 3rd and Sunday, October 4th at Ottawa's Forest & Nature School on 411 Corkstown Road (Wesley Clover Campground)! This event will feature walks*, nature-based activities and family fun  from 10:30 am Saturday until 2 pm Sunday (map and daily schedules below).

[caption id="attachment_22682" align="alignleft" width="300"]Man examines a Bitternut Hickory during our Summer NatureBlitz event in Ottawa Local tree expert, Owen Clarkin, examines a Bitternut Hickory during our Summer NatureBlitz event in Ottawa. Photo by: Susanne Ure[/caption]

Help us explore your NatureHood in Ottawa's amazing Greenbelt, and test your ability to migrate like a bird, find clues about animals preparing for winter, or detect bats using a special ultrasonic microphone! NatureBlitzes are a great way to get outside and learn about nature with members of your community and local nature experts! This is the first survey of its kind in this area and we hope to identify as many different living things as possible at the site.

  Visitor events will include guided wildlife walks, a migration obstacle course and flap-a-thon, nature scavenger hunts and a search for bats and other night creatures! Participants will have an opportunity to learn how to identify the trees, plants, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects and fungi found around the Ottawa Forest & Nature School, which is located on this property and includes a great outdoor classroom. The walks will also have a special focus on local species at risk, including Little Brown and Northern Long-eared bats, which might be foraging in the area before or as they are forming into colonies to roost and hibernate for the winter. So get your binoculars, rain gear, hiking boots and flashlights ready and come join us as we get up close and personal with a world of mystery right outside your door. It's nearby nature! And it's your NatureHood!   [caption id="attachment_22541" align="alignright" width="300"]Red fox kits. Photo by: Phil Myers Red fox kits. Will we see any signs of fox during the NatureBlitz? Come find out! Photo by: Phil Myers[/caption] Don't have binoculars? No field guide? No flashlight? Don't worry! You can borrow one of ours. We have 8 pairs of binoculars, bilingual field guides and some head-lamps available to sign-out at the Nature Canada tent once you've registered for a guided walk. And we'll have handheld ultrasonic bat detectors available for sign-out, too!   Check the schedule to see which walk(s) you would like to join, or come out for all of them! Beginners, experts and especially kids and their families are welcome to this FREE event! We hope to see you there! Please download your free NatureBlitz tickets at EventBrite. [caption id="attachment_22686" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Fall NatureBlitz boundary map Ottawa Fall NatureBlitz boundary map (approximate). Aerial imagery from Bing Maps.[/caption] A detailed trail map by Orienteering Ottawa is also available here. Financial support for this NatureBlitz is provided by: Govt of Ontario logo White Swan logo (white)            

A Swift Evening Out Results – Success!
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A Swift Evening Out Results – Success!

_MG_2486Nature Canada held A Swift Evening Out at the Dominican University College on August 12th 2015. A Swift Evening Out is an outdoor event featuring presentations, activities, and easy bird watching to raise public awareness of the Chimney Swift, a provincially and nationally threatened bird found in Ottawa. For more information, visit our previous blog to read about Chimney Swifts and our Swift Evening Out events. With a group of approx 50 people, Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Senior Conservation Manager for Urban Nature and Species at Risk, led visitors to the lot in the Dominican University College. There, Nicolas Conroy, Nature Canada’s Conservation Intern, and Alex, gave a brief overview of the life cycle of Chimney Swift. This species only has one nesting pair per chimney, but will allow visitors to stay overnight. They lay, and incubate the egg for 2 weeks until it hatches. When hatched, 3-5ASwiftEveningOut-083143 blind, helpless birds emerge, and need food immideately. Their parents work around the clock, feeding their ever-hungry   chicks. After less than three weeks pass, the birds are as large as their parents, and leave the nest to take wing for the first time in their lives. Extremely aerial birds, many don’t land during the day, meaning they feed, mate, bathe, and even sleep on the wing! The clock stuck 8 p.m., and Nic brought everyone to the viewing area. This was a great view to witness birds entering. Every minute, a new group of birds joined the large flock and they began to circle the chimney. Chimney Swifts perform something called “false dives”. These are what seem to be dives into the chimney, but the birds will turn away at the last minute. This performance helps the birds understand who will go in first. Sort of the like a horse race, where riders jockey for position. The birds will stay in the chimney overnight, and then exit the chimney in the same fashion (as a group) at dawn. The birds in Ottawa are going to begin their long journey to South America. Some may decide to just travel to Venezuela, while others will make a trip farther down to southern Peru. Below you can see the CTV News segment, with footage of the birds entering the chimney. [playlist type="video" ids="22160"]   Nature Canada would like to personally thank all the visitors for coming out for our event! Email Signup

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