Who doesn’t want to eat a meadow vole?

Meadow Vole poop is an essential source of nutrients for grasses and other plants where they forage

Who doesn’t want to eat a meadow vole?It’s easy to admire big animals, but without tiny critters nothing can survive. From the soil insects, micro-organisms and small mammals that become food for predators up through the food chain, everything relies on something smaller to survive. One of the most overlooked mammals is the Meadow Vole. It’s a small mouse-like animal that lives…

Why do birds really migrate in the fall?

It isn't so much to escape the cold but to find enough food to survive

Why do birds really migrate in the fall?I get both excited and saddened at this time of year. In the spring, I await the return of the birds and then all summer long I enjoy their song, but in the fall I know they will soon be migrating south. The young have fledged and the adult birds have put on enough weight…

How to be eco-friendly when mowing your lawn

Helping insects survive is more valuable than practically anything else we do to help nature

How to be eco-friendly when mowing your lawnI recently wrote about haying and the delicate balance between harvesting a crop and protecting nesting birds. Today, I would like to offer some advice to help us protect the beauty and functionality of our properties while simultaneously protecting wildlife. Why should we care? Wildlife is more than just an attractive feature of the landscape;…

Fall is in the air and trees are changing colour

We are fortunate to live in a part of the world where our four seasons are distinct

Fall is in the air and trees are changing colourAutumn is a time of reflection. I love the fall as it is both a time of awe-inspiring colours and a foreboding of winter soon to come … but the former somehow overshadows the latter for me. We are fortunate to live in a part of the world where our four seasons are distinct and…

Canada Jay is the best choice to be our national bird

The Jay lives and breeds from coast to coast to coast

Canada Jay is the best choice to be our national birdMy friend and colleague Dr. David Bird, formerly of McGill University, has been driving a movement to have a national bird declared for Canada. Although many thought it was a done deal already and we had affirmed the Canada Jay as our national bird, Canada has not yet done so. Starting in 2016, the community…

There’s room for everyone in nature – if we’re respectful

The only time we need to stand up is when nature is negatively impacted by someone’s actions

There’s room for everyone in nature – if we’re respectfulI sometimes wonder how people with disparate desires share a common resource while respecting other people’s differing ideals and goals. I’m a dedicated birdwatcher, as I think you might have figured out by now. Years ago, I went to Rondeau Provincial Park in Ontario to look for a very rare bird – a sage thrasher…

When is the right time to mow hay fields to protect birds?

Knowing birds' behaviour and nesting habits allows nesting and mowing to coexist

When is the right time to mow hay fields to protect birds?Every year about his time I feel sadness for the many birds and small mammals killed by haying. I know there are many and varied reasons why fields are cut, and I respect that, so please don’t think I am criticizing farmers. Mowing hay fields is a necessary and important part of agriculture. We forget…

What the heck are jumping worms?

Though we think they’re helpful, all worms upset the balance, making soil quality poorer

What the heck are jumping worms?Worms are meant to crawl and slither … aren’t they? Then how come some are jumping? We’re all familiar with earthworms, which can be quite large but essentially always look alike. They’re pinkish and look sort of like small snakes. Gardeners among us will also recognize wrigglers, which are small, bright pink worms that favour…

My neighbour the osprey in all its grandeur

These magnificent birds often nest in odd places, such as the light standards and hydroelectric towers

My neighbour the osprey in all its grandeurThe waterfront of Port Perry, Ont., is hosting new neighbours. Two osprey have taken up residence right in the middle of town on the waterfront. These magnificent birds inspire awe but often nest in odd places, such as the light standards and hydroelectric towers. A pair has nested for years at the ball fields at…

Does the internet make us better naturalists?

While the amount of information available is astounding, it is usually hard to find the answers

Does the internet make us better naturalists?When I was a kid, we didn’t have cellphones, the internet or even computers. Facebook, TikTok, Tumblr, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram or myriad other social media platforms didn’t exist. Add to that the many apps that are available to help us learn bird songs or identify everything from plants, mammals and insects to mushrooms, and we…

Give a hoot and support the Great Canadian Birdathon

The Great Canadian Birdathon is designed to raise much-needed funds to protect Canadian birds

Give a hoot and support the Great Canadian BirdathonOne of the biggest challenges birds face is the journey north each spring. Migration is rife with obstacles to survival. This spring is especially problematic due to the cold and wet weather we’ve had. Birds that rely on insects to fatten up for the migration face unprecedented challenges as snow, rain, wind and very cold…

Birdwatching in Honduras – plumage aplenty

Daily delights greeted us – toucans, parrots, butterflies, flowering trees, towering mountains

Birdwatching in Honduras – plumage aplentySpring is an exciting time of year as everything awakens and regrowth is rampant. I always eagerly anticipate the return of the birds that migrated southbound last fall. Their beauty and – more importantly – their song delights and revitalizes me. I know where they go, but I seldom get a chance to see them…

Breeding bird study offers insights into health of the environment

Continuing intensive breeding bird survey involves thousands of volunteers, hundreds of thousands of bits of data

Breeding bird study offers insights into health of the environmentEvery spring, I get excited as the birds start to return to Ontario from South and Central America. Life is emerging everywhere. Even though nature sometimes seems to conspire against them with cold snaps following sunny days, birds persist. Fire, rain, wind, predators, agricultural and industrial activities, cars, cats and inadvertent human disturbance all work…

Cluster flies on your window? Spring has sprung

They share our home until the weather warms enough, then emerge and try to find their way home

Cluster flies on your window? Spring has sprungIt isn’t hard to see that the land is awakening as spring slowly unfolds before our eyes. One of the revelations I always marvel at in the spring is the rapid emergence of insects when it’s still so cold outside. Even though the outside temperature was only a few degrees above freezing at my house…

Are we Earth’s protectors if we carelessly wipe out species?

The well-being of the animals and the benefits they provide us rarely factored in

Are we Earth’s protectors if we carelessly wipe out species?Typically I note articles that cross my desk that report negative stories about nature. Historically, they didn’t emerge that frequently and nature, in general, was doing pretty well, despite some ongoing issues with overhunting, predator control, urbanization, pesticides and poaching. I read and keep these stories because sometimes lessons can be learned by studying other…
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