Archives for 2019

Jan
22
Whooping Cranes Continue to Do Well

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In 1941 only 21 Whooping Cranes existed in the world and many thought North America's tallest bird was doomed to extinction. Through decades of dedicated and painstaking efforts the endangered Whooping Cranes now numbers some 650 in the wild. At least 500 of those Whooping Cranes survive in the Wood Buffalo Aransas Texas flock that migrates through Saskatchewan, the exact number won’t be available until after counts are completed later this winter.

Each spring and fall Whooping Cranes migrate through Saskatchewan to and from their wintering grounds on the Texas Gulf Coast and Wood Buffalo National Park on the border between Alberta and the Northwest Territories. This past fall, 151 were observed near Marcelin, north of Saskatoon. This is the largest congregation of Whooping Cranes sighted in one bunch in over 100 years. Production of young was lower than average in 2018, with only 6 young being spotted in that large flock, a total of 24 young fledged in 2018.

Over the years captive breeding of Whooping Cranes has been successful, with eggs or offspring being introduced in 4 locations in the United States to create additional populations of whoopers. Two of these re-establishment programs have failed (Idaho and Florida) while two others have achieved limited success (Wisconsin and Louisiana).

Currently there are about 100 birds in the Eastern Migratory Flock summering in Wisconsin and another 50 birds in a nonmigrtory flock in Louisiana. Another 15 remain in Florida. There are about 165 birds in captivity, with just over 115 of those being breeding birds that are producing offspring for the reintroductions. Those birds are located in Wisconsin, Calgary, Louisiana and Washington, DC. About 50 nonbreeders are scattered in zoos and wildlife parks in the United States

  

For further information, contact:

Brian Johns
306-373-1228
Retired Wildlife Biologist  

or

Lorne Scott
306-695-2047
Conservation Director, Nature Saskatchewan

*Both Brian and Lorne are Directors of the International Whooping Crane Conservation Association*

Photo credit: Val Mann

 

 

 

Jan
24
Birds of Saskatchewan

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Please Note:

The first print run of Birds of Saskatchewan was an amazing success and we currently do not have any available stock for sale. We will be doing a second print run and order information will be available shortly. McNally Robinson Booksellers and Wild Birds Unlimited in Saskatoon have some remaining stock available and there will be a limited quantity available at the book launch dates in both Regina (February 26) and Saskatoon (January 29.)

 

A  full-colour, comprehensive look at all of the birds that call Saskatchewan home. 437 species of birds are documented in this 768 page compendium, a result of over ten years of work and several lifetimes of observation, research, and writing. This work celebrates Saskatchewan’s rich natural heritage, and acknowledges the efforts made to study and sustain each bird’s presence in the province. ​It is a record of change - of the birds who have come, those who remain, and those whose habitats are affected by changes in the environment​. Birds of Saskatchewan​ is indebted to the long-time editors of the project. Lead author/co-editor Alan R. Smith is the scientist, the keeper of data, and provincial documenter. Here he joins his mentors C. Stuart Houston, bird bander, history lover, and prolific author, and Houston’s long-time friend, collaborator, and editor J. Frank Roy, whose passion for birds, words, and images has helped to make this a publication that we hope readers will appreciate. Purchase price is $79.95.

 

Take a look inside...check out these Birds of Saskatchewan sample pages

 

 

Feb
13
Citizen Science and the Great Backyard Bird Count

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Citizen Science! You have likely heard of this term but do you know what it means and did you know that you can get involved? In short form, citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research. While citizen science can be applied in many areas of science it becomes particularly useful when tracking bird migrations, looking at species populations and monitoring changes.


Once a year from February 15-18 people around the world count birds for at least 15 minutes as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count. By submitting data online, they contribute to valuable information about species health, population trends and more.
Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is fun, simple, and anyone can participate. It is a great activity for families and groups or simply by observing birds through your kitchen window while enjoying your morning coffee.


The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada, and is supported in Canada by Armstrong Bird Food and Wild Birds Unlimited. If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please go to www.birdscanada.org


For further information, please contact:
Lacey Weekes, Conservation and Education Manager, Nature Saskatchewan lweekes@naturesask.ca 306-780-9481

Feb
20
Birds of Saskatchewan

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Birds of Saskatchewan is now available for pre-order of the second print run. You can purchase your copy by phoning 306-780-9273 or 1-800-667-4668, via email at info@naturesask.ca or by visiting our online store.

A  full-colour, comprehensive look at all of the birds that call Saskatchewan home. 437 species of birds are documented in this 768 page compendium, a result of over ten years of work and several lifetimes of observation, research, and writing. This work celebrates Saskatchewan’s rich natural heritage, and acknowledges the efforts made to study and sustain each bird’s presence in the province. ​It is a record of change - of the birds who have come, those who remain, and those whose habitats are affected by changes in the environment​. Birds of Saskatchewan​ is indebted to the long-time editors of the project. Lead author/co-editor Alan R. Smith is the scientist, the keeper of data, and provincial documenter. Here he joins his mentors C. Stuart Houston, bird bander, history lover, and prolific author, and Houston’s long-time friend, collaborator, and editor J. Frank Roy, whose passion for birds, words, and images has helped to make this a publication that we hope readers will appreciate. Purchase price is $79.95.

 

Take a look inside...check out these Birds of Saskatchewan sample pages

 

 

Mar
6
Lend your voice

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Below you will find a letter to Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change calling for an environmental assessment of agricultural drainage in Saskatchewan and the province's Agricultural Water Management Strategy.
This letter contains an appendix highlighting the scientific facts of why this drainage is so bad for us, future generations, Indigenous peoples, our neighbors and the environment.
 
We encourage you to take the time to read the document and also ask that you  show your support by signing the Federal E-Petition at 
 
If you have any questions or concerns on this important environmental issue or would like additional information please contact:
 
Jeff Olson
Executive Director
Citizens Environmental Alliance
cea.sask.2018@gmail.com
 

 

Mar
14
Birds In Real Danger, Saskatoon (B.I.R.D.S.)

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Reprinted from the Saskatoon Nature Society Newsletter March 2019:

BIRDS grew out of a communal desire to protect our feathered friends, and became
a partnership between the Saskatoon Nature Society, Wild Birds Unlimited,
Saskatchewan Light Pollution Abatement Committee, and Living Sky Wildlife
Rehabilitation.


We are all passionate about birds and recognize the threats to birds from flying into
glass structures. Over 699 million birds are killed by glass in North America each
year according to the FLAP Canada.


BIRDS has been actively advocating for bird safety since its inception last year. We
have a 6 foot banner that attracts attention at community events and encourages
conversation and awareness of the problem and possible solutions. It is on display
at Beaver Creek when not otherwise in use.


Jan Shadick gave a well-attended presentation about bird collisions at Gardenscape
last year. She will give another presentation this year. All partners have attended
City meetings and advocated for implementation of bird-friendly building
guidelines.


Progress has been positive! The City of Saskatoon, the University, and MVA have
taken steps to implement some of the ideas and suggestions from the Director of
FLAP (Michael Mesure).


1. The University has added “Dots” to windows on new overhead walkways to
reduce bird collisions.
2. MVA has placed “dots” on their windows at Beaver Creek, and has plans to place
them on their downtown office building. They have also included a more rigorous
assessment of buildings for bird-friendly design during their review process.
3. The City of Saskatoon has begun to develop Bird-Friendly Building Guidelines in
accordance with recommendations from FLAP. After consulting with LSWR, FLAP
and other partners, they are publishing a Healthy Yards pamphlet with tips for
homeowners to help protect birds from collisions with glass. It will be ready for
visitors to Gardenscape and will later be distributed as an electric bill insert
throughout the city.


Never in our wildest dreams did we believe that we could make such a significant
difference in community attitudes within such a short time span.

Mar
25
Something for Everyone: Nature Event at Saltcoats

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By Kathy Morrell

Join the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association (YFBTA) on April 13, 2019 at the Saltcoats Community Hall for the 2019 Nature Event.

Details and information:

12:30 Doors open

1:00   Presentations

                Dr. L. Robbin Lindsay: Ticks, Talk and Related Diseases

                Kristen Gabora: The Great Trail

                Joan Feather: Birds of Saskatchewan, publication of Nature Saskatchewan

                Ryan Fisher: To be announced

 

 Banquet to follow

 

Additional: sharing of nature photos, raffle draw, nature/bird book exchange

 

For registration, please go to the YFBTA website www.yfbta.com

 


Everything about ticks

“Ticks are my life.” said Dr. L. Robbin Lindsay, presenter at the upcoming YFBTA event at the Saltcoats Hall.

Lindsay is a research scientist at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Brandon. He studies different kinds of ticks and how their populations have changed over time.

“The deer (black-legged) tick is present now in places never seen before,” he continued. This tick, the one that causes Lyme Disease, has increased its range over the past decades.

Despite that, the risk of Lyme disease in Saskatchewan is low. According to a recent article published in the Leader-Post, the province has collected 25,000 ticks since 2009. Only 65 were deer ticks and of that number only eight tested positive for the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease.

The other types of tick found in the province include the dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the winter tick. They are more a nuisance than a public health issue.

“Still,” Lindsay added, “it is wise to know how to dress for tick season and how to remove a tick if it becomes embedded. It’s all about prevention and control.”

 

Everything about The Great Trail    

The Great Trail is a network connecting more than 15,000 communities across Canada. According to its website, it “is the longest recreational trail in the world…It offers a variety of landscapes – urban, rural and wilderness, along greenways, waterways and roadways.”

Volunteers came up with the idea of a trail that would stretch across the country nearly twenty-five years ago. It was completed coast-to-coast in 2017.

“My hope is that people get out and experience what The Great Trail has to offer,” said Kristen Gabora, Trail Development Manager for Central Canada for the Trans Canada Trail (TCT).

In recent years, there has been a change in names. TransCanada Trail is the national organization that works with local groups, provincial parks, First Nations and municipalities, the actual owners and operators of their particular sections of the trail. TCT does not own the land on which the trail is located. Rather, its role is to promote the use of The Great Trail and offer grants for maintenance, signage and trail enhancement.

“One of our most recent projects was the completion of the boardwalk at the Ravine Ecological Preserve in Yorkton,” Gabora explained. “It is a unique structure that can withstand the weather and flooding.”

The venture was a partnership with the City of Yorkton. TCT granted $35,000 to the project while the City agreed to contribute an additional amount to a maximum of $65,000.

“The Great Trail gives residents and tourists the opportunity to be physically active in the outdoors,” said Randy Goulden, Executive-Director of Tourism Yorkton. In addition to the trail, visitors can tour the site of the homestead of the Dulmage family, early settlers in the Yorkton area.”

At the Spring Event, Kristen Gabora will tell the story of The Great Trail, not everything as the title might suggest. After all, the trail is 24,000 kilometers long. Her presentation will provide information about the trail in general and nearby sections in particular.

 

Everything about Saskatchewan Birds

Birds of Saskatchewan tells you nearly everything you ever wanted to know about the birds of the province. This book describes the 437 bird species ever found here, advocates for stewardship of the environment and provides a benchmark against which these species can be assessed in the future. It is a collection of the best in Saskatchewan’s birding photography.

But more than that, this ten-year project illustrates the commitment of those in the birding community. A bequest to Nature Saskatchewan from Manley Callin paid for the costs of layout, professional editing and printing Everything else was the work of volunteers.

One hundred and seven volunteer writers compiled the available research and wrote the text. Birders submitted 6000 photographs. Frank Roy of Saskatoon headed up the committee who reduced that number to the more than one thousand used in the book.

Alan R. Smith, Frank Roy and Stuart Houston were volunteer editors for the project. Houston is well-known in the area as a bird bander and writer. He began his study of birds as a boy in Yorkton. He and his wife Mary have banded more than 150,000 individual birds of 211 species.

Yorkton area birders made contributions to the text. They include Bill Anaka, Rob Wilson, and Frank Switzer.

Bill Anaka, with his long-time friend Stuart Houston, compiled their birding observations and research into the well-respected Birds of Yorkton-Duck Mountain (2003). The information they collected was used as one fact source in this new publication. Though Anaka died in 2017, his work lives on in Birds of Saskatchewan.

“This volume represents decades of observation and research,” said Joan Feather who will facilitate a Q and A about the book at the YFBTA event.

After retiring from a career at the University of Saskatchewan in Community Health Research, Feather became active in the Saskatoon Nature Society and Nature Saskatchewan. She has served as president of the Saskatoon group and on the board of Nature Saskatchewan.

 

 

Apr
5
Can Pacific Albany Project Potash Mine – Open Comment Period

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Nature Saskatchewan has some concern over a proposed Potash Mine southeast of Regina and north of Sedley. We are asking our members and supporters to email short letters to environmental.assessment@gov.sk.ca by April 15, 2019 (deadline comment period).

A proposed mine site and drilling activity is planned for a large area which encompasses thousands of acres of native and tame grasslands, wetlands and riparian areas along Wascana Creek. There are large tracts of cultivated land in the area that should be used for development.  Nature Saskatchewan is not opposed to the Can Pacific Albany Project potash mine but want to protect the highly fragmented natural areas from further impact.

 

Some points to mention in your letters are:

  1. No construction and development on or near grasslands, wetlands and riparian areas along Wascana Creek.
  2. Development activities should not occur on natural landscapes but be moved to cultivated fields where the impact on the natural environment will be greatly reduced.
  3. Some 150 species of wildlife were documented during the environmental assessment.
  4. Species at Risk within the area include; Sprague's Pipit, Loggerhead Shrike, Ferruginous Hawk, Long-billed Curlew and Leopard Frog.
  5. We have already lost over 86% of our natural grassland ecosystem in southern Saskatchewan. Every effort should be made to avoid the further loss of these vanishing habitats.
  6. Be clear that you would like to ensure that no development will occur on any natural landscapes.

We encourage you to use your own words in your email to the province. You do not need to mention all of these points. It would be useful to include a sentence or two on why the grassland landscape is important to you, that would be very useful. Your letter does not need to be long and detailed. What counts is the number of responses received by the province.

 

If you have any questions, please contact;

 

Jordan Ignatiuk, Nature Saskatchewan Executive Director
306-780-9293  or jignatiuk@naturesask.ca
           

Or

 

Lorne Scott, Nature Saskatchewan Conservation Director
306-695-2047 or 306-695-7458

 

 

 

Apr
12
Applications now being accepted for candidates for our Board of Directors

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Who we are

Nature Saskatchewan is a non-profit charitable organization governed by a Board of Directors. Nature Saskatchewan has been dedicated to the conservation of Saskatchewan's natural environment since 1949. We promote appreciation and understanding of our natural world through conservation, education and research. Speaking for the protection and preservation of natural ecosystem and their biodiversity through research and viable conservation practices is our main focus. We strive to connect nature and culture through outreach programs and services. With over 600 members, Nature Saskatchewan provides programs and services that offer knowledge and experiences for those who have a love for nature.

Our Vision: Humanity in Harmony with Nature.

Our Mission: We engage and inspire people to appreciate, learn about and conserve Saskatchewan's natural environment.

We are looking for passionate and experienced people to stand for election to our Board and to help direct the work of the organization. As a member of the Board, a Director acts in a position of trust and is responsible for contributing to the effective governance and administration of the organization. The Board of Directors endeavors to have balanced perspectives and a complementary mixture of knowledge, skills and experience.

What we can offer you

As a Nature Saskatchewan Board member you will gain experience working on the board of a non-profit organization. The candidate will have the opportunity to develop competencies that can aid career advancement and interpersonal relationships: teamwork, interactive communication, adaptability, planning and organizing, problem solving, creativity and innovation.

 

Board Positions

Board Committees

President

Vice-President

Past President

Secretary

Treasurer

Conservation Director

Director

Awards

Conservation

Finance

Fund Development

Lands

Nominations

Personnel

Policy Review

Resolutions

Scholarship

Strategic Planning

 

 

Who we are looking for

We are looking for candidates who have a passion for nature and the desire to make a difference for nature in Saskatchewan. We are looking for candidates with ability to work as part of a team and communicate effectively and honestly, and with experience or skill in at least one of the following:

  • Education
  • Strategic or Business Planning
  • Nature Conservation
  • Non-profit Organization Experience
  • Government Experience
  • Policy Development
  • Communications / Journalism
  • Environmental Law
  • Financial Management
  • Human Resources
  • Board Governance
  • Facilitation
  • Community Networking / Engagement
  • Fundraising
  • Promotions / Marketing

Additionally, we very much welcome applications from both Indigenous peoples and newcomers to Canada. You have perspectives and experiences that would benefit our organization.

Candidates with other applicable experience or strengths are encouraged to apply. Ideal candidates will have previous board experience in the not-for-profit sector, experience in sectors related to Nature Saskatchewan’s mission, and demonstrated commitment to leadership.

Time commitment varies depending on your interests, circumstances, leadership roles, and/or special events. An average minimum time commitment of 5 hours per month is anticipated, which includes involvement in at least one Board committee. Board members are elected at the Annual General Meeting held each year in June and serve 2-year terms.

Please email your completed NS Board Member Application Form by May 4th, 2019 to Donna at donna.bruce@sasktel.net. An accompanying resume would be welcome but is not required. Applications will be considered as positions on the Board become open. For any questions, please contact Donna at 306-956-3437 or by email.