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Video: The giant plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean
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Video: The giant plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean

The Great Pacific garbage patch is one of those sad things that perfectly illustrates how people can be lulled into a sense of "out of sight, out of mind". From Wikipedia:

The Great Pacific garbage patch, also described as the Pacific trash vortex, is a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N.[1] The patch extends over an indeterminate area, with estimates ranging very widely depending on the degree of plastic concentration used to define the affected area. The patch is characterized by exceptionally high relative concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.[2] Despite its enormous size and density (4 particles per cubic meter), the patch is not visible from satellite photography, nor is it necessarily detectable to casual boaters or divers in the area, as it consists primarily of a small increase in suspended, often-microscopic particles in the upper water column.
man holding plastic water bottle near water

Fantastic video of a monarch butterfly emerging from its Chrysalis
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Fantastic video of a monarch butterfly emerging from its Chrysalis

Check out this fantastic video of a monarch butterfly emerging from its Chrysalis!

Video: How to grow a tiny forest anywhere
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Video: How to grow a tiny forest anywhere

Greening your NatureHood! A forest planted by humans, then left to nature’s own devices, typically takes at least 100 years to mature. But what if we could make the process happen ten times faster? In this short talk, eco-entrepreneur Shubhendu Sharma explains how to create a mini-forest ecosystem anywhere.

VIDEO: Ottawa Bird Day Parade Was in Flight!
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VIDEO: Ottawa Bird Day Parade Was in Flight!

How often do you see many different species of birds flying through the sky together all at once ? Maybe on the day Nature Canada organized the Ottawa Bird Day parade! Around 60 students from the Centennial Public School got creative and made puppets of many different species of birds to bring on their walk along the Ottawa River, along with masks they made to match their winged friends, and started their journey. These energetic birds ranged from a Red-Throated Hummingbird to an American Goldfinch, a Grey Goose and so much more! Once they reached Bate Island, located in the Ottawa river, they stopped for a quick snack of sunflower seeds. Once their "bird feeding" was finished, they grabbed their garbage and recycling bags and started to clean up and help keep the wildlife area clean. When all was clean, the hard-working students hopped on the bus back to school. It was a very fun-filled, educational day.    

Solving an international mystery
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Solving an international mystery

Why are Purple Martins disappearing? Recently, there has been a sharp drop in the number of Purple Martins in Ontario and the reason behind this is not clear. Figuring out where they go to escape our cold winters will go a long way in helping us understand why their numbers are dropping. To start answering the question of why they're disappearing, we started a project called the Purple Martin Project which is a collaboration between Nature Canada and York and Manitoba university scientists. Phase one of the project involved attaching tiny GPS trackers on Purple Martins in eastern Ontario. Just last week, scientists from Nature Canada and York and Manitoba Universities, caught Purple Martins, and with the greatest care, placed a small tracker on their backs, kind of like a backpack They were then released near their homes in man-made nests which resemble bird 'condos'. The capture and release happened at the Nepean Sailing Club in Ottawa and on private properties on Amherst and Wolfe Islands, both located in Lake Ontario and a short distance from Kingston, Ontario. [caption id="attachment_14032" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Image of purple martin with a GPS tracker A Purple Martin with a GPS tracker attached to its back.[/caption] [separator headline="h2" title="Where do Purple Martins go in winter? "] We don't know much about Purple Martins, but we do know that they over-winter in Brazil. But Brazil is a big country and there are many obstacles along the way to reaching the end of their migratory journey. From now until next spring, the tracking devices on each bird will collect vital information about where it went and how long it stayed in each location. Using this information, we can piece together a life story about these amazing birds and get one step closer to understanding why their numbers are declining. If we can pinpoint the reason(s) for their decline, then we can improve protection for them. Unfortunately, Purple Martins are not alone in experiencing population declines. They are part of larger group of birds called 'aerial insectivores' that have shown striking declines in recent decades. That's troubling for bird watchers but also for whole ecosystems that needs just the right number of prey and predators to flourish. Purple Martins eat insects and help keep their population in check. Without them, entire forests would be quickly devoured by billions of hungry, leaf-eating insects. [caption id="attachment_14045" align="aligncenter" width="800"]image of Purple Martins nesting in gourds Purple Martins nest in man-made structures such as these 'condos' of gourds.[/caption] [separator headline="h2" title="Purple Martin Project makes the front page "] The plight of this enigmatic bird has caught the attention of media across the country. Their declining numbers coupled with our efforts to save them have captured the imaginations of local radio and TV shows, print and online newspapers from Ottawa to Calgary. With stories published in the Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald and others, we're well on our way to achieving one of the important goals of the Purple Martin Project - educating people about the endangered species. CBC Radio's All in a Day had Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl, Nature Canada's Conservation Coordinator and Purple Martin Project participant, on its show to talk about the birds and what the project is all about. Find out more about the Purple Martin Project and how you can get involved. [video type="youtube" id="PnSJzNbmKNw" width="940" height="420"]      

3 reasons to celebrate nature in your NatureHood
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3 reasons to celebrate nature in your NatureHood

Bird Day Ottawa was a great success this year, drawing close to a thousand people in the Ottawa-Gatineau area to Nature Canada's annual bird and wildlife event. There were crafts for kids, live falcon demonstrations, and guided nature walks throughout the day. Bird Day is an event dedicated to celebrating nature, getting people excited about nature in their NatureHoods and connecting people - especially kids - to the nature all around them. Here are our top three reasons for celebrating nature in your NatureHood.

  1. Discover something new about your neighbourhood! Each guided nature walk at Bird Day revealed a different set of species and a variety of habitats. Depending on the time of day and the season, you will likely see a different group of animals and plants. Exploring your NatureHood on foot or by bicycle is a great way to get to know your local plants and wildlife.
  2. Contribute to science through a citizen science program. Make your observations of nature count by sharing them with scientists and other nature enthusiasts through the Explore NatureHood app.
  3. Give your brain a natural boost. Studies have shown that time spent in nature not only increases your energy level, it also promotes positive emotions.
   

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