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Nature Canada to host community fall BioBlitz in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area

Nature Canada to host community fall BioBlitz in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area

OTTAWA (September 10, 2014) ― Nature Canada and naturalist experts from across the National Capital Region are gathering this weekend to host a fall “BioBlitz” in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area near Britannia Park. The event is open to the general public and is part of a larger effort to learn more about the state of local biodiversity and catalogue changes over time in population patterns. The event runs over a 24 hour period from 3pm on Friday to 3pm on Saturday and includes guided tours for the general public focussing on how to identify groups such as plants, birds, amphibians and reptiles. “Our goal is to involve the general public in the scientific process and to have fun while doing it,” said Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas. MacDonald continued, “our hope is that lots of people join us for a fun, engaging day at this unique urban wilderness site”. MacDonald and other Ottawa-area naturalist experts are aiming to locate, identify and photograph as many different species as possible around the site in a 24 hour period. For more information including a full schedule of events and directions to the site, members of the general public are encouraged to visit:

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[one_half][separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager 613-562-3447 ext 248 | Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl, Conservation Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 252 | Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 241 | [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada"] 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_half_last]

Banding Chickadees at the Lac Deschênes Naturehood Tour

Banding Chickadees at the Lac Deschênes Naturehood Tour

[two_third]On a crisp and cool Saturday morning, I joined Ted Cheskey, Nature Canada’s bird conservation manager, and two volunteers from the Outaouais Birding Club on the banks of the Ottawa River to band birds. As part of the Lac Deschênes Naturehood Tour, a multi-stop bird watching tour in Ottawa-Gatineau’s very own Important Bird Area, Ted was leading a bird banding demonstration at the Houle Street Boat Launch on the Gatineau side of the river. Ted had set-up mist nets close to the river’s edge with the hope of catching small songbirds. Within an hour, four Black-capped Chickadees and one American Goldfinch had flown into the nets. The birds were very gently removed from the nets, placed in cloth bags and brought back to the Nature Canada tent where they could be weighed and banded. After a bird has been inspected, it’s released where it was caught. I had the pleasure of releasing a bird under Ted’s guidance. Ted showed me a ‘banders’ grip’, then placed a Black-capped Chickadee in my hand. I slowly uncurled my fingers, opening my palm to the sky. But the little guy wouldn’t let go! It clung on to my index finger, hanging upside down even as I fully extended my fingers outwards. Then in a flash, it was gone. It was a very cool experience! What should you do if you find a banded bird? Bird banders occasionally capture birds banded by another bander. Non-banders can also come across banded birds, but this often happens under unfortunate circumstances. As a non-bander, you’re likely to find a banded bird that has died from striking a window (one of the most common human-causes of death in songbirds), a vehicle, or one that has been killed by a cat. If you find a banded bird, you can report your finding by phone, on the web or via mail. Here are three ways you can submit your findings: Phone :1-800-327-BAND (2263) Web  Mail: Write down some basic facts, put the band in an envelope, and send it to “AVISE BIRD BAND, WASHINGTON DC, USA.” The most important facts to report are the number on the band – and it is a long one, make sure you report it accurately – the date and location where you found it; the apparent cause of death, if you found a dead bird; your contact information. Don’t worry about trying to identify the bird, as the band contains that information. The banding office will send you a certificate of appreciation in return for your effort, letting you know what type of bird it was, and where and when it was banded.  This information goes into a database that is shared between Canada and the USA and is accessible to the public and scientists. The Lac Deschênes Naturehood Tour was coordinated by Nature Canada, the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club and the Club des Ornithologues de l’Outaouais. It used the same concept as a studio or winery tour to better acquaint local citizens with the globally significant Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area (IBA) that’s found right in the heart of the National Capital Region. Birding experts from both naturalist clubs and Nature Canada were stationed at each tour stop to help visitors explore the natural wonders of one of this region’s best areas for birding. The event was part of a larger project, My Naturehood, which focuses on celebrating birds, raising public awareness about birds and other wildlife, and protecting significant habitats in Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area. Visitors to the Houle Street Boat Launch site included a junior birder (who was eager to discuss the State of Canada’s Birds with Ted), local nature-enthusiasts, birders from the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club and the Outaouais Birding Club and a Chinese environmental lawyer who was visiting the city of Ottawa.
Over at Bate Island, another stop on the Lac Deschênes Naturehood Tour, visitors were treated to the sighting of a rare bird for this area – a Cave Swallow. It’s possible that this sighting could be linked to Hurricane Sandy fall-out from the flocks of Cave Swallows that have been noted moving up the Atlantic seaboard in the fall. Perhaps this particular Cave Swallow was pushed inland by Hurricane Sandy. The National Audubon Society's description for the species explains that “Birdwatchers have increasingly noted late fall incursions northward along the Atlantic seacoast as far north as Nova Scotia and inland along Lake Champlain.” We were lucky to spot such a rare sighting! We’d like to extend a big thank-you to the volunteers from both the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club and the Outaouais Birding Club for supporting the Naturehood Tour and to the funders of My Naturehood. [/two_third] [one_third_last] IMG_2255Ted Cheskey holds a Black-capped Chickadee   IMG_2274Ted holds a Black-capped Chickadee that has just been banded. IMG_2293Close-up of a bird band. IMG_2278I'm ready to release a Black-capped Chickadee IMG_2294Ted explains the banding process to Naturehood Tour participants. cave swallow by nebirdsplus via FlickrCave swallow by nebirdsplus via Flickr [/one_third_last]

Discover your Naturehood

Discover your Naturehood

Migrating birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and numerous freshwater fish – you’ll find them all right in the heart of the National Capital Region at the Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area (IBA). Get to know your local wild neighbours by joining Nature Canada, the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’Club and the Outaouais Birding Club this Saturday, November 3, 2012 for the Lac Deschênes Naturehood Tour. Naturalists from both clubs will be at various sites along the Ottawa River to help you explore the natural riches of one of the region’s best sites for birding. Have you ever wondered how scientists track migrating bird? Ted Cheskey, Nature Canada’s bird conservation manager, will be at Houle Street Boat Launch to show you just how it’s done! The tour is self-guided – start and end points are up to you. At each of the six sites, you’ll find an interpreter ready to help you discover the region’s superb natural heritage. Download a copy of the tour map and find out more about the six sites on the tour here. We’ll be there, rain or shine, from 9am to 1pm. We hope to see you there!

Thank you Salvadora

Thank you Salvadora

Ometepe Island Nicaragua and Cabot Head, Bruce Peninsula Canada  have lots in common and lots to share thanks in part to Salvadora Morales.  Salvadora, a Nicaraguan biologist and bird specialist currently working for Fauna and Flora International in Managua, just returned to her home country after spending 19 days in Canada thanks to the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory (BPBO).   BPBO runs a migration monitoring station to track bird populations moving over the Bruce Peninsula every spring and fall. Approximately 40 species of birds monitored at BPBO's Cabot Head field station on the eastern tip of the Bruce peninsula spend their winters in Nicaragua, and many more pass through Nicaragua, the largest of Central American countries, on their ways further south.
Included in this list are familiar and less familiar species such as Blue-winged Teal, Osprey, Turkey Vulture, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Ovenbird, Prothonotory Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Meadowlark, etc.
In 2003/4, BPBO began collaborating with a Nicaraguan conservation group to support the monitoring of birds in Nicaragua and efforts to conserve bird habitat. Salvadora has been the driving force of this partnership from the Nicaraguan side from the beginning.  She was coordinating the Monitoring Avian Over-wintering Survivorship (MoSI) program in all of Central America at the time.
In 2009, Salvadora was instrumental in helping plan a trip to Nicaragua by 12 BPBO members, led by myself and current BPBO President Rod Steinacher.  She also acted as guide on a few of our outings.
In 2010 and 2011, BPBO hosted two young Nicaraguan ornithologist/educators who were working for Salvadora on Ometepe Island, for 25 days of training at it Cabot Head Field Station.
2010 – Thanks largely to Salvadora's efforts, Ometepe Island in Nicaragua was accorded World Biosphere Reserve Status (just as the Niagara Escarpment has).
2011 – A linking exchange project is initiative between a school on Ometepe Island and a school in Tobermory.
May 4, 2012 BPBO brings Salvadora to Canada to visit the Research Station, meet the students and teachers and the school, further develop the linking schools projects, and participate in her first Birdathon.
May 22, 2012  Salvadora visits Ottawa, participates in an Ottawa Field Naturalist outing at Mud Lake Conservation Area, and makes two presentions on: bird conservation issues in Nicaragua to staff at Environment Canada, hosted by EC's International bird program staff. and on ecotourism (birding) opportunties in Nicaragua (particularly Ometepe Island) to Ottawa Field Naturalists Bird Study Group.
This project has raised awareness in both countries about our shared species of birds and built an appreciation for our cultures.  To conserve Canada’s birds, we must work closely in partnership with people in the countries where "our" birds spend their non-breeding seasons - which amounts to most of their lives!
Nicaragua is the largest Central American country with over 710 known species of birds but also the highest rates of deforestation, and many economic, political and social challenges.  Nicaraguans are strong and proud people who have had more than their share of suffering.  Most of the country is safe and its potential as an ecotourism destination is only starting to be developed.
Supporting international efforts to conserve our birds is tremedously important.  The imminent State of Canada's Birds Report will tell us that 78% of Canada's bird species migrate out of Canada every year.  The data will also reveal as troubling finding: the further they go, the worse they fare.
Here are a few things that we can do as individuals to support our birds outside of Canada:
  • support a conservation groups working in Latin America and the Caribbean
  •  support Canadian bird observatories working in latin America and the Caribbean
  •  use our shared species to connect to communities in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • purchase bird-friendly organic shade-grown coffee from Central America
  •  spend your tourist dollars on sustainable ecotourism opportunities such as planning a vacation that includes a stay on Ometepe Island and supports the ecologically sustainable tourism activities there.
Images and figures:
1. Loation of Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory and Nicaragua (stars)
2. Salvadora with students on Ometepe Island 3. Salvadora on Ottawa Field Naturalists field trip
[/two_third] [one_third_last]Image of North and South America Image of children Image of hikers[/one_third_last]

Migratory Bird Traffic Reports?

Migratory Bird Traffic Reports?

[two_third]Hi Folks! As part of Nature Canada's celebrations of International Migratory Bird Day here in the capital, we're coordinating a fun initiative with the Ottawa Field-Naturalists Club (OFNC). Each day with the help of OFNC birders and volunteers we're submitting a migratory bird traffic report to the local CBC Radio One show, Ottawa Morning, with host Robyn Bresnahan. I expect you're asking yourself 'what is migratory bird traffic?' Well, it's a new way to think about the movement of hundreds of millions of birds throughout our hemisphere each spring and fall. Our skies and the lands and waters beneath them, are a lot like trails, collectors and highways for our feathered friends as they move with the seasons. Here at Nature Canada, I thought to myself 'if we can report on vehicular traffic every day, why not celebrate IMBD by reporting on the massive 'winged migration' that's going on right above our heads?' I thank the good folks at CBC Ottawa for their interest in the idea! This is also a golden opportunity to promote our efforts to celebrate, raise awareness, protect and monitor the globally significant Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area, straddling the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Gatineau. This week during Ottawa Morning, traffic announcer and radio personality Dave Brown is reporting on local migratory bird traffic in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, time permitting. You can listen for the bird reports by tuning into Ottawa Morning from 5:30 am to 8:37 am (eastern) at 91.5 FM or via the internet. Without my morning shade-grown coffee, I stuttered my way through a great interview with Robyn on this morning's show Here are this week's first two migratory bird traffic reports, as submitted to Ottawa Morning. Bear in mind that air-time is precious and we don't expect that each piece will be read in its entirety - but you can check our blog each day to read the full report. [separator headline="h2" title="Report for May 12th & 13th"]

Good numbers of Warblers have been passing through the Ottawa West area, with 20 different species recorded around Mud Lake-Britannia. Canada Warblers are beginning to arrive in the region, lagging a bit behind the White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows that have been moving through Britannia and Shirley’s Bay in good numbers. There’s a lot of traffic noise in Ottawa West related to many songbird species that are looking for that special ‘someone’ for the breeding season. Waterfowl numbers are modest on the Deschênes Rapids. With continued warm weather we should see some increased traffic in the next few days.
[separator headline="h2" title="Report for May 13th & 14th"]
With the warm weather we continue to see lots of Warblers passing through Ottawa, with 22 different species observed – up 2 species from the weekend. A lonely male Hooded Warbler was spotted on the Ottawa General Hospital campus – a rare treat in the capital. Birders are still reporting a stalled Carolina Wren in the Britannia woods who, after spending all winter at backyard feeders, may now be looking for mate in the area. Several species of insect-feeding birds still being reported in good numbers in Ottawa West, including Flycatchers and Vireos; here’s hoping they stick around until black-fly season! Lots of shorebirds are moving through to northern breeding grounds, including Spotted Sandpipers and Dunlin. Finally, birders near Dunrobin are reporting slow-moving Rusty Blackbirds who in the face of a more than 90% decline in the last 40 years, are returning to their Boreal forest breeding grounds to hopefully raise some fledglings!
Many sincere thanks to OFNC volunteers Chris Lewis and Remy Poulin for their help in making this fun initiative possible!
  [/two_third] [one_third_last] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="200"]Image of a Common Tern Common Tern in southwest Nova Scotia[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="200"]Image of a Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron[/caption] [/one_third_last]

Thank You Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club!

Thank You Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club!

On Tuesday evening, I was invited as speaker for the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club (OFNC) monthly meeting in the theatre of the Canadian Museum of Nature. My topic was Important Bird Areas, but I was not going to miss the opportunity to bring the local club up to date with recent changes in Nature Canada. It had been many years since a Nature Canada staffer had talked to the OFNC; in fact no one could remember the last time. Nature Canada Executive Director, and member of the OFNC, Ian Davidson, was in attendence, and by the end of the presentation, he was an active participant in the lively round of questions.
Forty-four people were in the theatre, many of whom confided that they did not know that there was an IBA in their backyard (Lac Deschenes). I am grateful for the opportunity to talk to our local club, and discuss the IBA program with its members and to consider opportunities for collaboration. Nature Canada's roots are with the naturalists of Canada. Staying connected to our 'foundation' is important to Nature Canada as an organization and to me personally as a naturalist.I was delighted that two friends of mine, Jeff Skevington and Linda Burr, both members of the OFNC, introduced me and thanked me. I look forward to working with OFNC members on common projects around Lac Deschenes and other areas of joint interest. I also look forward to my own participation in the OFNC as a member and a participant in some of their events, such as the Christmas Bird Count.

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