My 2017 Ontario birding “Big Year”

Violet-green swallow at Thunder Bay Marina, Ontario's third ever record of this species. (Photo by Jeremy Bensette)

Violet-green swallow at Thunder Bay Marina, Ontario's third ever record of this species. (Photo by Jeremy Bensette)

Last year was a pretty “big” one for me, birding-wise! I committed to completing a "Big Year," a quest to see as many bird species as possible in one year in my beautiful home province of Ontario, and held onto that goal until dark on...

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Ten of nature's weirdest courtship rituals

Greater prairie chicken (Photo by Ron Knight/Wikimedia Commons)

Greater prairie chicken (Photo by Ron Knight/Wikimedia Commons)

Much like humans, other animals have evolved ways of wooing or courting potential mates, whether it’s singing a love song, doing a sensual dance or giving a thoughtful gift. With love in the air this Valentine’s Day, here are 10...

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Counting crows: A winter walk reveals an abundance of birds in the Fraser River Estuary

Conservation Volunteers ready for birding (Photo by Fiona Walsh)

Conservation Volunteers ready for birding (Photo by Fiona Walsh)

For more than a century, an ongoing citizen science survey has taken place during the holiday season. Known as the Christmas Bird Count, the first survey was initiated by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman on Christmas Day in 1900. One hundred and...

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What's so special about Kenauk?

Osprey nest on Lac Papineau in Kenauk, viewed by several participants in the 2016 survey (Photo by Richard Gregson)

Osprey nest on Lac Papineau in Kenauk, viewed by several participants in the 2016 survey (Photo by Richard Gregson)

Kenauk is big. Really big! In terms of surface area, it’s the largest conservation project ever undertaken by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in Quebec, and certainly one of the largest in Canada. The site, located about eight...

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How species survive the winter: Skin breathing and antifreeze

Northern leopard frog (Photo by NCC)

Northern leopard frog (Photo by NCC)

Previous blog posts have discussed how small songbirds and big brown bats survive the winter. Those blogs briefly covered some strategies used by birds and mammals. But what about amphibians? How do frogs survive the many months of sub-zero...

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This Groundhog Day, it's all relatives

Groundhog (Photo by Cephas/Wikimedia Commons)

Groundhog (Photo by Cephas/Wikimedia Commons)

Tomorrow marks Groundhog Day, a North American tradition dating back to 1888. The groundhog, also called the woodchuck, is the largest member of the squirrel family and one of four marmot species that live in Canada. Rather than just focusing on...

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A mega-rare mistle thrush visited my mountain ash

Mistle thrush (Photo by Peter Gadd)

Mistle thrush (Photo by Peter Gadd)

On Christmas Day 2017.... It is here! It is here in the mountain ash tree at the crack of dawn. It is a brief appearance, as it turns out, but one long enough to perhaps sense it is sending a Christmas greeting. A bird, once known as the ...

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In search of my totem

Great blue heron spreading its wings (Photo by Lorne)

Great blue heron spreading its wings (Photo by Lorne)

I frequently awaken with pre-set routines and their parameters dancing in my head — actions and reactions caused by billions of neurons sending and receiving electrochemical signals to and from my brain. Whether stretching and slowly...

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How species survive winter: Hibernation

A big brown bat

A big brown bat "hanging out." Often when found outside, big brown bats sit in this position on the side of a building, tree or (ideally not) on the ground. (Photo by Sarah Ludlow/NCC)

Previously, I discussed how small songbirds, and black-capped chickadees in particular, survive winter on the Canadian prairies. Now I will discuss another strategy that animals use to survive the long, cold winter months: hibernation. Hibernation...

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December roundup: Conservation and nature stories that caught our eye this month

Golden-winged warbler (Photo by Marshall Faintich)

Golden-winged warbler (Photo by Marshall Faintich)

Every day, countless inspiring and informative stories are published about conservation successes or discoveries in nature and wildlife around the world. Here are some that caught our attention in December 2017: Animal herbalists Researchers...

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