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Oct
12
A Sandy Autumn Hike at the Fall Meet

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Emily Putz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator, Nature Saskatchewan

A weekend of beautiful crisp fall weather was the backdrop to this year’s fall member meet in Elbow, Saskatchewan. The weekend kicked off with everyone getting together with old friends, as well as hopefully making some new ones, to enjoy viewing other member’s photos of this summer. Photo presentations included Donna Bruce encouraging us to explore Big Gully, Sk; Bill MacKenzie sharing some great bird shots with us; Morley Maier showing us some truly amazing Barn Swallow shots; Ed Rodger sharing some wonderful photos from his trip to South America, and myself who gave our members a little update on what the SOS program staff were up to this summer. Members enjoyed this show to the beautiful background view overlooking Lake Diefenbaker through Elbow Harbour Golf Club and Resort’s surround windows, our venue for the weekend.

Saturday dawned nice and early with members loading the bus to head to Douglas Provincial Park’s sand dune trails to do some hiking. Here members were treated to finding some of Saskatchewan’s rarest plants, including Western Spiderwort and Annual Beaked Skeletonweed. Even though the season has long past for Western Spiderwort’s peak blooming, everyone wasted no time putting their ID skills to the test and finding quite a few plants. Members also enjoyed hiking out to the unique landscape that is Douglas Park’s active dune and saw many tracks within the sand including bobcat, moose, coyote and fox. We were also lucky enough to find some late blooming Prairie Sunflower and Common Skeletonweed, the last of the year!

The afternoon Saturday saw us loading the bus after a delicious lunch prepared for us by the Harbour Golf Club, to head to Gardiner Dam, the seventh largest earth filled dam in the world, for a private tour of the dam’s facilities. This was truly a unique experience as not many members of the public have been treated to seeing the inner workings of the dam. Those that went on this tour went down 50 feet below lake level to the spillway’s lower gallery before climbing all the way up to the walkway above the spillway’s gates. We continued the tour at one of the dam’s five large control structures, special thanks to Cam Leslie from the Water Security Agency for leading this wonderful tour.

Back at the hall, the Fall Business meeting started and after some discussion, resolution was passed for the eradication of feral boars escaped or released from game farms. After a short break the evening started, with a delicious banquet meal of roast beef catered by the Elbow Harbour Golf Club. During the banquet new members were recognized and welcomed and awards were presented to Harold Fisher (Cliff Shaw award), Rob Wilson (Fellows award), Brain Jeffery (Volunteer award), and Dr. Jon and Naiomi Gerrard (Conservation award). The evening concluded with our after dinner presenter, David Weiman, who spoke on his experiences on his trapping line, humane trapping of fur bearing animals, and what trapping means and its value in the present day. This talk was very interesting and a new topic for many members in the crowd, and was accompanied by a display on the different traps used and pelt examples from many species.

The meet was a great success, special thanks to our planning committee, our MCs and presenters, tour guides, and the wonderful venue and catering by the Elbow Golf Club. Have a great winter and we hope you’ll join us for our spring meet 2018 in the Big Muddy!

 

Sep
6
Voices from the Field Sept 6

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We had a busy August at Last Mountain Bird Observatory. The first day we opened the nets we caught the very first Indigo Bunting in the station’s history. If you’re lucky enough to have seen our e-Newsletter, you can see my chipped nail polish starring right alongside the beautiful male bird. By the end of the day we had caught over a hundred birds. On our second day we had another exciting bird. We caught a Marsh Wren in our very first net run. These guys don’t get caught in the nets very often. The rest of our first week was busy and we caught about a hundred birds each day. By the weekend we slowed down a bit. Despite this, our banders caught a young Loggerhead Shrike. Then just today we caught a Blue-headed Vireo!  We have seen many species of songbirds this month, most of which are warblers. So far we have caught 15 species of warblers. We have also caught flycatchers, sparrows, thrushes, swallows, orioles, and vireos, just to name a few.

We have also had lots of people visit us this past month. We had a couple of very dedicated volunteers learning how to record data and help us with the mist nets. One volunteer used up his overtime and his weekends off coming to band with us. We also had a couple undergrad students come from the Canadian Wildlife Service to learn about handling wild birds. Just this August we have had almost 100 people visit the station. Most of our visitors are from Saskatchewan, but we have had people from all over Canada including Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. If you have been planning to come out this year, but haven’t made it, you still have time. The station is open to the public in September. We will be welcoming a few school groups to the station in September

My field season comes to an end on August 31st, and I will be sad to go. The first couple weeks of September are usually when we expect peak migration, and in all likelihood I will sneak back up to the station on weekends so I don’t miss any of the excitement!

 

Indigo Bunting. Photo credit: M.Anderson

 

 

Long Eared Owl. Photo credit: M.Anderson

 

 

Loggerhead Shrike. Photo credit: M.Anderson

 

Aug
21
Voices from the Field August 21

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Hello from the field!      

With our summer with Nature Saskatchewan coming to an end we had the opportunity to travel to a few more special places! We ended July by going down to the Big Muddy Badlands and area! Whoever says Saskatchewan is boring must have missed this part of the province!

Along with the views came many Loggerhead Shrike sightings, as well as the melodic, descending calls of Sprague’s Pipits. Talking with land owners in this area showed an interesting change in species with more mentions of Turkey Vultures, Common Ravens, Eastern Yellow-bellied Racers, Piping Plovers, Common Nighthawks, and many others. We were very happy to visit very friendly people in the midst of one of Saskatchewan’s wonders!

August also sent us back to beautiful Gull Lake and Val Marie areas to finish up our last landowner visits for the summer. We chatted with long time participants and enjoyed hearing of many recent species at risk sightings! Driving so near to Grasslands National Park and across Highway 18 was a treat as Val Marie sunsets never disappoint. Being surrounded by rolling hills and native prairie pasture you can’t help but appreciate the landscape. We were quite excited to still find a few Loggerhead Shrike families before they migrated for the winter and we even spotted a few Ferruginous Hawks hunting. Finding species at risk still gets our hearts beating!

One last trip each to southeast and southwest Saskatchewan was an adventure as we parted ways to help search and monitor for plant species at risk! This was new for us, but we were excited to learn more about plants (of course we always had our binoculars at the ready to spot birds!). Tiffany monitored for Buffalograss, while Jenna searched for Smooth Goosefoot. We had a lot of fun walking through pastures and sand dunes as we learned the ways of the plant crew! While monitoring for Buffalograss, the most thrilling part was a pasture filled with large mats of this beautiful golden plant and seeing a Great Blue Heron fly overhead. It was really interesting to learn that Buffalograss is only found in the Estevan area and that it was downlisted this year from Threatened to Special Concern, meaning that it is considered to be less at risk now than it was before! This is a great example of how monitoring efforts are so important for species at risk.

 

Buffalo Grass patch

Jenna was excited to find the provincially rare Beaked Annual Skeletonweed while searching as well as finding almost 4000 Smooth Goosefoot plants! We learned that Smooth Goosefoot is a threatened species with a pretty specific habitat, thriving in eroded sandy soils at the edges of dunes!

Sadly, the summer is coming to a close and we would like to thank everyone and everything that made our summer so enjoyable. We both learned so much and appreciate the time and effort that landowners, members, and coworkers put into the conservation of Saskatchewan’s native environment. It wouldn’t be home without our native grasses, plants, birds, and animals. We couldn’t have had a better summer!

 

Your 2017 Habitat Stewardship Assistants,

Tiffany Blampied & Jenna Van Parys

Aug
16
Royals Are on the Move!

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Regina, SK – August 14th, 2017 – Monarch butterflies are a spectacular creature. Not only are they absolutely beautiful but they complete the longest and largest insect migration in North America! Millions of Monarchs fly thousands of kilometres from their summer habitats to their wintering grounds. Saskatchewan is at the northern extent of the Monarch’s range and Nature Saskatchewan is asking the public to keep an eye out for these royal butterflies to help monitor their population and aid in habitat conservation efforts.

Monarchs are a species at risk and numbers have dropped by as much as 90% across North America. The three lowest overwintering populations in Mexico on record occurred in the last 5 years. One of the largest threats to the butterflies is habitat loss, both in the winter and summer breeding grounds­, due to logging, destructive bark beetles, agriculture, urban development, and pesticide use affecting milkweed and wildflowers.

Monarch butterflies are identifiable by their bright orange colouring and black veins through their wings, along with white spots on their black body and trailing the outside edges of the wings. A male Monarch has two distinct dots on its hindwing, which distinguishes it from a female. “Don’t be fooled – there are a few Monarch lookalikes, the most notorious of which is the Viceroy,” explains Ashley Vass, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “The colouring and patterns are very similar to the Monarch, but a Viceroy has an extra stripe on its hindwings which intersects the other veins.”

“We haven’t had any Monarchs reported to our hotline yet this year, but I am hoping public sightings will start coming in soon”, says Vass. Nature Saskatchewan delivers a voluntary stewardship program called Stewards of Saskatchewan that works with rural landowners to conserve habitat for species at risk. They are asking anyone who sees a Monarch butterfly to report the sighting. “It is also really helpful if you are able to provide a picture with your sighting so we can verify that it isn’t one of the many lookalikes” adds Vass. If you see a Monarch butterfly in Saskatchewan, or for more information, call Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668).

 

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For further information please contact Nature Saskatchewan (English only):

           

Ashley Vass (306) 780-9832, email outreach@naturesask.ca
Habitat Stewardship Coordinator               

Rebecca Magnus (306) 780-9270, email rmagnus@naturesask.ca
Acting Species at Risk Manager

 

 

Monarch Butterfly - M. Ranalli

 

 

Monarch Caterpillar - S. Vinge-Mazer

 

 

Viceroy Butterfly - A. Sanborn

 

 

Viceroy Butterfly - J. Van Parys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jun
19
Stewards of Saskatchewan Census

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Now that the summer season is upon us, it is time once again for the annual OBO, SFS, and POS census! Please fill out the appropriate census form(s) with as much information as possible.

You will find the census here: www.naturesask.ca/census

Jun
15
Call for Resolutions 2017

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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 2017 Business Meeting, to be held on Saturday, Saturday September 30, is asked to send a written draft to the Nature Saskatchewan Office (info@naturesask.ca) no later than Friday, August 11. 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 Friday, September 8th will be considered only with the agreement of a 2/3 majority of those attending the business meeting.

Resolution Guidelines:

1. Resolutions must be in keeping with the society’s mandate, bylaws and goals.

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.

 

Jun
15
Call for Award Nominations 2017

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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.

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 at www.naturesask.ca/what-we-do/awards. The office can also send you a copy by mail, if you prefer.

Nomination Procedure

  • 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 deadline.
  • 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 Saskatchewan.
  • 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, 2017.

 

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 Blue Jay recognizing the distinction.

 

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 projects.

Eligibility

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 once.

Fellows Award

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.

Eligibility

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.

Conservation Award

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.

Eligibility

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 once.

 

CALLING ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS

Larry Morgotch Images of Nature Event: Any member may show up to 10 images that illustrate natural history interests and activities, and may speak briefly about them (no longer than two minutes, please). Images labelled with your name should be left with the projectionist before the start of the program. Digital images may be individual files, assembled as a Power Point or similar type of presentation, or an executable file if you are using a slideshow editing program. Please be sure your presentation runs on a standard PC. Individual images must be in jpeg format with the longest dimension of no more than 1500 pixels. Name your images so that they display in the correct order. Digital images should be stored in a folder indicating your name and saved on a USB flash drive. Please be sure that your presentation runs on a standard PC.

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.

 

 

Jun
13
Great Canadian Birdathon 2017

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I was looking forward all week to May 13, the day I was leading The Great Canadian Birdathon for Nature Saskatchewan. It strategically coincided with International Migratory Bird Day, and what better way to celebrate migratory birds than finding as many species as possible? The Great Canadian Birdathon is a fundraiser for Bird Studies Canada (a non-profit bird research and conservation organization), but a substantial portion of the funds raised remain local (in our case, they go towards Last Mountain Bird Observatory).

The morning of the birdathon, I woke up well before sunrise, made tolerable instant coffee, then joined up with my good friend, James Villeneuve, to try and catch the dawn chorus. The dawn chorus is when birds are most actively singing, and begins shortly before sunrise. There were still a few hours before we were planning to meet the main birding group, but who can resist the melody of the waking prairie? As I hopped into his SUV, I heard a Merlin calling – the first bird of the day! We drove to Regina’s A.E. Wilson Park and walked the trail around the park pond…and discovered it was frightfully windy. Birds tend to sing less when it’s windy, perhaps because they too know that the sound they produced does not travel as far as in calm conditions. It can be difficult to hear them in such conditions, but we managed to scrape 31 species from the park in two hours, including Barn Swallows foraging high in the sky and a pair of Spotted Sandpipers manoeuvring away from us with their quivery flight.

Next, we drove downtown to City Hall with hopes of glimpsing the Queen City’s resident pair of Peregrine Falcons, but they were nowhere to be seen. After a fruitless search, we moved on to Wascana Park, where we were meeting the rest of the group in front of the legislative building. There were 15 eager birders braving the wind and cool morning temperatures, binoculars at the ready. We almost immediately found a White-breasted Nuthatch that disappeared into a tree cavity, carrying nesting material. This observation was likely of breeding behaviour – exciting! Other than Canada Geese, Mallards, and some Tree Swallows, there were few birds on the lake so we continued further down the trail. Someone picked out snatches of an American Goldfinch singing, followed by a House Wren, but the wind was so strong it was difficult to hear anything but bits and pieces of these birds’ lovely songs.

The wind was also keeping the birds huddled deep in the trees, and it was difficult to see any birds – the group was turning into “bird-listeners” rather than bird-watchers. Our small army of binocular-laden troopers continued finding new species, despite the tough conditions. A Yellow Warbler singing, an American Wigeon tucked against the shore, a Belted Kingfisher calling. We slowly added to the species checklist. Then a highlight appeared when Phil Rose, a grassland songbird researcher at the University of Regina, found a singing Warbling Vireo tucked away in the canopy of a tree. We pointed the spotting scope at the vireo and were rewarded with excellent mid-song views.

We also heard Chipping Sparrows singing, and among them was a singing Orange-crowned Warbler! These two species can easily be confused with one another, especially if the individual warbler’s song finale lacks a pitch-change, as this one’s did. I pointed out the differences between the songs of the sparrows and the warbler to the group to help ensure everyone not only heard the songs but understood the differences as well. It was a great opportunity to have such a good comparison of the two songs. We searched for it, and once again Phil found the bird as it was singing…except it wasn’t an Orange-crowned Warbler. It was a Chipping Sparrow. Fantastic. Now my ‘good comparison’ was a good example of how much a single species song can vary, how easily the two species can be confused, and how you should never blindly trust your group’s leader.

After we finished chuckling about the sparrow/warbler mishap, we picked up a Cooper’s Hawk flying above the legislative building, a Baltimore Oriole flashing orange as it whizzed by us, and the newly-listed species-at-risk Harris’ Sparrow foraging under a shrub. The group then split up, some heading home and others continuing with me to Last Mountain Bird Observatory. As we were leaving a flock of American White Pelicans cruised into Wascana Lake, putting us one species below the half-century mark.

The high winds kept waterfowl and raptors out of view, so the drive north was largely uneventful. A quick stop at Valeport yielded little more than Yellow-headed Blackbirds and a Forster’s Tern. A flock of Pectoral Sandpipers buzzed the vehicle as we neared the observatory, showing off their abrupt breast line well. At the park, we reorganized the group, and added several more birders. A Krider’s Red-tailed Hawk, the palest subspecies, flew overhead, showing off its indistinct belly band and faintly red tail. Our group set off, and we soon stumbled into a foraging flock of several warblers. There were amazing views of a Palm Warbler singing, Yellow-rumped Warblers emerged regularly, an (actual) Orange-crowned Warbler made an appearance, and a surprise female American Redstart showed off her subtle yellow sides. Our species list grew slowly as we continued down the shrub-row, but we added Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Western Kingbird while in the line-up for some delicious burgers provided by Sask Energy.

A second birdwalk near Last Mountain Lake added a Common Tern floating along the shoreline, a Le Conte’s Sparrow buzzing from somewhere within tall, wet grass, and the distinctive sound of a Sora bursting out from the cattails. All too soon though, it was time to head back to Regina. We picked up our last species of the day as we drove down the grid road leading to the observatory, a Canvasback floating in a roadside slough. This brought us up to a grand total of 84 species – a reasonable number of species for a windy day of birding, and a fine time enjoying the migrants!

Submitted by;
Gabriel Foley

 

Photo credit: Branimir Gjetvaj

 

Jun
12
Another season is in bloom for Nature Saskatchewan’s Rare Plant Rescue program.

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Regina, SK – June 12th, 2017 – As another summer gears up to start, the Rare Plant Rescue (RPR) crew gather their gear to head out to the field once more.

 After two years of field season dormancy, RPR crews are out with the warm weather to search for and monitor the province’s rare plants. Rare Plant Rescue, a land stewardship program celebrating 15 years since its launch, engages with landowners to conserve native prairie that might support plant species at risk. Currently the program has 79 participating landowners conserving over 103,000 acres of native prairie habitat!

There are many both nationally and provincially rare plant species in Saskatchewan; RPR targets sixteen of the most imperilled species, which include nine federally and seven provincially listed plants. “Each summer we focus our efforts on searching for a select few of these sixteen. This year, Slender Mouse-ear-cress, Small-flowered Sand-verbena, Tiny Cryptantha, Smooth Goosefoot, and Buffalograss are the focus of our efforts,” Emily Putz, the program’s coordinator explains. “Small cryptic plants, like Tiny Cryptantha, are hard to find, and that particular species has not been seen for many years in the province despite search efforts; we hope to once again be able to say definitively that it is here.”

The most common threats to rare plants tend to be the loss or degradation of their habitat. Many of RPR’s target species, including many of this year’s focus species, are specialists that live in sandy soils, blowouts, or active sand dunes. While Saskatchewan has many of these features throughout its southern reaches, these are also some of the province’s most threatened landscapes, sensitive to stabilization through the encroachment of woody or invasive vegetation, industrial activities, or through the removal of natural disturbances such as grazing.

“There are a lot of benefits to having a rare plant on your land,” says Putz. "Not only do you have a unique piece of the prairie that is disappearing, but plants like Hairy Prairie-clover are great for pollinators and others, such as Buffalograss, are valuable forage species for grazing livestock.”

If you have native prairie or are interested in more information on Rare Plant Rescue’s target species please contact us or visit our website for a free pocket guide. Also, if you know someone with native prairie encourage them to look into our program and the work that we do. RPR aims to conserve rare plant habitat by building respectful relationships with landowners who have rare plants or rare plant habitat on their land. Private information is never shared without landowner permission and we always contact the landowner for permission before accessing their land. For more information about the Rare Plant Rescue program, or to report a rare plant occurrence on your property, please contact Rare Plant Rescue at 1-800-667-4668. Reporting plant species at risk occurrences helps increase knowledge about their distribution and population size, facilitating conservation efforts and helping downlist the species’ risk level in the future.

 

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For further information, please contact Nature Saskatchewan:

 

Nature Saskatchewan
206-1860 Lorne Street
Regina, SK S4P 2L7

Phone: (306) 780-9273 or 1-800-667-4668
Fax: (306) 780-9263; Email: info@naturesask.ca

 

Emily Putz: (306) 780-9417
Email: rpr@naturesask.ca
Habitat Stewardship Coordinator

 

Rebecca Magnus (306) 780-9270
Email: rmagnus@naturesask.ca
Species at Risk Manager

Jun
6
What exactly is Bird Banding?

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At Last Mountain Bird Observatory, we get a lot of visitors. Many of these visitors do not have any experience with banding birds and have a lot of questions. We get it, the bird observatory is an interesting and important place. Hopefully these FAQs will help you out and we will see you during the fall migration.

Why do you band birds?

The main purpose of banding is to monitor populations of migrating songbirds. Catching the birds allows to estimate population size, the age structure, and the sex ratio of the population. This data allows us to predict future population trends.

Does banding hurt the birds?

No. The metal bands are very small, and it’s like wearing a bracelet. The mist nets that we use to catch the birds are also designed to prevent injury to any bird we catch. As banders we also do our best to minimize stress and injury to the bird.

What kind of birds do you catch? What’s the biggest bird you caught?

We catch mostly songbirds, like warblers, robins, thrushes, and vireos. We also occasionally catch larger birds like Flickers, hawks, or owls, but with the size of mist nets we use most of the bigger birds are able to escape the nets. The biggest bird we caught since I have worked here is a Broad-winged Hawk.

Where are the birds coming from and going to?

The birds are currently migrating from the south. The exact location depends on the species. They may be coming from the southern United States, Mexico, or South or Central America. Lots of the species we catch here are migrating to the boreal forest up north to nest.

What is the average lifespan of a bird?

There is a lot of variation between songbirds. In general, warblers can live anywhere from 4-10 years, and the average is 5-7 years. Even though these birds have the potential to live longer, many die on their first migration to the wintering grounds due to inexperience.

See you in the fall!