Archives for 2015
- Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park - Management and Development Plan
Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park - Management and Development Plan
The Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport is preparing a new management and development plan for Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park (SLPP) and is seeking public feedback.
Adobe Acrobat versions of the draft plan, executive summary and appendices are available for downloading.
Feedback will be accepted until February 10, 2015.
A summary of feedback results will be included in the final plan.
Click the link for the Online Feedback Form.
or go to www.pcs.gov.sk.ca/park-management-planning for full details.
If you have any questions regarding the plan or the feedback form, please contact Dominique Clincke, Park Planner at email@example.com
- Environment Canada is looking for your help in recovery planning for the Dusky Dune Moth
Environment Canada is looking for your help in recovery planning for the Dusky Dune Moth (Copablepharon longipenne), a medium-sized moth listed as Endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act.
Environment Canada is committed to working with interested parties to help in recovering species at risk. The Species at Risk Act supports this commitment by providing opportunities to comment on proposed recovery documents. Input received from interested parties is valuable in helping Environment Canada to revise and finalize these documents.
The proposed Recovery Strategy for the Dusky Dune Moth in Canada was posted on the Species at Risk Registry on January 21, 2015 for a 60-day public comment period, which ends on March 22, 2015. We encourage you to become involved in one of the following ways:
1. Read the full Recovery Strategy and provide your comments online at:
2. Send us your comments by e-mail or mail at:
Mail: Environment Canada, 9250-49 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, T6B 1K5
3. Contact us by telephone at: 1-855-245-0331 (toll free)
To learn more about species at risk in Canada and what is being done to help them, please visit the Species at Risk Public Registry at www.sararegistry.gc.ca.
- Conservation Awareness Day
Conservation Awareness Day in Val Marie on February 26th! This free event, held at the Val Marie Hall, will be catered by Val Marie's own Harvest Moon Café, and will feature a LIVE Burrowing Owl and presentations by the South of the Divide Conservation Action Program, Simply Ag Solutions, Old Wives Watershed Association and the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Kaytlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or (306) 780-9832 by February 16th.
- PFRA Pastures Transition Study Calls for New Approach
Below are the Executive Summary, full PFRA Final Report and a News Release for your consideration.
- Last Mountain Bird Observatory BBQ
Join us in celebrating the Flight Plan Partners with the unveiling of the plaque as well as International Migratory Bird Day. Come early to participate in the Great Canadian Birdathon.
Date: Saturday May 9th
Where: Last Mountain Regional Park
Great Canadian Birdathon: 9am
BBQ sponsored by : 1pm
Plaque unveiling: 2pm
Please RSVP by May 4th to Becky: email@example.com
- Information is coming together for the 2015 Spring Meet!
The Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association (YFBTA) will be hosting the 2015 Spring Meet on behalf of Nature Saskatchewan. The meet will be held Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20. Nature Saskatchewan’s Annual General Meeting will be held Sunday morning, June 21. The meet will be centered in Saltcoats.
Plans for the Spring Meet are in place and bookings (facilities and buses) are underway. Landowner’s are being contacted and menus are being contemplated.
Registration information will be available soon. If you require assistance or you have any questions at all please feel free to call the YFBTA president Martin Philips at 1-306-783-0825.
go to www.naturesask.ca/get-involved/spring-meet for full details
- The 2nd Annual Chaplin & Reed Lake Shorebird Survey seeks volunteers!
- The 2nd Annual Chaplin & Reed Lake Shorebird Survey seeks volunteers!Over 100,000 migratory shorebirds travel through the Chaplin Lake, SK area each spring, including up to half of the global population of Sanderling and important numbers of Stilt Sandpipers and Red-necked Phalaropes, along with many breeding American Avocets and Piping Plovers. Many shorebird species are experiencing population declines, and annual migration monitoring is a critical tool that can serve as an early warning sign of change and improve management and conservation of at risk bird species. A Citizen Science project, in partnership with the University of Saskatchewan, Environment Canada, and the Chaplin Nature Center, was initiated in 2014 to systematically count shorebirds at Chaplin and Reed Lakes during spring migration. We are seeking volunteer bird watchers who are able to contribute 1 day or more of their time to come out and count shorebirds at Chaplin this spring! Surveys are conducted weekly from Thursday to Sunday from May 1 to June 14 at marked sites on Chaplin and Reed Lake. This is a fantastic opportunity for experienced birders and amateurs alike to contribute to a great cause and to experience one of the premier spots for observing shorebirds in the prairies. For more information and to sign up, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 306-629-3287, and check out our website athttp://chaplinnature.wix.com/chaplinshorebird.
- Spring is Here…. Time to NatureWatch!
By Lacey Weekes, Conservation & Education Manager, Nature Saskatchewan
There are many different ways to get outside and observe nature. The NatureWatch programs give citizens an opportunity to learn about their environment while contributing to a data set that scientists need to monitor and protect it. This data is being used to add to our knowledge of the effects of climate change and other impacts on biodiversity. People of all ages and skill sets can participate in NatureWatch. The four programs allow you to participate at your own pace and chosen locations, even in your own backyard. While the monitoring protocols are scientifically rigorous, they are quick and easy to follow, and cater to beginner and expert alike. The four NatureWatch programs are PlantWatch, FrogWatch, WormWatch and IceWatch.
PlantWatch participants observe the first bloom, mid bloom and leaf out of 18 native or 2 non-native plants in their area. Observations of a plant at the same location over many years will help us understand how climate change is affecting the blooming times of specific plants in Saskatchewan. Even one observation of one plant is a great contribution! FrogWatch participants listen for toad and frog calls during mating season in the springtime. Frogs and toads can be used as indicator species of a healthy environment, because they are vulnerable to changes in the atmosphere, the land, or the water. By participating in this program you will help increase our knowledge of frogs and toads in Canada. WormWatch participants record how many and what species of earthworms are located at their site. The number of worms in a specific volume of earth can tell us a lot about how the habitat is being managed, because earthworms are very sensitive to soil disturbance. IceWatch participants record when the freeze and thaw dates are of their local lakes or rivers. By analyzing citizen records, scientists have found that the freeze-thaw cycles of Northern water bodies are changing.
All of these monitoring programs can be found on the website www.naturewatch.ca For more information on the program or how to become a NatureWatch participant please call 306-780-9481 in Regina, or 1-800-667-4668 outside of Regina, or e-mail at email@example.com. Thanks and Happy NatureWatching!
- Hoot, Hoot, Hooray! Burrowing Owls are back!
The Burrowing Owl, one of Saskatchewan’s most wellknown species at risk, has returned after spending the winter in Mexico and the southwestern United States (e.g., California to Texas). From mid-May until mid-June, these endangered owls are in the process of finding a mate, finding a suitable burrow, and laying and incubating their eggs.
Despite their name, Burrowing Owls do not dig a burrow themselves. Instead, they use abandoned burrows that have been excavated by ground squirrels, badgers, or other burrowing mammals. Each spring, female Burrowing Owls lay 6-14 eggs. Because there is thought to be less than 800 pairs nesting throughout Canada, the success of each nest is important to the survival and recovery of this species.
To ensure the nesting success of Burrowing Owls, it is important to minimize human activity around nest sites as much as possible; however, cattle grazing are not a disturbance or a concern for these owls. Kaytlyn Burrows, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator, explains: “The shorter grass in grazed pastures helps these owls to see potential predators. Additionally, Burrowing Owls often use cattle manure in their nests to absorb excess moisture, regulate burrow temperature, attract insects, and hide their scent from predators.”
If you discover Burrowing Owls in your pasture, do not fear! There are many advantages to having these owls on your land, especially the free pest control. “Burrowing Owls eat huge numbers of small mammals such as mice and voles, and the young feed primarily on grasshoppers,” says Burrows. “One nest of Burrowing Owls can consume over 1,000 rodents in a single season!”
Burrowing Owls are identifiable by their small size (~9 inches tall) and light and dark brown mottled plumage with white spots. Burrowing owls have long featherless legs, which can give them the appearance of walking on stilts. They have a round head, with large yellow eyes, and white ‘eyebrows’. During the nesting season, male burrowing owls can often be seen standing on mounds of dirt next to their burrows, or on nearby fence posts while the female incubates the eggs.
Nature Saskatchewan’s Operation Burrowing Owl works with landowners to protect and enhance Burrowing Owl habitat, and monitors Burrowing Owl numbers at enrolled sites.
“Nature Saskatchewan is very fortunate to have so many passionate landowners participating in our programs and keeping a look out for species at risk, including the Burrowing Owl,” says Kaytlyn. Operation Burrowing Owl records sightings to help determine the population trend and distribution of the Burrowing Owl throughout Saskatchewan. “Without the voluntary efforts of landowners, land managers, and the general public, recovery of this unique prairie owl would not be possible” says Burrows. She encourages the public to “get out there this summer and explore, you never know what you will find.” If you are lucky enough to see a Burrowing Owl, Kaytlyn asks that you call Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free Hoot Line, 1-800-667-HOOT (4668). “When you report a sighting you are playing an important role in Burrowing Owl recovery, and any information given is never shared without the landowner’s permission.”
- Beach time is here - for us AND the endangered Piping Plover!
With the recent heat, it is time to head out to the beach on the weekend and bask in the sun along our beautiful Saskatchewan shorelines. Be on the lookout though, as this is also the time when the endangered Piping Plover shorebird will be on those same shorelines for a different reason...to nest!
The Piping Plover was designated as endangered in 1985, and remains listed as endangered due to low population numbers; ~764 plovers were seen in Saskatchewan during the 2011 international census, down from 1,435 in the previous 2006 census. “There are a number of factors contributing to their low numbers”, explains Rebecca Magnus, Plovers on Shore coordinator, “and one of those is human activity along In mid-May the female Piping Plover lays four, well-camouflaged eggs along many of our Saskatchewan shorelines such as Lake Diefenbaker. The eggs are speckled, and blend in with the surrounding gravel and sand. Both parents incubate the eggs over ~28 days. The peak hatching occurs in mid-June. “Since Piping Plover eggs are very difficult to see and easy to accidentally trample, we are asking the public to watch carefully as they enjoy the sunshine along our shorelines during this critical time”, says Magnus.
You may also see the Piping Plover adult first, before you see any eggs. They have distinctive black markings - a single black neck band, a black band on the forehead, and a short black-tipped orange bill. “While similar, they can easily be distinguished from Killdeer based on their smaller size, the single neck band versus the two bands found on Killdeer, and their lighter colour”, adds Magnus.
Additionally, you may hear a Piping Plover calling for your attention and when you look over you may observe it running away, faking a broken wing. The Piping Plover is one of the few shorebirds to display this action, which it uses to distract predators away from its
If you come across a nest site or think you may have seen a Piping Plover, please call our toll free Hoot Line at: 1-800-667-HOOT (4668).
- Spring Meet to be held in Saltcoats
Spring Meet to be held in Saltcoats
By Kathy Morrell
The Spring Meet of Nature Saskatchewan is an annual event, open to the public, where people gather with the aim of highlighting locations that are “naturally” Saskatchewan. This year, it will be held in Saltcoats June 19 – 21. It is hosted by the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association (YFBTA).
“There are so many reasons why people attend Spring Meet,” said Rob Wilson, member of the organizing committee and board member of Nature Saskatchewan. “First and foremost, there is the excitement of sharing information with people interested in the natural world.”
“Often, that interest begins with birding,” said Jordan, Ignatiuk, Executive Director of Nature Sask.
In fact, birders are a thriving species the world over and their numbers are ever increasing. People like an outdoor walk to find new species and the challenge of identifying them but more than that, they enjoy the song, colour and diversity of the birds.
Nothing generates more enthusiasm among birders than the discovery of a bird new to Saskatchewan. Less than a month ago, Nick Selinger, a twelve-year-old birder from Regina, spotted a Eurasian Tree Sparrow, a species seldom seen in Canada and never before in our province. The sighting prompted much discussion among the birding community and even a visit from Trevor Herriot, well-known naturalist and author.
“Recently, an interest in birding has grown to include an interest in Saskatchewan plants, “ Ignatiuk continued. “Perhaps, that newer focus is an off-shoot from gardening that is so popular in the province. Perhaps, it’s an expansion from an interest in native grasses.”
In the 1970s, Nature Saskatchewan was instrumental in the formation of the Grasslands National Park. It’s possible that an interest in the grasslands became embedded in the naturalist psyche at that time and from there, spread to the hugely interesting and diverse world of flowering plants.
Joan Wilson of Saltcoats said she developed her interest in plants largely because of the influence of Jim and Shirley Jowsey.
“I discovered Wildflowers across the Prairie when a new edition of the Jowsey book was released in 1999,” Wilson said. “I’d always been interested in wild flowers and the book gave me the incentive to search out native plants, to learn more about them.” Since that time, she has developed a broad knowledge about the plants and grasses of the prairies. She does presentations on prairie flora to various groups, sharing her enthusiasm, learning with others.
“In addition,” Wilson continued, “many people in Saskatchewan have been introduced to native plants thanks to the work of Anna Leighton.”
Rob Wilson called Prairie Phoenix, a publication Leighton co-authored with Bonnie Lawrence, the definitive book about the western red lily. It is this kind of exciting research that fuels the enthusiasm for Saskatchewan plants.
And yes, Spring Meet is all about an interest in birds and plants, but more than that, it is about enthusiasm for learning.
“An individual may not have a vast knowledge about the birds or about plants for that matter,” Ignatiuk said, “but Spring Meet gives people a chance to benefit from the knowledge of others and that knowledge can be significant.”
“Participants in Spring Meet are always willing to talk, to share,” Rob Wilson explained. “The shared learning makes for a good time. Visiting is an important part of the event, too.” Spring Meet is a social event from Friday registration to the early morning bird walk Sunday morning. And early it is – birders will tell you that to see the birds you have to be up with the birds.
So what is on the agenda for the weekend? First there is registration Friday evening and then Sarah Wood’s presentation about bees and neonicotonoids, a pesticide used to coat canola seed. This treated seed, widely used in this area, is controversial. There is fear that it is having an effect on the declining populations of pollinators including the honey bee. The talk promises to be of interest to everyone, given the fact that one-third of our food is the result of pollination. Without pollination, supermarket shelves would be bare of blueberries, apples, raspberries, cranberries, tomatoes, peppers, kiwis, pumpkins, strawberries and squashes. In addition, bees contribute substantially to Canada's agricultural sector as producers of honey
During the day on Saturday, the organizing committee has organized two tours. One group of participants will head to Ebenezer and area around Good Spirit Lake; the second to a region south of Saltcoats and to Cutarm Creek. These tours are considered moderate (though not easy) in terms of activity level. For more information, consult the YFBTA website www.yfbta.com/
Saturday night is the banquet. The public may purchase tickets to this event on a stand-alone basis. Retired a year ago from the History Department at the University of Saskatchewan, guest speaker Bill Waiser continues his work as researcher, historian and speaker. His presentation will focus on expectations in 1905 when Saskatchewan entered Confederation in comparison to the reality of the province today. Known for his informative and entertaining presentations, Waiser seeks to provide a better understanding and appreciation of Canadian History.
After the bird walk Sunday morning, Nature Saskatchewan will hold its Annual General Meeting, an important part of the agenda as the organization continues its work as an advocate for nature.
Spring Meet is a weekend that includes smiles, laughter and learning in a natural setting. If you’re interested in attending, check out the YFBTA website at www.yfbta.com
- The Butcherbird is back - be on the lookout!
Be on the lookout for Loggerhead Shrikes (a.k.a. Butcherbirds) perching on fence posts, utility wires, and prominent dead branches in shelterbelts and shrub patches, particularly near farmsteads. The Loggerhead Shrike, a threatened species, is a migratory songbird that returns to the Saskatchewan prairies to breed in the spring after wintering in southern Texas and Mexico.
In order to feed their hungry families, shrikes prey on insects and rodents such as grasshoppers, mice, and voles. All of which are considered agricultural pests by landowners, making the shrike a great form of natural pest control. “The Loggerhead Shrike earned its reputation as a Butcherbird from its habit of hanging its prey on the barbs of fences and thorny shrubs, as butchers would hang their meat” explains Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator. “Impaling their prey compensates for shrikes’ lack of talons (claws), which would allow them to hold their prey while eating, as is done by birds of prey such as hawks”.
The Loggerhead Shrike is most readily recognized by its black eye “mask” and distinctive high-pitched shriek given as an alarm call. It is slightly smaller than a robin and sports a black hooked beak, gray back, white under parts, and black wings. White patches on the wings and tail make the Loggerhead Shrike easy to identify when flying.
Loggerhead Shrikes can be found nesting in thorny shrubs such as hawthorn or buffaloberry, shelterbelts, occupied or abandoned farmsteads, golf courses, and Nature Saskatchewan is asking anyone who sees a Loggerhead Shrike, or insects, rodents, frogs, or snakes impaled on thorny shrubs or barbed wire fence, to please call our toll-free number at 1-800-667-4668. By reporting a sighting to Nature Saskatchewan’s Shrubs for Shrikes program you are helping to monitor the shrike population, and providing valuable information for the conservation of this unique songbird. Any information provided is not shared without permission.
- 2015 Census Time is Here
Now that the summer season is upon us, it is time once again for the annual OBO, SFS, and POS census! Please follow the link (www.naturesask.ca/census) and fill out the appropriate census form(s) with as much information as possible.
If you have any questions or need help filling out your form(s), please call 1-800-667-4668.
- Have a species at risk sighting – S.O.S. is here to help!
Do you have a rare plant, bird, or mammal on your land? Are you not sure what to do about it? By now many rare species have returned to our Saskatchewan prairies to breed and raise their young. Not to worry, the Stewards of Saskatchewan (SOS) program is here to help!
If there are any species at risk on your land, the SOS staff would like to congratulate you on a job already well done! “Having a rare species on your land is a good thing, it means that you are doing something right,” explains Rebecca Magnus, habitat stewardship coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “It shows your sound management of our grasslands and prairie habitat. In addition, rare species may be helping with pest management without you even knowing it. For example, a single Ferruginous Hawk nest will consume up to 500 ground squirrels in one nesting season!”
Nature Saskatchewan recognizes that the health of the prairie ecosystem is a shared responsibility, dependent on the good stewardship of landowners and managers across Saskatchewan. “The SOS program works with landowners and land managers to conserve habitat for all species at risk, such as Sprague’s Pipits, Bobolinks, Ferruginous Hawks, Barn Swallows, Common Nighthawks, Short-eared Owls, Northern Leopard Frogs, Tiger Salamanders, and Monarchs… just to name a few!” states Magnus.
Initiated in 2010, SOS focuses on conserving habitat for all prairie species at risk in Saskatchewan. Magnus adds “landowners with habitat supporting these species and other species at risk are invited to sign a voluntary stewardship agreement to acknowledge and commit to the conservation of these areas, and to participate in the SOS program”.
In sharing the responsibility for prairie habitat conservation, SOS raises awareness and educates-increasing knowledge of prairie conservation topics and species at risk through educational materials including fact sheets, booklets, and workshops; offers habitat enhancement opportunities-offering funding for projects such as seeding, fencing, or alternative water developments to improve habitat for species such as Sprague’s Pipits; and promotes conservation easements-working together with partner agencies, offering an opportunity to formally protect important habitat and leave a legacy.
For a complete list of rare species in Saskatchewan or for more information about the SOS program, please contact Rebecca Magnus toll free at 1-800-667-4668 (SK and AB only), (306)780-9832, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Young Butcher Birds, or Loggerhead Shrikes, can be observed practising their IMPALING skills NOW!
“Young Loggerhead Shrikes - threatened, prairie songbirds - are out near their nests, learning to perfect their hunting and impaling skills,” says Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “July is probably the most fascinating time to observe shrikes as the young may be in groups of 4 to 7, clumsily hunting and impaling prey, not going too far from their nests”.
Butchers hang their meat to dry, and so too does the Loggerhead Shrike. Magnus explains, “instead of storing their meat in a meat locker as a butcher would, these birds impale and hang their prey on barbed wire fences, thorny shrubs, and trees, affording them the nickname of ‘butcher bird’”. The shrike’s prey items include beetles, grasshoppers, garter snakes, mice, voles, frogs, and even other smaller songbirds. Similar to birds of prey these birds have hooked beaks; however, unlike most birds of prey, shrikes lack strong talons, and instead must impale a prey item in order to secure it during feeding.
The Loggerhead Shrike is slightly smaller than the American Robin. Shrikes have a black mask that extends from the black bill past the eyes. These birds earn the “Loggerhead” part of their name because they have relatively large heads, and the “Shrike” part of their name because they have a high pitched shriek for an alarm call. The Loggerhead Shrike has a grey back with white underparts, and black wings and a black tail with characteristic white stripes on the wings and the edges of the tail. These traits are easily seen when shrikes are in flight.
To learn more about the Loggerhead Shrike, or if you have Loggerhead Shrikes and would be interested in an on-site visit from the Shrubs for Shrikes Coordinator, please contact Nature Saskatchewan at 1-800-667-4668. Nature Saskatchewan is asking anyone who sees a Loggerhead Shrike to please report the sighting. By reporting Loggerhead Shrike locations, you are providing valuable information used to assess population size and distribution in order to help direct the conservation efforts for this threatened bird. Information will not be shared without a landowner’s permission.
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For further information please contact Nature Saskatchewan:
Melissa Ranalli (306) 780-9270, email email@example.com
Species at Risk Manager
Jordan Ignatiuk (306) 780-9293, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Piping Plovers Get Ready for Their Winter Vacation
Piping Plovers Get Ready for Their Winter Vacation
It may still feel like summer to you and I, but Piping Plovers have already begun to prepare for the winter. “Piping Plovers are small migratory shorebirds that nest in Saskatchewan during the summer months, and spend the winter months on the coastal beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Islands such as Cuba,” says Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “Piping Plovers will begin migrating in early August after the young have spent the month of July practicing their flying skills, and growing quickly in preparation for migration,” says Magnus.
The Piping Plover is an endangered species, which means that this species could become extirpated from Canada in the future. A total of 775 individual Piping Plovers were counted in Saskatchewan during the 2011 International Piping Plover Breeding Census. Unfortunately, this number is lower than the 1,435 plovers counted in Saskatchewan during the 2006 census.
Piping Plovers face numerous threats, including fluctuating water levels, predation, inclement weather, and livestock that can cause pugging and hummocking on shorelines (which can cause chicks to become trapped) and can trample nests.
Piping Plovers, not to be confused with Killdeer, have a single black neckband, whereas Killdeer have two black neckbands. Piping Plovers are also smaller than Killdeer, and have orange legs rather than the typically dark yellow legs common to Killdeer. Plovers have a lighter grey back than the Killdeer’s brown back, and the Piping Plover’s breast is white. Another distinguishing feature of the Piping Plover is its orange bill that is black tipped.
Nature Saskatchewan has a voluntary land stewardship program for landowners with Piping Plovers on their land. This program, Plovers on Shore, involves a voluntary “handshake” agreement where the landowner agrees to conserve shoreline habitat for these endangered birds. To learn more about the Piping Plover, or if you have Piping Plovers on your shoreline and would be interested in a face-to-face visit and discussion with the Plovers on Shore Coordinator, please contact Nature Saskatchewan at 1-800-667-4668 or (306) 780-9832.
For further information please contact Nature Saskatchewan:
Rebecca Magnus (306) 780-9832, email email@example.com
Habitat Stewardship Coordinator
Jordan Ignatiuk (306) 780-9293, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- What’s the rush? Slow down and save an owl!
Late July marks the end of a busy season for the Burrowing Owl. Juvenile owls are now starting to leave the nest and forage for themselves after weeks of being fed by their parents. For people travelling in rural Saskatchewan this is an especially good time to spot Burrowing Owls! It is also a dangerous time for inexperienced Burrowing Owls as the young tend to forage in roadside ditches, looking for small invertebrates and rodents. “At dusk the road surface tends to be warmer than surrounding grasslands, attracting many small insects and rodents,” explains Kaytlyn Burrows, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator, “As a result young owls are also attracted to the road and ditch when they begin searching for prey.”
Every year, young Burrowing Owls are killed by motorists while they forage along the road. The Burrowing Owl population has been steadily declining, making the survival of each juvenile owl critical for the long term growth of the population. “Motorists can reduce the risk of owl-vehicle collisions by slowing down near known or potential nest sites and being on the lookout for low flying owls”, says Burrows. Slowing down will also increase your chances of spotting this endangered bird!
Burrowing Owls are about 9 inches tall, with mottled brown and white feathers, bushy white ‘eyebrows’, and long featherless legs. They are often found nesting in native prairie that has been well grazed, as the short grass allows them to spot predators. Burrowing Owls nest in burrows excavated by badgers, ground squirrels, or other burrowing mammals, and may be seen standing on their burrow, sitting on nearby fence posts, or foraging in the ditches.
Since 1987 Nature Saskatchewan’s Operation Burrowing Owl has worked with landowners to protect and enhance Burrowing Owl habitat. In addition, the program relies on the participation of landowners to help monitor the Burrowing Owl population. Currently, there are nearly 400 landowners across Saskatchewan participating in Operation Burrowing Owl. If you spot a Burrowing Owl, please let us know by calling Operation Burrowing Owl at our toll-free Hoot Line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668). Landowner information is never shared without permission.
- SaskTel Max Magazine features Nature Saskatchewan
SaskTel Max Magazine (on channel 48 for SaskTel subscribers) has done two episodes featuring Nature Saskatchewan and the Last Mountain Bird Observatory. Head over to YouTube and check them out!
The Stewards of Saskatchewan programs were featured in the episode titled "Nature". It is a must watch: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EHewACjk8s
The Last Mountain Bird Observatory, Nature Regina and the Saskatoon Nature Society were featured in an episode titled "birds". Find it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C-W7Gjv2Dc
If you have SaskTel and would like to watch at home go to channel 48 and select Sasktel Max Magazine: Nature or SaskTel Max Magazine: Birds.
- Public consultation for ATV use at Moose Mountain Provincial Park
Recreational ATV Trails Experience Consultation
MMM Group has been engaged by Saskatchewan Parks to understand the public opinion regarding the recreational ATV trails in Moose Mountain Provincial Park.
For your chance to be heard please attend one of our open houses or participate in the online survey.
PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE EVENTS
OCTOBER 20th, 2015 | Moose Mountain Provincial Park
Venue: Moose Mountain Provincial Park Recreation Hall (off main beach parking lot, near the mini golf)
Time: 4:30pm - 7:30pm
OCTOBER 21st, 2015 | Regina
Venue: Travelodge South - Burlington / Berkeley Room (4177 Albert Street South)
Time: 4:30pm - 7:30pm
Please visit the Survey Monkey link to provide input about the recreational ATV trails in Moose Mountain Provincial Park. For more information visit the Facebook page.
- Check out the Together We Thrive video featuring our Stewards of Saskatchewan Coordinators
Recently the Stewards of Saskatchewan coordinators got together with Cargill to receive the generous award from the Together We Thrive contest. These funds will go a long way to help the Stewards of Saskatchewan programs and all of the important work they do. THANKS CARGILL! You can watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/140681516
- 2015 Madge Lake Loon Survey
The Yellowhead Flyway Birding trail Association Loon Initiatives Committee (YFBTA LIC), conducted its annual loon survey at Madge Lake over the spring and summer months. We also worked on a number of other initiatives involving education and information about the Common Loon with the Duck Mountain Provincial Park Interpreters. Follow this link to read the full 2015 Madge Lake Loon Survey
- 11th Prairie Conservation Endangered Species Committee Awards
Two awards will be given out at the 2015 PCESC. The Prairie Conservation Award and the Young Professional Stewardship Grant. Information can be found on the below posters or by visiting www.pcesc.ca/awards/awards.aspx.
Nominations are due on November 30th and should be submitted to email@example.com
- Nature Groups Seek Federal Pause on Grassland Transfers
For Immediate Release
Nature Groups Seek Federal Pause on Grassland Transfers
OTTAWA, REGINA (October 29, 2015) — The new federal government should announce an immediate pause in transfers of grasslands formerly managed by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) until a plan is in place to protect their ecological values say Nature Canada, Nature Saskatchewan and Alberta Wilderness Association.
“We simply cannot afford to lose more grasslands -- the most imperilled ecosystem in Canada” says Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada’s Director of Conservation. “Saskatchewan grasslands are critical habitat for threatened species such as Greater Sage Grouse, Burrowing Owl, Swift Fox and Ferruginous Hawk as well as providing a carbon sink for greenhouse gas emissions.
Transfers of management responsibility of PFRA community pastures to the Saskatchewan government should be halted until Canada and Saskatchewan agree on a legally binding plan to protect the ecological values of these grasslands”.
“Given its election commitment to National Wildlife Areas, the new government should move forward quickly on public consultations towards establishing a National Wildlife Area for the 28,000 hectare Govenlock community pasture to protect wildlife and the carbon sink while providing for ongoing cattle ranching” says Jordan Ignatiuk, Nature Saskatchewan’s executive director. “Financial arrangements need to be put in place to ensure protection of species at risk and the carbon sink in those PFRA grasslands already transferred to the province. Manitoba has moved in this direction on its 24 PFRA community pastures, now it is time for Saskatchewan and Canada to plan how to protect the ecological values of the 62 PFRA community pastures covering 720,000 hectares in our province”.
“A federal pause on transfers of PFRA community pastures should be part of a larger plan to conserve native grasslands across the prairies” says Cliff Wallis of Alberta Wilderness Association. “Canada should support a plan for nature conservation on the community pastures that haven’t yet been transferred, as well as conservation actions by ranchers and nature groups on private lands. These plans should be developed in full consultation with all those concerned about these grasslands and recognize current positive stewardship practices”.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
- Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada
Cell: 613 724-1908
- Jordan Ignatiuk, Nature Saskatchewan
Cell: 306 551-0152
- Cliff Wallis, Alberta Wilderness Association
Cell: 403 607-1970
- Stephen Hazell, Nature Canada
- Christmas Bird Counts
Started in 1900, the Christmas Bird Count is North America's longest-running Citizen Science project. Counts happen in over 2000 localities throughout the Western Hemisphere. Each Christmas Bird Count is conducted on a single day between December 14 and January 5.
There are many Christmas Bird Counts planned thoughout Saskatchewan. Many can be found on the events calendar or if you would like more information please go to www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/cbc/index.jsp?targetpg=index.
Nature Saskatchewan will also be holding our first Christmas Bird Count for Kids. For information on this event feel free to contact Lacey Weekes at firstname.lastname@example.org
- 2016 Piping Plover Census - Call for Volunteers!
Exact dates: TBD (within the first two weeks of June 2016)
The International Piping Plover Census is the longest running shorebird census in North America to cover nearly the entire breeding range of a single species. This coming summer will mark the 6th such census, and Nature Saskatchewan will once again be coordinating the Saskatchewan portion. This census will be especially important as we hope to see a recovery of Piping Plover numbers from the 2011 census which had the fewest birds observed since 1991.
We are looking for volunteers who have time to check for Piping Plovers on gravelly beaches, lake shorelines, or alkali wetlands at one or more locations in Saskatchewan. Surveyors will receive information on the Piping Plover, census instructions, a detailed map of the search basin(s) and a census form(s) to fill out. Expenses incurred for food, accommodation and/or gas will be offset by honoraria, pending funding. Piping Plover hats will also be provided to surveyors. This is a great opportunity to contribute to the ongoing conservation of Piping Plovers while exploring a unique portion of Saskatchewan’s great landscape. Your assistance is always greatly appreciated, and is needed in 2016 more than ever. Please consider being a part of this important project.
For more information about this census, or if you would like to participate, contact Alan Smith the Saskatchewan Coordinator at (306) 868-4554, or by email at email@example.com.
- Join the Christmas Bird Count for Kids