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May
13
Notice of the Annual General Meeting

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Nature Saskatchewan will be holding the Annual General Meeting virtually again this year due to the ongoing pandemic. We invite you to join us on June 21, 2021 at 7pm via Zoom. 

If you are interested in attending, please register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_9a92l22uQAmET47uZ1uXFQ. All registrants will be emailed the necessary documents prior to the meeting.

If you would like to receive the meeting documents but do not wish to attend the meeting, please feel free to contact ebouvier@naturesask.ca and they will be sent out to you when they become available.

Apr
8
ANNOUNCING Nature Saskatchewan’s Latest Publication

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AVAILABLE NOW!

 

Offering a wealth of information and illustrated with beautiful photographs taken by backyard bird enthusiasts from across the Prairies, this new 112-page publication is the ideal resource for anyone, veteran or novice, who longs to attract and enjoy birds at home year-round. In addition to advice on how to attract birds with food, shelter and water, and how to handle challenges should they arise, it includes detailed accounts of the species most likely to visit Saskatchewan yards and their feeding preferences. Sidebars with fascinating tidbits and trivia add interest and insight into the remarkable lives of wild birds. Whether you live in town or country, this beautiful new book will help you bring the colour and music of birds into your yard.

For more information and for a peek inside click here.

 


 

You can purchase Backyard Birdfeeding: A Saskatchewan Guide from a number of retail locations across Saskatchewan in addition to directly purchasing from Nature Saskatchewan. Check back often for a current list of retailers:

Saskatoon

- McNally Robinson Booksellers
- Wild Birds Unlimited
- Turning the Tide Books
- Early’s Farm and Garden

Moose Jaw

- DDK Pets

Esterhazy

- Pharmasave

Regina

- Penny University Bookstore

Last Mountain Regional Park office

 

 

Feb
10
Nature Trivia Night

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Nature Saskatchewan is excited to be partnering once again with Mystery Mansion Regina for an online trivia night on March 4 at 7pm. We have all new questions and category themes. Rounds will focus on Species at Risk, Climate Change and Canadian Nature Facts, with some fun music and picture trivia thrown in. Registration is FREE but space is limited to 20 teams. Register your team today by going to: https://forms.gle/ZJhD4vSjbXSAX8Ej7

Feb
8
Register for our upcoming virtual events! Door Prizes at each event!

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All About Burrowing Owls
February 25, 2021 (7pm)
 

Featuring presentations by:

  • Nature Saskatchewan
  • Calgary Zoo
  • Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC
  •  Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre - featuring a live Burrowing Owl!
  • Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program - featuring a live Burrowing Owl!

    Click here to register

 


 

Managing for Bird Species at Risk & Incentives Guide
March 11, 2021 7pm

 

Featuring presentations from:

  • Prairie Conservation Action Plan
  • Nature Saskatchewan
  • Birds Canada
  • Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre - featuring a live Burrowing Owl!

    Click here to register

 


 

Multi-Species Management & Conservation Awareness Workshop
March 18, 2021 7pm
 

Featuring presentations from:

  • Prairie Conservation Action Plan
  • Nature Saskatchewan
  • Canadian Forage and Grassland Association

    Click here to register

 

Feb
1
Nature Saskatchewan has summer job opportunities available

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Nature Saskatchewan has the following job opportunities. All positions are based in Regina, involve extensive travel in southern Saskatchewan, and start in early May, 2021. General qualifications include a strong interest in conservation and environmental education, and studies in the fields of biology, ecology, geography, agriculture, or other related studies. Applicants should have strong communication, computer, and organizational skills; be self-motivated with the ability to work independently as well as part of a team; hold a valid driver’s license (vehicle will be provided); and be willing to travel and work flexible hours, including outdoors. Applicants should also be able to hike to field sites carrying field equipment. First Aid and CPR certification is an asset.

Applications for all postings must be sent via email and will be accepted until 11:59 pm on March 1st, 2021. We thank all applicants for their interest, however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Due to COVID-19, the following positions will follow all Saskatchewan Public Health Authority guidelines, thus, schedules and protocols will be subject to change on short notice throughout the position terms.

 


 

  1. Habitat Stewardship Summer Assistant

 

Positions: Two full-time summer positions for 16-18 weeks @ $18/hour. Summer assistants will assist in the delivery of our Operation Burrowing Owl, Shrubs for Shrikes, Plovers on Shore and Stewards of Saskatchewan banner programs.  These programs promote conservation of habitat for prairie species at risk.

 

Tasks and responsibilities: Assist program coordinators with program delivery; prepare communications and educational materials for distribution; assist in searches, monitoring and other conservation activities; contact and communicate with rural landowners regarding target species; educate targeted public audiences about species at risk on the prairies; and help deliver workshops and presentations to agricultural producers and the public (virtual and/or in-person).

 

Specific requirements and qualifications: Willingness to travel extensively, to camp, work evenings and weekends, and to adapt to schedule and protocol changes on short notice. Should also possess basic wildlife and plant identification skills, computer skills, communication skills, and familiarity with GPS, maps and rural Saskatchewan are assets.

 

Please email a cover letter and resume in one PDF file to Rebecca Magnus at outreach@naturesask.ca by  11:59 pm, March 1st, 2021. Include in the subject line “Summer Assistant Application” followed by your name.

 


 

  1. Rare Plant Rescue Habitat Stewardship Summer Assistant

 

Position: One full-time summer position for 16-18 weeks @ $18/hour. The summer assistant will assist in the delivery of our Rare Plant Rescue program.  This program promotes conservation of prairie plant species at risk.

 

Tasks and responsibilities: Assist program coordinators with program delivery; prepare communications and educational materials for distribution; assist in searches, monitoring and other conservation activities; contact and communicate with rural landowners regarding target species; educate targeted public audiences about species at risk on the prairies; and help deliver workshops and presentations to agricultural producers and the public (virtual and/or in-person).

 

Specific requirements and qualifications: Basic plant identification skills (training in rare plant identification will be provided); willing to work flexible hours outdoors including in inclement conditions; willing to adapt to changing schedules due to unexpected circumstances or adjustments based on field conditions; willing to travel extensively; to camp; work evenings and weekends; ability to hike to field sites carrying equipment; strong organizational skills; familiarity with GPS and maps is an asset.

 

Please email a cover letter and resume in one PDF file to Ashley Vass at rpr@naturesask.ca by 11:59 pm March 1st, 2021. Include in the subject line “Application: RPR Summer Assistant” followed by your name.

 


 

  1.  Rare Plant Rescue Search and Monitoring Staff

 

Position(s): Two full-time summer staff for 16-18 weeks @ $20/hr.  Search and monitoring staff will assist in the delivery of our Rare Plant Rescue program, which promotes the conservation of prairie plant species at risk. The staff will work together under the supervision and mentorship of the project leader. 

 

Tasks and responsibilities: Plan and conduct occupancy surveys and monitoring of prairie plant species at risk; contact and communicate with landowners regarding target species.

 

Specific requirements and  qualifications: Basic plant identification skills (training in rare plant identification will be provided); willing to work flexible hours outdoors including in inclement conditions; willing to adapt to changing schedules due to unexpected circumstances or adjustments based on field conditions; willing to travel extensively; to camp; work evenings and weekends; ability to hike to field sites carrying equipment; strong organizational skills; familiarity with GPS and maps is an asset.

 

Please email a resume and cover letter in one PDF file to Ashley Vass at rpr@naturesask.ca by 11:59 pm March 1st, 2021. Include in the subject line “Application: Rare Plant Search and Monitoring Staff” followed by your name.

 


 

For all positions, preference will be given to Canadian students or recent graduates whose studies include the fields of biology, ecology, geography, agriculture, or other related studies. All else being equal, preference will be given to those who self-identify in their cover letter as being part of an underrepresented group or as having additional barriers in the labour market, such as visible minorities, LGBTQ2 individuals, Indigenous individuals, women in STEM, or persons with disabilities.

Nov
10
2020 Annual Appeal

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Dear friend and supporter of Nature Saskatchewan,


It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed much of our day to day lives and has increased anxiety and worry around the globe. However, throughout this pandemic one thing has remained a constant in our lives, the need for nature. Being in nature provides us with a relief from anxiety and supports mental health, it offers us a place to play and exercise safely, it boosts our immune system and allows our children the space they need to enjoy and explore.


In 2020, Nature Saskatchewan has adapted to a new way of doing things. Much of our programming has been held online, such as our annual celebration of International Migratory Bird Day or bringing the Last Mountain Bird Observatory to the public through videos posted toour YouTube channel. Through partnerships with like-minded local groups like SaskOutdoors, we have had success sharing the joy of nature safely with home-school children through the Get Outside Kids Club. While the delivery may be different the message remains loud and clear, nature needs us but more importantly humanity needs nature.


For years, Nature Saskatchewan’s conservation efforts have focused on the importance of protecting the natural world so Saskatchewan’s wildlife and precious ecosystems have a fighting chance at survival. An ecosystem can only be healthy when the web of species is connected and playing their part. While we look for different ways to connect to each other, it is also important for our health, both physical and mental, to connect to nature.


Nature Saskatchewan remains a strong voice for nature and conservation in Saskatchewan. In February, we once again attended Nature on the Hill in Ottawa along with 49 other organizations from across Canada. Together, over 60 MP’s from all parties were asked to support the commitments for expanding protected areas and finding solutions to the issues that threaten our habitats and wildlife. We are proud to have a voice in this large Nature Network and to be one of the groups speaking for Saskatchewan.


Early this fall, we finally heard the long awaited announcement that the transfer of three former PFRA pastures in southwest Saskatchewan (Govenlock, Nashlyn and Battle Creek) from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to Environment and Climate Change Canada had been completed. This occurred with a corresponding swap of any provincial lands on these pastures with federal lands on the other former PFRA pastures. A designation to a National Wildlife Area is expected within a few years.


In 2020 we received a bequest of land near Leader, adding to our nature sanctuaries. A local sanctuary steward has been found to keep an eye on the property for us and a management plan to protect this piece of land into the future will be developed next year.


Please take the time to renew your membership for 2020 if you have not already done so. Nature Saskatchewan memberships now run on the calendar year and you have the option of receiving a print or electronic copy of the Blue Jay. If you are a print subscriber, you will automatically be given access to the online version as well. Retaining our existing members and attracting new members is extremely important. We ask that you help us spread the word and consider giving a Nature Saskatchewan membership as a gift to someone you care about, following us on our social media channels and by signing up to receive our electronic newsletter.


We thank you for your continued support and ask that you consider helping in the form of a donation. Donations can be directed to any program you choose, or can be split amongst the various programs that are meaningful to you. A donation to Nature Saskatchewan as a whole will allow funds to be used where they are the most needed, or simply purchasing a membership for yourself or a loved one will help us to remain strong and keep our voice heard. You may prefer to give a little each month by joining our Nature Savings Plan. Contributors to the Nature Savings Plan have the option of contributing directly through their bank or via a monthly credit card payment. Each and every way you choose to help will have a positive effect on the work we do. Thank you for being a part of a team working to conserve Saskatchewan’s natural landscapes and all that call it home.


Please take a moment now to decide how you will help.

 

Yours in conservation,

Ed Rodger
President, Nature Saskatchewan

Oct
26
Canadian Bat Box Project

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By: Karen Vanderwolf

If you have a bat box I want to know about it!

Bats in Canada face multiple threats from habitat loss and disease. As towns and cities expand, the large old trees that bats call home are being cleared, and bats are losing their roosts. Bats need a warm and secure place to roost during the day in the summer. A bat box is a simple and effective way to provide additional roosting habitat for bats, but little is known about bat box use in Canada. This especially important as three bat species in Canada are listed as endangered: little brown bats, northern long-eared bats, and tricolored bats. Bats now face additional persecution due to worries about COVID-19, but bats in North America do not have the virus that causes COVID-19 https://cwf-fcf.org/en/about-cwf/faq/faqs/should-i-be-worried-bats.html?src=blog

 

Which bat species use bat boxes?

Of the 18 bat species that are regularly found in Canada, 13 have been documented using bat boxes, although these data come from studies farther south in the United States. Current recommendations on bat box design are based on research in the United States, especially Texas, and in Europe. Since the box design bats prefer varies by region and species, more information on bat boxes in Canada is urgently needed. There is very little previous research about which bat species prefer which bat box designs in Canada. Little brown bats are known to use bat boxes throughout Canada, big brown bats use boxes in some parts of Canada, and Yuma bats use boxes in British Columbia.

 

How you can help!

Our research seeks to determine which bat species use bat boxes across Canada, what box designs are preferred by bats, and which temperatures bats prefer for roosting in our northern climate. To accomplish this, we need to know where bat boxes are located in Canada, the physical characteristics of the boxes, and whether they are being used by bats! Participants will be sent temperature loggers to install in their box and supplies to collect guano (bat poop), as bat species can be identified from guano.

If you have a bat box and would like to participate in this study, please fill out this online multiple-choice survey with questions about your bat box.

This project is in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Canadian Wildlife Federation https://wcsbats.ca/Our-work-to-save-bats/Batbox-Project/BatBox-Project-Canada-wide

More information about which box designs bats use in Canada will help bat conservation by providing recommendations for improving bat box design and placement in our northern climate.

 

Why install a bat box?

Installing a bat box gives bats an alternative to roosting in your house, and since all bats in Canada eat only insects, you may even notice a decrease in the insect population around your house! Bats eat a variety of insects, including agricultural and forestry pests. You can watch bats swooping around your backyard at dusk catching insets in midair.

 

How do I tell if bats are using my box?

You can tell whether your box is being used by bats by searching for guano underneath your box and watching your box at sunset in June to count bats as they emerge for an evening of eating insects. You can watch an example of bats flying out of bat boxes in Prince Edward Island here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqZbyjhC0XI&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1qGaCvi6ucbCdgaJkTES2O517H1uzhTbGeqAN6Srf_oLGrYmPH4TPj5L0 You can also shine a light up into the box during the day to see if there are bats inside from May to October in Canada. The boxes will be too cold for bats during the winter.

 

How do I get bats to use my box?

Not all bat boxes will be occupied in the first year after installation. Occupancy depends on many factors, ranging from the period in which it was installed to the fact that bats are very selective and might need a little time to familiarize themselves with your bat box. There are no lures or attractants, such as guano, that can attract bats to a bat box, although larger bat boxes with multiple chambers more commonly attract bats than smaller boxes.

Bat boxes are most successful when attached to houses or poles as opposed to trees. Trees shade the box and can block access to the box entrance. If bats are not using your box after two years, try moving the bat box to a new location.

Like tree hollows, bat boxes need to have temperatures that bats like. Bats like hot temperatures, but even in Canada some bat boxes get too hot during the summer, which can increase bat mortality. Temperatures of over 40˚C in bat boxes is too hot, and temperatures in some bat boxes in Canada have been recorded over 50˚C!

Our research group measures the temperature inside bat boxes using temperature loggers that can take a reading every hour over the whole summer. One way to ensure that bats can choose their preferred roosting temperature is to install multiple bat boxes as they will vary in temperature depending on how much direct sunlight they receive.

 

This bat box on the side of a house in New Brunswick houses little brown bats and their pups during the summer. Photo by Karen Vanderwolf

 

 

Little brown bats in a bat box in the Maritimes. Photo by Jordi Segers.

 

Sep
24
Encouraging Young Conservationists

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Hello everyone, my name is Emily Dornstauder. Ever since I was a little, the banding station has been a place close to my heart. For me, it is not just releasing, identifying, extracting, and banding, it is so much more. It’s the staff and volunteers. It’s the random things that are said on the banding trail. It’s my summer home; my happy place. I started attending LMBO with my grandparents when we first got our cottage in 2006. I would beg my grandparents and parents to take my sister and I every chance we could so we could “go let go the birdies.” When I was 7 years old one of the banders, Ross Dickson, told me that when I was 14 I could start volunteering and even banding/extracting the birds. And sure enough in the summer of 2017, I had extracted my first bird and started scribing for Jordan and Ryan. I had become a volunteer. I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was. Saying I was over the moon, would have been an understatement!  In 2018, I banded my first bird and created the LMBO version of, the hit board game, CLUE. In 2019, I continued extracting, banding, and building strong relationships with the banders. In August of 2020, I was lucky to be an intern at LMBO, because of coronavirus. My internship consisted of pretty much the same things that I have been doing in previous years, along with some new tasks and of course the COVID 19 protocol. It was so weird not having the public come and join Jordan and me on net runs, however, it allowed me to learn a lot more in terms of small details about each bird I was either unsure about or needed a second opinion on. I was able to do more 1 on 1 learning/training and asking my own questions rather than answering those of the public. I hope that next year we can get mostly back to normal. Nevertheless, we are all taking each day as it comes and hoping for the best in these strange times. Thank you for reading a little bit about me and my journey at LMBO! I highly recommend coming to check us out when it is safe to do so! Stay safe everyone and happy birding!

 

- Emily Dornstauder

 

 

Photo credit: Alan R. Smith (right) with Emily (centre) and Ava (left) Dornstauder; pictures drawn by Emily and Ava for the banding station at LMBO

 

Aug
18
August is the Month for Sandy Dune Specialists in Saskatchewan!

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While thinking of the prairies might bring to mind rolling grasslands and big blue skies, parts of southern Saskatchewan are also much sandier than many people realize. As the ice sheets retreated 10,000 years ago and remnant glaciers melted, the resulting glacial lakes and water channels gathered sediment to form ancient sand bars that would eventually form the many sand hills of Saskatchewan. This includes the well known Great Sand Hills and Elbow Sand Hills, massive areas with wide open active dunes, but also lesser known areas right across the southern portion of the province, including the Mortlach, Dundurn, Webb, and Burstall Sand Hill areas.

These sandy habitats support unique ecosystems. They are home to sand dune specialist species found nowhere else, including many of the province’s rare plants. In the month of August two of these rare plant species, Smooth Goosefoot and Hairy Prairie-clover, are in bloom, making it the perfect time to get out and search for them!

 

Smooth Goosefoot is a small annual plant with a yellowish green colour that is federally listed as a threatened species. Its leaves are fleshy and smooth with a visible central vein. The flowers resemble small balls and grow in dense clusters that are sparsely spaces along the branching stems. Smooth Goosefoot likes to grow at the edges of dunes and blowouts and along slopes of stabilized sand hills. It can be found in 11 Saskatchewan sand hill complexes mostly in the southwest Great Sand Hills area, but also within the Mortlach, Elbow, and Dundurn Sand Hills.

 

Hairy Prairie-clover is a somewhat woody perennial species that is listed as special concern in Canada. It looks similar to the much more common Purple Prairie-clover, but as its name suggests the entire plant is covered in soft dense hairs. Purple flowers grow in long spikes with the lower, older flowers opening first. “The whole plant is soft to the touch, including when the seeds start to develop,” explains Emily Putz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “A good way to tell it apart from some of its look-a-likes is to run a stem through your hands, none of the other prairie clover species are nearly as hairy.” Hairy Prairie-clover grows in sand blowouts and partially stabilized sites, found within the Mortlach and Dundurn Sand Hills.

 

Just like many of the province's rare plants, these species are threatened by a number of factors contributing to habitat loss. “Stabilization of dune habitat is a big challenge for specialist species,” explains Putz, “lack of grazing, invasion of non-native species such as leafy spurge, and encroachment of woody shrubs and trees can all contribute, making it hard for these plants to find the kind of habitat they need.” Other threats such as sand and gravel extraction, oil and gas activity, and changes to hydrological processes due to climate change also lead to declines.

If you or someone you know own land with sandy soils in the areas mentioned, we encourage you to take a look in your pasture this month and report any sightings to Nature Saskatchewan’s Rare Plant Rescue Program. New sightings contribute to a better understanding of these species’ distributions in the province and can help inform recovery actions in the future.

 

Since 2002 Nature Saskatchewan’s Rare Plant Rescue program has worked with landowners to raise awareness about Saskatchewan’s rare plants, document and monitor rare plant occurrences, and conserve rare plant habitat in Saskatchewan. If you think you’ve seen these species or have any questions on the Rare Plant Rescue program, please let us know by calling our toll-free Hoot Line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668) or by emailing rpr@naturesask.ca. Personal and sighting information is never shared without permission.

 

Photo credit: Candace Neufeld

 

Aug
11
Let’s Get Ready To Celebrate Monarchs Together On August 22nd!

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The last couple weeks has seen a surge in Monarch butterfly and caterpillar (larvae) sightings. With the up-coming national Flight of the Monarch Day on August 22, now is the perfect time to sharpen your Monarch identification skills and capture some photos and observations to share in the celebration!

 “Follow us on social media to join in the celebration on August 22nd” says Rebecca Magnus, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan. “There will be something for everyone to participate  in the virtual celebration, and participants can even win prizes!” explains Magnus. “You can start now by getting out and exploring your NatureHood to see if you can spot and photograph Monarch butterflies and caterpillars”.

Monarch butterflies are identifiable by their bright orange colouring with black veins throughout their wings, along with white spots on their black body and the outside edges of their wings. “Watch out for look-a-likes such as the Viceroy,” explains Magnus. “Viceroys look very similar but have an extra stripe on their hind wings that cross their veins.” The Monarch caterpillars have distinct white, yellow and black stripes with black tentacles on both ends. Magnus adds “you will see these caterpillars nearly exclusively on milkweed plants”.

Monarchs are a species at risk throughout their range with Saskatchewan being at the northern extent of their range. Magnus says “it takes between three and four generations for Monarchs to get from their over-wintering grounds, in Mexico, to Saskatchewan.” She adds “the generation emerging now will live the longest, making the full journey south back to Mexico to overwinter, so it is extra important that we help conserve the habitat for this incredibly important generation of Monarchs.” Nature Saskatchewan runs the voluntary Stewards of Saskatchewan program that works with communities and landowners to conserve Monarch habitat and help monitor the population each year.

If you see a Monarch in Saskatchewan, or would like more information about the national Flight of the Monarch Day on August 22nd or the Stewards of Saskatchewan program, call Nature Saskatchewan’s toll-free line at 1-800-667-HOOT (4668), text (306)780-9832 or email us at outreach@naturesask.ca. Feel free to share photos, we love to see them!

Let’s Get Ready To Celebrate Monarchs Together On August 22nd!

 

Photo credit: M. Ranalli