Canada's splendid sparrow crew

Dark-eyed junco (Photo by Bill Hubick)

Dark-eyed junco (Photo by Bill Hubick)

Sparrows often don’t get enough credit. Many don’t have flashy plumage like jays, orioles or cardinals, or melodic songs like thrushes or meadowlarks; however, sparrow species are often fairly distinct (once you get to know them) and...

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This St. Patrick's Day, defy convention and celebrate snakes

Queen snake (Photo by Joe Crowley)

Queen snake (Photo by Joe Crowley)

For many of us, Saint Patrick is known as the protector of the rolling hills of Ireland. Every year, people around the world join in celebrating his legendary story. The green beer, shamrocks and other verdant regalia synonymous with St....

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The Great Backyard Bird Count: Counting birds for community science

Dressed for birding in the polar vortex (Photo by Sarah Ludlow/NCC staff)

Dressed for birding in the polar vortex (Photo by Sarah Ludlow/NCC staff)

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a global community science project that aims to gather a snapshot of bird populations and distributions in mid-February, before their annual spring migrations begin. The GBBC runs for four days each year,...

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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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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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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 neighbourhood or...

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Re-wilding myself

Conservation Volunteers planting trees at at the Meeting Lake 03 property, SK (Photo by NCC)

Conservation Volunteers planting trees at at the Meeting Lake 03 property, SK (Photo by NCC)

Field work, one of the highlights for many Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) staff, was a little harder to come by this year because of COVID-19, but thanks to hard work by engagement staff and with all the safety protocols in place, we were able...

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Stopping habitat loss is the key to saving Canada’s endangered species

Evening grosbeak (Photo by Anna Tchoulik)

Evening grosbeak (Photo by Anna Tchoulik)

Canada has been losing and saving species for a long time. Since European settlement, over 100 species have been lost here. These include plants and animals that are extinct and extirpated and species that are considered historic (no one has seen...

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My Pike Lake Bioblitz

Caterpillar (Photo by Shirley Humphries)

Caterpillar (Photo by Shirley Humphries)

A Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) email popped up: "Big Backyard BioBlitz,” September 24 to 30, 2020! That sounded both appealing and doable without the risk of COVID-19 exposure. I would go to Pike Lake Provincial Park, where there are a...

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Emblems of Canada: tree edition

Red maple (Photo by Jean Isaacs)

Red maple (Photo by Jean Isaacs)

Trees have played a significant cultural role in the lives of many Canadians; they are engrained in our national identity. Take the Canadian flag, for instance. It features a single, prominent red maple leaf in the centre, which speaks to the...

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