Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Implications for the conservation of a declining aerial insectivore

Dr. Greg Mitchell,  research scientist with the Wildlife Research Division of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada, and adjunct research professor (Carleton University) will be guest speaker as our “When Things go Bump in the Night” series continues.

 

Our guest speaker is studying the habitat requirements of migratory species in human-dominated or working landscapes throughout southern Canada using field surveys, weather radar detection of biological entities, and citizen science data such as breeding bird surveys.

Dr. Mitchell will share his work on Bank Swallows (Riparia riparia), a threatened species in Ontario. His research team recently discovered, among other things, the “cryptic and broad-scale movements of bank swallows . . . in the early evening during the breeding season.”

The results of this fascinating research have revealed interesting insights into the effects of sunset and sunrise on movements of these aerial insectivores, as well as the importance of wetland roosting habitats during breeding season. Join us for Dr. Mitchell’s presentation: “Where Do Bank Swallows Go During Breeding When the Sun Sets?  Implications for conservation of a declining aerial insectivore.”

 

 

 

Dr. Mitchell’s presentation details:

Thursday November 16 /  7:30 PM / Almonte United Church 106 Elgin St. Almonte, ON

Doors to the social hall at Almonte United Church will open at 7 PM and the program gets underway at 7:30 PM. Refreshments are available throughout the evening and a discussion will follow the presentation. As always, the event is free for MVFN members and youth under 18; non-members fee at the door is $5; all are welcome. For further information please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Gretta Bradley at

Press Release pdf: The Flight of the Bank Swallow

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Boreal woodland caribou are threatened with extinction in CanadaDecades of science show the impacts of human activities and natural disturbances within their ranges. With increased disturbance comes increased risk.

Environment Canada has identified the “critical habitat” that caribou need to survive and recover. A team of North America’s leading caribou experts established a strong relationship between the extents of habitat disturbance and whether a local population increases, declines or remains stable. From this, the federal government determined a continuum of risk.

In 2012, the federal government gave provinces and territories five years to develop range plans for each herd that show how ranges will be managed to effectively protect critical habitat. The recovery strategy identifies a minimum of 65% undisturbed habitat in a range as the “disturbance management threshold,” which provides a 60% chance of the local herd surviving.

The five-year deadline for caribou range plans is coming up fast on October 5th.

The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is now casting doubt on the science to further delay action! The FPAC full-page newspaper ads and website ignore the overwhelming evidence.

The recovery strategy is clear: Less than half of Canada’s caribou populations are likely to survive unless cumulative disturbance is limited.

Caribou need their critical habitat protected now more than ever.

Please use your voice to support caribou and science.

Follow this link to act https://ontarionature.good.do/caribou_habitat/email/

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MVFN has written a letter of concern to Lanark County, expressing our opposition to their plans to carry out herbicide spraying in 2017 of approximately 350 km of roadsides along County (and Township) roads, in an effort to control the presence and spread of wild parsnip, as well as other noxious weeds.  This letter follows from a similar letter sent in 2016.  A map and table showing the roads where spraying is planned or has been completed can be found on the Lanark County web site at http://www.lanarkcounty.ca/Page1875.aspx.

MVFN is concerned that spraying, particularly boom spraying, of a general herbicide (Clearview) to control wild parsnip will detrimentally affect many other species of flowering plants that provide food for insects and birds.  We also feel that, even with careful application, there is a risk of the herbicide entering streams and wetlands where it is known to be highly toxic to aquatic organisms.  An active ingredient of Clearview (aminopyralid potassium) cannot be considered readily biodegradable and so may persist in the environment and transport into groundwater.

MVFN is of the opinion that the County should focus its efforts on wild parsnip control through non-chemical means, particularly mowing at appropriate times of the year, and carry out a more comprehensive public information campaign that will lead to risk reduction through education.  No matter the scale of our efforts, wild parsnip, like poison ivy, will always be with us and we should deal with its presence through education and mechanical control, not through the widespread application of herbicides.

To learn more about wild parsnip, and how property owners can control it, please go to this Mississippi Mills link:

http://www.mississippimills.ca/en/news/index.aspx?newsid=ea222f68-22bb-4b3e-857a-3bfe39d4a2ed

Here is the MVFN Letter of Concern that was sent to all Lanark County Councillors: MVFN-letter-to-LC-spraying-2017.pdf

Photos below are of wild parsnip plants at various stages of development. Learn to recognize the plants and avoid them.

 

WildParsnip

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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.

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“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.

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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/

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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

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