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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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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Identifying bats by their distinctive voices

Big brown bat (Photo by Brock Fenton)

Big brown bat (Photo by Brock Fenton)

Having studied bats for more than a decade, I have been fortunate to be able talk to students in their classrooms while doing bat presentations, or to landowners while I trapped bats on their properties. Everyone has a bat story. Everyone loves...

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On a quest for the alluring swift fox

Swift fox cub and its mum (Photo by Catriona Matheson, Cochrane Ecological Institute)

Swift fox cub and its mum (Photo by Catriona Matheson, Cochrane Ecological Institute)

My unsuccessful search for the elusive swift fox has spanned nearly a decade.It was 2008, the winter semester of my first year at Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alberta, when I first learned about the history of swift foxes in Canada. The smallest...

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Not my story: What it means to be bison people

Views from Buffalo Treaty Signing Ceremony at Prince Albert National Park (Photo by Anthony Johnson)

Views from Buffalo Treaty Signing Ceremony at Prince Albert National Park (Photo by Anthony Johnson)

I really like telling stories about the crazy things that happen to me at work. I also like telling other people’s crazy stories that I haven’t even witnessed. Ask me about the adventures of my buddy Tyler. He gets up to some...

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How birds survive the winter

Black-capped chickadee in winter (Photo by NCC)

Black-capped chickadee in winter (Photo by NCC)

Winter on the prairies is long and cold, often lasting from November until March, and with temperatures falling to -20 °C or -30 °C, it’s a wonder that anything can survive here at all. However, a walk around any residential...

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Badgered into respecting the wild

American badger (Photo by Max Allen/Shutterstock)

American badger (Photo by Max Allen/Shutterstock)

It was my co-worker Emily's and my first day out in the field without a manager — the training wheels were off. We were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to impress the property land managers with a thorough property inspection. This...

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Banding together to protect birds

Warbling vireo that was just banded. Also shown are the banding pliers used to apply the band, data sheet, wing chord ruler and digital scale. (Photo by NCC)

Warbling vireo that was just banded. Also shown are the banding pliers used to apply the band, data sheet, wing chord ruler and digital scale. (Photo by NCC)

In a previous blog post, I discussed how scientists determine long-term trends in bird populations through annual monitoring. Those estimates provide valuable information about a species, but are limited in their capacity to explain the underlying...

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A star- and conservation-filled weekend

A young CV capping the posts with post caps provided by Mosaic potash. (Photo by NCC)

A young CV capping the posts with post caps provided by Mosaic potash. (Photo by NCC)

There was just the occasional raindrop as my wife, Gail, and I began to set up our tent Friday morning at Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area (OMB). We had watched the rain move across the landscape for the last hour, as we...

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Places worth protecting: The Canadian prairies

Prairie Day event, Manitoba (Photo by NCC)

Prairie Day event, Manitoba (Photo by NCC)

So you’ve decided to conserve biodiversity. This decision may lead to many false starts, disappointments and re-negotiated deadlines, but ultimately and eventually, it will lead to land conservation! Now, how does the Nature Conservancy of...

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