Species at Risk
New Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas App
There is an urgent need for volunteer citizen scientists of all levels to submit sightings of all reptile and amphibian species, not just the rare ones.
“The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas is a citizen-science project that tracks distributions and spatial trends of reptiles and amphibians across the province over time. The over-arching goal is to increase the collective knowledge base of reptiles and amphibians. Equally important, however, is the engagement of non-scientists of all ages and abilities, in all parts of the province, in nature study and conservation.
Reptiles and amphibians are experiencing global declines of 20 and 40 percent respectively. In Ontario, 75 percent of reptiles and 35 percent of amphibians are listed as nationally and provincially at-risk.”
It is very helpful to report sightings:
We need volunteer citizen scientists of all levels to submit sightings of all reptile and amphibian species, not just the rare ones. Just in time for spring, we’re proud to announce the launch of our updated Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas App!
The new App!
There are several new features, including a field guide for the 48 species of reptiles and amphibians found in Ontario with colour photos, descriptions and calls that can be used to help you identify your sightings. If you have the previous version of the app, make sure to download the updated version to access all the new features! This project is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, and the Environment Canada Habitat Stewardship Program. All illustrations provided are courtesy of the Toronto Zoo. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
Film screening raises over $800 for Bird Studies Canada; DVD now in library
Thank you to all those who attended the January screening of Canadian Director Su Rynard’s film, The Messenger, at the Almonte Old Town Hall. The film dealt with the sobering reality of the precipitous decline of songbirds and was viewed by a sold-out crowd. All proceeds from the MVFN screening went towards Bird Studies Canada, including all entrance fees, and many MVFN members and others also made donations, for which MVFN is very grateful. Thanks to the overwhelming community interest in this environmental documentary, a very significant amount was raised, surpassing our wildest expectations: we presented Bird Studies Canada The Messenger Impact Campaign with a donation of over $800! Congratulations to all those who attended, to MVFN’s Program, Birding, Social and Service Committee volunteers, and the Municipality of Mississippi Mills who helped with logistics and technical support at the venue.
DVD now in local libraries:
Since many were unable to see the film (the hall was filled, but many people were still in line) and many would like to see it again, MVFN decided to purchase a few DVD copies of the film. We are pleased to announce that copies of the DVD of The Messenger are now available at the Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place public libraries.
About the movie:
The decline of songbird populations is a global problem, as shown so clearly in the film, but hopefully we can take comfort in having taken a step towards understanding the problem better. Also, it is good to know of the efforts around the world which are featured in the film; people making diverse efforts, i.e. academic researchers, writers, farmers, citizen scientists, and volunteers, all focused on what can be done to save birds. One of the most poignant moments in the beautiful film was the question: “Can we live in a world without birds?” The answer is that we really do not know. I hope we will not have to find out.
What can we do to help?
1. Reduce predation by cats. Keep your cats in doors. Click on the following link, or the image below, to read more about the interactions betweeen cats and birds http://catsandbirds.ca/
2. Do not use harmful pesticides
3. In urban areas provide habitat for birds.
2. Prevent fatal collisions with windows and get rid of “fatal” lights in the migration season. At night, lights in our windows and outdoors can fatally attract songbirds migrating at night. And year round, the reflective surfaces of windows can cause collisions during the day. Apply protective film or decals to reduce reflections. Window collisions are particularly a problem in our rural areas where reflective surfaces fool birds because they reflect natural features.
Read about the FLAP, the Fatal Light Awareness Program at http://www.flap.org/
3. Be bird friendly in other ways. Reduce your carbon footprint, buy “bird friendly” coffee (organic, shade grown, AND plants grown in conditions conforming to high standards for habitat quality), and choose recycled and unbleached paper products.
4. Get involved in citizen science and become more educated about challenges faced by birds, and what individual species need to thrive on Earth. Join a local naturalist group, such as the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, the Ottawa Field Naturalist Club or the Macnamara Field Naturalists.
5. Add your voice to protect the vast boreal forest habitat for songbirds. Sign the “Boreal Birds Need Half” petition at http://www.borealbirdsneedhalf.org/en/. The vast boreal region is the “planet’s nursery for billions of birds. It’s an ecosystem so big, the film says, that you can watch global carbon dioxide levels drop as the forest wakes up each spring and summer. And yet it’s being nibbled away by timber harvest, energy extraction and other types of fragmentation. The Boreal Birds Need Half campaign is a push by the Boreal Songbird Initiative and partners to ensure that some of this vast wilderness is set aside for the future.”
MVFN’s Publicity Chair, Pauline Donaldson
Metamorphosis: Changing the Way We Look at Amphibians
We are excited to announce our February natural history presentation by Peter B. Mills, B.Sc. B.Ed., biologist, writer, and artist/illustrator of a brand-new field guide Metamorphosis: Ontario’s Amphibians at all Stages of Development.
Peter Mills has worked professionally as a naturalist in Algonquin Park over the past nine years and is currently studying at-risk salamanders by using mapping technology to plot locations of different species and how they interact with one another. “Peter will be speaking about a two-year journey he undertook to write and illustrate a unique field guide dedicated to enhancing our knowledge of the critical, developmental first half of the lives of frogs, toads, and salamanders.”
Peter will be bringing copies of his book for sale at the meeting ($30 cash or cheque). Please see the event details below and at http://mvfn.ca/living-a-double-life/ If you are interested in more information about the book by Mills, please visit the authors website at http://www.peterbmills.com/metamorphosis.html
Date: Thursday, February 16
Time: 7:30 pm (doors open 7 pm)
Place: Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte
Admission is free for MVFN members. There is an admission fee of $5 for non-members. No charge for youth 18 and under. Refreshments are available from before and after the presentation. We always welcome new members.
We hope to see you there!
MVFN Nature Notebook Sighting: Hundreds of Snow Buntings
Sighting received Jan 11, 2017: Lise Balthazar is seeing hundreds of Snow Buntings on her property and sends some photos:
” The numbers have been gradually increasing and we now have about 200 birds visiting and feeding every day. I feed them white millet. I keep in touch with the Snow Bunting Network; they have volunteers who do banding of those birds to track their movements and to try to understand why their numbers are declining. For years now, I have been asking that group if someone could come and band some of our birds, but I haven’t had any success yet.”
The Messenger: Birds Have Something to Tell Us
The award-winning documentary film, The Messenger, is coming to Almonte TONIGHT JANUARY 19
Canadian Director Su Rynard’s visionary film will be showing for one night only at Almonte Old Town Hall. Since its world premiere at Toronto’s 2015 Hot Docs Film Festival, The Messenger has impressed audiences around the world. This essential film has significant global implications and argues that the decline of songbirds signals an uncertain shift in an already fragile ecosystem, while warning that the uncertain fate of songbirds mirrors our own. Screening information is as follows: 7 PM, Thursday, January 19 at Almonte Old Town Hall. Admission is $5, with all proceeds to Bird Studies Canada (BSC), “The Messenger” Impact Campaign. The screening, hosted by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, will be followed by a Q and A discussion. Note that admission is free for MVFN members. However, for those who wish to donate to BSC, donations will be accepted on film night and at the Jan 6 MVFN Pub Night.
The films director had noticed birds “disappearing” from around her family cottage NE of Toronto: “For me, the first step was to simply stop, listen and see for myself what was going on in the skies above. The next step [was] this film” said Rynard. Indeed, according to Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, author of Silence of the Songbirds,
“What we’re seeing with these songbird declines is 40 or 50 years in a row of the populations getting lower and lower. So we have only half the birds we did back in the 1960’s.”
Beautifully filmed in Canada (Toronto, Alberta’s boreal forest, and elsewhere), Costa Rica, Germany, France, The Netherlands and the USA, The Messenger excels, with an international panel of remarkable participants— expert scientists and artists whose insightful knowledge and passion movie-goers strongly connect with. To name a few: Dr. Bridget Stutchbury; University of Saskatchewan’s, Dr. Christy Morrisey, the young eco-toxicologist whose research on impacts of new pesticides on prairie farmland and wetland birds is revealing vital clues to what’s going wrong; German composer/DJ Dominik Eulberg whose contribution “reconciled his love of ornithology, with his talent, skill and experience in techno music”; and ecologist Alejandra Martinez-Salinas, in Costa Rica, whose current work focuses on the role of birds in control of coffee berry borer, an important coffee pest worldwide.
“Without a doubt, The Messenger is the most outstanding film I’ve seen on birds. The fact that it is so strongly science-based, so emotive in its pitch, so beautiful in its design it captivates me and everyone who has had a chance to see it” says Steven Price, President, Bird Studies Canada:
The Messenger brings hope also. Rynard: “In ancient times, to predict the future, humans looked to the flights and songs of birds. Today once more, the birds have something to tell us.” [Ultimately]: “I believe people are compassionate, intelligent, and capable of change. Real change occurs when people begin to positively care, and you can feel this in the film . . . we have launched an impact campaign with Bird Studies Canada birdscanada.org. We aim to connect people who care with ways they can help.”
Film Screening details:
Date: Thursday, January 19th, 2017
Time: 7 PM (doors open 6:30 PM)
Place: Almonte Old Town Hall, 14 Bridge St., Almonte, ON
Admission: Tickets are $5 at the door, with all proceeds going to the Bird Studies Canada (BSC) ‘The Messenger’ Impact Campaign. Admission is free for MVFN members. However, for those who wish, donations towards BSC will be accepted on film screening night or at the Jan 6 MVFN Pub Night. Refreshments will be available at the event. The film will be followed by an audience Q & A discussion.