My birding Walk and Talk at Glen Villa, in the pouring rain on Saturday June 17th

Was it worth it? YES! 

With a pair of binoculars and some patience I observed and learned that you need to:

1) listen to its song

2) observe the flight patterns

3) study the habitat

4) look at the size and colour of the bird, shape of the tail, shape and colour of the beak and any other distinguishing marks to identify the bird.

As a participant, I was amazed at how quickly the guides (Camille and Jean-Paul, both members of SLOE and veteran bird watchers) identified birds in flight. They could spot the Blue Bird and the Swallow who often share the same size bird house and might even fight over who gets the box to build their nest.

Jean-Paul and Camille both have life lists which they share on E-Bird. Jean-Paul said he had several lists, one for Quebec, one for North America, others for different countries.

This information is available to scientists who track birds and study their patterns.

Camille wrote to us after the visit and said:

We saw, among others, a ruffed grouse and its young, a yellow-throated vireo (very rare) and three American Woodcocks (hard to see usually).

In all, 25 different species observed in the rain and dripping leaves.

If you want to know more about birding, I would encourage you to join La SLOE or the St. Francis Naturalist Club, These are two wonderful groups in our area, to help you find out more about birds and go on other great guided tours next year.

The activity at Glen Villa was organized in the context of the fundraiser for the Massawippi Foundation.

More guided Walks & Talks will be held on July 15th and August 12th, 2023 

Click here for more details.

Written by Nicolas Bousquet, Biol.
Field Project Coordinator
COGESAF
Cogesaf

Reading time: 5-6 minutes

The Lake Massawippi watershed is home to several species of salamander, particularly the stream  salamander. There are three species of stream salamander: the two-lined salamander, the northern dusky salamander and the purple salamander. The presence of numerous streams in forested and mountainous areas favours the presence of these species around Lake Massawippi.

Stream salamanders are very discreet but fascinating little creatures! These amphibians live mainly in small, cool, well-oxygenated streams. Surprisingly, this group of salamanders has no lungs, and breathes through its skin and larvae using gills. For this reason, stream salamanders must constantly keep their skin moist and live mainly in the aquatic environment. Although adults may venture a few meters from the stream into the terrestrial environment, they are usually found buried deep in the stream under rocks or other shelter such as branches. As for the larvae (juvenile salamanders), they are totally dependent on the aquatic environment, due to their gills.
deneme bonusu veren siteler
Because of their dependence on the aquatic environment, stream salamanders are very fragile species. In fact, the Northern Dusky Salamander is likely to be designated as threatened or vulnerable, and the Purple Salamander is designated as vulnerable under Quebec’s Act respecting threatened and vulnerable species. There are many conservation issues for stream salamanders, and generally speaking, they can be greatly affected by changes in the quantity and quality of the water in their habitat. Changes in the flow of a watercourse, deforestation of the riparian strip, sedimentation, contaminant inputs and the draining or drying up of watercourses are all factors that can considerably harm stream salamanders.

It’s interesting to note that some of the Massawippi Conservation Trust properties have been included in an extensive long-term monitoring program for stream salamanders. There are currently two studies underway. Indeed, as these properties are free of anthropogenic threats, it is interesting to see the evolution of populations in this sector over a 10-year period. This data can then be compared with sites undergoing significant pressure, such as those under forest management. In addition, the project aims to understand the potential impact of climate change on stream salamander populations. It is possible that climate change will have an impact on stream salamanders, particularly with increasingly frequent and intense dry spells in summer.

 

This long-term monitoring project stems from a problem often observed in the acquisition of rigorous data for population monitoring, particularly for species with precarious status. Indeed, the lack of funding for knowledge acquisition often results in significant gaps in our knowledge of population trends. The project sponsor, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, has therefore set up a long-term (10-year) monitoring program for the purple salamander throughout the Estrie region. Some ten conservation organizations are involved in the project, including COGESAF. Each organization is responsible for monitoring a small number of streams, thereby reducing project costs and workloads. COGESAF’s role in this project is to monitor two streams on sites designated as “no or low impact” by human activities on the properties of the Massawippi Conservation Trust. As a herpetology enthusiast who has been working as a biologist for COGESAF for the past 5 years, this project is particularly close to my heart. Finally, I’d like to highlight the collaboration of more than a dozen conservation organizations working together to improve knowledge of the purple salamander and protect it more effectively… in the hope that this project will inspire other initiatives like it for other species or other regions!

 

About the author: Nicolas Bousquet is a biologist and has been field project coordinator at COGESAF for over 5 years. His fields of expertise are invasive alien species control and biodiversity conservation. He worked as a research professional at the Université de Sherbrooke, before pursuing his career with an environmental and forest management consulting firm, then as an external consultant with the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs. For several years, he has specialized in the study and conservation of herpetofauna, mainly turtles and stream salamanders. He has participated in a number of projects involving inventories, population monitoring, identification of threats, monitoring of egg-laying sites and the creation of facilities. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge, notably through lectures and writing articles.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Jessica Adams (Nature Nerding)
Reading time: 5-6 minutes

As I was sitting on my balcony one misty morning, enjoying my cup of coffee, my eyes wandered to my garden box in which I had planted some of my favourite fine herbs earlier in the season. My heart sank… ruined. All of them. And the slimy culprits were still there… slowly cruising their way around the box like they owned the place. The more I looked, the more I noticed and my disappointment quickly evolved into curiosity… Slugs. What a peculiar creature. What intrigued me most of all was the fact they don’t seem like an animal that would be likely to thrive… they are slow, soft… seemingly so vulnerable… and yet clearly they do just fine.

I had to admit I knew very little about this oozing invertebrate so omnipresent in our natural world. I remember skimming over the topic in Zoology class back in university, but still had so many unanswered questions and so I figured it was about time I brush up on my gastropod knowledge. Starting with researching the very basics, I was reminded of how very much there is to know when we start studying the wonders of the natural world. Slugs are no exception, as these everyday invertebrates have much more going on than we might care to notice…

 

 

What is a slug, really?

While they may appear to share some physical characteristics with worm-type critters, slugs actually fall into the same phylum as octopuses, squids, clams, oysters and snails – that of the mollusks.

As many may guess, a slug is essentially a snail without a shell. That being said, it is not a snail that has lost its shell in the course of its lifetime, but rather over the course of evolutionary time. Interestingly, this has happened along multiple lineages meaning that slugs did not emerge from a single-shelled ancestor but rather emerged independently from various shelled ancestors. This means that while most slugs bear a striking resemblance to one another, they do not necessarily share origins.

Why lose the shell? A shell seems like an awfully good idea if your body is soft, squishy and relatively defenseless. So why bother losing such a seemingly useful protective covering? One theory suggests it is an energy trade-off – foregoing the energetic cost of growing a shell to invest energy in other aspects of survival – such as growing faster in order to reproduce sooner. Another suggests a shell can be problematic when trying to move through tighter spaces which can be extremely useful when attempting to escape danger.

At first glance, a slug’s body might not appear all that elaborate, but when you take the time to observe closely, it truly is fascinating. For starters, as different as they are from humans, slugs do get around “on foot”. Foot being the word used to describe the muscular base of their bodies and the part that contracts and helps move it forward (with the help of mucus, of course). When viewing slugs from above, we can’t help but notice a sort of hump closer to the tentacles – this hump is known as the mantle. The mantle is a feature found in all mollusks and is the area where the visceral mass is located. In some species of slug, the mantle can contain remnants of a shell either in the form of a small plate or granules – evidence of their evolutionary story. Just under the mantle, when it is in use, you can observe an opening called a pneumostome which serves as a breathing pore for the slug – I like to think of it as a single side nostril.

At the head of the body, we can observe two pairs of tentacles. Each pair has different functions. The uppermost can be likened to eyes, though they are only sensitive to light and do not form crisp images like the human eye; they also function as smelling organs. Feeling and tasting are the jobs of the lower pair of tentacles. These sensory tentacles are retractable and can be regrown in the event of a mishap.

Beneath the lower tentacles lies the equipment responsible for wreaking havoc on my fine herbs and so many people’s gardens – the mouthparts. Inside the mouth of a slug, it is almost as if the tongue and teeth are one. The radula, a tongue-like structure, is covered in minuscule serrations known as denticles that rasp off food particles as the slug moseys along at its leisurely pace.

 

Why so slimy?

A description of a slug’s body would not be complete without giving due attention to mucus (aka slime). If you have ever picked up a slug, intentionally or otherwise, you likely had a sticky residue on your skin afterward. Or perhaps, while walking down a forest path, you noticed glistening trails left behind on the earth. Both constitute evidence of one of the most vital aspects of slug biology: mucus.

 

Slugs have two varieties of mucus on their bodies helping them in the departments of mobility, communication, and protection. The thin, watery mucus that spreads from the foot out to the edges and from the front of the foot to the back helps the slug get around along with the foot’s muscular contractions. It is in this lighter slime that slugs can pick up what other slugs are “putting down”, so to speak. Whether it be in order to find a mate or for some species of carnivorous, predatory slug to track potential prey. This slime carries messages.

 

The thicker, stickier mucus coats the remainder of the slug’s body and this not only protects the slug, whose body is mostly made of water, from desiccation, but it can help it slip out of a predator’s grasp. Furthermore, it isn’t very palatable to some animals, serving as an additional deterrent to possible predators.

 

What is my point?

While doing research, I kept uttering tiny gasps of amazement as I was reacquainting myself with these creatures. And this article touches on but a fraction of their natural history. Admittedly, it’s rare I give them the time of day. I am careful not to tread on them, but it is typically the children with whom I am walking who draw my attention to them…

 

Present in all different shapes and sizes, unlike a lot of other wildlife, slugs are out in plain sight if the conditions are humid enough. They are just asking to be observed, to be admired for the supernatural-looking beings they are. What’s more, they aren’t going anywhere in a hurry so you can take your time with them, bring the magnifying glass in closer and really get to know them.

 

These opportunities for intimate observation of and connection with a wild species, no matter the type, are gifts. The next time you come across a slug on your walk through the woods, why not stop and graciously accept this gift, take a moment with this shell-less gastropod… and see what happens? You might be surprised.

 


Build Your Nature Vocabulary

Use the text and search the web to build your nature vocabulary and try using it the next time you’re out and about in nature, either making observations by yourself or with friends!

  • Gastropod
  • Phylum
  • Foot
  • Mantle
  • Visceral mass
  • Pneumostom
  • Tentacles
  • Radula

Références

 

Photo caption: Though slugs are hermaphroditic, they will attempt to find a mate to reproduce. Once found, they can be observed in a ritual courtship display prior to mating. They each form a circle surrounding their protruding genitalia while sperm is being exchanged. Days later, eggs are laid in a protected area such as a hole in the ground or under a log.
Bu promosyonun en çekici yanlarından biri, bahis severlerin deneme bonusu veren siteler üzerinden yatırım yapmadan oyun oynayabilme rahatlığına kavuşmasıdır. Dolayısıyla, bahis oynamak isteyen ancak bu sitelere para yatırma konusunda tereddüt eden kişiler için deneme bonusları mükemmel bir başlangıç noktası sunar.

 

Margot Heyerhoff - Graduation

We are so proud to announce that Margot Graham Heyerhoff has been awarded an honorary Doctorate for the degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, Margot Heyerhoff, in recognition of her tireless, selfless, and impactful advocacy for her community, for art and literacy, and for the environment.

We’d like to share with you the commencement speech given by Kerry Hull, Dean of Science at Bishop’s University. You can also watch the video here.

Mr. Chancellor, Principal Goldbloom, graduates, colleagues, family and friends.  It is my honour to introduce Margot Graham Heyerhoff.  

Margot’s Pinterest page features a quote from Leonard Mlodinow – “The outline of our lives, like a candle’s flame, is continuously coaxed in new directions by a variety of random events that, along with our responses to them, determine our fate.”

So let me briefly recount just a few of the random events that have led to Margot Heyerhoff’s presence with us today.   

She spent time in the Townships as a high school student at King’s Hall, a boarding school in Compton, and also had a brief stint as a Bishop’s student.  Several years later Margot become the first Development Director at Bishop’s College School, just across the river from us.  She left the Townships in 1981, for what she may have thought was the last time.  However, twenty years later, under unexpected and serendipitous circumstances, the Heyerhoff family left Oakville, Ontario to settle in the Canton de Hatley.   

The subsequent twenty five years of Margot’s life could serve as a case study of local actions with dramatic impact.  Her interest in land conservation and sustainability started when her family converted their land into a certified organic farm.  Then, in 2011, Heyerhoff worked with friends and colleagues to establish the Massawippi Foundation and Conservation Trust.  One mandate of this organization is to protect and preserve the ecosystems of the Lake Massawippi watershed – they raised over five million dollars, and now have stewardship over 1200 acres of land.  These forests and fields are not only conserved, they are also used to further the organization’s goals by providing environmentally friendly hiking trails as well as sites for educational and research projects.  To this day she continues to serve as President of the Foundation and Trustee of the Trust.

The foundation’s conservation efforts extend beyond their lands – they also promote sustainable agricultural practices through education and research grants.  In addition, as a key supporter of Bishop’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program as well as the Educational Farm, Margot is a passionate advocate for  agro-environmental farming practices that keep our soil healthy as well as preserve the biodiversity of insects, birds and plants.  

To expand the scope of her work outside the Townships, Margot mentors others across the province of Quebec as they establish conservation trusts in their areas.  As a testament to her reputation, she was invited to share the Massawippi Foundation story at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference.  

Ainsi, Margot Heyerhoff a contribué de manière significative aux efforts de conservation locaux, régionaux et internationaux, non seulement par ses propres actions, mais aussi en fournissant l’éducation, les conseils et les fonds nécessaires pour que d’autres puissent faire de même.  

But there is more.  An accomplished artist and art collector, Margot has converted a dilapidated barn on her farm into a non-profit art gallery and cultural space.  The gallery has been the venue for numerous cultural activities, including historical and architectural exhibitions, fundraising events for local charitable entities, and book launches for local authors.  

In sum, Margot has dedicated herself to her community and to the sustainability of our planet.

Mister Chancellor, I present to you for the degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, Margot Heyerhoff, in recognition of her tireless, selfless, and impactful advocacy for her community, for art and literacy, and for the environment.  

 

Every spring, when the temperatures start to warm up, the turtles get busy, so we can get a good look at them. Because turtles are cold-blooded animals, they try to optimise their metabolism by finding warmth. You can therefore see turtles well exposed to the sun on sandbanks by the river or on branches emerging from the water.

The egg-laying season soon begins, towards the end of May and at least in June. The adult females will therefore put themselves at risk to find an interesting egg-laying site. Ideally, they will look for a natural site consisting of sand and/or gravel on the banks of the river or body of water where they live. Adult females of several species, notably the snapping turtle, the painted turtle, and the wood turtle (species present in our sector) will sometimes look for nesting sites along roadsides, footpaths, or even in active sandpits. Obviously, this behaviour puts them at high risk of mortality from collisions with cars or machinery. This is a major cause of turtle mortality and does not help to maintain healthy populations.

How can we help them stay safe and sound during this period? By simply being vigilant! Whether you’re driving, walking or cycling on structures bordering lakes, rivers, ponds or wetlands, you can remain vigilant for the presence of turtles and react appropriately if they are present. You can slow down and let them continue on their way, warning other motorists of their presence for example. In an immediate emergency, you can help it cross the road, always in the same direction it was going. It is vital not to put the animal back in the water or move it to another location. You can also take a photo and report its presence on the www.carapace.ca website. Reporting turtles to the carapace.ca project is particularly important for local stakeholders, who can find out more about problem areas. It also gives them more data and more leverage to convince the authorities when it comes to planning developments.

Several species of turtle are in trouble in Quebec, including the wood turtle, which has been designated vulnerable. A number of factors are involved, including deaths caused by machinery or cars, but also by the destruction or modification of its habitat, heavy predation and, unfortunately, the collection of individuals for resale or keeping in captivity.

This is also the case for the Tomifobia river population, which remains small despite its high-quality habitat. We suspect that occasional anthropogenic deaths caused by cars, but mainly by farm machinery, combined with low recruitment of young due to high nest predation, are factors that could explain the current low numbers in the Tomifobia River population. The COGESAF team, therefore, has a project underway to better understand these dynamics and propose solutions to reduce the risk of mortality, mainly for adult females.

One aspect of this project is to monitor the movements of five turtles fitted with a radio transmitter and a GPS sensor, enabling us to track their movements on a daily basis. Preliminary data shows that our turtles do cross roads and farm fields, making them vulnerable to collisions.

We can remain positive about the fate of the Tomifobia River population because a number of conservation organizations have been working on it for a number of years! What’s more, as we mentioned, the habitat for this population is of high quality. We will be proposing to the farmers concerned that the mowing height be raised to 10 cm to reduce the risk of mortality for this vulnerable species. We also suggest that you keep your eyes open and remain vigilant when travelling by car in this sector!

 

Nicolas Bousquet, biol.,

Field Project Coordinator

 

5182, boul Bourque

Sherbrooke (Québec) J1N 1H4

Phone 819-864-1033 poste 103

www.cogesaf.qc.ca 

 

Written by Jessica Adams (Nature Nerding)
Reading time: 5-6 minutes

With the passing of “No Mow May”, many might find themselves curious about the overall importance and impact of seemingly simple gestures such as letting a lawn grow out for one extra month each year. The short answer: when it comes to conservation, it can be easier to appreciate the interconnectedness and the impact of each moving part when we zoom out. A lawn is not just a span of grass that needs tending for aesthetic purposes, it is a habitat. Not only is it part of a wider network of similar habitats (i.e. other people’s lawns, fields and the like), but it is one that, if left to its own devices, grows a much wider variety of plant species that eventually flower making it much more valuable to wildlife, pollinators in particular.

This article is not about “No Mow May”, however, but rather the overarching concepts of biodiversity, conservation and how they pertain to the plight of pollinators. As summer approaches and we begin to move forward with the Massawippi Foundation Monarch Butterfly Project, we are sharing more about the concepts underlying efforts of this type to protect the Monarch population.

 

Understanding Biodiversity

You have likely heard the term before, but what does biodiversity mean to you? It may conjure images of a thriving ecosystem with a variety of species living alongside one another. Without a doubt, we can appreciate variety, the beauty of it, and the notion of “richness”, but what exactly is biodiversity and why is it important?

Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. (Worldwildlife.org)

The above definition highlights that biodiversity includes not just the elements we can see, nor the ones we deem “beautiful”, but all of the living parts, right down to the microscopic players. It also weaves in the notion of working together. Each species in a biodiverse ecosystem has specific roles to play that will impact the survival of other species in the ecosystem to varying degrees.

This does not mean each species has a role all its own without any overlap. In fact, redundancy is one of the key ways in which biodiversity sustains healthy, resilient ecosystems. There are various ways of envisioning how this operates. Think of biodiversity as Nature’s built-in contingency plan. Ehrlich and Ehrlich (1981) compared each species in an ecosystem to the rivets on a plane – if one is removed, the impact is minimal, but the more rivets removed, the greater the risk of catastrophe.

Another way of looking at it is likening an ecosystem to a tower of Jenga blocks. Each block represents a species (and the roles it plays) within that ecosystem. The more blocks (species) removed, the less stable the tower (ecosystem) becomes. As blocks are slowly removed, the tower may stay upright, but is much more vulnerable to disruption – a breeze, the floor shaking… This is not unlike how an ecosystem becomes more vulnerable to disasters such as storms, droughts or invasive species. The more diverse the system, the sturdier the tower and the more resilient it is to adversity.

 

The Importance of Encouraging Biodiversity

Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter. (Worldwildlife.org)

From a purely anthropocentric standpoint, biodiversity serves us and we therefore have a vested interest in maintaining it. That being said, we often have a tendency to focus on the grander species or charismatic megafauna. The thing is, the bigger the animal does not necessarily mean the greater the importance.

Insects comprise two-thirds of life on Earth and each year they are responsible for providing ecological services valued at $57 billion. Perhaps one of the most valuable services is that of pollination. According to Pollinator Partnership, we can thank pollinators for two out of every three bites of food we eat and they sustain overall ecosystem function by helping plants reproduce.

 

Zooming Back In: The Massawippi Foundation Monarch Project

As you might imagine, there is a lot more to the big-picture conversation on biodiversity, conservation and pollinators. When it comes to passing from learning to action, however, zooming back in is essential if we want to avoid overwhelm and downright discouragement. So how, where and when can we start?

Put simply: Start small, focus close to home and start as soon as you can.

In March, we shared an article on the Monarch Butterfly, introducing an exciting new project spearheaded by the Foundation in collaboration with Nature Nerding. This project is the Foundation’s way of taking action by zooming in on how it can have a concrete impact on the pollinator population in its own backyard.

 

Starting small and close to home: Milkweed and Monarch conservation at Scowen Park

As soon as we can: Launching this summer!

This project also encompasses the four tenets of conservation which are fundamental to the Foundation’s conservation mission:

  1. Preservation – The natural milkweed and monarch habitat in the fields at Scowen Park will be protected and we hope to eventually lead initiatives that protect the milkweed populations throughout neighboring communities.
  2. Research – The project will include a citizen science component like several existing Monarch Butterfly projects (see list below).
  3. Recreation – Project elements will be available for all visitors to view, admire and enjoy when they come for a walk at Scowen.
  4. Education – The project will involve the installation of information panels as well as educational activities and visits open to the public (more details coming soon).

The hope is to make use of resources and partake in programs that already exist (adapting them where necessary) while also developing a conservation and education model unique to Scowen Park and the Massawippi Foundation.

For this to be a success, we are counting on the participation from our beloved community!

 

How to Get Involved

Are you interested in learning more about the Massawippi Foundation Monarch Butterfly Project? Do you have ideas you would like to share? Perhaps you would like to watch over metamorphosing Monarchs when the time comes?

No matter your level of interest, we would love to hear from you. We plan to assemble our first ever “Butterfly Brigade” for the summer of 2023 with a first meeting in late June.

To put your name on our list of potential Brigade members, please complete the short form here: 2023 Butterfly Brigade Registration Form

You may also write to the following email with any questions you’d like to ask or thoughts you’d like to share: [email protected]

 


Build Your Nature Vocabulary

Use the text and search the web to build your nature vocabulary and try using it the next time you’re out and about in nature, either making observations by yourself or with friends!

  • Habitat
  • Biodiversity
  • Charismatic megafauna
  • Ecological services

References

What is biodiversity? Why it’s under threat and why it matters (World Wildlife Fund)
Pollinators need you. You need pollinators. (Pollinator Partnership)
Pollinisateurs (Fondation David Suzuki)

 

Open Garden Days - Glen Villa

Saturday June 17th, July 15th and August 12th

9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

General admission tickets are $25

Choose either the morning or the afternoon.

Children 10  and under are admitted free of charge and do not require a ticket.

New in 2023 – Walks and Talks

Explore a special topic in small groups with an expert for 75-90 minutes. Additional Fee $40

Ornithological Tour of the Glen Villa Gardens,  Jean-Paul Morin and Camille Dufresne (Bilingual)                                                          Identification Walk of Wild and Edible Plants Patrick Garcia (French)
Landscape Photography and the Art of Seeing Karl Forrest Ehrlich (Bilingual)
Art in the Landscape: What, Where and Why? Myke Hodgins or Tracey Hesse (Bilingual)
Discovering Native Trees and their Role in the Ecology of the Site, Alain Carignan (French)
Trees in the Garden: their Identification, Adaptations & their Ecological Roles, Justin Manasc (Bilingual)                                            Discovery Walk of Medicinal Plants in Nature, Marie-Josée Vivier (Bilingual)

FOR TICKETS OR INFORMATION
glenvillaartgarden.org

Glen Villa Art Garden (Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley) is open to the general public only on Open Garden Days.

Bat flying

Reading time : 2 minutes

© CERFO

There are eight bat species present in Quebec. Three are migratory and five are resident. The residents look for places to hibernate each winter. They need a dry place, but with access to water to drink from time to time. The temperature needs to remain above zero during the winter in the chosen space.

Three species are designated as endangered in Canada: the little brown bat, the northern bat and the eastern pipistrelle.

Bats (CERFO)Our conservation partner, Appalachian Corridor, is part of a conservation program with Conservation Chauve-souris des Cantons-de-l’Est (CCSCE) since December 2020. Press release.

This month we have reproduced CERFO’s article on bats. CERFO’s scientists publish articles in layman’s terms so that we, the general public, can better understand them.

Who is CERFO?

CERFO (Centre d’enseignement et de recherche en foresterie), is the Centre collégial de transfert de technologie (CCTT) en foresterie affiliated with the Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CÉGEP) de Sainte-Foy (Québec, Canada), founded in Québec City in 1984. More recently, it has extended its activities to a broader forestry field, including agricultural and urban areas. 

Click on the link to read the article: “ Comment favoriser les chauves-souris en milieu agricole ”

The article is available in French.


The authors:

Bérubé-Girouard, V. and E. Boulfroy. 2023. “ Comment favoriser les chauves-souris en milieu agricole ” (How to encourage bats in agricultural areas). Fiche d’accompagnement pour l’implantation d’aménagements favorisant la biodiversité en milieu agricole no 3. Centre d’enseignement et de recherche en foresterie de Sainte-Foy (CERFO). 6 p.

 “This project is an initiative of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ), funded through the Advisory Services Program, implemented under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.”

We are also sharing with you a video that was produced on this same theme. Here is the video link YT Screenshot

Our partner Appalachian Corridor, in partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and Granby Zoo, has prepared three videos on the theme 

Bats: Legends and Wonders (Videos)

Bats in your home is a good article from Appalachian Corridor on what to do and what not to do if you find a bat in your home.

Ladies birdwatching

Written by Jessica Adams (Nature Nerding)
Reading time: 5-6 minutes

Ladies birdwatchingWhen you think of birdwatching, you may be inclined to picture a group of people of a certain age walking slowly along a trail, most wearing a bucket hat and a vest of some sort. As they meander slowly along a trail, they periodically stop, look up to the treetops and lift their trusty binoculars to their eyes, excitedly whispering to their fellow birders about what they are seeing.

And you likely are not alone in picturing this! Birdwatching has a bit of a reputation as the hobby of choice for retirees, a passtime reserved for “later in life”, if you will. As a thirty-something who has been fascinated by birds her whole life and who has taken to birdwatching more seriously in the past decade, I am inviting a shift in perspective that just might have you reaching for that dusty pair of binoculars you almost relegated to this year’s yard sale pile…

 

Birds as a Gateway to Nature

Kids Birdwatching

Birds “connect us with here and there, with then and now, as they chatter outside our windows or soar past our lives” (Slow Birding, Joan E. Strassman). In a time where our connection with nature can feel tenuous, birds offer a means of reaffirming the existence of wild animal life amidst our daily human existence.

Whether flitting from bush to feeder in your backyard, singing from the depths of the forest as you walk the trail or paddling leisurely in an urban park pond, birds are very much present in our lives, providing an accessible way of acknowledging, appreciating and connecting with the natural world.

 

Give Birdwatching or “Birding” a Try this Spring

Birdwatching is sometimes slightly more challenging (possibly downright discouraging) because we tend to hear birds much more often than we actually see them. And while identifying birds based on their song is a rewarding endeavour all its own, it can be frustrating and might not be the best starting point for the “birding curious”.

That being said, there are indeed more opportune times for bird watching.

In April and May, while many eagerly await the arrival of summer, others are completely content with the spring window of opportunity for birding. Not only are various migratory species returning from overwintering grounds making for a rich diversity of species, but the trees and skies are simply buzzing with activity as our feathered friends forage, claim territories, court mates and begin building nests. Spring is primteline and the possibilities for observation are endless!

The added bonus earlier on in spring: the treetops are still relatively bare making it MUCH easier to spot birds as they go about their activities.

Taking the above into consideration – if ever there was a time to try your hand at birdwatching, this is the time of year!

 

Where and How to Start

If you are even the slightest bit intrigued, here are a few tips for dipping your toe into the wondrous world of birdwatching this spring:

  • Location: Choose a place you already frequent. This could be a nearby park, beach or even the birdfeeder in your own backyard. It is fun to visit new places and discover the wildlife that inhabit them, but starting with somewhere close by that you visit often ensures you have regular occasions to engage with the species of that area and practice your skills.
  • Approach:
    • Brush up on your bird vocabulary. It is much easier to describe something when you are able to use the correct terminology. Start broad with what the Cornell Lab of Ornithology deems the main divisions:
      • Beak (or bill)
      • Head
      • Back
      • Throat
      • Breast
      • Wings
      • Tail
      • Legs
    • Start with species you already “know”. Take a step back and imagine you are seeing them for the first time. You may immediately recognize a Blue Jay, for instance… but have you ever stopped to consider what makes a Blue Jay… a Blue Jay?
    • Practice careful observation before jumping to identification. As humans, we have the tendency to want to name everything as quickly as possible. Resist the urge to jump to conclusions as you observe the birds that cross your path. Some cues for guiding that careful observation, as outlined by The Cornell Lab:
      • Size: What size is the bird relative to species you know? Say you are seeing a Blue Jay for the first time. Size-wise it is larger than a Sparrow, but smaller than a Crow. It is roughly the same size as a Robin.
      • Shape: What about its body shape? A Blue Jay may be similar in size to a Robin, but what features of its body shape can help set it apart? One noteworthy feature could be its crest. It also has less of a pronounced belly than the Robin.
      • Colour Pattern: What stands out first? The Blue Jay’s vivid blue is certainly not one we come across in all birds. Beyond that, where do we notice contrast? Its face, breast, and belly are white save for one stark marking: a black “chin strap”.
      • Behaviour: A few times observing Blue Jays and you may remark that they are quite vocal and far from shy when it comes to taking up space at feeders, for instance.
  • Equipment: Start with what you already have. If you have a pair of binoculars or can borrow one, great! If not, practice birdwatching with the naked eye. Especially if you have access to a birdfeeder, this can be much more effective than you might think. I also recommend keeping a journal where you keep track of your observations, whether in writing, sketches or both! One of the best parts of birdwatching is that it requires relatively little investment – mostly just your time and attention. The bucket hat and vest can come later 😉

woman birdwatching

Above all else, slowing down and refining your birdwatching process ensures that it slowly becomes more intuitive. This makes the experience of encountering new species all the more rewarding and enjoyable as you find yourself increasingly adept at narrowing down the identification possibilities and admiring the wide diversity of species in your very own backyard.

Like with many things in life, the fact birds are so present and available might make us more inclined to disregard them as background features. Life gets busy, time passes quickly and stopping to truly take note of what’s happening around us is a tendency that takes practice. Each opportunity to engage with birds invites one to slow down, engage the senses, get curious and observe carefully.

Consider this as encouragement to all from the birding curious to the seasoned birders to seize these opportunities, even if only from time to time, as they result in boundless peace, wonder, and joy, reminding us of our interconnectedness and shared dependence on this beautiful planet.


Build Your Nature Vocabulary

Use the text and search the web to build your nature vocabulary and try using it the next time you’re out and about in nature, either making observations by yourself or with friends!

  • Migratory
  • Forage
  • Court
  • Crest

References

– Building Skills: The 4 Keys to Bird Identification by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Cornell University)