Sunday, 18 August 2019

10 Surprising Facts about Pigeons


1. A pigeon saved the lives of 194 American soldiers who were under a constant barrage of both enemy and friendly fire at the end of World War I. The pigeon flew 25 miles to headquarters, even though it had been shot in the chest, blinded by shrapnel, and lost a leg.

2. It’s not only humans and monkeys that can learn abstract mathematical rules. Pigeons learned to peck images on a screen in order, from lower to higher numbers of objects in the group.

3. Pigeons tend to always land on the same foot. A majority land on their right foot first, while a small percentage land on their left foot first (about the same percentage as humans who are left-handed). A very small number of pigeons land on both feet at the same time or alternate.

4. Most birds fill their beaks with water and then tip their heads back to swallow. But not pigeons! They keep their heads down, sucking up the water as if through a straw.

pigeon bath

5. Pigeons have extraordinary vision and can distinguish between almost identical shades. They can also track moving stimuli far more closely than humans. A motion picture would look like a slide show to a pigeon.

6. Homing pigeons regularly fly over 500 miles per day at over 60 miles per hour. They can reach top speed within seconds and one pigeon was recorded flying at 110 miles per hour for several hours.

7. The Maiden Form brassiere company made a vest “to protect carrier pigeons as they parachuted through the air strapped to the chest of paratroopers during World War II. Once the paratroopers hit the ground behind enemy lines, they would release the pigeons so they could fly off to deliver important messages.”

8. Charles Darwin, like many people in Victorian England, bred and raised pigeons. He spent hours reading self-help manuals and chatting with other pigeon breeders.


9. Pigeons with white rump feathers are less likely to be killed by falcons than pigeons with blue rump feathers. The white feathers appear to distract the falcon, causing it to miss its target.

10. There is no scientific difference between pigeons and doves. We often refer to smaller birds as doves and larger ones as pigeons, but there’s no true difference.

See Also 
10 Surprising Facts About Beavers - And Why They Make Great Neighbours

8 Cool Facts About Bats - And What to Do If You Find One In Your Home

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

EcoSask News, August 13, 2019

Red fox

Upcoming Events
Enviro Collective, Aug. 13 (Regina) 
Enviro Collective Regina is meeting at 7 pm, Aug. 13.

Learn to Hike, Aug. 14 (Saskatoon)
Outter Limits is hosting a learn to hike info night from 7-8:30 pm, Aug. 14. It’s free but you need to register in advance.

From Seed to Seed, Aug. 16 (Regina) 
The film From Seed to Seed about a farming family blending ancient traditions with cutting-edge science will be shown at 7 pm, Aug. 16, as part of the Regina International Film Festival.

Go Science, Aug. 16 (Lipton)
Join the Saskatchewan Science Centre in Lipton for a nature/science program for kids from 1-4 pm, Aug. 16.

Help our Bees, Aug. 18 (Moose Jaw) 
Join the Moose Jaw Nature Society to learn about bees and make your own bee bath from 4-6 pm, Aug. 18.

Nature Activity, Aug. 20 (Springside) 
Springside Public Library is hosting a special guest from the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association for a nature activity from 1:30-2:30 pm, Aug. 20.

Singing for a Better World, Aug. 20 (Saskatoon) 
Learn some songs about protecting the earth and building peace and justice from 7-9 pm, Aug. 20.

AB Mammal Monitoring, Aug. 20 (webinar) 
Find out about wildlife monitoring in Alberta in a noon-hour webinar on Aug. 20 presented by PCAP-SK.

Intro to Permaculture, Aug. 21 (Regina) 
Learn about the design principles of permaculture from 7-8:30 pm, Aug. 21, at the Connaught Branch Library.

Hot Composting, Aug. 21 (Saskatoon)
Saskatoon Compost Coaches are offering a hot composting workshop on Aug. 21 from 5:30-7 pm.

Nature Activity, Aug. 22 (Springside)
Springside Public Library is hosting a guest from the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association from 1:30-2:30 pm, Aug. 22.

Hug a Tree & Survive, Aug. 22 (Prince Albert)
Join Prince Albert North Search and Rescue for a program teaching lost kids how to survive in the woods at 7 pm, Aug. 22.

Family Paddle, Aug. 23 (Regina) 
SaskOutdoors is hosting a learn to paddle with kids event from 1-3 pm, Aug. 23. Canoe rental will be provided.

Red fox

Looking Ahead
Tiny House Workshop, Sept. 20-22 (Regina) 
Learn how to build your own tiny house from Sept. 20-22 in Regina.

Permaculture Design Course, Oct.-Apr. (Regina) 
Edible Landscapes is offering a permaculture design certificate course over 6 weekends from October to April in Regina. Register in advance and save money.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
Fill out a short survey to let Saskatoon's Meewasin Valley Authority know where you would like to see an extension of the trail between the Circle Drive North Bridge and the Chief Mistawasis Bridge. 

Banding ruby-throated hummingbirds takes “a delicate touch, infinite patience and steadfast devotion.” Ron Jensen’s “data-gathering is important work, here in the far reaches of the Ruby-throated hummingbirds’ breeding range, where sightings are less common than in places such as Illinois.”

Saskatchewan has a high risk of water shortages. The study reports the main causes as being agricultural (especially raising livestock), wetland drainage, mining, and oil and gas extraction. Residential and industrial water usage is often inefficient, and climate change could bring prolonged hot or dry spells.

“Coexistence implies simply ‘tolerating the other’ whomever or whatever that is. May I suggest that it is time to co-flourish? Time to find solutions and table policy that genuinely embraces and considers the life and happiness of all parties. Every person, creature, habitat and resource holds a necessary vital part in this world. Some may well be way beyond our present understanding.”

San Francisco international airport says “each airport guest creates a half pound of trash. In an effort to reduce the waste, the airport is limiting single-use food accessories such as napkins, coffee cups and chopsticks. In addition to plastic, SFO is banning items with ‘unsubstantiated claims’ about their sustainability.”

Sand “is an essential component of modern life as we know it, yet, strangely enough, we are starting to run out.”

Using electricity at different times of day (load flexibility) “is a win-win-win. It saves money on utilities, it reduces consumer energy bills, and it helps clean up the grid.”

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Seeds of Change: Farming & the Natural Environment

Spring water, edible weeds, compost and manure – the 12-13 year olds attending CISV Saskatoon’s summer camp excursion to a farm in the aspen parkland had lots to learn about the natural environment of Saskatchewan and the role and impact of agriculture and farming.

Here’s what some of the youth participants had to say:

“I had fun. I liked the compost pile. I learned that farming is a difficult life. There are a lot of jobs with not a lot of help. It’s hard being farmer because there are big companies that make the prices fall. It’s better to support small companies that care about what they do. They care about the soil. It’s important not to support companies that don’t have good ethics.” - Carlos

“I learned that there is not enough wetlands in the world and we need more wetlands. The changing environment has destroyed them, such as things like pollution and building houses on the land, means that we are losing the wetlands that animals live in, and that means that we are losing the animals too.” - Ben

“I learned a lot at the garden, such as you have to take a lot of care of what you want to grow and that sometimes it seems like it is boring but at the end you discover that it is a very fun thing and you can do it happily.” - Martin

“Some weeds are very bad because they are invasive. It was really hard to pull the burdock out of the ground, and it is not good how it takes over. It will be everywhere and it will cause the natural plants to disappear.” - Soren

CISV Saskatoon received an EcoFriendly Action Grant to help pay the costs of the outing. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

EcoSask News, August 6, 2019

Great blue heron

Upcoming Events
Household Hazardous Waste, Aug. 11 (Saskatoon)
You can dispose of household hazardous waste at City of Saskatoon’s Civic Operations Centre from 9 am – 3:30 pm, Aug. 11.

Fabulous Feathered Fun, Aug. 12 (Prince Albert)
Visit the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library for stories, rhymes, and craft featuring our feathered friends at 2 pm, Aug. 12.

Permaculture Garden Tour, Aug. 13 (Saskatoon)
Join Permaculture Saskatchewan for a garden tour and potluck at 6 pm, Aug. 13.

Prairie Bats & White Nose Syndrome, Aug. 14 (Eastend)
There will be a discussion on white nose syndrome on the Canadian Prairies at SODCAP’s AGM at 1 pm, Aug. 14.

Owls on the Prowl, Aug. 14 (Gravelbourg)
Kids can meet a burrowing owl from 3-4 pm, Aug. 14, at Gravelbourg Public Library.

Nature Activity, Aug. 14 (Churchbridge)
Churchbridge Public Library is hosting a special guest from the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association for a nature activity from 2-3 pm, Aug. 14.

Meditations on the Prairie, Aug. 14-Sept. 13 (Saskatoon)
John Penner’s photographs of the Canadian prairie landscape will be on display in The Gallery of the Frances Morrison Library from Aug. 14-Sept. 13.

Great blue heron

Looking Ahead
Meewasin Eco-Scavenger Hunts, Aug. 17, 24, 31 & Sept. 7 (Saskatoon)
Help document active species in the Small and Northeast Swales, Aug. 17 (9 am-4 pm), Aug. 24 (9 am-4 pm), Aug. 31 (8-10 am), and Sept. 7 (9 am-4 pm). People of all experiences and backgrounds are welcome to join.

Wascana Junior Naturalist, Sept-Nov (Regina)
Kids ages 9-13 can participate in a variety of activities at Wascana Junior Naturalist from 6-8 pm on Sept. 10 & 17, Oct. 1, 22 & 29, and Nov. 19 & 26.

Forest Gardening North of the 29th, Sept. 13-15 (Ness Creek)
Richard Walker will share the key skills of forest gardening from Sept. 13-15 at Ness Creek.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
Friends of Wascana Marsh is looking for volunteers to help with pond dipping and marsh hikes during the Harbour Landing Summer Bash from 10 am-6 pm, Aug. 25. Call Ramona at 306.531.9759 if you can help.

Saskatoon residents are encouraged to contact their City Councillor and to show your support for the City’s proposed Low Emissions Community Plan.

Conservation groups in Minnesota are urged to address unregulated agricultural sub-surface drainage tiling. Tiling drains fields rapidly and can lead to loss of wetland wildlife and plants, water pollution, and downstream flooding. A strong response to the article provides additional information both pro and con.

“The current carbon footprint of the fashion industry is over eight per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions, larger than all international travel. . . . The average consumer bought 60 per cent more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but kept each garment half as long. . . . and less than one per cent of all clothing produced globally is recycled.”

“There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends.”

Energy development and commercial interests win when pitted against endangered species.

Wales’ Wildlife Trust has developed a short film based on Wind in the Willows to shed light on the problems faced by wildlife today. What if we developed a similar film for Saskatchewan based on Who Has Seen the Wind or Wolf Willow?

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 1 August 2019

What a Mess! Thank You for Cleaning it Up

Hudson Bay Park/Mayfair/Kelsey Woodlawn Community Association
The Bad Guys 
Plastic – it’s polluting our land and oceans, killing fish, birds, and wildlife and even showing up in our food. But the most common form of pollution is one you may not have even considered. Approximately 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are discarded every year and they’re deadly.

The filters are made of plastic that will never break down entirely. They “are laced with chemicals including arsenic and heavy metals which can end up in the water supply, and is dangerous to animals, marine life and anyone who ingests them.” (1) They’re often mistaken for food by fish, dolphins, birds, and other sea turtles, showing up in the stomach of dead or dying sea creatures.

The damage cigarette butts cause doesn’t stop there. Recent studies have shown that the chemicals used to make the filters more flexible reduce the germination rate and growth of plants. (2)

The next most common forms of waste are plastic-lined coffee cups, plastic bottles, and food wrappers (chip bags, chocolate bar wrappers, etc.).

The top 5 plastic polluters in Canada in 2018 were NestlĂ©, Tim Hortons, PepsiCo., The Coca-Cola Company, and McDonald’s Corporation. “Their brands’ contribution to plastic pollution is alarming, but unsurprising given the billions of single-use plastic packaged products they churn out yearly. Pop and water bottles, rogue bottle caps, Lay’s chip bags, Kit Kat and Coffee Crisp bar wrappers; chances are that any cleanup conducted will reveal plastic pollution associated with these companies.” (3)

Natural Resource Technologies students
The Good Guys 
EcoFriendly Sask provides annual clean-up grants of $500 to those groups who are prepared to get out there and clean up the mess. 13 organizations across Saskatchewan received grants in 2019. They ranged from student groups in Preeceville, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon to community organizations in Denare Beach, Lampman, and Martensville.

The Denare Beach New Horizon’s Club used a canoe to pick garbage out of the water near the shore.

65 volunteers from the Hudson Bay Park/Mayfair/Kelsey Woodlawn Community Association collected 1,840 kilos of waste, including 20 tires, 2 pails of hazardous waste, and a large amount of batteries.

Club Joy in Martensville was pleased to be able to clean up the park and pond for the ducks and inspired others in the park area to help them.

Students in the Natural Resource Technologies program at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Prince Albert, cleaned a 4 km stretch of Highway 55. Vehicles honked their horns to show support and the students hoped that their efforts would have a positive impact on the children riding the many school buses passing by.

Centennial Collegiate’s Outdoor Club held two clean-up events – at Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale and in Greenwater Provincial Park.

Saskatoon Search and Rescue spotted beavers as they cleaned up along the Meewasin trail.

Saskatoon Search and Rescue
You’ll find a complete list of the Clean-up Grant recipients on our website.