Simply Wild Canada Your Canadian source for wild information Mon, 07 May 2018 20:33:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 New Book for Prairie Birders /new-book-for-prairie-birders/ /new-book-for-prairie-birders/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 20:33:02 +0000 /?p=1355 Have you ever hugged a book? As a birder living on the edge of the prairies, I have spent hundreds of hours and many thousands of miles driving prairie roads, looking for birds. Sometimes you get lucky and find four … Continued

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Have you ever hugged a book?

As a birder living on the edge of the prairies, I have spent hundreds of hours and many thousands of miles driving prairie roads, looking for birds. Sometimes you get lucky and find four juvenile ferruginous hawks stretching in the sunlight right next to the road. Sometimes you see nothing but the ubiquitous black-billed magpies.

One day last month I received a copy of Best Places to Bird in the Prairies. I was overjoyed. I was in awe. At last, a clear concise guide on where to find birds in the vastness of the prairie landscape. So yes, I hugged the book.

Written by three birding experts on their own provinces, John Acorn (AB), Alan Smith (SK) and Nicola Koper (MB) have provided an easy-to-follow guide on how to find birds in a variety of prairie locations. Experience clearly shows, as they share personal stories of some of the sites mentioned.

They highlight thirty-six highly recommended sites, each of which has been selected for the unique prairie species that reside there. With exclusive lists of hard-to-find birds, outstanding colour photographs, detailed maps and plenty of insider tips, this book is an indispensable resource for any birdwatcher.

This book makes the reader want to get out there and go birding. They cover both rural and urban areas with detailed maps and directions. They also include a northern location in each province, as the prairies seamlessly meet the boreal forest in the parkland, and the birds follow.

Having a copy of The Best Places to Bird in the Prairies is like having your own private birding guide. They know the birds, they know the birding spots (both well-known and otherwise), and they know how to get there. Even the text seems written by a friend.

This book is an absolute must-have for beginning or experienced birders. There are so many species found only on the prairies, and now you have a book that can show you where they are.

 

 

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Big Meal for a Garter Snake /big-meal-for-a-garter-snake/ /big-meal-for-a-garter-snake/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 21:30:38 +0000 /?p=1324 Maggie Irvine lives just outside Kincardine Ontario. She is lucky enough to have a family of garter snakes living under the concrete steps to her front porch. One day she followed two of them into the yard, and sent us … Continued

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Maggie Irvine lives just outside Kincardine Ontario. She is lucky enough to have a family of garter snakes living under the concrete steps to her front porch.

garter snakes

One day she followed two of them into the yard, and sent us photos of what she saw. Two snakes were clamped down on a very large toad, while a third one watches closely.The biggest snake appears to be the winner of this very large meal.

garter snakes

garter snakes

garter snakes

 

 

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Where Bears Live in North America /where-bears-live-in-north-america/ /where-bears-live-in-north-america/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:32:12 +0000 /?p=946 This map shows the overlapping geographic ranges of three types of bears that inhabit North America – polar bears, black bears and grizzly bears (also known as brown bears). This map was compiled by superimposing three maps prepared by Karl … Continued

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This map shows the overlapping geographic ranges of three types of bears that inhabit North America – polar bears, black bears and grizzly bears (also known as brown bears). This map was compiled by superimposing three maps prepared by Karl Musser (American black bear –Creative Commons License), Simon Pierre Barrette (grizzly bear – GNU Free Document License), and Fabio B (polar bear – public domain).

bear-areas-map

 

The American black bear is the most commonly seen bear in North America and it has the largest geographic range. Black bears can be found as far south as central Mexico and as far north as northern Alaska and most of Canada.

The grizzly bear and brown bear are members of the same species of bear. Generally they are called grizzly bear when they are inland. In coastal regions of Alaska and Canada they are generally referred to as brown bear. While the majority of their living range is Alaska and Northwestern Canada they are also found in small areas of the the western USA.

Polar bears are the largest of the three bears found in North America. They range from about seven hundred pounds up to about fifteen hundred pounds. Polar bears are only found in the most northern areas of Alaska, Canada and all of Greenland.

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Novel species interactions: black bears respond to Pacific herring spawn /novel-species-interactions-black-bears-respond-to-pacific-herring-spawn/ /novel-species-interactions-black-bears-respond-to-pacific-herring-spawn/#respond Mon, 15 Jun 2015 17:32:43 +0000 /?p=941 Press Release from Raincoast Conservation Foundation Sidney, BC: It is now recognized that coastal bears are often tightly coupled to spawning Pacific salmon. However, as mobile, opportunistic and abundant animals in coastal ecosystems, bears also interact with a range of other taxa, … Continued

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Press Release from Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Sidney, BC: It is now recognized that coastal bears are often tightly coupled to spawning Pacific salmon. However, as mobile, opportunistic and abundant animals in coastal ecosystems, bears also interact with a range of other taxa, including other spawning fishes.

Each year, Pacific herring, a small silvery fish with profound ecological, cultural, and economic importance, participates in one of nature’s most spectacular events. Despite population reductions throughout parts of their range, often substantial aggregations of Pacific herring still spawn on nearshore and intertidal substrates along the Pacific coast of North America and beyond. At these events, the water turns chalk white with milt (sperm) and dense layers of eggs are laid upon the beaches, kelp forests and seafloor.

Local and traditional knowledge holders have long been aware of the relationships between black bears and Pacific herring, but science lagged behind. For the first time, scientists from Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the University of Victoria have documented that black bears rely on herring eggs that wash up into intertidal zones. Published in the scientific journal BMC Ecology and entitled Novel species interactions: American black bears respond to Pacific herring spawn, we documented that bears responded positively to herring eggs, with bears being more frequent at large spawn events. Further, the greater the amount of eggs available to bears on spawn beaches, the more eggs bears ate, with eggs being consumed by bears for over five weeks from single spawn events in Quatsino Sound, British Columbia.

Fox-bear-with-eggs1-500x281

Why are these findings important? According to postdoctoral fellow Dr. Caroline Fox, “this is the first scientific evidence of a cross-ecosystem interaction between Pacific herring and black bears, two prominent species that play substantive roles in coastal ecosystems but which have not been previously linked.”

Because these bear-herring interactions were potentially stronger and more widespread historically, Dr. Paul Paquet says that “the documentation of these interactions highlights the paucity of knowledge regarding species and ecosystem interactions and in turn, the lack of information regarding their potential decline.”

For more information contact:

Dr. Caroline Fox, Postdoctoral Fellow, Raincoast Conservation Foundation & Department of Geography, University of Victoria, tel: (250) 812 1956, email: caroline@raincoast.org

Dr. Paul Paquet, Senior Scientist, Raincoast Conservation Foundation & Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography, University of Victoria, tel: (306) 376 2015, email: ppaquet@baudoux.ca

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Hummingbirds in Canada /hummingbirds-in-canada/ /hummingbirds-in-canada/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:18:40 +0000 /?p=912 Canada is the summer home of five hummingbird species. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the most widespread, found from Alberta east to Nova Scotia. The Calliope Hummingbird is the tiniest of the five, and is found in central interior British Columbia … Continued

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ruby throated hummingbird

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Canada is the summer home of five hummingbird species. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the most widespread, found from Alberta east to Nova Scotia.

The Calliope Hummingbird is the tiniest of the five, and is found in central interior British Columbia and southwestern Alberta. Anna’s Hummingbird can be found in parts of southern British Columbia and Vancouver Island, and some may overwinter there. The Black-chinned Hummingbird makes its way up the interior of southern British Columbia. The Rufous Hummingbird can be found in southwestern Yukon, most of British Columbia and southwestern Alberta.

These little flashing jewels are a complete delight in your garden or yard. Planting native flower species or putting up a hummingbird feeder can supply hours of entertainment. The addition of a lawn sprinkler set to cover a small area adds to the fun as they fly back and forth through the water – their version of a quick bath.

Small insects – mosquitoes, gnats, fruit flies – and spiders are an important protein source for hummingbirds. They search for them in trees, shrubs and among flowers, pluck spiders from their webs, glean insect eggs and larvae from tree trunks and catch adults on the wing.

Flower nectar is another natural food source for hummingbirds. By planting a variety of hummingbird-friendly plants in your garden, you can provide natural food spring through fall. They prefer red bell or trumpet shaped flowers, which is why commercial hummingbird feeders are red. The Canadian Wildlife Federation has a list of native plant species to attract these tiny birds.

Ruby-throated hummer feeding at bee balm flowers.

Female Ruby-throated hummer feeding at bee balm flowers.

Male Rufous hummer at bee balm flowers.

Male Rufous hummer at bee balm flowers.

If you wish to supplement this primary food, you can add a feeder to your yard. You do not need to purchase commercially available hummingbird nectar, as most of them contain red dye. This not necessary to attract hummingbirds, and only adds chemicals to their diet.

The best food for hummingbird feeders is a home made mixture. Mix one part white sugar to four parts water. Allow the water to boil for one minute and then add sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool thoroughly. Fill your feeder and store any excess in the fridge for up to three or four weeks.

Be sure to keep the feeder clean to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria. Regular cleaning every three or four days will ensure healthy hummingbirds. No cleansers are needed, just some hot water and a brush. If you’re purchasing a feeder, you might want to consider how hard it will be to clean before making your decision!

Ruby-throated and Rufous at the same feeder.

Ruby-throated and Rufous at the same feeder.

Supplemental feeding of these tiny birds is especially important during their spring and fall migration. Flowers are blooming earlier, which may not coincide with their migration pattern. Native plant species are disappearing all across Canada, so a combination of native plants in your yard, and a hummingbird feeder will help these amazing little birds survive.

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We’re Thinking Bees /were-thinking-bees/ /were-thinking-bees/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2015 21:47:01 +0000 /?p=837   Although it may not feel like it in some areas, spring is slowly returning to Canada. And for us, the warmer temperatures mean our thoughts turn to bees and gardens. Two-thirds of the food crops people eat everyday require … Continued

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Although it may not feel like it in some areas, spring is slowly returning to Canada. And for us, the warmer temperatures mean our thoughts turn to bees and gardens.

Two-thirds of the food crops people eat everyday require bees and other pollinators to successfully produce a crop. However, populations of honeybees, bumble bees, and other pollinators are dwindling worldwide.

A strong and growing body of scientific evidence has shown that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides are a major contributing factor to bee die-offs. These pesticides are absorbed into plant tissues, including stems, flowers, pollen and nectar.

Attention Gardners

Neonicotinoids aren’t just used in agriculture- many plants sold at home garden centres have also been pre-treated with these bee-killing pesticides.

Friends of the Earth has prepared a report that all bee-friendly gardeners should read. Gardeners Beware 2014 has found that more than half of garden plants sampled in the U.S and Canada contain levels of neonicotinoid pesticides harmful to bees.

  • 51% of the garden plant samples collected across 18 cities in Canada and the U.S. were found to contain neonicotinoid pesticides.
  • 40% of the positive samples contained two or more neonicotinoid pesticides.
  • 60% of the Canadian samples tested positive for neonics, and 100% of the samples collected in London, Ontario contained at least one neonicotinoid.

Read more or download the full report on their website.

In addition to pesticides, look for and don’t buy hybrid plants. These are designed to bloom longer and be pleasing to the human eye, but they have no nectar or pollen to feed the bees.

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