Summer NV 2015.pmd - Nature Saskatchewan
- a forum for environmental discussion - published by Nature Saskatchewan
Keep White Butte as a Natural Area
Table of Contents
From Your President
Margaret Skeel Graduate Student
Nature Saskatchewan in Competition
for Grant from Cargill
From Your Editors
Spring Meet Registration Form
Great Canadian Birdathon
Conservation Director’s Report
Argentina Nature Adventure
Call for Resolutions
Wings Over Wascana Nature Festival
Nature Saskatchewan Awards: Call for
New and Returning Staff
Nocturnal Owl/Breeding Bird Surveys
Wild Mother’s Gala
Sharp-tailed Grouse in Decline
Flight Plan Partners Campaign
LMBO Opens in May
Winter Birding Contest Results
Wanted: Birds and Banders
Turtle Lake Nature Sanctuary
Wing-tagged Turkey Vultures
Fencing and Wildlife
South of the Divide Update
Working for Better Reclamation
Natural Reseeding of Native Grassland
Top Bird Groups Unite to Urge Greater
Protection of North America’s
Warmth may put Bats in Hot Water
Tiny Bird’s Migration Route
Proposed Golf Course Development Threatens Rare Crown-owned Native Prairie near Regina
Trevor Herriot (reprinted with permission from his Grass Notes blog)
Saskatchewan people love grass—some
of us prefer needle and thread (our
provincial grass) in native grassland, and
some of us prefer wide swards of
Kentucky blue grass cut short so we can
walk over its soft carpet and enjoy the
beauty of a lawn or golf course.
There are people who think lawns are an
abomination, but I’m not one of them. I
love the scent of fresh cut grass and the
landscaped aesthetic of a green stretch
between clumps of trees. I spent
thousands of hours golfing as a teenager,
mostly because I liked the look of rolling
hills of bluegrass with trees casting long Walking trail sign for trails where a golf course is proposed at
shadows—it certainly wasn’t the White Butte (southeast portion of site/map). Photo by Trevor
satisfaction of a well-struck ball that kept Herriot.
me coming back. These days, I might golf once a year if a friend invites me, but I spend a lot of time walking
through the wild grass that has made this land prairie.
In Saskatchewan, where cultivated land makes up more than 80 per cent or more of the land base south of
the forest, we have room for many golf courses without harming native prairie. In fact, it is said that this
province has more golf courses per capita than any other.
Now that our native grassland has
dwindled down to small remnants in
many areas, though, you would think
there is no reason for golf courses and
native prairie to come into conflict.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. When
we build golf courses in coulees and river
valleys (e.g. Katepwa and Ochapowace),
native grassland is destroyed to plant the
fairways and create greens and tee
boxes. There are more recent examples
where native grassland ecosystems were
permanently damaged to create golf
courses in Saskatchewan, such as
Dakota Dunes near Saskatoon.
Looking north from the proposed golf course site at White Butte.
Photo by Trevor Herriot.
These places are often passed off as
“sustainable” or “ecological” golf courses,
but this is a lot of rear-guard PR that has no data to back it up. A survey of the biodiversity of any “ecological”
golf course will show that there are important species diminished or entirely absent from the landscape when
it is compared to intact habitat nearby. Sure, robins, deer, foxes and other abundant species that tolerate or
prefer disturbed landscapes will flourish; helping the course claim to be “wildlife-friendly,” but many of the
rarer species and ecological relationships will simply disappear.
I found out recently that one of Regina’s only remaining patches of native prairie is being considered for a golf
course. Speaking to friends who belong to the Regina Ski Club, I learned that a private golf course company
is asking the Province to let them build a course on the southern half of the White Butte Recreation Site, a
couple of miles east of Regina along Highway One.
White Butte contains two square miles of one of the rarest grassland types in Canada—Aspen Parkland.
According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, less than ten per cent of the Aspen Parkland remains in
Canada, though it once formed a wide swath of the northern Plains from southern Manitoba northwest to
cont’d on page 3
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Humanity in Harmony with Nature
From Your President
Happy spring, everyone! Spring in the prairies never ceases to surprise me. Last
year, the bitter cold held on as long as it could. I began to wonder if it would ever
warm up. This spring has been a mixture of warm interspersed with brief snowy
days. The buds have started to break dormancy and the robins have returned in
abundance to our neighbourhood. I’m feeling optimistic that the best parts of
spring are just around the corner.
Nature Views provides a forum for discussion, a means for the dissemination of
information about environmental issues to the people of Saskatchewan and promotes
the aims and objectives of Nature Saskatchewan. Nature Saskatchewan is also known
as the Saskatchewan Natural History Society.
Unfortunately, I have not been feeling as optimistic about this issues’ message. I
have to share bad news with you. As I’m sure many of you are aware, funding of
our Stewards of Saskatchewan programs has been unstable over the past three
years. As much as it pains me to say it, in all likelihood we are facing more
instability this year. The Board feels we are now in the position where we must
hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
Submissions and comments are invited. Send materials to this Nature Views
editor: Rob Warnock, 3603 White Bay. Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 7C9. Phone: (306)
586-2492. Materials can be sent by email to: [email protected]
The worst, in this case, is putting Rare Plant Rescue on a one year hiatus. With
this comes the loss of a year’s worth of data collection, limited contact with
existing and potential stewards and public education about plant species at risk.
Sadly it also comes with the loss of valued, hardworking staff.
I sincerely hope that come next issue, I can report that everything has turned out
the way it should and that RPR staff, along with the rest of our SOS staff, are out
in the field. No matter the outcome, the instability in our funding sources is a top
priority for the board as we move into a new round of strategic planning.
Margaret Skeel Graduate Student Scholarship
In the fields of ecology, wildlife management,
biology, environmental studies including social
science applied to marketing conservation and
sustainable use of natural resources.
A $2,000 scholarship will be awarded in 2015 to
assist a graduate student attending a postsecondary institution in Saskatchewan. This
scholarship must be applied to tuition and
associated costs at the named institution.
The Margaret Skeel Graduate Student Scholarship is awarded to a student pursuing
studies in a field that complements the goals of Nature Saskatchewan. Nature
Saskatchewan promotes appreciation and understanding of our natural
environment, and supports research to protect and conserve natural ecosystems
and their biodiversity. We work for sustainable use of Saskatchewan’s natural
heritage, ensuring survival of all native species and representative natural areas,
as well as maintenance of healthy and diverse wildlife populations throughout the
province. We aim to educate and to stimulate research to increase knowledge of
all aspects of the natural world. Research that will contribute to resolving current
conservation problems have a special priority.
an updated resume and a cover letter
a full description of your present and/or proposed research
a transcript of the undergraduate and graduate courses thus far completed
and of those currently enrolled in
an indication of what other source(s) of funding you hope to rely on to
complete your studies
letters of reference are optional but recommended
If you have any questions, please contact our office by e-mail at
[email protected] or phone 306-780-9273 (in Regina) or 1-800-667-4668 (SK
Application Deadline: June 1, 2015
Please submit your completed application to the Scholarship Committee:
E-mail: [email protected]
Mail: Nature Saskatchewan, 206-1860 Lorne Street, Regina, SK S4P 2L7
Phone: 306-780-9273 (in Regina) or 1-800-667-4668 (SK only).
“Humanity in Harmony with Nature”
Nature Saskatchewan in Competition for Grant
Nature Views is published four times a year by Nature Saskatchewan. Receiving the
newsletter is a benefit from membership in Nature Saskatchewan. Views expressed in
Nature Views are not necessarily those of Nature Saskatchewan.
Final proof approval:
Angela Dohms and Rob Warnock
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Views may only be reprinted with permission from the author.
This issue of Nature Views has been printed by the Weyburn Review, Weyburn.
Circulation: 2200 ISSN: 1207-5450
OFFICE AND PROGRAM CONTACTS
Species at Risk Manager
Conservation & Education Manager
Habitat Stewardship Coordinator (Rare Plant Rescue)
Habitat Stewardship Coordinator (Oper. Burrowing Owl)
Habitat Stewardship Coordinator (Shrubs for Shrikes)
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Saskatchewan PlantWatch Coordinator
Last Mountain Bird Observatory
Turkey Vulture Tracking/Birds of Saskatchewan Book
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
J. Frank Roy
C. Stuart Houston
Vladimir Kricfalusy Rob Wilson
Rob Warnock and Angela Dohms
Kerry Hecker and Lowell Strauss
LOCAL SOCIETIES AND AFFILIATES PRESIDENTS
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Fort Qu’Appelle Natural History Society
Indian Head Natural History Society
Kelsey Ecological Society
Meadow Lake Woodlanders (Junior Forest Wardens)
Nature Moose Jaw
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For more information, please contact Nature Saskatchewan
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vote, please and thank you! You can vote for us here: http://togetherwethrive.ca/
Conservation Now...For The Future
E-MAIL: [email protected]
Keep White Butte as a Natural Area
From Your Editors
We hope everyone had a great start to the year and survived the long winter.
It is great that Spring is finally arriving with snow largely gone in Regina (on
April 6th), warmer temperatures on their way, more hours of sunlight and the
return of birds and their songs. According to recent documentaries, the amount
of birdsong being heard is unfortunately declining because of falling bird
populations and habitat loss. We cannot imagine a world without birdsong.
This issue is jam packed with Nature Saskatchewan news including reports
on Last Mountain Bird Observatory, Turtle Lake Nature Sanctuary, and profiles
of new and returning Nature Saskatchewan staff. There are also interesting
articles on boreal forest, the amazing Blackpoll Warbler migration, bats, Sharptailed Grouse fencing and wildlife, and a large number of other notices and
articles worth checking out including new apps for naturalists.
From Your President report briefly discusses the current funding difficulties for
our Stewards of Saskatchewan programs and the likely ramifications of
insufficient funding. Vote competition grants and donations can help but cannot
replace stable and predictable funding for our programs. However, we still
strongly encourage all members and others to vote for Nature Saskatchewan
for Cargill’s vote grant competition (see page 2).
Social media can do wonders for conservation. Within a few days, the Provincial
Government backed away from approving a proposed golf course on the White
Butte Recreation Area because of rapidly growing opposition to the
development. We applaud Minister Docherty’s decision to oppose this
development. White Butte is only of 3 patches of native prairie left in the
Regina area. In contrast, there are already 12 golf courses in, and around,
Regina. For more information on this topic, please see the front page article
of this issue.
We express our deepest condolences to families and friends of Nature
Saskatchewan members who have passed away recently. We also thank
generous donors and volunteers of the Society and welcome new members to
Don’t forget to mark on your calendar for the Spring Meet in June in Saltcoats
(Rob needs a ride to both meets–please call or e-mail him) and Fall
Meet in Battlefords in September.
Please consider participating in some of the upcoming events and activities
including the Great Canadian Birdathon, and citizen science projects such as
Breeding Bird Survey, Nocturnal Owl Survey, the Nature Watch programs and
Nocturnal Owl Surveys and Turkey Vulture Tagging. We encourage all eligible
graduate students to apply for the $2,000 Margaret Skeel Graduate Scholarship
(deadline June 1, 2015). Also, please consider nominating someone for a
prestigious Nature Saskatchewan award or submitting a resolution for
consideration at the Fall Meet.
We hope you have been enjoying recent issues of Nature Views and we
welcome your feedback (bouquets or bricks), as it is your publication. Have a
safe and wonderful spring and summer and don’t forget to enjoy nature with
family and friends!
cont’d from Front Page
Unlike almost all of the surrounding private subdivisions now filling up with starter
castles, this piece of public land at White Butte has never felt the farmer’s plow
or the developer’s bulldozer.
The Regina Plains landscape area contains 1.1 million acres of land. Less than
0.1% of it is native prairie. The rest has been plowed up to grow crops or paved
over with roads and urban development. White Butte represents a big chunk of
the public lands that are included in that miniscule 0.1% remnant.
As unbroken prairie, it contains vital habitat for both the increasingly rare rough
fescue grass and our provincial bird, the Sharp-tailed Grouse, which winters and
breeds on the property. I have seen them dancing there myself in April right in
the middle of where the golf course would be built. Two weeks ago a handful of
birding friends came with me to look for Sharp-tails and we quickly found seven.
They will no doubt be on their dancing grounds or “lek” very soon and then building
nests. This is a species in decline in the province, as any experienced upland
bird hunter or naturalist will testify. The Aspen Parkland is its preferred habitat
and with urban sprawl near our cities, our provincial bird is getting harder and
harder to find without a long trip south.
It is entirely possible that the golf course builders have no inkling of how rare and
important White Butte is in the Regina area. No doubt they are excited by the
potential for savings in this opportunity. Leasing Crown land to build a golf course
near Regina is much cheaper than having to spend many millions to purchase an
adjacent piece of private land.
I wonder what the other golf courses in the Regina area would say to this. You
have to think they would disapprove of a new course receiving what amounts to a
government subsidy. There are twelve golf courses in the immediate Regina area
by my count: Aspen Links (just across the highway at Emerald Park), Deer
Valley, Flowing Springs, Joanne Goulet, Lakeview (par 3), Regent Park (par 3),
Murray, Royal Regina, Sherwood Forest, Tor Hill, Wascana, and Green Acres.
Widen the radius to an hour’s drive and you can rope in many more.
Twelve golf courses, but only three pieces of public land where you can hike or
experience natural prairie near the city—Condie, Wascana Trails, and White
Butte. The White Butte Recreation area provides ski trails and hiking trails
maintained by the Regina Ski Club. The proposed golf course would be built
immediately south of the existing ski trail network, but the members of the club
passed a strong resolution to oppose the course nonetheless. Many of them are
also nature lovers and they are concerned that the natural buffer zone of wild
landscape to the south would be severely damaged by a golf course.
As well, snowshoers, hikers, bird-watchers, other naturalists and dog walkers
use the natural area where the golf course would go. The day we looked for
grouse I spoke to a man who was training his dog on the site. I asked what he
thought of the idea. “That would be awful,” he said. “I like it the way it is.” That
pretty well says it all. I imagine that most people who like to visit White Butte
would feel the same way, even if they are golfers. Most of us know that if you
build a golf course on disturbed landscape like cropland, you can improve habitat,
but if you build it on native prairie, you destroy it.
Rob Warnock and Angela Dohms
Nature Saskatchewan Thanks These Volunteers
Thanks to these volunteers from ArtCares:
An update: News outlets have reported on March 31, 2015, that Minister Docherty
will not support the application given the very strong opposition from the public,
the Regina Ski Club and the Regina Wildlife Federation. Minister Docherty’s
Chief of Staff has confirmed to Mr. Herriot that there will be no golf course at
White Butte and there will be no public hearing to consider a golf course.
Communicating support for White Butte as a natural area to Minister Docherty is
still useful to demonstrate public’s opinion on this issue. The Editors.
Hon. Mark Docherty, Room 315, Legislative Building, 2405 Legislative Drive,
Regina, SK, Canada, S4S 0B3
Jordan Podovilnileoff, Political Science major, 4 year
Tim Wu, Kinesiology major, 1st year
Edwin Seto, Environmental Engineering major, 2nd year
Or email (though letters are always better): [email protected] . Better yet,
phone him: (306)787-0092
Thanks to these volunteers (in creating a Species at Risk poster and project on
how Stewards of Saskatchewan Species at Risk locational data is used within
Letter to the Editors
Income Tax Receipts
Nature Saskatchewan issues an income tax receipt for each donation.
This helps you to have your receipt handy when you need it. Your support
is greatly appreciated! If you have made a donation and don’t receive a tax
receipt make sure you contact our office.
A segment of Nature Views is designated for Letters to the Editors. Feel free
to voice your opinion and inform members and the Nature Saskatchewan
directors about issues relevant to our Society. Letters to the Editors provides
valuable comments about Nature Views’ articles, programs and ensures we
keep on track! Letters may be edited for clarity and length.
The Voice of Nature for Saskatchewan
Noted Saskatchewan Historian to Speak in
Kathy Morrell, Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association
The Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association announces Bill Waiser as
the keynote speaker at the Spring Meet of Nature Saskatchewan, Saltcoats
June 19 – 21. His presentation will focus on expectations in 1905 when
Saskatchewan entered Confederation in comparison to the reality of the
province today. http://www.yfbta.com/
The writing of Tommy’s Team all began with a little nip- of Scotch – just one, only
one, Stuart Houston assured. His story was that every second Tuesday afternoon
for months, he and Bill Waiser would meet together to collaborate in the writing of
the book they co-authored. Houston, who was born and raised in Yorkton, is a
long- time birder and “digger” into Canadian history. Waiser is a noted historian,
the author or co-author of fourteen books and the recipient of numerous honours
including the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.
Retired last June from the History Department at the University of Saskatchewan,
Bill Waiser continues his work as researcher, historian and speaker. Known for
his informative and entertaining presentations, he seeks to provide a better
understanding and appreciation of Canadian History.
“History is important,” he says. “It gives us a sense of identity, a sense of place,
a sense of connectedness. It goes to the heart of all people.”
The increased interest in genealogy shows that people, particularly older people,
are turning to history in greater numbers. The hobby is one of the fastest growing
pastimes in Canada.
In his writing, Waiser tends to
focus on “people stories”. One
example is Tommy’s Team, an
account of the people who
played a critical role in the
achievements of Premier T.C.
Douglas and his government.
The second is Who Killed
Jackie Bates, the gripping
account of the murder of a
young boy, but more than that,
the story of the depression and
how it contributed to the death.
Even Saskatchewan, A New
History, perhaps his best-known
work, recounts the broad sweep
of the province’s story not Bill Waiser. Photo courtesy of Bill Waiser.
through government policy and
statistics but through the tales of ordinary people living ordinary lives through a
more than ordinary period of 100 years.
Throughout his enthusiastic portrayal of people, Waiser returns constantly to the
theme of story.
“Storytelling,” he says, “provides a basic connection at coffee time or around the
dinner table. Families and friends relate through the stories they tell.”
Underlying Waiser’s approach to history through storytelling is his writing style.
It is the last thing from academic. He begins Saskatchewan, A New History, with
the words “Sir Wilfred was late.” The reader’s first response: Really. Prime
Minister Laurier was late. What was that all about? The whole thing begins like
a novel. It reads like a story. And yes, it reads like something you’d really like to
sink your teeth into.
Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association
(YFBTA) to host Nature Saskatchewan’s Spring
Meet at Saltcoats, June 19 – June 21, 2015
1. Friday, June 19
Registrants will “check-in” at the Saltcoats and District Community Hall. The
hall will be open all afternoon. A light meal will be provided prior to evening
address, “A Field Guide to Bees”, delivered by Dr. Sarah Wood, BSc; MSc; DVM
at 7 pm.
2. Saturday Tours (Lunch is included)
Note - you are on your own for breakfast
Registrants will have to choose one of the two options available. We will make
every effort to facilitate your choice however, if one tour proves more popular than
the other, tours will be assigned based on a first registered first served basis.
8 am - meet at Saltcoats Hall.
8:30 am - assigned buses will depart for day’s activities.
3 to 4 pm - buses will return to Saltcoats.
One group will visit wetlands and uplands south of Saltcoats (Maddaford Marsh
area, historical Crescent Lake area, local landowners and possibly a swing through
the Cutarm Creek area) with stops on the way for birding opportunities as well as
visits to points of historical significance.
A second group will explore areas west and north of Ebenezer. Tour to include
hiking in the sand dunes of Good Spirit Provincial Park and visits to private lands
in the vicinity with many opportunities for birding as well as visits to points of
Light walking in damp areas may be involved so please wear appropriate footwear.
Wood ticks and mosquitoes are a fact of life in these areas at this time of year.
5 to 6 pm - opportunity to view displays, meet new friends, enjoy a Silent
Auction and participate in happy hour.
6 pm - Banquet followed by a presentation by well-known historian, Dr. Bill
Waiser, of Saskatoon presenting “Saskatchewan then … Saskatchewan
3. Sunday, June 21
An opportunity for an early-morning bird walk on The Leflay Trail in the Saltcoats
and District Regional Park will be available prior to Nature Saskatchewan’s Annual
General Meeting at 9am.
YFBTA will provide frequent updates regarding the 2015 Spring Meet on our
association’s website (www.yfbta.com). Registration forms will be available on
the website as well.
4. Have Questions/concerns, please contact
Martin Phillips at 306 783-0825 or 306 621-6904, or E-mail ([email protected])
The ending is important, too.
“Waiser ends his stories with a punch line,” Houston adds.
A punch line in terms of the Waiser historical narrative is that concluding sentence
that brings a feeling of closure, the clunk that says this particular story is complete.
“That ability is a gift,” Houston adds. “I’m not sure it’s something you can learn.”
“This is not a way of dumbing things down to reach a wider audience either,”
Waiser says. “It’s the way, the best way, to keep your audience engaged.”
His advice works. His history is aimed at everyone – kindergarten students,
seniors, his CBC audience (1999-2001), a wide array of readers and the academic
community. In fact, Waiser is well received wherever he goes. His listeners are
interested and interesting. They always have questions. They always want to
Nature Saskatchewan Welcomes These New
Jeff & Sabrina Bovee
Estelle P. Hjertaas
Gretchen Peterson & Andrew Johnson
2015 Fall Meet in the Battlefords
The 2015 Fall Meet will be in the Battlefords in September. Full meet details will be on Nature Saskatchewan website as it becomes available and in the fall issue
of Nature Views.
Conservation Now...For The Future
Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association
(YFBTA) to host Nature Saskatchewan’s Spring
Meet at Saltcoats, June 19 – June 21, 2015
Spring Meet 2015 Registration Form
(one form per participant please)
Motel rooms are reserved in Yorkton (for those attending the meet)
under “Nature Sask. Spring Meet”. Rooms must be booked prior
to May 16 as they will not be held after that date:
The Comfort Inn: 22 Dracup Yorkton
Fee after June 12th $110
Extra Banquet Ticket $30
Parkland Inn: 2 Kelsey Bay Yorkton
# of tickets ____
Bed and Breakfast options
Prairie Thunder Ranch: South of Saltcoats in country
Phone: 1–306-744–2936, Email: [email protected]
Lazy Maples Bed and Breakfast: 111 Darlington St. W. Yorkton
Lorraine’s Bed and Breakfast: 146 Franklin Drive Yorkton
Phone: 1 -306–783-6007
Patrick Place Bed and Breakfast: 88 Fifth Ave. N. Yorkton
Phone: 1–306–783–3763, cell: 306-621-8656,
Emergency Contact _______________________________________________
Early registration ($100) if cheque received on or before June 12th ___________
Days Inn and Suites: #1 – 275 Broadway Yorkton
Phone: 1– 306–782–3112
If you are contemplating camping:
Camping is available at the Regional Park in close proximity to
Saltcoats. The park will be closed until spring but inquiries may be
directed to the Town Office of Saltcoats (306-2212).
Other camping possibilities in vicinity of Saltcoats:
(You may have to wait until spring has arrived to get through. In the
meantime you may contact YFBTA for assistance with garnering
Cherrydale Golf Course and Campground: Off Hwy #16 just east of
Dietary Requests - YFBTA will attempt to meet special dietary
requirements identified below.
Tours Please indicate your first choice with a check mark
Check only one
_________Tour 1- One group will visit wetlands and uplands south of Saltcoats
(Maddaford Marsh area, historical Crescent Lake area, local landowners and
possibly a swing through the Cutarm Creek area) with stops on the way for
birding opportunities as well as visits to points of historical significance.
_________Tour 2 - A second group will explore areas west and north of Ebenezer.
Tour to include hiking in the sand dunes of Good Spirit Provincial Park with
visits to private lands in the vicinity with many opportunities for birding as well
as visits to points of historical significance.
Registration Deadline - June 18th, 2015
Make cheque payable to Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trails Association
Mail registration form and payment to:
Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association
PO Box 252, Saltcoats SK S0A 3R0
City of Yorkton Campground Off Hwy #16 on west edge of Yorkton
York Lake Regional Park: Off Hwy #10 just south of Yorkton
Please Join us for the 2015 Great Canadian Birdathon At Last Mountain Bird Observatory
Come join us on Saturday, May 9th, 2015 to have a lot of fun and help birds at the
same time! Nature Saskatchewan’s Last Mountain Bird Observatory (LMBO) is
hosting a Great Canadian Birdathon event in the Last Mountain Regional Park
which is just west of Govan (please call the NS office if you need directions).
Plan to get together with our Birdathon leader Marla Anderson, to enjoy a morning
of birding around Last Mountain Bird Observatory. It will be fun, challenging, and
a great learning experience. Come on your own, or bring your friends and family
- everyone is welcome! If you have binoculars, then don’t forget to bring them
along too. Please meet at 9 am at the LMBO banding station, and then everyone
can walk around the park as a group. After a morning of birding please join us for
a free BBQ sponsored by SaskEnergy. Last year, Marla had a total species
count of 88 birds at LMBO and area!
More than 7,000 people from across Canada (and from several countries around
the world) participate in and/or sponsor Birdathons in May of every year. During
a 24-hour period, “birdathoners” attempt to find as many bird species as they
can, sponsored at a flat rate, or on a per-species basis.
Help fundraise for the Last Mountain Bird Observatory and become a part of the
2015 Great Canadian Birdathon by registering & finding sponsors. You can
sponsor yourself, a participant, or our Birdathon leader. A tax receipt is issued
for all sponsorships of $10 or more. To register for the Great Canadian Birdathon
(aka Baillie Birdathon) contact Nature Saskatchewan (1-800-667-4668 or 306780-9481). Please RSVP for the BBQ by Monday May 4th.
Can’t make it to LMBO? You can do your own Birdathon: sign up by calling Bird
Studies Canada (1-888-448-2473 ext.210), or visit BSC at www.bsc-eoc.org to
download your Birdathon Participant kit – be sure to name “Nature Saskatchewan”
as your sponsoring club on the registration form so that funds will go to LMBO
(about 60-90%). The remainder supports bird conservation in Canada. Thanks
and Happy birding!
Last Mountain Bird Observatory BBQ
Join us in celebrating the Flight Plan Partners with the unveiling of the plaque as
well as International Migratory Bird Day. Come early to participate in the Great
Date: Saturday, May 9th
Where: Last Mountain Regional Park
Great Canadian Birdathon: 9am
BBQ sponsored by SaskEnergy: 1pm
Plaque unveiling: 2pm
Please RSVP by May 4th to Lacey at [email protected] or 306-780-9481
The Voice of Nature for Saskatchewan
Call for Resolutions
Conservation Director’s Report
Dean Catell, Conservation Director, Nature Saskatchewan
It definitely is nice to see the temperatures rising and the fresh smell of spring in
the air. Swans and geese have found their way back to Saskatchewan.
It is this time of year, for me that justifies the important work that we do. As the
migratory birds start to return, our days get longer and everything is greening up
at a rapid pace, we appreciate the new life that spring brings to the province.
The Conservation committee continues to be active, and although there are not
many “new” items to report, I can provide an update to some items of interest
that developed in the past.
Details on the wolf season established in the northeast part of the province will
not be available until mid to late April.
We received responses from the two resolutions (Neonicotinoids and Feral Boar)
passed at the fall meet. Needless to say there was a lot of content in the
responses identifying studies and conversations around both issues. I don’t
know how these types of responses have been shared with the membership in
the past, but I will raise the issue and perhaps the responses can be available at
the spring meet, or through the website or newsletter. (All responses to passed
resolutions received by Nature Saskatchewan have been published in Nature
Views, the Editors.)
Lorne Scott continues to be involved in the PFRA discussions and how these
important pieces of land will be managed in the future. Check the website for
updates on these discussions.
Lastly, we continue to have discussions with Grasslands National Park regarding
how Nature Saskatchewan can continue to support activities within the park.
The resolutions considered during the Business Meeting at each year’s Fall Meet
are important expressions of member concerns on environmental issues. The
Nature Saskatchewan Board of Directors is responsible for acting on all resolutions
that are passed by the members. This includes sending resolutions directly to the
responsible government ministry, and pursuing further action and/or meetings with
government and others, as deemed appropriate.
Anyone wishing to submit a resolution for consideration at the 2015 Business
Meeting, to be held on Saturday, September 19th or 26th, is asked to send a written
draft to the Nature Saskatchewan Office ([email protected]) no later than
Wednesday, August 26th. This provides an opportunity to receive feedback from
members of the resolutions committee that can help to improve your resolution. It
also helps us prepare for the meeting. Please note that resolutions not submitted
to the Nature Saskatchewan office by 5 pm on Tuesday, September 9th will be
considered only with the agreement of a 2/3 majority of those attending the business
1. Resolutions must be in keeping with the society’s mandate, bylaws and
2. All resolutions must be submitted in writing.
3. A resolution is, essentially, an exercise in communication. Simple, clear
language and focus on one topic or issue is most effective.
4. Supporting information presented in “Whereas” statements must be
accurate and factual.
5. Resolutions should be no longer than one page, and preferably less.
Wings Over Wascana Nature Festival is just around
The 10th annual Wings Over Wascana Nature Festival starts
on Tuesday, May 12th with the Fundraising Banquet. The
event will take place at the Conexus Arts Centre in the Theatre
Lobby overlooking the impressive Wascana Marsh in its spring
foliage. Our reputable guest speaker, Myrna Pearman of Ellis
Bird Farm will be sure to keep us entertained. The reception
begins at 5:30 pm followed with a delicious prairie buffet dinner
at 6:30pm. Tickets are $50 each, and a table of 8 for $400.
Come and join us! All proceeds from this event go to our
conservation and education projects in the Wascana Marsh.
Friday, May 29th is our School Day event. The organizing committee is hard at
work to make sure the more than 200 grades 4-6 students, teachers and volunteers
have an exhausting, but interesting and especially fun day! This is a great day to
volunteer – contact us at [email protected] or call 306-5319759.
Saturday, May 30 is the Public Day event. All activities are FREE and there is
something for the entire family. The activities take place in the Habitat Conservation
area in Wascana Centre, near the Douglas Park Hill from 9:00am to 4:00pm.
There will be an early morning hike for those who would like to see the early birds.
There will be displays, presentations, hikes, pond dipping, live animals including
almost 100 GOATS, and more. Learn about invasive species and native species.
Check out our website for details www.wascanamarsh.ca. Come explore and
enjoy! We hope to see you at the festival!
New Native Rangeland Grazing Management and
Fencing BMP Available
ARGENTINA NATURE ADVENTURE:
PATAGONIA, VALDES PENINSULA, IBERA
November 17 – December 1, 2015
Recent adjustments were made to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Farm Stewardship
Program (through Growing Forward 2), including Native Rangeland Grazing
Management and Fencing Best Management Practices (BMP). For details on
funding and eligibility, visit their site here:
Worldwide Ecotours is offering an exciting nature and
photography opportunity in Argentina. November is ‘baby
season’ and this is your opportunity to see young penguins,
Capybara, Rhea, Guanaco and many other birds and animals
too numerous to mention.
This tour is hosted by Leslie Tuchek. Leslie has developed
and guided tours for the University of Saskatchewan Centre for
Continuing and Distance Education for eight years. She is an
avid birder and wildlife photographer.
Obituaries and Tributes
For more information or a detailed itinerary contact:
Leslie Tuchek via email at [email protected] or phone: 306.982.2466
Ruth MacRae via email at [email protected] or phone: 1-888-7782378.
Readers are welcome to submit memorials for family and friends who were
involved in Nature Saskatchewan or one of the Local Societies. Memorials
should be brief and photos are permitted.
Conservation Now...For The Future
Nature Saskatchewan Awards: Call for Nominations
Each year at the Fall Meet, Nature Saskatchewan recognizes outstanding service
and contributions that Society members, and/or affiliate and partner organizations
have made towards Nature Saskatchewan’s objectives and goals. Recently, the
Awards Committee has recommended that the awards be restructured slightly.
Clear criteria have been established in terms of purpose, eligibility, and nomination
procedure. This year, we are seeking nominations for three classes of awards –
Volunteer Recognition Award, Fellows Award, and Conservation Award.
The Volunteer Recognition Award and Conservation Award can be conferred on
the same individual or organization more than once.
Nature Saskatchewan members who have provided valuable time and effort in
contributing to the Society are eligible. Local societies are encouraged to nominate
someone from their local group who is a Nature Saskatchewan member,
recognizing that Nature Saskatchewan values their contributions to the overall
goals of the Society. The nominee must be a current member of Nature
Saskatchewan. This award can be conferred on the same person more than
2. Fellows Award
The Cliff Shaw Award will also be presented at the Fall Meet. The recipient is
chosen by the Blue Jay editors.
Local societies throughout Saskatchewan play an important role in furthering
conservation and appreciation of nature at the local level. There are always those
who step up to the plate to organize meetings and outings, go the extra mile to
help others connect with nature, or work silently and tirelessly behind the scenes.
It’s time those contributions were recognized. We encourage anyone from a
local society to consider nominating someone from your local group who is a
Nature Saskatchewan member, who deserves recognition for any of these awards.
Note that nominees for the Volunteer Recognition Award and Fellows
Award must hold a current membership with Nature Saskatchewan.
In the interests of space, we are including the Nomination Procedure only for the
first award, since the procedure is the same for all three awards. The criteria and
names of past recipients can be found on the website here: http://
www.naturesask.ca/what-we-do/awards. The office can also send you a copy by
mail, if you prefer.
Purpose of the Award
A motion was passed at the 1987 Annual General Meeting creating a new class
of honorary membership entitled “Fellows of the Saskatchewan Natural History
Society”. This award recognizes an extensive and continuing contribution of time
over many years to the Society and its objectives. Up to five recipients may be
chosen annually. Once selected, Fellows hold that title as long as they remain
members of the Society. It is the highest honour the Society can bestow
upon a member.
Eligible individuals are members of Nature Saskatchewan who have provided an
outstanding time and work contribution to the Society over many years. These
contributions have been significant, and may have come in the form of leadership,
communication, authorship, social media outreach, research, and other areas.
The contributions have been cumulative or ongoing, and represent long-standing
service or commitment to Nature Saskatchewan and its objectives.
3. Conservation Award
Nominations can be made by Nature Saskatchewan members, directors,
and staff. Local societies should consider nominating someone from
their local group.
Self-nominations will not be accepted.
Nominations are to be made in writing and submitted by the published
Nominations are to include the following information:
The nominee’s name, address, and phone number;
The nominator’s name and contact information;
Details of the nominee’s efforts.
The Awards Committee will independently rate the nominations, and
confirm that the nominee holds a current membership with Nature
Chairperson of the Awards Committee will bring the recommendations
to the Board.
If ratified, the President or his/her delegate shall confer the respective
Awards to the recipients at the Fall Meet.
The deadline to submit nominations for awards is August 31, 2015.
All Nature Saskatchewan Awards consist of the following:
The announcement of the recipient’s name at the Fall Meet.
The presentation of a certificate recognizing the contribution.
An announcement in Nature Views recognizing the distinction.
1. Volunteer Recognition Award
This award was created in 1996 to acknowledge an individual Nature
Saskatchewan member who has devoted significant time and energy to promoting
the objectives of the Society, including contributions made at the local society
level. Priority for this award will be given to a Nature Saskatchewan member
whose volunteer work has helped to enhance the public awareness of the Society
(this may include contributions to a Society conservation project or program). It
may be appropriate in some years to have this award shared by more than one
person, if they have worked together on the same project, or on closely related
The Saskatchewan Rangeland Ecosystems:
Ecosite Guides were recently updated...
Check out all of the Ecosite Guides on Saskatchewan PCAP Resources Page
Also new to the SK PCAP Resources Page are documents on Sprague’s Pipit
and Sage Grouse Habitat Requirements, from the Rancher’s Stewardship Alliance
Inc. and the South of the Divide Conservation Action Plan (SODCAP).
Purpose of the Award
In addition to advocacy and other forms of conservation action, it is important that
Nature Saskatchewan recognize, as it has done since 1953, those both within
and beyond the organization who have done “meritorious work in the interest of
conservation in Saskatchewan.”
Nature Saskatchewan’s Conservation Award will be presented to an individual or
organization whose total contribution to conservation is outstanding, whether in
relation to a particular project or in a number of roles over a period of years.
Individuals, affiliate and/or partner organizations, not-for-profit associations,
institutions, community groups, businesses, government and non-government
organizations that have contributed significantly to conservation in Saskatchewan.
This award can be conferred on the same individual or organization more than
CALLING ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS
The Board has agreed to continue the approach with respect to the Larry Morgotch
Memorial Award for photography. Over the past few years, entries for this award,
which recognizes excellence in photography, have fallen considerably. To
encourage more people to share their photos, this year on a continuing trial basis
we will be staging the Larry Morgotch Photo Event to acknowledge excellence
in nature photography as exemplified by Larry Morgotch. The event will celebrate
nature through photography, without the element of competition. No one will
receive an award; instead, all contributions will be enjoyed and appreciated.
Members attending the Fall Meet are invited to present photos of their choice on
Friday evening day that portray any aspect of nature from anywhere. Videos can
also be shown. Just bring your photos or videos on a memory stick or USB flash
drive, or a CD when you come to the Fall Meet. Digital images may be individual
files, assembled as a Power Point or similar type of presentation, or an executable
file. Name the files so they display in the correct order. Individual files must be
in JPG format with the longest dimension no more than 1300 pixels. If your
presentation was made using a Macintosh computer, try it first on a PC to make
sure it runs correctly. Your presentation should be a maximum of 5 minutes.
We’ll have a computer and digital projector already set up.
Here’s a chance to showcase some of your favourite images of nature without
pressure of competition.
Saskatchewan Adopts an Environmental Code
Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment is adopting an Environmental Code,
including 16 chapters. The Code will address land, water, air and natural resources
(including forestry) and will guide the province’s environmental regulation. Read
more about this approach HERE:
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The Voice of Nature for Saskatchewan
Welcome New and Returning Staff at Nature Saskatchewan
Rebecca Magnus - Habitat
Shrubs for Shrikes and
Plovers on Shore
As I return to work, the
motivation to engage the
conservation for species at
risk is stronger than ever!
My sons, Riley and
Atticus, are always eager
to get out and explore our
prairie surroundings. Their
enthusiasm to be outside
with nature is infectious! I
look forward to visiting with Rebecca Magnus with her sons Riley (l) and Atticus
many people this summer (c). Photo courtesy of Rebecca Magnus.
enthusiasm. If you have any questions or would like to say hello, please feel free
to call me at 306-780-9832 or email me at [email protected] Enjoy and
Marla Anderson. Photo courtesy of Marla
Marla Anderson – Important Bird
Areas/Last Mountain Bird
Born and raised in Regina, Marla’s
love for nature started during the
many cross country camping trips
she took with her family and the
summers spent at their cabin on
Last Mountain Lake. Many
wonderful days were spent at the
Last Mountain Lake bird
observatory where Marla developed
a keen interest in bird watching and
After receiving a diploma in photography at SIAST, Marla travelled the world and
made a home in a variety of places, including the UK, Palau, Botswana, and
South Africa. She has seen some amazing places and some amazing wildlife
but it was while doing large predator research in South Africa that Marla decided
nature conservation was what really inspired her.
Having completed a diploma in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation from Lakeland
College, Marla will be attending the University of Regina this fall to continue a
degree in Environmental Sciences.
Ashley Fortney - Habitat
I am happy to welcome Rebecca
Magnus back into her role after a
maternity leave. I have really
enjoyed my time as Habitat
Stewardship Coordinator and I am
blown away by the amount of work
that is accomplished here at
Nature Saskatchewan despite few
staff and tight budgets. I will truly
miss the creative and passionate
atmosphere, challenging tasks,
and coworkers’ positive attitudes.
Luckily, I don’t have to say goodbye
just yet. Staying on as a summer
assistant, I am looking forward to
another great summer visiting with
current stewards, recruiting new
participants, and searching for
species at risk.
Ashley Fortney holding a Greater ShortHorned Lizard. Photo courtesy of Ashley
Nicole Vanderleest - Habitat
Hello, my name is Nicole
Vanderleest! This is my first year
with Nature Saskatchewan and I am
beyond thrilled to be a part of the
Stewards of Saskatchewan
programs. I grew up in southern
Saskatchewan and spent the
majority of my childhood exploring
outside and at our family cottage
up north. My passion for nature and
the environment started as a young
girl and grew as I got older and
became more educated in the field.
Through the summers of 2013 and
Nicole Vanderleest. Photo by Nicole
2014, I had the opportunity to work
with fish and aquatic invasive
species with the Government of Saskatchewan. I had such an amazing
experience working with fish, and now I get the opportunity to work with wildlife
and I couldn’t be happier! I’m very excited to be able to educate the public about
what I’m passionate about, and get the opportunity to learn even more about
Species at Risk in Saskatchewan. I’m currently a student at the University of
Saskatchewan with one more year to finish up my degree in Environmental
Sciences. Previous to this, I completed two diplomas at Lakeland College, one
in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation, and a second in Conservation and
Restoration Ecology. Other than school, I enjoy biking, camping, fishing, canoeing
and almost anything that includes the outdoors! I hope to make this summer a
memorable one and therefore am very pleased to be working with Nature
2015 Nocturnal Owl Survey/Breeding Bird Survey
It is almost time for the 2015 Nocturnal Owl Survey and the Breeding Bird Survey.
In Saskatchewan, non-standardized owl surveys were conducted along road routes
from 1974 through 1999. The standardized Saskatchewan Nocturnal Owl Survey
(SNOS) has been conducted annually since the spring of 2000. Since that time
about 35 participants have surveyed almost 30 routes. Most routes have been
surveyed in the Boreal Forest of the province with a few conducted in the Aspen
Parkland. Saskatchewan is home to 11 species of owls at different times of the
year, seven of these can be heard on nocturnal owl surveys: Long-eared, Barred,
Great Gray, Boreal, Northern Saw-whet, Eastern Screech, and Great Horned
Enthusiastic and skilled birders are also needed to participate in the Breeding
Bird Survey (BBS). North America’s premier bird survey is coordinated in Canada
by the Canadian Wildlife Service. Participants survey assigned routes one morning
a year in June. Each route consists of 50 three-minute roadside stops, and takes
about five hours to complete. Volunteers are asked to survey the same route for at
least three years.
If you are interested in participating in owl surveys or in the BBS, or would like
more information, please contact: Alan R. Smith at [email protected]
Wild Mother’s Gala! Saturday, May 9
Living Sky Rehabilitation Centre - Saskatoon
Spend the evening with CFL Star George Reed at the German Cultural Centre,
160 Cartwright Avenue, Saskatoon. 6:00 PM cocktails and 7:00 PM supper.
$75 per person or a table of 8 for $500 tickets available at McNally’s Bookstore
or Wild Birds Unlimited or call 306-652-5975. This is Living Sky Wildlife
Rehabilitation’s premier fund raising event of the year! Come out and join us
and get George’s autograph!
Conservation Now...For The Future
Three resolutions were passed by Nature Saskatchewan members at the 2014
Fall Meet Business Meeting on September 20, 2014 in Regina. Below are the
Resolution 1 on Neonicotinoids and the government response received by Nature
Saskatchewan to date on this resolution. Responses to Resolutions 2 and 3 on
feral Wild Boar were published in the Spring 2015 issue of Nature Views.
Resolution #1: Neonicotinoids
WHEREAS neonicotinoids, first introduced in the 1990’s, are applied as
prophylactic seed coatings on the majority of canola, corn and soybeans planted
in North America;
AND WHEREAS, unlike many other pesticides which remain on the surface of
the treated foliage, the systemic neonicotinoids are taken up by the plant and
transported to all the tissues, where they act as neurotoxins to target pests but
also to non-target pollinating insects and thereby contribute to the decline of
these essential pollinators;
AND WHEREAS these insecticides persist in the environment, in the soil and in
runoff, contaminating aquatic systems, thereby posing the risk of further harm to
creatures dependent on those systems;
AND WHEREAS some research suggests neonicotinoids are potentially lethal
to birds consuming contaminated seeds or insects; other recent studies suggest
certain bird population declines are associated with drastically reduced insect
biomass available as food supply for birds in agricultural areas;
AND WHEREAS, although Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency
(PMRA) has agreed to assess the risks neonicotinoids pose to pollinators, with
results expected in 2016, and although PMRA acknowledges there are critical
gaps in knowledge about environmental impacts, still the chemicals remain in
AND WHEREAS, unlike North American regulators, those in Europe have imposed
a two-year moratorium on approval of these pesticides;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Nature Saskatchewan urge the Government
of Canada to suspend all approvals for the use of neonicotinoids as seed
treatments while independent and properly designed studies are carried out to
determine the long-term effects of their use on terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates,
birds and other wildlife;
AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that Nature Saskatchewan urge the
Government of Canada to require that all future applications for registration of
acutely toxic pesticides demonstrate that effects on non-target insects, birds
and other wildlife have been accurately diagnosed.
Response to Resolution #1: Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and
Thank you for your correspondence in which you outline resolutions adopted
during Nature Saskatchewan’s 2014 Fall Meet, which address bee health and
neonicotinoid pesticides. I appreciate being made aware of your organization’s
concerns about this matter.
Beekeeping in Canada is an important industry. In addition to the value of increased
crop production attributed to controlled honeybee pollination, estimated at $2
billion each year, Canada produces honey, as well as substantial amounts of
valuable beeswax, pollen, and propolis.
Honeybees do face a number of challenges: insect pests such as varroa and
tracheal mites; diseases such as nosema and foulbrood; viruses; nutrition
challenges; localized droughts and flooding; and exposure to toxins that can
affect hive health. Despite these challenges, Canadian beekeepers have been
successful in increasing the number of healthy hives in Canada. Statistics Canada’s
2014 report on the production and value of honey shows that beekeepers managed.
a near-record 694 217 honeybee hives, 4 per cent more than the previous year
and an 8 per cent increase in total hives compared to the average of the previous
five years. More information can be found in the December 9, 2014, issue of “The
Daily,” available at www.statcan.gc.ca.
The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists compiles an annual report
on overwinter losses of honeybee hives. Overwinter losses vary from year to year
and region to region depending on the weather in the fall and spring and other
factors, including disease and pest pressure on bee hives. These reports are
available online at http://capabees.org/home/?cat=8.
On September 13, 2013, as a precautionary measure, Health Canada’s Pest
Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) announced proposed measures for corn
and soybean production requiring the use of dust-reducing seed lubricants, modified
planting practices, new labels with enhanced warnings, and updated information
to support the continued need for neonicotinoid treatments on up to 100 percent of
the corn seed and 50 per cent of the soybean seed. On November 25,2014, the
PMRA released an update on neonicotinoid pesticides and bee health. Up-to-date
information about the spring 2014 planting season indicates that the number of
incident reports associated with neonicotinoid pesticide use was 70 per cent lower
than the previous year.
At Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), we have a team of researchers and
others who work closely with beekeepers, provincial officials, Canadian and
international bee health researchers, and other stakeholders to keep informed
about challenges to bee health and to identify how to respond.
In addition to the contribution of honeybees, AAFC understands the critical role
native pollinators play in the sustainable production of many of Canada’s crops
and is undertaking bee- related research in several locations across the country.
For example, ongoing research in Kentville, Nova Scotia, focuses on defining native
bee communities associated with pollinator-dependent crops and understanding
how habitat diversity and land use intensity impact bee abundance and pollination
contribution. This research is currently being applied, in part, on blueberries in
Prince Edward Island.
In central Alberta, AAFC is investigating the contribution of wild bee species to
pollination in commodity canola production systems and the value of conserving
native pollinators, and it is supporting research into the relative contribution of
managed bees and wild bees in canola hybrid seed production, an economically
important crop that is completely dependent on bee pollination. AAFC is also
examining the effects of animal grazing on pollinators and exploring the contribution
of wild bees to grassland productivity and health.
Furthermore, AAFC’s Pest Management Centre (PMC) is working to develop and
implement alternative effective pest management tools and technologies. The
PMC’s Pesticide Risk Reduction Program is a joint initiative with the PMRA and
aims at developing strategies to reduce risks associated with pesticide use in
grower-identified priority areas. These include alternatives to traditional chemical
crop protection methods and the use of biopesticides and mechanical means to
control pests while minimizing the effects on the environment. In addition, the
PMC promotes reduced-risk pest management strategies by making this
information available to the public through its website, www.agr.gc.ca/prrmup, and
Canadian beekeepers’ associations and a wide range of stakeholders are cooperating to address bee health issues. Action to support bee health requires an
integrated and coordinated effort by multiple partners, as well as a science-based
approach, to ensure effectiveness. AAFC has established a Bee Health Roundtable
that brings together federal and provincial officials; representatives from the
beekeeping, horticulture, grains, oilseeds, and seeds sectors; industry service
providers; and experts in the field drawn from national associations and
organizations with direct implication in national bee health issues and solutions in
Canada. Members of the Roundtable have committed to hold discussions and
pursue collaborative actions in specific areas to address risks and opportunities
related to bee health in order to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture and
On July 15, 2014, AAFC announced $1 million in funding for a four-year national
surveillance project to document the health profile of honeybee colonies in Canada.
The Beekeepers Commission of Alberta will undertake the project and work closely
with colleagues in other provinces as the initiative progresses. The aim of the
project is to record the nature, extent and prevalence of diseases, pest organisms
and chemical residues in Canadian honeybee colonies. To date, surveillance of
this nature has only been done at the regional1evel, and the sector is seeking to
expand coordination and identify issues that present challenges to bee health
across the country.
Understanding the factors that contribute to healthy bee populations and developing
science- based guidelines on how best to conserve controlled and native pollinators
and their critical ecological service in Canada’s agricultural systems will allow
producers and policy-makers to incorporate better management practices into
Please be assured that we will continue to work with the beekeeping community
to help address its current challenges and to ensure that Canada continues to
benefit from its valuable contributions to the agricultural sector.
I trust that this information is of assistance to you. Again, thank you for writing.
Nature Saskatchewan is now on Facebook and Twitter!
Nature Saskatchewan is now on Facebook and Twitter! To find us, search “Nature Saskatchewan” on Facebook, and “NatureSask” on Twitter. There are also
links to these pages on our website. We hope you’ll follow us!”
The Voice of Nature for Saskatchewan
Sharp-tailed Grouse in Decline
Katherine Conkin, Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment
Reprinted from Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association March 2015 Newsletter
2014-15 Annual Winter Birding Contest Results
The 27th Annual Winter Birding Contest concluded on February 28th, 2015.
The Sharp-tailed Grouse is an iconic resident of native prairies and a highlyprized species to hunters and non-hunters alike.
Despite being well-adapted to northern climates, grouse often experience dramatic
shifts in their population in response to extreme environmental conditions. Adverse
climatic conditions, particularly in the spring breeding season, can cause
populations to decline rapidly; when more favourable conditions are experienced,
high reproduction can allow populations to rebound in a similar fashion. In recent
years, Saskatchewan has experienced several severe winters and spring seasons
with below average temperatures and above average precipitation in short
succession. Such adverse environmental conditions resulted in significant
declines of Sharp-tailed Grouse populations province-wide. In response to these
declines, the Ministry of Environment reduced the allowable harvest and began
reinstating surveys to monitor population trends and harvest.
This included an online tool for the public to report upland game bird observations
in 2013 and adding upland game birds to the list of game species monitored
through the annual Hunter Harvest Survey in 2014. Although the Hunter Harvest
Survey is currently only available to a subset of randomly chosen hunters each
year, the Saskatchewan Upland Game Bird Survey is available to anyone who is
interested in contributing. The survey asks observers to note the specifics of
each upland game bird observation, including the species, number of individuals,
time, location, and in the case of Sharp-tailed Grouse leks, specifics of the
surrounding habitat. By capitalizing on the observations of birders, naturalists,
hunters, landowners, recreationalists and the interested public, the ministry can
collect extensive information from all corners of the province during all seasons.
This information will allow the ministry to assess upland game birds during all
stages of their lifecycle and better inform the management of these birds going
The ministry encourages all members of the Yellowhead Flyways Birding Trail
Association and Nature Saskatchewan to visit www.environment.gov.sk.ca/
gamebirdsurvey and become involved! For more information about the Ministry of
Environment’s programs and services, visit www.environment.gov.sk.ca.
Time to Celebrate the Successful Flight Plan
Lacey Weekes Conservation & Education Manager Nature Saskatchewan
The Flight Plan Partners 5-year campaign to raise $250,000 for the Last Mountain
Bird Observatory was launched in spring 2008. It was a successful campaign
raising a total of $296,612.74 to ensure the long-term operation of the LMBO
monitoring and educational station. To recognize the 67 Flight Plan Partners
who donated to the campaign, a permanent bronze plaque will be unveiled at
LMBO on May 9th, 2015. Nature Saskatchewan will be leading a Great Canadian
Birdathon as well as hosting a BBQ sponsored by SaskEnergy.
May 9th is International Migratory Bird Day and what better place to celebrate
then at LMBO. This year’s theme is restore habitat, restore birds. The theme
focuses on the importance of preserving existing habitat, the threats to habitats,
the elements of habitat on which birds depend, and how restoration of habitats
benefits birds. One reason the Last Mountain Regional Park was chosen for a
bird observatory was the large numbers of trees and shrubs in an otherwise nearly
treeless area. In 2011, Last Mountain Lake had very high water levels which
killed 20% of the trees in the campground. The loss of the trees meant loss of
habitat for many migratory birds. In response to the flooding the regional park,
funded by Nature Saskatchewan, replanted these trees ensuring important habitat
is restored. Join us in celebrating International Migratory Bird Day by participating
in the Great Canadian Birdathon, watch banding in action at the observatory and
enjoy a free BBQ lunch. Hope to see you there!
The Last Mountain Bird Observatory Opens in
Lacey Weekes, Conservation and Education Manager, Nature Saskatchewan
People can visit the Last Mountain Bird Observatory (LMBO) every day in May,
and during the months of August and September. Individuals and groups of all
ages are welcome to visit between 9 am and 1 pm each day (net opening is
weather dependent) and see many bird species up close, and observe catching,
handling and banding techniques. Learn about species identification, bird migration,
threats to bird populations, and bird conservation.
If you have a group that would like to visit for a morning of fun and educational
activities, and learn through being involved with your hands, eyes and ears, then
please call Lacey at 306-780-9481 or e-mail [email protected] or
[email protected] for more information or to book a date for a visit. Girl Guides,
Scouts, School classrooms, and groups of all ages are encouraged to book a
morning of fun and learning at the LMBO!
This year there were 4 entries. Guy Wapple of Saskatoon recorded 60 species,
Boyd Metzler of Whitewood found 36 species and Orval Beland of Denholm saw
33 species. Cheryl Andrist of the Estevan area also submitted her observations
from the past winter.
Guy’s list of 60 species is just below his long term average of 65.7 species. He
didn’t add any new species to his long-term Saskatchewan winter list which
remains at 144 species. Unusual birds spotted this year included the Tundra
Swan, the Ruddy Duck, the Northern Saw-whet Owl, Varied Thrush and Common
Grackle. Bad misses (Guy’s Words) included the Canvasback, Ring-necked
Duck, Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, American White Pelican, Gyrfalcon, the
Prairie Falcon, Northern Hawk Owl, Great Gray Owl, American Three-Toed
Woodpecker, Townsend’s Solitaire, Cedar Waxwing, Purple Finch, the Crossbills
and the Northern Flicker. Quite an impressive list of misses.
Boyd just toured the local area again this year, but he did manage to do 4 CBC’s.
It seems harder and harder to find birds in the countryside. Habitat destruction
due to deforestation and trenching is beginning to create a rural winter barren
grounds. Flooding in the Qu’Appelle Valley has led to the removal of older cabins
that used to house some of the best bird feeders Boyd did manage to see a
Purple Finch at Kenosee Lake again. He noticed that American Goldfinches,
Dark-eyed Juncos, and Eurasian Collared Doves have become regular visitors
whereas the Harris Sparrows and Rusty Blackbirds are not seen anymore. Also,
the upland game birds are becoming harder to locate.
Orval spotted the only Long-eared owls and Northern Hawk Owls. He also found
Hoary Redpolls, Evening Grosbeaks and Gray Partridges – birds that are becoming
rare in our area. Orval also noted that there has been a Golden Eagle around
since January 31.
Although Cheryl didn’t tabulate a total, she had some interesting observations
from her home just west of Boundary Lake. She had a large number of Ringnecked Pheasants as well as Sharp-tailed Grouse and Gray Partridges. She
noticed there were all kinds of Canada Geese and ducks in the open water on
Boundary Lake. I wonder if there were any dabblers beside the ever-present
Mallard. Orval and Cheryl also observed the Dark-eyed junco. Is it becoming a
very common winter bird?
A special thank you to everyone who is willing to share their winter bird lists.
Chaplin Lake Shorebird Festival – June 5 and 6,
Chaplin Nature Centre will once again be holding the Chaplin Lake Shorebird
Festival on June 5 and 6, 2015. Updated information will be available on our
website: www.chaplintourism.com. Please check the website often.
Wanted: Birders and Banders for Volunteer
Reprinted from Bird Studies Canada February 2, 2013 E-newsletter
The Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN) (http://www.birdscanada.org/
volunteer/cmmn/) is made up of a series of independent bird observatories and
research stations across Canada. Volunteer participants ensure migratory bird
populations are monitored from coast to coast, and gain hands-on training in bird
banding and censusing techniques.
CMMN stations across the country (including Last Mount Bird Observatory) are
looking for keen birders and banders interested in gaining the experience of a
lifetime volunteering or working with birds. Visit our website to explore the CMMN
Member Station Directory at http://www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/cmmn/
index.jsp?targetpg=directory, and follow the links to the individual observatory
and research station webpages to learn about opportunities to get involved. For
more information on Last Mountain Bird Observatory, please visit http://www.bsceoc.org/national/lastmtbwc.html or http://www.naturesask.ca/what-we-do/lastmountain-bird-observatory (the editors).
Population trends, seasonal abundance graphs, and other CMMN statistics are
available from the NatureCounts website at http://www.naturecounts.ca/.
Places to find milkweed in Saskatchewan to
conserve Monarch Butterflies
Visit http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/places-to-find-milkweedin-sask-to-conserve-monarch-butterflies-1.3019295 to find milkweed seeds and
plants to help the Monarch Butterfly in Saskatchewan.
Conservation Now...For The Future
News from Turtle Lake Nature Sanctuary
Please Watch for Wing-tagged Turkey Vultures at
a Deserted Farm Building
Darlene Roth, Nature Sanctuary, Steward, Turtle Lake Nature Sanctuary
Stuart Houston, 863 University Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0J8
We’re in that tricky part of the year
when it’s still cold and wintry some
places, while spring is starting in
others. No matter where you live,
brighten your spring agenda with a
refreshing walk through a bird
sanctuary. As early as it may seem
to be on the trails, you will be
surprised by how many birds that
have already returned.
The Saskatchewan Turkey Vulture
Tracking Program has exceeded our
expectations in all ways but one.
For the first time in my life I became
a snowbird. Traveling to lands of no
snow was interesting to say the least.
People and shorebird watching was
quite fascinating and it was the
people watching birds that amazed
me. There is just something magical
about a bird and his song or his flight
pattern. One thing I learnt down in
the US and Mexico is that humans Great Egret. Photo by Darlene Roth.
love to share information. It starts
with our children with the excitement show and tell brings to the table/classroom.
We call up friends to share the news of the day. Birding is no different. You will
always enjoy moments of solitude in the Nature Sanctuary or in your own
backyards, but there is nothing more rewarding than sharing a bird experience
with family or friends. You might think you are the only watcher out there until you
share a birding story.
Sharing birding gear like cameras binoculars or spotting scopes really helps your
adventure. Combine that with a bottle of drinking water and touring through our
sign guided trails you will be most intrigued. It helps to have two sets of eyes on
the trail. No one wants to miss out on a rare sighting of that bird that doesn’t stay
long in our area. Seeing these birds with a witness makes your story even better.
So going back, it is all about sharing the joy of your experience. The aerial ballet
flight of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and the song and dance of a Blue Jay are
only a few thrillers you may encounter. The way your senses get woken up to
even a robin singing all becomes more memorable when you have a friend to
share it with.
There will be some major trimming done in the sanctuary this year. I have retired
from my day job so hitting these trails this year on my time will be a great treat.
If you want to get involved leave a note at the front gate of our sanctuary at the
beautiful east side of Turtle Lake and you will be enchanted by your new bucket
If you are unable to travel the paths maybe you would be interested in this homemade bird feed recipe. Try it out, sit back and see what birds you attract to your
very own spot.
2 cups Crunchy peanut-butter
2 cups Rolled oats
2 cups Cornmeal
2 cups Suet / Lard
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup White Sugar
We began with the hope of wingtagging 30 nestling vultures each
year and reached that annual goal
in our second year, 2004. Since
then the number tagged per year
kept escalating upwards to 43 and
84, then plateaued the fifth year at
78. In those first five years we had
travelled to every nest made known
to us, anywhere in Saskatchewan,
south to St. Victor, southeast to
Carlyle Lake, east to Dropmore and
Shellmouth in Manitoba, and west
to Marsden and Frenchman Butte.
Our sixth through twelfth summers
allowed us to continue to tag 98,
132, 144, 151, 153, and 156
nestlings, in the years 2008 through
2013. In our twelfth year we reduced
the area covered but still tagged 134. Stuart Houston holding an untagged
We also applied ten satellite radio- Turkey Vulture. Photo courtesy of Stuart
transmitters from Keith Bildstein’s Houston.
Acopian Fund at Hawk Mountain,
Pennsylvania, allowing us to clock the hourly speed of vultures in migration. Four
died during their first southward migration, one hit by a truck in an early fall
snowstorm in North Dakota, one hit a power line near Souris Manitoba, one was
killed on a missile range in Oklahoma and one perished in a mountain storm in
Chiapas, Mexico. The other six functioning transmitters allowed us to measure
the size of their breeding ranges (49 km2 in good territory along the North
Saskatchewan River and elsewhere up to 1,992 km2) and wintering ranges in
Venezuela (54 km2 to 76,731 km2). Adult T2 in Venezuela had a wintering range
of 4,775 km2, yet had a favourite roost where it spent 12 to 19 hours a night on
73, 77, 61, and 92 nights of its 123, 129, 117 and 141 nights (59% in total) of its
nights in Venezuela. In addition to hourly locations for up to 7 continuous years
in the case of vulture T2 from near Leoville, we’ve now had about 400 sightings of
the vultures without transmitters. All 3 of our first-year birds have short-stopped
(3 of 3) in Costa Rica for the winter. All six adults have wintered in Venezuela or
even farther south and east beyond Bogota, Colombia, about 6,000 to 6,200 km
When returning north, about a third of birds with wing tags but no transmitters,
short-stop south of the 49th parallel in the northern states from Montana to
Wisconsin. When two or more years of age, all vultures return to Canada for the
summer. To our surprise, trail cameras show that each adult vulture visits its one
or two young on an average of only once each day, regurgitates dead meat into
the “crop” of the young and leaves within one or two minutes. We call this “parenting
in absentia.” The adult can spend the night up to 38 km from the nest house.
Most nights neither adult is in the house. We are also encouraged by the fact
that the dark green tags, made by Sun-Can in Saskatoon, maintain their bright
white letters at least 12 years, readily legible.
We have learned for the first time the age of attempted breeding, at 4, 5 and 6
years, and of successful breeding, at 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8 and 10 years.
Melt lard in microwave, add peanut butter. Stir in all other dry ingredients. Mix
well, put in wax paper lined 9 x 13 pan. Cool in fridge. Cut into sizes that fit your
Maybe this year go in pursuit of the hoots it is eye in the sky time. Hoping Muriel
Carlson will be a visitor at Turtle Lake this summer. Watch for us out there and
see you soon.
Any person sending a photograph of the following: a wing-tagged Turkey
Vulture with white alphanumeric letters on a dark green tag, or an active vulture
nest with young in the nest in a deserted building or cave not previously known
to the tagging crew, can claim $100. Cash or tax-deductible charitable donation
receipt for $100 from Nature Saskatchewan on showing the precise location of
that nest while young remain present. Notify Stuart Houston at 306-244-0742
before 9 pm.
After 1,217 nestlings were tagged in 695 nest attempts in 227 different farm
buildings, we finally learned in 2014 of a nest in the former natural site, a large
cave in the side of a cliff, but muddy roads prevented our access. That omission
from our study should be corrected in 2015.
If you find a pair of vultures on or flying into a deserted farm building, enter the
building only after July 1, so is there no risk of the pair deserting the site when in
the egg stage. Be careful. Have a friend waiting outside who can call for help.
What, then, is our disappointment? After spending thousands of dollars on gasoline
and on wing-tags, and applying over twelve hundred wing tags, why have so few
vultures with wing tags been found raising young? We expected more to return,
to calculate the natal dispersal distance, how far from the deserted farm house in
which they were raised. We did not have a single new example in 2014! Our
pitifully small sample gives us distances from the original nest of 13, 27, 142,
163, 271, 296 and 303 km, called the natal dispersal distance. It is therefore “a
good investment” for us to encourage every vulture watcher to earn one hundred
dollars by following the notice on this page.
The Voice of Nature for Saskatchewan
Working for Better Reclamation Outcomes
Fencing and Wildlife: Does Design Matter?
Reprinted from Beef Business Magazine January 2015 issue via Saskatchewan
Conservation Action Plan (SK PCAP) March 2015 E-newsletter
Daniel Dietrich, Environmental Advisor, TransGas
SaskEnergy was a Platinum Sponsor of the 2015 Native Prairie Restoration and
One presenter at the 2015 Native Prairie
Restoration & Reclamation Workshop
(NPRRW), Paul Jones from the Alberta
Conservation Association (ACA), talked
about the interface between fences,
restoration and wildlife. On livestock
operations, it is easy to focus only on the
effect of wildlife on fence lines, especially
when working on repairing broken wires
and missing staples! However, we should
also consider the effect of fences on
wildlife and how they may limit mobility of
The Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is Pronghorn. Photo by Tara Mulhern
the most specialized and representative Davidson.
large mammal that is considered to be
endemic to the Grasslands Natural Region. Having evolved on the prairies of
North America, pronghorn did not develop an instinct to jump vertical obstacles.
The onslaught of fencing that followed the establishment of cattle ranching on the
prairies has posed a serious barrier to pronghorn movement. Pronghorn may
cross under fence lines in some locations, but it slows down their movement
making them susceptible to predators, it may strip hair off their backs causing
lacerations and making them vulnerable to infection and frostbite, or it may
potentially result in them becoming entangled and trapped, sometimes resulting
A proven solution to these problems is to replace the bottom wire with smooth
wire and move the bottom wire higher; however, this may not be practical as this
method is expensive and requires a considerable investment of time. There are
alternatives that could allow pronghorn to freely cross a fence, although most
have not been tested. The ACA recently conducted a project to help identify
fences that may need modifications, exploring different ways to do that more
efficiently and increasing the public’s understanding of the conservation challenges
pronghorn face in Alberta.
The main objectives for ACA’s project are to map fence lines that inhibit pronghorn
movement and evaluate fence design alternatives to improve movement for
pronghorn. ACA also wants to share their information with their partners, particularly
those working to modify existing fence lines along key migration routes, as well
as increase the profile of pronghorn and the conservation challenges they face in
Alberta through presentations and publications. For more information on this
project, look for Paul’s presentation Wildlife Friendly Fences - Mythical creatures
or Practical Solutions? on the SK PCAP website at http://www.pcap-sk.org/
South of the Divide Update: Access and field work
protocols now available
Reprinted from Saskatchewan Conservation Action Plan (SK PCAP) March 2015
The South of the Divide (SoD) Access Authorization & Field Work Protocols was
written with input from, and at the request of, the SoD Stakeholder Committee, a
group of over twenty organizations that have been working with the federal-provincial
Steering Committee on the South of the Divide multi-species Action Plan Project,
over the past three years.
This protocol was created to foster better understanding and communication
between all user groups in the SoD area, in order to protect the long-term ecological
health of the grassland for the people and wildlife that live there. It is hoped that
by sharing information in a single, user friendly format, each sector will have a
better understanding of the needs and expectations, as well as the limitations, of
each other’s operations. All persons and organizations undertaking field work in
the southwest (or on other pastures throughout the south) including federal &
provincial government environmental departments, non-government environmental
organizations and universities, are encouraged to incorporate this document into
their field training.
The overall concept is simple; positive interactions start with contact and courtesy,
and can be maintained through communication and cooperation. The intent of
this document is to provide background information and guidelines to help achieve
A copy of South of the Divide - Access Authorization and Field Work Protocol is
posted on the SK PCAP website and can be found under What’s New on the
website at http://www.pcap-sk.org/rsu_docs/documents/South-of-the-DivideResearcher-Protocol_FINAL_2014May8.pdf.
Saskatchewan is our job at
SaskEnergy/TransGas, and we
take it very seriously. Just as
excavating the trench and
lowering the pipeline into the
ground is part of construction,
so is the reclamation of those
pipeline rights-of-way (RsOW).
As a Crown Corporation we
have a unique situation; our
landowners are not just
stakeholders, they are also our
customers; so it goes without
saying we strive to keep those
TransGas/SaskEnergy pipeline ROW crossing
a short section of native prairie. Topsoil stripped
and stockpiled to the left. Proper soil
management is fundamental to reclamation
success. Photo credit: SaskEnergy
Through our corporate Environmental Management System, as part of a Unified
Management System, a program has been developed to address landowner
concerns and legacy reclamation issues on pipeline RsOW. These issues include
Responding to landowner concerns and inspection areas of
Wind and water erosion of soil
Compaction, admixing and pulverization of soil profile
Slumpage, water management, and grading
Invasive species management and control
Revegetation of tame and native pasture lands
Fencing for right-of-way protection from livestock
Regulatory compliance and follow-up
The program is formally known as the Reclamation Inspection Program and is
designed to specifically inspect areas of higher environmental risk, including:
native prairie, sandy landscapes, water crossings, and hilly terrain. These areas
tend to exhibit reclamation issues more frequently than cultivated farm land. As
part of the Reclamation Inspection Program these areas are inspected and repaired
through an annual field inspection plan.
The reclamation of the pipeline ROW can take many years, especially in areas of
Saskatchewan where a pipeline ROW may impact native prairie landscapes.
Generally speaking, many of these sites will take upwards of 5 years to fully
revegetate to a state that is representative of the surrounding native plant
community. Historically SaskEnergy relied heavily on the landusers to inform us
of reclamation deficiencies. The Reclamation Inspection Program allows for a
proactive approach to address concerns related to reclamation.
Repairs during the revegetation and reclamation process may include: spraying,
mowing, tillage, wicking, reseeding, hydroseeding, and fencing. This process
involves working with landowners to ensure our reclamation processes do not
unnecessarily hinder their agricultural production. In addition SaskEnergy will
work with non-profits and other municipal stakeholders on regional issues (i.e.
leafy spurge) through funding, education, and partnerships.
As a user of the landscape, SaskEnergy recognizes the challenges of the
competing land use interests. By working with landowners in a proactive manner,
rather than reactive, the Reclamation Inspection Program is leading the way to
better relationships with our stakeholders and better reclamation outcomes.
SaskEnergy is committed to improving our environmental score card through
multiple strategies just like the Reclamation Inspection Program.
Natural Reseeding of Native Grassland: Is it a
Reprinted from Saskatchewan Conservation Action Plan December 2014 ENewsletter
Patrick Keyser, Professor and Director of Center for Native Grasslands
Management, University of Tennessee
I have often been faced with recently established native grass stands that for
whatever reason (usually drought or incomplete weed control) are thinner than
they should be. Producers often ask me how they can thicken those stands and
one idea always seems to come up - allowing the natives to go to seed and
naturally thicken themselves. I have generally been skeptical of this approach,
but have seen some examples that make me wonder if it might not be a good
Visit http://www.agweb.com/livestock/beef/article/natural-reseeding-of-native-grassstands-university-news-release/ to read the complete article.
Conservation Now...For The Future
Top Bird Groups Unite to Urge Greater Protection of North America’s Boreal Forest
Reprinted March 16, 2015 Ducks Unlimited Canada and Boreal Songbird Initiative
Joint Press Release
Leading bird and nature organizations
in Canada and the United States,
representing millions of birders, are
embracing modern conservation
science and calling for increased
protection of North America’s boreal
forest, the annual breeding ground for
billions of birds.
The Boreal Songbird Initiative and
Ducks Unlimited, with the backing of
other leading organizations, are
launching the Boreal Birds Need Half
campaign to protect at least 50% of
Palm Warbler (98% breed in the the boreal forest from industrial
development. The campaign is
boreal forest). Photo by Jeff Nadler.
endorsed by National Audubon
Society, Bird Studies Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society,
the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Environment for the Americas, Nature Canada,
Nature Needs Half, Birdzilla, and Wild Bird Centers of America.
These groups represent a growing army of bird enthusiasts that numbers in the
tens of millions. A 2012 survey by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Task Force
found that nearly 1 in 5 adult Canadians consider themselves birders. This
group spends more time birding (133 days per year) than those engaged in any
other nature-based activity. A similar survey by the US Fish and Wildlife Service
found that nearly 50 million Americans identify as birders. Birding is also big
business, with billions of dollars spent on bird-related activities each year.
“Protecting at least 50% of the boreal forest is in line with what modern
conservation science contends is needed to preserve the ecological health of
the forest and its biodiversity, and we hope that governments will adopt land
conservation policies that reflect the science,” said Dr. Jeff Wells, senior scientist
for the Boreal Songbird Initiative and International Boreal Conservation Campaign.
“The importance of boreal forest habitat for birds will only increase in the future;
climate change has already begun pushing bird ranges further north, making
the boreal forest an important refuge-a ‘Noah’s Ark’ for birds,” added Wells.
A recent poll in Manitoba showed the public strongly supports increased boreal
forest conservation: 88% of those polled favored protecting at least half of the
boreal forest, with 63% believing the level of protection should be even higher.
“When you see broad support from the scientific community, bird organizations,
and everyday citizens, it makes a compelling case for increased boreal forest
protection,” said Kevin Smith, national manager of boreal programs for Ducks
Unlimited Canada. “In addition to protecting 50% of the boreal forest, sustainably
managed development in the remaining areas will be essential to striking the
right balance between ecological health and economically healthy communities.”
The boreal forest, often referred to as “North America’s bird nursery,” plays a
critical role in providing spring and summer nesting habitat for an estimated 3
billion birds and more than 300 species-nearly half of all bird species in the U.S.
and Canada. Many bird species are in sharp decline, however, including the
namesake Canada Warbler. Bird organizations are focusing increased attention
on one of the key factors attributed to bird declines: loss of habitat.
The campaign seeks to educate governments, industry, and the public on the
need to set aside at least half of North America’s boreal forest from industrial
development for the billions of birds that rely on it.
Following the launch, the campaign plans to add businesses to its list of endorsers
as well as collect signature endorsements from individuals in Canada and the
U.S. In addition to protecting at least half of the boreal forest, the campaign
urges sustainable development in the remaining areas. It emphasizes that both
protected areas and industrial activities should proceed only with the free, prior,
and informed consent of affected Indigenous communities.
The Boreal Birds Need Half
campaign is being launched
in advance of the United
Nations’ International Day of
Forests on March 21, and in
conjunction with the release
of a US Fish and Wildlife
Service video highlighting the
importance of the boreal
forest to birds. It is also the
same week that the
Corporation is airing the TV
Green-winged Teal (56% breed in the boreal
forest). Photo by Jeff Nadler.
SOS,” focusing on the
decline of songbirds worldwide.
More information on the Boreal Birds Need Half campaign and the recent report
Boreal Birds Need Half: Maintaining North America’s Bird Nursery and Why It
Matters can be found at www.borealbirdsneedhalf.org.
The Boreal Songbird Initiative and Ducks Unlimited are part of the International
Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC), working to conserve and sustainably
manage North America’s Boreal region, a globally important ecosystem stretching
more than 1 billion acres from Alaska to Labrador and containing one of the
world’s largest remaining old-growth forest and wetland ecosystems.
For additional media resources: www.borealbirds.org/announcements/boreal-birdsneed-half-campaign.
Birders in Canada and the USA
There are more than 50 million birders in Canada and the U.S.
Nearly 1 in 5 adults in Canada (18%) and the USA (19%) identify as
Nearly 40% of Canadians enjoy viewing birds and other wildlife around
More than $40 billion is spent in Canada and the U.S. every year on
travel, equipment, and other expenditures related to viewing birds.
After gardening, birding represents the second-fastest growing hobby in
Sources: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal-Provincial-Territorial Task Force
on the Importance of Nature to Canadians
Birds and the Boreal Forest
325+ bird species breed in the boreal forest—nearly half of those found
in Canada and the U.S.
Between 1 to 3 billion birds breed in the boreal each summer, expanding
to 3 to 5 billion once the young have hatched.
During fall, the majority migrate south to spend their winters. More than
1 billion settle in the U.S. while the remainder stretch from Mexico and
the Caribbean to South America.
80% of North American waterfowl species, 63% of finch species, and
53% of warbler species breed in the boreal.
Source: Boreal Songbird Initiative
North America’s Boreal Forest – By the Numbers
485 million hectares or 1.2 billion acres of intact forest
80% of forest still relatively intact versus 25% of world’s remaining intact
Largest supply of surface freshwater on Earth with 4 lakes in the top 10
208 billion tonnes of carbon stored in Canada’s boreal alone
80% of North American waterfowl species that breed in the boreal
96 species with 50+% of population breeding in the boreal
What are Songbird Declines Telling Us?
Reprinted from March 20, 2015 Bird Studies Canada E-newsletter
Did you catch SongbirdSOS on March 19 on CBC’s The Nature of Things? The
documentary, which you can now watch online, tells the story of alarming
songbird declines in the Americas, caused by a human-made perfect storm of
negligence and unintended consequences.
What can you do to help? As the National Outreach Partner for this film, Bird
Studies Canada is pleased to share our list of the Top 6 Ways You Can Help
Birds available at http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/features/top-6-ways-you-canhelp-birds2.
You can also help us spread the word about The Messenger (http://
songbirdsos.com/), a related feature documentary premiering April 28 at the Hot
Docs festival (http://boxoffice.hotdocs.ca/WebSales/pages/info.aspx?evtinfo
=38249~446634ba-e848-4237-9b3c-72aceddb5263&epguid=b314c44a-eed5-44349c2c-cc86c0bf61ee&), and coming soon to theatres across North America. The
filmmakers journeyed from northern Boreal Forests to the base of Turkey’s Mount
Ararat and the streets of New York to document threats to songbirds in our changing
world, and the efforts of ecologists and enthusiasts who are working for change.
The Voice of Nature for Saskatchewan
Warmth may put Bats in Hot Water
Mark Brigham, University of Regina
Reprinted from Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association March 2015 Newsletter
Tiny Bird’s Migration Route Includes Nonstop
University of Guelph Press Release March 31, 2015
By outfitting tiny birds with even tinier
tracking “backpacks,” an international
research team – led by a University of
Guelph professor — has confirmed what
many scientists had long suspected: the
blackpoll warblers annual migration route
includes a three-day, nonstop flight over
the Atlantic Ocean.
No one needs reminding that
Saskatchewan’s weather is unpredictable
but as I write this, December 2014 has been
particularly strange in terms of temperature.
We have seen record warm days while the
end of the month brought bitter cold. These
changes prompt phone calls from people
asking for help with a bat that has turned
up in their building.
Temperature changes, in either direction,
seem to prompt Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus
fuscus) to arouse from hibernation.
Bat. Photo by Mark Brigham.
Together with the Saskatchewan Science
Centre, we do what we can to rescue and house the critters. Up to the end of
December, we’ve had about 15 calls about bats active in buildings. So, we assess
them for health and then turn them over to the Science Centre who cares for them
through the winter with meal-worms and water. We will plan a release party in the
spring to let them go.
Despite their name, Big Brown Bats are actually small, weighing between 15 (in
spring after hibernation) and 25 (peak of pregnancy) grams over the course of a
year (3 Loonies weigh 21 g). Yet they are still Canada’s 3rd largest species (the
Hoary Bat and the Pallid Bat are slightly bigger). Like all bats in Saskatchewan,
they eat nothing but flying insects in the summer and they eat a lot, up to their
own weight in a single night. In Saskatchewan, females often congregate in
attics over the summer to give birth to, and raise, their pups (usually 1 per female).
They are the only species that we know of which hibernates on the prairies.
Most of the bats we get called to rescue are young of the year which suggests
that they have chosen a bad spot (how they choose is anyone’s guess) and the
change in temperature is likely a signal to them about their bad decision. As an
analogy, I think of them like human teenagers that have made a mistake, they
have raced out of the high school parking lot and now they don’t know where to
go. When we retrieve them, they tend to be very thirsty and very thin. They have
burned their fat reserves and would starve and or freeze quickly without our help.
The other common species in Saskatchewan is the Little Brown Bat (Myotis
lucifugus; 7 g) which uses buildings in summer. We do not know where this
species goes to hibernate. Learning more about these bats is important due to a
disease moving west called White Nose Syndrome (WNS) which is caused by a
fungus. The fungus was introduced accidently to a cave near Albany, NY less
than a decade ago and has already moved through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick
and Prince Edward Island and into Quebec and northern Ontario. It has reached
as far south and west as Missouri. It has killed literally millions of bats.
For more than 50 years, scientists have
debated about whether the diminutive
birds flew over the Atlantic – a journey of
some 2,500-kilometres — without landing
or stopped en route along the eastern
coast of the United States.
There have been no definitive answers –
The tiny “backpack” transmitter is
barely visible through the feathers of
the blackpoll warbler. Photo courtesy
Vermont Centre for EcoStudies.
“This is the first study to provide direct evidence of the birds’ migration route – we
found they flew directly over the Atlantic Ocean to reach their wintering grounds
in South America,” said Ryan Norris, a professor in Guelph’s Department of
Integrative Biology, who led the Canadian portion of the research.
The study was published today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
It also involved researchers at Acadia University, Bird Studies Canada, the
University of Massachusetts, the Vermont Centre for Ecostudies and the
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
Blackpolls are songbirds weighing about 12 grams, or less than two Canadian
loonies. They are found in boreal forests of Canada and the United States from
spring until early fall. Before migrating to South America for the winter, they
spend summers in boreal forests stretching across North America.
“The indirect evidence in favour of an Atlantic voyage was fairly strong,” Norris
“You have birds landing on ships in the Atlantic, radar studies off the tip of Nova
Scotia showing the birds heading south, and very few sightings of blackpolls in
the southern U.S. in the fall.”
The researchers used geo-locators to track blackpolls on their annual flight south
to the Caribbean and on their way north to Canada and the United States in the
Two species which live in Saskatchewan, the Little Brown and the Northern Longeared (M. septentrionalis) seem particular sensitive, with over 95% who are exposed
dying. In fact, in December, the Federal Government listed both as Endangered
due to the risk from WNS. The disease kills bats by making bats arouse more
often during hibernation which burns up their fat reserves too quickly. The fungus
thrives in cold wet conditions which may be the reason that Big Brown Bats are
somewhat less susceptible, since they tend to hibernate in dryer places.
The tiny devices — each weighing only 0.5 g — sat on the backs of the birds and
were attached using leg loop harnesses, much like a person would wear a
So far, there is no sign of WNS in Saskatchewan, but it will likely arrive in the next
several years. We can hope that the drier conditions here will make life more
difficult for the fungus and our bats may do better. I have my fingers crossed that
I will be rescuing bat teenagers when the temperature changes for a long time to
The geo-locators tracked the birds’ flight path, but, because of their small size,
they were not able to transmit the data remotely.
They were attached to birds in Nova Scotia and Vermont in the summer. The
researchers also placed coloured plastic bands on the birds to identify them
when they returned.
“We waited for them to return in the spring and then searched the forest to find
the blackpolls with geo-locators,” said William DeLuca, a research fellow at U
Massachusetts, who led the Vermont part of the study.
The team retrieved the devices from those birds to look at the data.
Light Pollution Adds to Collisions Risk with Glass
Reprinted from American Bird Conservancy March 26, 2015 E-newsletter
A group of researchers in New York examined the effects of light and glass on
bird-building collisions in an urban park using New York City Audubon’s collisionmonitoring data from fall migration 2013 and photographic analysis of building
facades. A significant positive relationship was found between the number of
collisions and interior building light; however, the amount of light was strongly
correlated with the amount of glass in building facades. Carcass persistence at
the site was also examined using tagged, dead birds. Only 37 percent of
carcasses were found by our monitors, suggesting that our estimate of bird
mortality due to collisions has been overly conservative. Mitigation of both light
and glass are needed to reduce bird—building collisions in urban areas. Light,
Glass, and Bird—Building Collisions in an Urban Park. Kaitlyn L. Parkins, Susan
B. Elbin and Elle Barnes, Northeastern Naturalist 22(1):84-94. 2015 doi: http://
“When we accessed the locators, we saw the blackpolls’ journey was indeed
directly over the Atlantic. The distances travelled ranged from 2,270 to 2,770
km,” said DeLuca.
Each bird took 2 ½ to three days to make the trip. To prepare for the flight, they
build up their fat stores, said Norris.
“These birds have a tremendous voyage ahead of them, with some likely flying
from western Canada to the east coast before flying south. They eat as much as
possible, in some cases doubling their body mass in fat so they can fly without
needing food or water,” he said.
“For blackpolls, they don’t have the option of failing or coming up a bit short. It’s
a fly-or-die journey that requires so much energy.”
Conservation Now...For The Future
Nature Saskatchewan Thanks These Generous
New Life Members:
Eric G. Pullam
Nature Saskatchewan General
Enbridge Pipelines Inc.
Fay and Geoffrey Galloway
Douglas W. Pegg
Doug and Irene Schmeiser
Colette and Richard Stushnoff
Rob and Joan Wilson
Land Conservation Fund:
Jean and Jim McPherson
R. Wayne Nelson
Last Mountain Bird Observatory:
J. Frank Roy
Bird Species at Risk Program
W. Merril Wershler
Nature Savings Plan Contributors:
Joseph and Sylvia Chorney
Dr. Yvonne G. Cuttle
Johanna and Ken Jensen
Ron and Julie Jensen
Julianna M. Robin
Nature Regina Field Trip
Great Canadian Birdathon Walk in Wascana Park
Saturday, May 16, 8:30 am - 1:00 pm
Leader: Margaret Skeel
We will explore the Wascana Park area looking for spring migrants. Our walk will
take us around the Legislative Building, a meander through the park and scouting
along the south shore of Wascana Lake. Those that wish, can then come along
to the Science Centre area (bring a lunch for here). We are seeking a high species
count and should see a variety of birds from waterfowl through songbirds.
Those that want to support the birdathoner(s) through a donation to Bird Studies
Canada will have an opportunity to do so. Anyone wanting to do their own Great
Canadian Birdathon as part of this walk, please visit http://birdscanada.kintera.org/
birdathon to register. Funds raised support Last Mountain Bird Observatory and
We will meet at the parking lot in front of the Legislative Building. You can join us
for a portion of the walk if this works better for you.
Useful Apps for Naturalists
Ellen Bouvier, Communications Manager, Nature Saskatchewan
Can you hear the birds singing and see the grass returning? Okay, I can’t either
but we can at least look towards warmer days and do a little planning. More and
more naturalists are taking their technology into the field and I thought our members
would like to know about some interesting apps. As I started searching for useful
apps I discovered there is no shortage. Below is a list of a few of the most
interesting ones I found
Audubon Birds Pro –This app provides sounds, pictures, and maps of over 800
North American bird species. It is almost a field guide for your phone. You can
purchase this app for iPhone and iPad, and for Android.
Merlin Bird ID – Available free for iPhone and iPad, and for Android devices, this
app from the Cornell Lab helps you to identify birds with a few simple questions.
You will be asked 5 questions about the bird in question and Merlin will provide a
list of best matches. You can then scroll through the list which includes several
photos of each species, lots of song clips and details about each species.
Currently the app covers 400 North American bird species.
Audubon Mushrooms ID - Available for iPhone and iPad, and for Android devices.
This app is considered a mobile field guide to mushrooms in North America and
covers 570 common species.
Wildflowers of the Great Plains - Available for iPhone and iPad, and for Android
devices. This app features in-depth profiles of 500 plants and is available for free
in the lite version and for a small fee for the complete set of entries.
1050 Saskatchewan Wildflowers - Available for Android devices. As the name
suggests this app has information for 1,050 wildflower species found in
If you have an app that you don’t leave home without please let us know. As
always you can send your ideas, suggestions, photos and stories to
The Voice of Nature for Saskatchewan
Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
All are welcome to participate in field trips; bring your friends. Carpooling for outof-town trips is arranged at the meeting place. There are no fees unless indicated;
however, participants are expected to share gasoline costs and should make
arrangements with the driver to do so. Phone the trip leader if you have any
questions. Participants can return early if they wish. Members with CB or FRS
radios should bring them on out-of-town trips. Check our website at
www.saskatoonnaturesociety.sk.ca for last minute changes or cancellations and
to download checklists. For information on city buses, phone 306-975-3100.
Sundays in May, 7:00 AM–9:30 AM
MVA Trail Bird Walk
This weekly walk is ideal for beginners to learn some common birds.
Meet at the Diefenbaker Centre parking lot on the University of Saskatchewan
Sunday, May 10
Leader: Carol Blenkin (306-244-1927)
Sunday, May 17
Leader: Hilda Voth (306-242-0198)
Sunday, May 24
Leader: Heather Wagg (306-652-7351)
Sunday, May 31
Leader: May Haga (306-955-3954)
Saturday, May 23
Spring Bird Count
Contact Michael Williams (306-242-5382) for assignment to a group.
Sunday, May 24, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Prairie Birds, Flowers and Butterflies at Northeast Swale
You may walk across this special prairie landscape looking for birds, wildflowers
Meet at the swale on Lowe Road. Drive north on Central Ave, turn right on Agra
Road, turn left onto Lowe Road; NE Swale is next to the slough on the east side
Monday, May 25, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM
Birding near Mendel
We will look for water birds on the river and songbirds in the bushes on shore.
Bring your lunch.
Meet at Prairie Lily boat dock below Mendel gallery.
Tuesday, May 26, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Donna Birkmeier Park Birding
We will walk through this naturalized park looking for migrating songbirds and
Meet at Donna Birkmeier parking lot off Taylor Ave at Slimmon Road.
Wednesday, May 13, 7:00 PM–9:00 PM
Richard St. Barb Baker Park Walk
We will walk through this afforestation area next to Chappell Marsh to search for
Meet at the Western Development Museum parking lot on Lorne Ave.
Bus: Route 1 Exhibition departs the downtown terminal at 6:31 PM and arrives at
the meeting place about 6:50 PM.
Leader: Marten Stoffel (306-934-3769)
Thursday, May 21, 5:00 PM–7:00 PM
Spring Picnic: Chappell Marsh Conservation Area
Bring your own picnic supper. A barbecue should be setup. Bring your own lawn
chair or plan to sit at the amphitheater.
Take the Valley Road exit from Circle Drive and drive west for about 2 km and turn
right onto Cedar Villa Estates Road. Continue west for 2.1 km and then turn
south on Range Road 3062 for 0.2 km to the entrance.
Leaders: Barb Hanbidge and Marten Stoffel (306-934-3769)
Thursday, May 28 and June 4, 7:00 PM – 9:15 PM
Birdwatching for Beginners Class
This course will cover the basics of birding and is open to both novices and
experienced birders. The first session will be an indoor seminar that will meet in
Room 130 Physics building on campus. This seminar will summarize tips for
using field guides to identify common Saskatoon area birds. The following
Thursday evening will be an outdoor field trip restricted to registered participants
in the class.
Advance registration is required. The registration fee for non-members of the
society is $20 per person, which includes a 2015 Saskatoon Nature Society
membership. Mail a cheque payable to the society along with their name, phone
number and email address to
Saskatoon Nature Society, Box 448, RPO University, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 4J8
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