How to be a better student of nature

How to be a better student of natureA plethora of apps are available that will help you ‘see’ nature better In the past, I have discussed how computers, online resources and social media – and how reliable and trustworthy they are – affect our ability to be better naturalists. I have also advised how we must strive to learn and not just…

Is nature really out to get us?

Is nature really out to get us?When nature gets nasty Back in August, I wrote about some positive effects of forest fires. Today I want to expand on why nature sometimes gets nasty. While natural cycles have been ongoing since the Earth was created, adding hominids to the mix was, at first, benign. But our insatiable appetite emerged during the Industrial…

Do you know what thigmotaxis means? Pinnipeds do it all the time

Here are a few of my favourite words from nature

Do you know what thigmotaxis means? Pinnipeds do it all the timeI love to read about nature, but every now and then, words jump out at me that make me stop in my tracks as sometimes I don’t know what they mean! Here are a few of my favourites that I’ve found over the years. Thigmotaxis: Many animals rely on their neighbours to keep them warm…

Can flying squirrels really fly?

No, but they have a unique body feature that permits them to appear to fly

Can flying squirrels really fly?I have always marvelled at flying squirrels and their unusual abilities and biology. Two possible species can be found in Canada. The Southern Flying Squirrel is restricted to patchy appearances throughout our area but thrives best along the north shore of Lake Erie and into the U.S.; the Northern Flying Squirrel can commonly be found…

Some fun facts about chipmunks

Chipmunks are adorable, but ...

Some fun facts about chipmunksAlthough over 200 kinds of squirrels can be found across the globe, 25 of those are chipmunks and all but one of these species of chipmunk lives in North America. The outlier is the Siberian Chipmunk which can only be found in Asia.  In Canada, we have several kinds of squirrels – Eastern Gray, Red,…

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…
1 2 3 8