Tuesday, 8 June 2021

EcoSask News, June 8, 2021

Choke Cherry flowers

This Week’s Highlights 
What impact does mountain biking have on wildlife? How can parks managers reconcile their dual mandate of nature conservation and human recreation? 

Wascana Junior Naturalists is hosting nature programming for kids in Regina every Saturday from June 19-Aug. 21 from 9-10 am. 

Upcoming Events 
Nature Conservancy of Canada is presenting a webinar with 10 stories of Canadian wildlife recovery and why they matter at 12:30 pm, June 10. 

Regina Public Library is offering a virtual series of short talks with artists with environmental elements to their practices at 7:30 pm, June 15. 

As part of this year’s Spring Meet, Nature Saskatchewan is hosting a variety of online activities, including Nature Trivia on June 15, a presentation on Leave-No-Trace outdoor cooking on June 16, a photo/video sharing session on June 17, and an AGM at 7 pm, June 21. 

The Provincial Association of Resort Communities of Saskatchewan is hosting a virtual panel discussion on waterways, wetlands, and stewardship at 7 pm, June 16. 

SK-PCAP is hosting a native plant Id and quiz webinar at noon, June 16, as part of Native Prairie Appreciation Week. 

Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin is hosting an online annual general meeting at noon, June 16. 

SK-PCAP is hosting a webinar on Stewards of Saskatchewan: prairie species at risk at noon, June 16, as part of Native Prairie Appreciation Week.
 
Ladybug

Local News 
Ron Jensen will be banding ruby-throated hummingbirds at Beaver Creek Conservation Area. The hummingbird feeders were donated by Wild Birds Unlimited.

Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre has gathered 3,000 signatures, calling on the City of Saskatoon to ban the use of neurotoxins on pigeons

Let’s Get Practical 
Canada Greener Homes Grants – who is eligible, what they cover, drawbacks, and how to get the most bang for your buck. 

Should you replace a used car with an EV? That depends on how many miles you’ll put on it and on how electricity is produced in your area. 

Art & Nature 
“Cities around the world should identify, protect and make accessible places in nature that are dedicated to silence in the outer sense and stillness in the inner sense.” 

An online photography exhibit explores 3 themes: Incredible Wildlife, Wildlife in Crisis, and Reasons for Hope. 

The arts can help solve the climate crisis by telling stories that persuade people to “fall in love with nature again” and prompt government to back green policies. 

Success Stories 
Toronto’s TD Centre is undertaking North America’s largest bird-safe building retrofit by installing bird collision deterrent markers on glass. 

People are more likely to install solar panels if their neighbours have already done so

A 5-storey residence at Red Deer College is covered in solar glass cladding on 3 sides


Did you know?
Bears pull chokecherry to the ground and tear its branches apart in their eagerness to eat the fruit (Nature Companion, a free nature app, downloadable directly from its website

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 3 June 2021

The Natural Wonders of Pine Cree Regional Park

White-tailed deer

Just 300 metres below the sun-drenched prairie is a small campsite nestled in a grove of pine trees beside a quietly flowing stream. Pine Cree Regional Park, located 13 km northeast of Eastend, Saskatchewan, offers 28 non-serviced campsites and features rare orchids, possible cougar sightings, and a wide variety of birds and animals. There are three self-guided trails through the park that can be booked through the park officer. One trail takes you up to the highest point in the park where you will discover teepee rings, while another leads you up above the Hermit’s Cave. All three trails are described in Robin and Arlene Karpan’s book, Saskatchewan’s Best Hikes and Nature Walks

Wildflowers 
The park’s website provides lists of the flowers you may spot while walking on the prairie or in the forest. If you’re very fortunate, you’ll spot the blunt-leaved bog orchid, the green bog orchid, or the round-leaved orchid, all of which flower in June-July. You may also spot the northern bog violet, the western Canada violet, or the downy yellow violet. The western Canada violet spreads rapidly via its roots and is often found in clumps. 

If you look closely, you’ll find so many different flowers among the prairie grasses. Wild licorice has spike-like clusters of narrow pea-like yellowish-white flowers with an erect upper petal. The hooked bristles on the seed pods catch and cling to animal fur and human clothing distributing the seeds to new areas. Later in the summer, you’ll see purple prairie clover and goldenrod.
 
Purple prairie clover

Wildlife 
Sit quietly and you may be fortunate enough to spot moose, white-tailed deer, coyotes, and bobcats. Moose are the largest members of the deer family and are so tall that they prefer to browse on higher plants as it can be difficult to bend their head to ground level. They are often seen in lakes or wetlands feeding on aquatic plants. They have poor eyesight but a strong sense of smell. 

White-tailed deer are the smallest North American deer with white fur around their eyes and nose. They raise their tail, displaying its white underside, to signal danger. White-tailed deer use scent to communicate with other animals. Every step is marked by a smelly substance from glands between their toes. 

Listen for coyotes calling at night. They are very vocal with a wide range of calls to greet and communicate with each other or warn of danger. 

Bobcats are twice the size of a domestic cat. They are solitary animals and fierce hunters, silently stalking their prey before taking it down in one enormous leap. 

Cougars live in the Cypress Hills and there’s a chance you may spot one in the park. Cougars are shy animals that keep to themselves and prefer isolated areas. The park pamphlet explains that cougars will normally avoid people; “however, if you see a cougar and it doesn’t run off, it may be sick, have a food kill nearby, or young, and could feel threatened by you.” In this situation, “Make yourself big and loud. . . . Maintain eye contact, and back away slowly. . . . Cougars are big cats and lazy, so if you appear to be a lot of work, they will likely leave, or give you an opportunity to back away.” 

Birds 
Pine Cree Regional Park is home to pink-sided dark-eyed juncos, mountain bluebirds, great horned owls, and common poorwill. Great horned owl are forest dwellers and have a deep hooting voice that is unlike any other North American owl. They hunt at night, using their large, strong talons to break the spine of large prey.

great horned owl

Starry Skies 
The southwestern corner of Saskatchewan is an excellent spot for star-gazing as there are large wilderness areas and only small urban centres. Both Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park and Grasslands National Park are Dark Sky Preserves, sanctuaries where people can enjoy the night skies. 

See Also 

Heading outdoors? With the Nature Companion app on your phone, you’ll have easy access to information about over 300 common plants, trees, birds, animals, insects, reptiles and amphibians in Canada’s four western provinces. The Nature Companion app/website was developed by EcoFriendly Sask and is free (and ad-free) and can be downloaded directly from its website


EcoFriendly Sask
supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

EcoSask News, June 1, 2021

Canada Geese goslings

This Week’s Highlights 
SaskPower is holding online conversations on June 9 & 16 to consult with the public on its long-term power strategy. You can register for morning or afternoon sessions. 

“Environmentalism emerged from the 1960s as a movement to save the natural world. Now it seems to have been appropriated to describe the fight to save industrial civilisation — life as we know it.” 

Upcoming Events 
Margret Asmuss will provide an overview of climate impacts and action in Saskatchewan at 6:30 pm, June 3, online. 

City of Saskatoon residents can dispose of household hazardous waste from 9 am to 3:30 pm on June 6. 

There will be a noon-hour webinar on bats on June 8 as part of the Native Prairie Speaker Series. 

The Provincial Association of Resort Communities of Saskatchewan is hosting a webinar with Jo Jozsa discussing zoning bylaws to protect lakes at 7 pm, June 9. 

Project WILD and Flying WILD will be combined in a one-day virtual workshop on June 10. 

City Life
Form follows fuel: “From the earliest known archeological remains to the trends of the 21st century, the availability of energy has shaped architecture. That’s a perspective that deserves exploring, especially since the energy constraints imposed by climate change now present ‘the toughest challenge the world of architecture has ever faced’.” [book review] 

Canadian cities tend to sprawl – and sprawl costs money, time, and energy. What if we moved away from that model to the “20-minute city” where everything you need (work, grocery store, coffee shop) is within 20 minutes? “Touted benefits include better air quality, a healthier population, higher property values and lower transportation costs for those who can eschew an automobile. . . . Making cities more walkable involves creating a more compact footprint, where more businesses are built near existing homes. But it also means building housing near existing businesses, such as stores and restaurants.”

Canmore, AB, has grown from a small coal-mining community to a large bustling tourist destination. Residents are now struggling to reconcile tourism development with climate, transportation, and housing goals, as well as protection of an important wildlife corridor. A group of residents hopes to purchase a piece of land to create a permanent conservation area and affordable housing. 
 
Spotted sandpiper

We Can Do Better 
Smokescreen: Debunking Wildfire Myths to Save Our Forests and Our Climate by Chad T. Hanson explains why wildfire are beneficial, the role fire-burned trees play in maintaining biodiversity, and the need to focus on home fire safety and defensible space as opposed to back-country vegetation management. [book review] 

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems and are “hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere”. Refrigeration systems in supermarkets aren’t air-tight, so they lose 25% of their refrigerant every year – “that amounts to emissions equivalent to more than 12 million cars driving for a year”. There are alternatives, as demonstrated by a New York City grocery store, but no easy answers. [podcast & transcript] 

Arbor Week 




Did you know? Female Spotted Sandpipers mate with up to 5 males, leaving the males to incubate the eggs and feed the young [Nature Companion is downloadable directly from its website

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Spiders – Not So Scary After All

Crab spider

As the offspring of an entomologist (someone who studies insects) and avid supporters of all wild creatures, Andrew and I are intrigued rather than repelled by insects and arachnids. In fact, Andrew takes numerous photographs of crab spiders and fishing spiders every summer. 

Here are just a few facts about spiders that may help you to view these tiny creatures with awe rather than fear. 

Insect, Arachnid, or Spider? 
All spiders are arachnids, but not all arachnids are spiders. The arachnid category also includes scorpions, mites, ticks, and harvestmen (aka daddy longlegs). 

All arachnids have 8 legs (it’s safer to consider this as 4 pairs of legs as spiders often lose one or two legs and still manage just fine), whereas insects only have 6 legs. Unlike insects, arachnids only have two parts to their body and lack antennae and wings. 

A Vote of Thanks 
There are over 45,000 different types of spiders and we owe them a huge vote of thanks as they play an important role in safeguarding our food supply by reducing the number of agricultural pests. In our homes, spiders keep insect pests under control and even limit the spread of disease via fleas, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. One spider can catch hundreds of tiny flies in a single day. 

By the way, there are house spiders and garden spiders. Garden spiders only rarely come indoors and, if you put a house spider outside, it will die. 


Why Most Spiders Have Eight Eyes 
Unlike humans, spiders don’t have a neck so they can’t easily turn their head to look at things like we can. Extra eyes help them to see in various different directions. 

In addition, human eyes perform a variety of different functions, whereas each pair of spider eyes has a specific role to play. The main set of eyes provide sharp colour vision and are good at accurately picking out details. They’re often large, helping them to take in a larger field of vision. 

The secondary sets of eyes on the sides of their head detect motion and warn the spider when something is heading their way, be it predator or prey.
 
Fishing spider

Feeling the Vibes 
Spiders don’t have ears, but they can sense vibrations. Tiny hairs on their legs bend in response to vibrations in the air or transmitted through floors and walls. Scientists have found that jumping spiders will freeze when they pick up a low-frequency hum or buzz as this sound overlaps with the wingbeat frequency of predators such as parasitoid wasps and flies. 

Spiders pluck the strings of their webs, causing the webs to vibrate. Differences in the vibrations will tell them what type of meal is tangled in their web, if a potential mate is approaching, or whether the web is damaged and needs repairs. 

Weavers and Webs 
Spiders possess a remarkable ability to produce silk that is tough, flexible, and completely organic. The silk starts out as a watery gel. As it passes through an ever-narrowing tube, it picks up coatings that are responsible for stickiness and water resistance. The gel only solidifies when it is stretched. Spiders can create different kinds of silk for different tasks, whether it’s to build a web, wrap up prey or an egg sac, or provide a pocket of air for water spiders. 

Not all spiders spin webs to catch their prey. Some, such as wolf spiders, are hunters, while others sit and wait for the prey to come to them (e.g. crab spiders). Spiders also create many different kinds of webs – from the round, geometrical webs we may find in our homes to sheets, funnels, and loosely connected cobwebs. 

Webs are sticky – that’s how they catch their prey or get caught in our hair. So how do spiders avoid getting trapped in their own web? First of all, webs aren’t consistently sticky so spiders are able to step around the drops of glue. Even if they touch one, it’s annoying (like stepping on a wad of bubble gum) but not a serious problem. But when a fly hits a web, it hits about 50 drops of glue all at the same time and then it’s stuck.
 
Wolf spider

Protective Parents 
Garden spiders lay a sac of eggs in a sheltered spot and remain with it until they die in the fall. The spiderlings will emerge the following summer, forming a web with a ball of tiny spiders that scatter in all directions when disturbed. 

Fishing spiders create a nursery web to protect their spiderlings when they hatch. 

Wolf spiders carry their spiderlings around for a week, either feeding them with liquefied food or killing prey for them to eat. 

Some spiderlings leave home by heading to a high spot on a plant and producing one or more strands of silk that are then picked up and carried away by the rising air currents on a warm day. 

See Also 

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or subscribe by email (top right corner).


Nature Companion, a free (and ad-free) app/website, introduces over 300 of the trees, plants, insects, reptiles, animals, and birds found in Canada’s four western provinces.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

EcoSask News, May 25, 2021

gophers (Richardsons ground squirrels)

This Week’s Highlights 
“Storing and transporting excess renewable energy as hydrogen could reshape global energy politics. . . . Because the ones [countries] best equipped to export green hydrogen are so geographically and politically diverse—from Morocco to Australia to Norway—the rise of green hydrogen may lower the temperature on international oil and gas politics, as well as the global climate.” 

Regina Public Library is hosting an online program about artists who focus on sustainability at 7 pm, June 3. 

Upcoming Events 
City of Regina residents can dispose of hazardous waste from 4-7 pm on Friday, 9 am-4 pm, Saturday, and 9 am-4 pm, Sunday, May 28-30. 

Nature Saskatchewan is hosting World Migratory Bird Day celebrations on May 29 in Regina. Register in advance. 

Learn wildlife tracking skills and how to put them to use in the summer in a Nature Conservancy of Canada webinar at 6:30 pm, May 31. 

Nature Regina will hold an online annual general meeting at 7 pm, May 31. 

The Provincial Association of Resort Communities of Saskatchewan is hosting a webinar on keeping invasive species out of our lakes at 7 pm, June 2. 

Mark Jaccard will host a discussion of his book, The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success, at the breakfast meeting of the Energy Management Task Force. 


Saskatoon Nature Society – Golden Eagles 
June 3, 9 am – Donna Birkmaier Park 
June 10, 9 am – Chappell Marsh/Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area 
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
June 5, 8 am-noon – Birding in Dundurn Area Pastures 
June 6, 1-3 pm – Arbor Week Hike 
June 11, 9:30-11:30 pm – Firefly Hike to NE Swale 
June 13, 8:30 am-2 pm – Member Visit to NCC Asquith Site 
June 15, 6:30-9 pm – Wildflowers at the Small Swale 
Field trips are currently for members only, so sign up now. Advance registration is required.
 
Golden bean

Did you know? Indigenous peoples of North America used the golden bean flowers to make a yellow dye (Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s 4 western provinces is downloadable directly from its website

Plastics 
Every year 380 million tonnes of plastic are produced and just 16% is recycled. But what if we could unmake it? “Chemical recycling is an attempt to recycle the unrecyclable. Instead of a system where some plastics are rejected because they are the wrong colour or made of composites, chemical recycling could see all types of plastic fed into an ‘infinite’ recycling system that unmake plastics back into oil, so they can then be used to make plastic again.” 


Wind Energy 
Wind turbines pose a threat to birds. Fortunately, high-tech safeguards are being developed to ensure birds’ safety



EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Wildlife Rescue Society of Saskatchewan


In 2006, a group of wildlife rehabilitation professionals established a provincial wildlife rescue association. Animals were being picked up unnecessarily and the rehabbers wanted to stop that happening by establishing a telephone hotline to provide members of the public with advice on what to do about an injured or possibly abandoned animal.

From its humble beginnings, the Wildlife Rescue Society of Saskatchewan has expanded unimaginably. Calls in the last two years have doubled with just under 5,000 calls in 2020. There were days last summer when they received 50 calls in a single day. Bonnie Dell, president of WRSOS, was monitoring the hotline one day this spring and noted 20 major calls involving a beaver, a grey horned owl, a saw-whet owl, a moose, and a goose. 

It’s not just members of the public who are calling in. It’s also municipalities and provincial wildlife conservation officers. “It’s really a community service,” explains Bonnie. “If it weren’t for us, there would be no one to call.” And all this work is being done by volunteers, with help from students in the summer. Here’s how it works. 

Obtaining Help for an Injured or Abandoned Wild Animal 
If you’re concerned about a wild animal, a good place to start looking for help is on the WRSOS website. Wildlife 911 provides detailed information about what to do in a wide variety of different situations, from a bat in the attic to a bird that is unable to fly. The website also provides tips on when to call the hotline (e.g., the animal is bleeding or a dead parent is lying nearby). 

Volunteers answer calls on the WRSOS hotline (306-242-7177) 12 hours a day, 365 days a year. Leave a message and your call will be answered immediately. “You’ll rarely wait more than 10-15 minutes for a call back,” Bonnie says. 

Volunteers have received training and can assist you in deciding what needs to be done. The Society has over 150 volunteers from every part of the province who go out of their way to capture and transport sick or injured animals. It’s a huge undertaking as the need is often urgent. Some volunteers are driving up to 10,000 km a year. 

Rescued animals are taken to a designated veterinary clinic or to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation professional. The veterinary clinics generously provide their services free of charge as do the wildlife rehabbers. It can still be an expensive proposition with some animals requiring surgery while others are over-wintered and eat enormous amounts of food. 

The volunteer’s role is often demanding. “There are things I’ve seen and done that haunt me,” Bonnie says. “But I also know I’ve saved a lot of suffering that was caused by human activity.” And sometimes, when things work out, volunteers have the ultimate reward of returning a rescued animal to the wild. 


A Job for Professionals 
The individuals who run wildlife rehabilitation facilities are professionals. They’ve received extensive training and are licensed by the provincial government. It may look like an easy task and you may be tempted to look after an injured animal yourself, but it can go very, very wrong. Young rabbits and deer may appear to be abandoned, but their mothers have deliberately left their babies in a safe place while they go off to look for food. Animals can die if you don’t feed them the right food. A moose calf will grow up and no longer fit in your spare room but will have to be euthanized as it’s unfit to return to the wild. One family tried to raise a turkey vulture, then dumped it on the side of the road with a pile of food. The bird had a badly broken wing, was too far gone to be rescued, and had to be euthanized. 

Peaceful Coexistence 
A condo association in Saskatoon kills any wildlife that comes on their property. A farmer who shot a coyote in the winter using lead shot also poisoned two bald eagles who fed on the carcass. Gophers are a keystone species and an important part of the food chain for larger wildlife, and yet municipalities consistently poison them because the burrows may damage lawn mowers. 

“Phone us before reaching for poison or a gun,” Bonnie pleads. “We’ll help you come up with a plan to help you coexist. Everything has a place. We can live with animals in cities, at the lake, and in rural areas.” 

We slaughter coyotes in Saskatchewan, and Bonnie believes it’s got to stop. Coyotes are another keystone species and help maintain a balance in nature. Studies have shown that 88% of their diet is rodents so we should be happy to see them on our farms. And killing a coyote can exacerbate the problem. “If you have a family of coyotes on your land, you won’t have a problem as they’ll teach their young how to coexist,” Bonnie says. “But kill that established family unit and you’ll get newcomers on your land that haven’t learned their boundaries.” 

WRSOS volunteers are currently receiving canid response training from Coyote Watch Canada and expect to be the first province with fully trained volunteers to help Saskatchewan residents coexist with foxes and coyotes. “We have people all over the province who can help you resolve a problem,” Bonnie says. 


Lend a Hand 
The WRSOS welcomes new volunteers and will try and identify a role that individuals are comfortable with. For example, you may be prepared to drive but don’t want to handle animals. Training is provided. Volunteers sign up for 4-hour shifts on either the hotline or wildlife rescue. In the busy summer season, the Society applies for grants so that the phone line can be run by summer students while the volunteers are assigned to wildlife rescue. 

Money as well as time is hugely appreciated. WRSOS relies on donations to cover costs associated with the hotline, summer student wages, rescue equipment, and educational initiatives, so give generously. 

Photo Credits: WRSOS

See Also 

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

EcoSask News, May 18, 2021

busy bee

This Week’s Highlights 
Citizens Environmental Alliance has initiated a House of Commons petition regarding the need for an environmental assessment of the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Expansion project. 

SOS Trees is hosting Arbor Week in Saskatoon from May 28-June 6 with activities ranging from art to talks, tree planting, and tours. 

Upcoming Events 
Kids ages 6-13 are invited to participate in the Get Outside Kids Club on May 19 or 26 in Regina. 

Join some of Regina’s city councillors as they talk with Seth Klein, Jamie Kirkpatrick, and Haley Carlson about Regina’s path towards sustainability from 6-8 pm, May 25, online. 

Nature Saskatchewan is hosting a virtual book launch for Backyard Bird Feeding: A Saskatchewan Guide at 7 pm, May 25. 

Peter Leavitt will discuss what controls lake water quality at 7 pm, May 26, online. 

Looking Ahead 
SaskOutdoors and the Saskatchewan Orienteering Association are offering orienteering for kids and youth in Saskatoon on May 31, June 7, 14, and 21. 

Saskatoon Nature Society – Golden Eagles 
May 20, 8 am – Forestry Farm Spring Bird Walk 
May 27, 8 am – Warblers, Pike Lake Acreage 
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate. 

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
May 22, 9 am-12 pm – Birding Trip to Porter Lake 
May 23, 7:30-9 am – Warbler Walk at Forestry Farm 
May 25, 7-9 pm – Birding at Maple Grove 
May 26, 6:30-9 pm – Wildflowers at NE Swale 
May 29 – May Bird Count 
Field trips are currently for members only, so sign up now. Advance registration is required.
 
Untitled 

Well Done! 
The City of Victoria will soon require buildings to be deconstructed rather than demolished in order to salvage reusable materials. “Currently, more than a third of materials going to Victoria landfills each year are generated from the construction sector, and much of that is a result of poor demolition waste management. . . . City staff estimate that salvaging materials from single-families alone would divert 3,000 tonnes of waste from landfills each year.” (via Capital Daily

Opera houses are going green. La Scala in Milan has installed solar panels and LED lights, while Sydney Opera House built an artificial reef. Opera North in Leeds is creating sets out of recycled materials. 

New York State is addressing plastic pollution by banning the use of small toiletry bottles in hotels

We Can Do Better 
“Population growth, more houses with air conditioning, larger homes, and fewer people per household . . . are all driving residential energy use and emissions upwards. . . . Hitting climate targets depends on building smaller single-family homes and more multi-family housing (including converting large single-family homes to multi-unit dwellings), consistent with the shrinking number of people per household.” 

AirBnB’s carbon footprint is bigger than you think – a look at ways of making tourist accommodation more environmentally sustainable

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

We’re in it for the birds! (Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces)



Thursday, 13 May 2021

Community Highlight: WILD Outside


1. How and when did you form your group? 
WILD Outside is a national conservation-based leadership program for youth ages 15 to 18. WILD Outside programs started in Regina and Saskatoon in March 2020 with funding from the Canadian Service Corps initiative. The goal is to get youth outside, connected with nature and wildlife, and feeling inspired to protect it. 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
We offer 3 different activities for youth: outdoor adventures (think hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, and more), community service projects (planting gardens, cleaning up parks, or building bird houses, to name a few), and guest speakers/webinars on broad environmental topics. These experiences, which are free for all participants, allow youth to explore themselves in the natural world and create environmental stewardship habits for the future. 

3. What were your successes (big or small) in 2020? 
Despite piloting the program in Saskatchewan during a pandemic, the local WILD Outside groups had 45 youth register for the program in 2020. Clearly youth are still looking to get outside and make meaningful change in their communities – and that is a very powerful message! Three youth even earned their 40-hour certificates before the end of the year. 

4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
In addition to growing our WILD Outside cohorts, we hope to see our first youth complete 120 hours of service in the program. We also look forward to youth taking on more leadership roles. We are off to a good start so far this year with youth stepping up to lead environmental policy conversations, plan fossil tours, and more. We are also looking to strengthen partnerships with other organizations that have shared values and interests in order to build thriving eco-minded communities. 


5. If you could have 3 wishes for improving your community, what would they be?
 
As youth leaders in Saskatchewan, we’d love to see more wildlife-friendly areas in and around cities, more access to affordable outdoor recreation activities for youth, and more diverse leadership in the outdoors and in conservation. 

6. Are there volunteer opportunities with your organization? If so, please describe them and indicate how people can contact you. 
Absolutely! We accept new youth registrations year-round. If you are between the ages of 15-18 and are interested in nature and the outdoors, head to wildoutside.ca to find out more and apply! There is no cost to join or to participate in any activities – we cover it all. 

Other opportunities include adult volunteers to help supervise our events and community organizations to partner with for our service projects. For these opportunities, contact us below. 

Regina: Erin Pippin (erinp@cwf-fcf.org) and Jory Cadman (joryc@cwf-fcf.org

Saskatoon: Raea Gooding (raeag@cwf-fcf.org) and Alayna Chan (alaynac@cwf-fcf.org

You can also follow our national program’s account on Instagram @wildoutside.ca 

Photo One: Katrina gives her paddleboarding adventure the thumbs up in Saskatoon

Photo Two: Participants Tyan (left) and Shannon inspect their finds during a pond-dipping event at McKell Wascana Conservation Area, Regina

We’re planning to highlight the work of volunteer organizations in our communities on a regular basis over the next year. Email us if you would like your organization to be profiled on EcoFriendly Sask

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

EcoSask News, May 11, 2021

spider

This Week’s Highlights 
The Provincial Association of Resort Communities of Saskatchewan is hosting a series of webinars on water, including one on the rights of nature at 7 pm, May 19. 

Natures Wild Neighbours Society invites you to upload your nature-inspired art, photography, writing, video, or music entry before June 1, 2021, for a chance to win some wild prizes (full contest details). 

Upcoming Events 
Permaculture Saskatchewan is holding its annual general meeting online at 7 pm, May 17. 

Join Nature Regina from 7-8:30 pm, May 17, for a presentation on the Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway Project. Several Nature Regina members have been selected to be Butterflyway rangers. 

There will be a virtual panel discussion on climate risk disclosure and Saskatchewan business from 12-1:30 pm, May 18. Register early to avoid disappointment. 

For Our Kids Saskatchewan will share information and ideas for climate action from 7-8:30 pm, May 20, online. 

SaskOutdoors is offering a Paddle Canada Lake Canoe course in Saskatoon from May 22-24. 

Looking Ahead 
The Society for Range Management – Prairie Parkland Chapter is holding a hands-on/virtual learning workshop on May 26-27 entitled Back to the Field: Discovering the Dunes in Dundurn: Range Health and Rare Plants

SaskOutdoors is hosting a remote first aid workshop near Saskatoon on June 5-6. 

House Wren with a nice juicy spider

Local News 
The public is invited to complete an online survey between May 12 and June 2 on the City of Saskatoon's proposed Renewable Energy Strategy that will inventory, analyze, and prioritize renewable energy options in Saskatoon based on their financial, environmental, and social impacts.

A grade 7 class from Lac La Ronge Indian Band has collected over 20,000 signatures calling on the government to reject a proposal to mine peat moss near La Ronge. 

Urban Transit 
Take a close look at all the different modes of urban transit and there’s one that stands head and shoulders above all the others in terms of environmental impact – cycling. “We need more bikes generally and more e-bikes specifically on the road, which means your city needs to invest in bike-lane infrastructure to make people safe and comfortable on two wheels.” 


Energy 
An Alberta farmer is taking abandoned oil well sites and transforming them into solar farms. “Farmers get new lease revenues, counties get taxes lost from abandoned wells and presto energy transition.” 

“Anyone doing home renovations or a new build should take time to ensure their electrical grid is equipped to handle an electric-vehicle charging station.” 

“Creepy Crawlies” 
Pesticides are killing the earthworms, beetles, ants, and other soil-dwelling invertebrates that are critical to maintaining healthy soils

“Spiders need our help, and we may need to overcome our biases and fears to make that happen.” Spiders have “enormous ecological value as food for birds and other animals. They’re also important to people, both as predators of pest species and as inspiration for medicines and engineering.” 


Did you know? Grass Spider are also called Funnel Weaver Spider as they construct a flat, horizontal web across the grass or around buildings with a funnel on one side where they hide. The web isn't sticky, but it slows down any insects (usually flying ones) that try to cross it. The spider then rushes out from where it is hiding to grab its prey. (Nature Companion)

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Nature Apps for Kids

birds

We did some digging on the internet and came up with some nature apps that we think look great for families with kids. This is by no means a comprehensive list but will hopefully serve as a good starting point. 

Nature Identification Apps 
iNaturalist is a great place to share your observations of nature. If you can’t work out what something is, there’s sure to be someone on iNaturalist who will be able to help you. You can also participate in various projects, pooling your observations with those of others (e.g. City Nature Challenge). (free, android and iOS) 

Seek was developed by iNaturalist and uses image recognition software to help you identify plants and animals. Point your camera at a living thing and Seek will tell you what it is. (free, android and iOS) 

Three other apps that use image recognition software are Leafsnap (free, android and iOS), Plantsnap ($ and free, android and iOS), and Picture Insect (free, android and iOS). 

Many animals are shy and hard to spot, but with iTrack Wildlife you may be able to identify them by their tracks. iTrack Basic includes the tracks of 40 common mammals, while iTrack Pro includes over 800 track photographs. ($, android and iOS) 

Audubon Owls Guide, an interactive guide to North America’s 19 owl species, offers descriptions, range maps, and audio vocalizations to help you identify the owls in your neighbourhood. (free, iOS) 

Audubon offers a wide variety of other nature apps, including Mammals, Birds, Wildflowers, Mushrooms, and Reptiles

With Sky Guide/Sky Map, you can point your phone at the sky and identify stars, constellations, and satellites. Sky Guide is highly recommended for iOS ($), while Sky Map may be a better android option (free).
 
lorikeet

Nature Stories & Games 
Find the Birds brings bird watching to the screen. Visit Arizona to discover its birds. Complete conservation quests to improve the birds’ habitats, and collect information cards with photos, videos, and sounds. The next geographic region to be added to the game will be British Columbia. (free, iOS and android) 

Animals for Kids is a fun way for 1-4 year olds to learn the names and sounds of different animals. Bonus - you can learn the animals’ names in 7 different languages. ($, android and iOS) 

Care for our World, an animated story book, incorporates an animal encyclopedia, colouring pages, and a game. You can also place animals in custom habitats. ($, iOS) 

WWF Together lets you interact with endangered animals to find out how they live. You can try out “tiger vision,” flap your wings like a butterfly, and chop the panda’s bamboo. (free, iOS) 

What is your family's favorite nature app? Have you found a good app for identifying Canadian trees? Let us know and we'll add them to the list.


Nature Companion 
Last, but definitely not least, we encourage everyone to download EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, which introduces over 300 of the trees, plants, insects, reptiles, animals, and birds found in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Nature Companion provides short, easy-to-understand descriptions and colourful photographs along with a Did you know? section with interesting, unexpected details about each species. 

We think it’s an amazing resource for children, tourists, newcomers, and curious observers who are eager to learn more about the world around them. It’s free (and ad-free) and can be downloaded directly from the Nature Companion website Help page

Nature Companion has “been a great teaching tool for my inquisitive kid who always asks me 1000 questions including what kind of bird or tree he's looking at...it’s nice to have that info accessible and easy to find. K. gives this app a big thumbs-up as does his mom who now knows which yellow bird is always in our yard (yellow warbler!)” [Nicole] 

See Also 
Outdoor Explorations in Saskatchewan

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

EcoSask News, May 4, 2021

Jackrabbit

This Week’s Highlights 
Ann Coxworth will discuss small model nuclear reactors from 7-8:30 pm, May 11, online, as part of the Sustainability Speakers series. 

As part of a growing trend, major tech companies are “teaming with oil giants to use automation, AI, and big data services to enhance oil exploration, extraction, and production.” 

Upcoming Events 
There will be a noon-hour webinar on greater sage-grouse and grassland songbirds on May 11 as part of the Native Prairie Speaker Series. 

Nature Regina is hosting an online Get Outside Kids’ Club from 1:30-2:30 pm, May 12. 

Learn how you can create a nature refuge in your own backyard in Gardening with Native Plants, a digital NatureCity Conversation from 7-9 pm, May 12. 

The annual RCE Saskatchewan Education for Sustainable Development Recognition event will be held online from 9 am-noon, May 12. 

The Wildlife Rescue Society of Saskatchewan is holding a virtual annual general meeting at 2 pm, May 16. 

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Saskatoon Young Naturalists 
May 26-July – Mary Houston Bluebird Trail 
July 14, 1 pm – Mid-week Butterflies 
Aug. 11, 1 pm – Mid-week Butterflies 
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment. 

Golden Eagles 
May 6, 8 am – Waterfowl at Porter Lake 
May 13, 8 am – Clavet Area Birding 
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
May 8, 2:30-3:30 pm, Waterfowl Viewing on the River 
May 9, 7-8 am – MVA Trail Birding 
May 15, 1:30-4:30 pm – Birding Trip to Proctor Lake 
Field trips are currently for members only, so sign up now. Advance registration is required. 

Local News 
Humboldt Lake cannot support fish as it “has a phosphate concentration that is 6 to 10 times higher than what is considered to be a healthy lake” due to treated wastewater and agriculture and industry. 

La Ronge Library is now sharing seeds as well as books

Environmental Racism 
Urban inequality affects wildlife as well as people. “To Schell, the solution is to design cities that work for all people and animals. Coyotes may not be the most welcome neighbors, but Schell says they maintain balance in our ecosystems. Carving out green spaces for both humans and wildlife to enjoy can foster the biodiversity we need to draw down carbon, cool our cities, and keep our air and water clean.” 

Many racialized and low-income communities have borne the brunt of polluting industries and other environmental hazards. Federal Bill C-230 is an important first step in addressing who is affected the most by climate change and its impacts.
 
Magpie

The Future of Coal 
Shutting down Germany’s lignite coal mines requires citizen engagement – both miners and climate activists. 

The steel industry, reliant on coal for centuries, is looking at alternatives. A University of Calgary professor believes “the expansion of metallurgical-coal mining in Alberta is an example of the province ‘chasing the next thing that’s going to die.’” 

Urban Biodiversity 
Dutch citizens are working hard to protect bees – and so far it’s working. Check out their bee hotels, bee-friendly roof-garden bus stops, and honey highway

An international roundtable shares ideas for increasing urban biodiversity – from mandating the using of native plants in public landscapes to a manual on conserving biodiversity in urban subdivisions, developing a shared vision among public and private stakeholders, and celebrating Green Capitals of Biodiversity. 

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces 


EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Eagles of Western Canada

Bald eagle

It’s always a treat to see a bird of prey. We’re eager to introduce you to the ones you’re most likely to see in Western Canada. We've already looked at falcons and hawks. Last but certainly not least, the eagles. 

Eagles are large, powerful birds. Two species can be found in North America – the bald eagle and the golden eagle. 

Bald Eagle 
Bald eagles live in forested areas near coasts, rivers, and large lakes. They eat mainly fish, so you’re most likely to spot one in areas where fish are plentiful (near a fish processing plant, a dam, or a spawning run). You may also spot one of their enormous stick nests in large trees near the water. 

Size, colour, and shape are useful clues when identifying a bald eagle. They are one of the largest birds in North America with a heavy body, a large head, and a hooked yellow beak. You can often spot their white head and tail which stand out against their chocolate-brown body and wings. Their wings are very large and are flat as a board when they fly. Young birds take 5 years to develop their adult colouring. Until then, they have mottled white on brown markings and their head isn't white. 

Did you know? Bald eagles can reach speeds of up to 100 mph when diving or 40 mph when cruising. Young birds are nomads, exploring vast territories and flying hundreds of miles per day.
 
bald eagle

Golden Eagle 
Look for golden eagles in open areas near mountains, hills, and cliffs in British Columbia and Alberta. They usually nest on cliffs but may nest in trees or tall human-made structures. They hunt mostly small animals (rabbits, hares, ground squirrels, prairie dogs). 

Golden eagles soar or glide with wings lifted in a slight V and wingtip feathers spread out like fingers. The adults are dark brown with golden-brown feathers on the back of their head and neck. Their heads are smaller than those of bald eagles. The young have white patches under their wings and at the base of the tail. 

Did you know? The golden eagle's territorial/courtship display is known as sky dancing and consists of a series of steep dives and upward swoops. 


Nature Companion 
You’ll find lots more information about birds on EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, an entry-level nature app for Canada’s four western provinces. 


See Also 

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Community Highlight: One School One Farm Shelterbelt Project


Elizabeth Bekolay shares the story behind the One School One Farm Shelterbelt Project

1. How and when did you form your group? 
The idea came in August of 2018. I was in a ceremony with some family and friends and I was praying for guidance on how to help the land and future generations. The phrase came fully formed - one school one farm. All the connections were there in an instant: the need for more biodiversity, the need for more diverse shelterbelts that provide more ecological and economic services, the need to sequester carbon, the need to care for the water cycle, the need to bridge the ever-growing rural-urban divide of community and understanding, the need to get kids' hands in the dirt and give them purpose, and the need to address nature deficit issues and to teach ecological literacy. 

Our board came together through gatherings the following winter and we were registered as a federal non-profit in July of 2019. 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
We connect a teacher with a land steward and facilitate the relationship that will culminate in the planting of an eco-buffer, prairie strip, or whatever design adds to the biodiversity and carbon sequestration potential of the land. So far this has included consulting on design, species selection, and ecological functions. 

3. What were your successes (big or small) in 2020? 
In 2020 we planned our pilot project and, even though it was cancelled because of Covid, this gave our group and participants time to settle into the process and build further on the relationships. Many students in the class involved last year are still involved this year, so that is positive. 


4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
We plan to have a wildly successful pilot project season with 3 different land stewards and 4 different classes planting an ecobuffer, a prairie restoration, and a food forest. We have students growing out plants for these projects right now (photos attached of the Walter Murray Outdoor School prairie plant nursery set up). 

GROVICTORIA: Groveland Regenerative Farm and Ecole Victoria School, Saskatoon (Ben Oaken's grade 6/7 class) 
Goal: To design and plant an eco-buffer shelterbelt 
The students have been researching eco-buffer design and all of the species they hope to incorporate. They are using Minecraft to lay out the design with specific symbols and legenda to indicate the species they are adding. Grovenland has 500 trees coming in early May. 

WALTERESTORATION: Restoring 71 and Walter Murray School, Saskatoon (Outdoor School and Brian Thorstad's Grade 9 class) 
Goal: Prairie restoration 
The students have been growing prairie plants for the Restoring 71 site. With the support of the South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards, each student will also have a shrub to plant. The group is learning about soil health from a PhD student in soil science. 

5. If you could have 3 wishes for improving your community, what would they be? 
1. One more board member who also wants to be the treasurer 
2. Enough money to hire an executive director to keep us and all the projects organized 
3. A membership in all related organizations so that we can support good work being done around the province and country

6. Are there volunteer opportunities with your organization? If so, please describe them and indicate how people can contact you. 
Yes! Here is a list. We can offer guidance on all of these as well. Just email oneschoolonefarm@gmail.com 
- Grow native trees, shrubs, flowers, or grasses for donating to the projects 
- Grow fruit-bearing trees and shrubs for donating 
- Create lesson plans for teachers around active engagement in ecological restoration, ecological literacy, nutrient cycling, soil health, biodiversity etc. 
- Help with our online presence (we are severely lacking in this area) 
- Become a board member (we need one with mad skills in fundraising, setting up charities, etc.) 
- And, always, fundraising! 


See Also 

We’re planning to highlight the work of volunteer organizations in our communities on a regular basis over the next year. Do email us if you would like your organization to be profiled on EcoFriendly Sask

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).