Terminarch: Making music out of birdsong

Sage thrasher (Photo by Dick Cannings)

Sage thrasher (Photo by Dick Cannings)

One of the best things about composing music for the concert hall is that inspiration can come from just about anywhere. My latest work, Terminarch, is a 10-minute piece for a quartet of percussionists based on the birdsong of 12 endangered...

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The Friday Five: Conservation and nature stories from around the world that caught our eye this week

White-throated sparrow (Photo by Becky Matsubara, CC-BY)

White-throated sparrow (Photo by Becky Matsubara, CC-BY)

Each week, countless inspiring and informative stories are published about conservation successes or discoveries in nature and wildlife around the world. Here are some of the conservation and nature stories that caught our attention the week of...

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Birding for beginners

Child with binoculars (Public Domain)

Child with binoculars (Public Domain)

I wouldn’t consider myself a birder, but I am one of the many people who has been more tuned into the nature around me since the pandemic started. Working from home and sticking to walks around my neighbourhood has made me more aware of my...

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How do you solve a problem like migration?

A flock of shorebirds takes to the air at Oak/Plum Lake Important Bird Area, a migration stopover site in Manitoba. The mixed-species flock includes Wilson’s phalaropes, red-necked phalaropes, stilt sandpipers, pectoral sandpipers, dunlin, white-rumped sandpipers and semipalmated sandpipers. (Photo by Christian Artuso)

A flock of shorebirds takes to the air at Oak/Plum Lake Important Bird Area, a migration stopover site in Manitoba. The mixed-species flock includes Wilson’s phalaropes, red-necked phalaropes, stilt sandpipers, pectoral sandpipers, dunlin, white-rumped sandpipers and semipalmated sandpipers. (Photo by Christian Artuso)

I can feel the rapid thrumming of the bluebird’s heart against my palm as I carefully manoeuvre its foot into position over a tiny Ziploc bag. I pick up my nail scissors and take a deep breath to steady my hand. I will only get one chance to...

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Tales of recovery: Cooper's hawk

Cooper's hawk (Photo by Jim Johnson, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Cooper's hawk (Photo by Jim Johnson, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Not that long ago, we used the “Santa Claus method” to classify wildlife. There was the nice list. Animals like deer and trout and ducks were on that list. These were mostly animals that we liked to hunt and fish, but also animals that...

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Restore it and they will come

Henslow's sparrow (Photo by Adam Timpf)

Henslow's sparrow (Photo by Adam Timpf)

One spring day last year, I was doing what I always do: walking the family dog and noting on my ebird app what birds were around. This daily ritual exercises the dog and allows me to collect data on what birds and wildlife are inhabiting our farm...

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Mhairi’s bird of the day: Lesser scaup

Lesser scaup (Photo by Christian Artuso, CC BY-NC-ND-4.0)

Lesser scaup (Photo by Christian Artuso, CC BY-NC-ND-4.0)

Spotted on March 24, 2020 Lesser scaup Aythya affinis Aythya: from aithuia in ancient Greek, meaning “seabird” Affinis: “related to” in Latin Some birds are easy to identify at a glance, and some are fairly easy with a...

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An original poem: The Bluebirds Have Returned

Mountain bluebird (Photo by Leta Pezderic/ NCC staff)

Mountain bluebird (Photo by Leta Pezderic/ NCC staff)

Springtime is making its appearance across the country. Buds are starting to appear on bare branches, blades of grass turn green again and signs of critters abound. One feathered friend is particularly endearing, and a delight to welcome back: the...

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Tales of recovery: Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird (Photo by Cameron Curran/NCC staff)

Eastern bluebird (Photo by Cameron Curran/NCC staff)

There is perhaps no other bird that has endeared itself into our popular culture as the bluebird. It’s the helpful feathered friend in Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Bluebird is in the lyrics of over 500 songs, performed by...

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Mhairi’s bird of the day: Wood duck

Wood duck (Photo by Frank Vassen/Wikimedia Commons)

Wood duck (Photo by Frank Vassen/Wikimedia Commons)

Spotted on March 23, 2020 Wood duck Aix sponsa Aix: “diving bird” in ancient Greek For the last 10 years, I have been recording my bird observations on my daily bike commute to work, before we started working from home in light of...

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