Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley
Mississippi River at Pakenham

Species at Risk

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 Messenger AOTH 2017 poster

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

COSEWIC considers Monarch Butterfly ENDANGERED

 A report yesterday from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife (COSEWIC) in Canada shows that the “status” of the Monarch butterfly needs to be changed to ENDANGERED. In the report: “We need to continue to support the conservation of milkweed caterpillar habitat both here in Canada and along the Monarch’s migratory journey, and we need to support continued conservation of critical overwintering areas. Otherwise, Monarch migration may disappear, and Canada may lose this iconic species.”

Read the December 5, 2016 COSEWIC report

Monarch butterfly. photo Ken Allison

Monarch butterfly. photo Ken Allison

Monarch butterfly caterpillar. photo Pauline Donaldson

Monarch butterfly caterpillar. photo Pauline Donaldson

 

 

Cerulean Warbler sighting sent to MVFN Nature Notebook

Alison Bentley sent in a report June 3, 2016 of a  male Cerulean Warbler singing consistently in Maberly, ON.  First noted May 29th and every day since.

Cerulean Warbler

 

The image is from https://www.ontario.ca/page/cerulean-warbler. Note that the Cerulean Warbler is a Species at Risk in Ontario – Status Threatened. “In Ontario and the United States, the main threat to this warbler is habitat loss from degrading and fragmenting forests, since it requires relatively large tracts of forest.”

Endangered Species Act Action Alert from Ontario Nature

SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR SPECIES AT RISK BY GETTING INFORMED ABOUT ONTARIO NATURE’S CHALLENGE TO THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT.

On April 19th the Ontario Court of Appeal will hear Ontario Nature’s case challenging a lower court ruling that puts already endangered species at further risk of extinction. The appeal challenges the Ontario Divisional Court’s decision to uphold a provincial regulation that exempts major industrial activities— including forestry, mining, energy, and residential development — from the strict protection standards outlined in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In many instances, these exemptions give industries a free pass to kill endangered or threatened species and destroy their habitat, as long as this harm is “minimized.”

The following link is a reminder from Ontario Nature to speak out about this issue: https://ontarionature.thankyou4caring.org/showyourlove

Background from Ontario Nature website: http://www.ontarionature.org/protect/campaigns/lawsuit.php

  • 2007: The Ontario government passes the ESA, considered the gold standard law for species protection in North America.
  • July 1, 2013: The provincial Cabinet regulation under the ESA that dramatically weakens protection for Ontario’s at-risk wildlife came into effect. The regulation exempts many major industrial activities from the ESA, allowing them to dodge crucial protection measures. It also significantly reduces government oversight of harmful activities.
  • September, 2013: Ontario Nature joins forces with the Wildlands League to sue the government over the regulation.
  • May 29, 2015: Ontario’s Divisional Court upholds the provincial regulation.
  • September 2015: Ontario Nature and Wildlands League win the right to appeal this very disappointing decision.
  • April 19, 2016: The appeal will be heard in Toronto.

Why does it matter?

The survival of Ontario’s most vulnerable wildlife is now weighed against competing industrial interests, which may tip the scale towards extinction. Every single endangered and threatened species in the province is deprived of the full protection of the law.

Who else cares?

Click here to read the letter that Ontario Nature, and more than 50 other organizations, sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne asking that the Endangered Species Act be upheld. Nothing beats these words of wisdom from Ontario Nature’s Youth Council imploring the Premier to stand up for endangered species.

Ontario Pollinator Health Action Plan

Feature photo credit Diana Troya

NOTE: The following combines information just released by the government of Ontario and Ontario Nature:

Ontario has just released its draft Pollinator Health Action Plan for public review on the Environmental Registry. They are seeking public feedback on a draft action plan to improve pollinator health and reduce pollinator losses.

Public comments may be made on the Environmental Registry: Number:  012-6393 until March 7, 2016

Pollinators, including honey bees, are essential to Ontario’s agricultural sector and contribute approximately $992 million worth of economic activity annually to the economy. The province became the first jurisdiction in North America to protect bees and other pollinators through new rules introduced on July 1, 2015, to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds by 80 per cent by 2017.

Now, Ontario is looking for the public’s feedback on a proposed plan to improve pollinator health that will address:

  • Habitat and nutrition
  • Diseases, pests and genetics
  • Climate change and weather
  • Pesticide exposure.

The proposed plan will be posted on the Environmental Registry until March 7, 2016. Additionally, the public can also provide input on protecting pollinator health by completing a public survey.

Supporting pollinator health is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is home to more than 400 bee species, which are the most common pollinators.
  • Honey bees and some bumble bees are bred specifically for pollinating plants for food. A foraging honey bee will travel up to 3 km from the colony (and up to 10 km if food is scarce).
  • The province recently introduced a new Bee Mortality Production Insurance plan under the Agricultural Products Insurance Act to promote best management practices and allow farmers to manage their risk more effectively.

Additional Resources

The plan proposes actions to address four stress sources: habitat loss, disease, exposure to pesticides and climate change.

Read the Ontario government news release here:
https://news.ontario.ca/…/province-seeking-public-input-on-…

Ontario Nature is working with partners to assess the plan and provide recommendations. Learn more and stay informed by joining Ontario Nature’s Alert updates: http://www.ontarionature.org/prot…/campaigns/pollinators.php

The public is invited to comment on the draft Pollinator Health Action Plan on the Environmental Registry: Number 012-6393 until March 7, 2016

The Messenger

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FULL-SIZED  CALENDAR WITH DETAILS

Our natural history talks are at 7:30 pm on the third Thursday in January, February, March, April,  September, October and November at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St. in Almonte, Ontario. All are welcome to attend! Non-members $5. 

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