Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Go Wild Gala at Temple’s Sugar Bush to Benefit Land Trust

Join the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) on Saturday, November 11 for their Annual Go Wild Gala at Temple’s Sugar Bush. See details below provided by MMLT or visit


“There couldn’t be a more appropriate venue than Temple’s beautiful, rustic post and beam restaurant which is located at 1700 Ferguson’s Falls Rd.”

“Once again, we bring you renowned naturalist, photographer, author and teacher, Michael Runtz, whose presentation is The Colourful Side of Nature – How Little We Really See.   Nature provides us with a stunningly beautiful world of colour but what we see is not necessarily what our wild neighbours perceive.  You will get an insight into the roles and meanings of colour in nature.


Starting at 6:30 p.m., you can enjoy an array of delectable appetizers and desserts, visit with friends and fellow nature lovers, and place your bids on a wide variety of silent auction items.  As in previous years the selection will include lots of Christmas gift ideas including original works of art, theatre tickets, gift baskets, and many other treasures.  You can also bid on a range of novel experiences from a geological exploration or a drone video of your property, a gourmet dinner for six and more.  As this is the MMLT’s major fundraiser of the year, please come for the fun knowing that your contributions also help protect the land we love, not only for our great-great-grandchildren but also for all the plants and animals that call it home.

Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased by credit card or direct debit through MMLT website at  Tickets are also available for cash or cheque only at Gilligallou in Almonte or Shadowfax in Perth. Ticket sales deadline is Saturday, Nov. 4.  For more information contact or Judy at or at 613-264-8856.”

Go Wild Gala

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CPAWS Talks Forests with Michael Runtz and Dr. Jeff Wells

CPAWS Talks Forests with Michael Runtz and Dr. Jeff Wells

A CPAWS event which may be of interest to members:


Don’t miss this opportunity to hear two terrific conservation biologists share their insights into the importance of the Ottawa Valley for North America’s boreal songbirds.

Come and get inspired by these big-thinking speakers, see old friends and meet new ones!

This event will be followed by a free reception celebrating 45 years of conservation by CPAWS’ Ottawa-Valley chapter, including nibblies, cash bar and door prizes.

Location: Tabaret Hall, University of Ottawa, 550 Cumberland St, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5
Paid parking, easy access by OC Transpo (Laurier Station)

Time: Doors open: 6:30 PM; Lecture: 7 PM
Tickets: $15 Seating is limited.

runtz cpaws talk


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Environmental Threats to Avian Species: with Michael Runtz

A Springtime of Silence?

Will we one day experience a springtime of silence? On Thursday, February 19, 2015, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) present the fifth lecture in their current series.  Award-winning Carleton University educator Michael Runtz will be guest speaker for this presentation entitled “Environmental Threats to Avian Species”.

Yellow Warbler


What are the current threats to birds such as this yellow warbler photographed in the Spring of 2014?  Photo by Susan Wilkes.

Runtz is a well-known biologist and naturalist and author of many scientific articles and award-winning books about nature, such as Wild Wings: The Hidden World of Birds, which features, as do several of Runtz’s books, his own spectacular photographic record of the natural world. A passionate and insightful observer of birds (and many wild creatures) since childhood, in addition to his work in the Carleton Biology department, Runtz educates and inspires the public to learn about the natural world; for example in his role as coordinator of the annual Pakenham-Arnprior Christmas Bird Count and his long-standing volunteer involvement, currently as President, with the Macnamara Field Naturalists Club.

Runtz states: “Rachel Carson was instrumental in preventing deadly insecticides from killing millions of birds. But today many other threats exist, some equally as insidious as DDT. This highly visual presentation will examine a few of the challenges that currently face our bird populations.” Runtz refers of course to Rachel Carson, author of the 1962 book Silent Spring which first brought to the world’s attention, the startling facts about environmental damage (particularly to birds) caused by pesticides. Birds continue to be threatened, but which threats would Michael Runtz consider the most important for birds today?: environmental toxins both new and old? . . .  habitat loss? . . .  introduced predators? . . .  or other threats?

Join MVFN for what promises to be an interesting and informative presentation. The presentation “Environmental Threats to Avian Species” will be held at the Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, ON at 7:30 pm. Come with your questions about your favourite local species. There is a non-member fee of $5. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley, at . For MVFN events, membership and other club information anytime visit

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The Beaver, nature’s great watershed engineer

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
September 21, 2006

by Sheila Edwards

Michael Runtz brings to life the work of one of nature’s great engineers in the watershed – the Beaver

BeaverA large crowd gathered on Thursday the 14th for Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) September lecture. Michael Runtz was the keynote speaker for the first of a series of talks exploring the “Mississippi Valley Watershed”.

One sign of a great educator is when an audience doesn’t realize how much they are learning. In his presentation “Beaver Ponds in the Watershed”, Michael Runtz showed he is one such educator. His enthusiastic delivery style brought to life information based on his astute observations of nature. A well respected naturalist, nature photographer, and author, Runtz captivated his audience with stories about beavers, the topic of his next natural history book. Based on the response Thursday, it should prove as popular as his other Canadian best-sellers such as Wild Wings, Algonquin Seasons and Moose Country .

Runtz showed us how beavers play the role of engineer when it comes to creating nutrient rich ponds, teeming with life. Water levels are raised, new species are attracted, and the forest gradually acquires a pond, marsh, and ribbon of grassland. The habitats thus created by this impressive rodent are vital to the health of our watershed.

As the seasons change, a beaver pond changes as well. In the spring, nutrients will be washed out, enriching the water downstream; frogs will be at their noisiest, many birds will be arriving to nest in the forest and on dead trees standing in the pond; and the beavers will be busy feeding and working on their dams and lodges. Beavers feed on tree bark, the soft layer under the bark, and also herbaceous plants like pond lilies. As fall approaches, the beaver becomes more visible during the day as it works on creating a food pile for the winter and does fall maintenance on its structures; the lodge’s insulation is upgraded by piling more mud on top and the dam must be high enough to ensure the pond does not completely freeze. The lodge’s exits are about 1.5 m below the water’s surface, at a depth which hopefully will remain unfrozen throughout the winter. The beaver swims underwater to the food pile, eating the branches that are weighed down by less edible wood like alder. Beavers keep the lodge’s upper chamber clean for sleeping by eating and defecating in the lower chamber. Like the rabbit, the beaver has a ‘two-pass’ digestive system to maximize the nutritional benefit of its high-roughage diet.

If you are interested in observing beavers, Runtz had some good suggestions. For the paddler, beaver can stay underwater for as long as 15 minutes, so if they startle and dive down, they could be gone a long time. For the XC-skier, if the hole at the top of the lodge is open, and surrounded by frost; the occupants are alive and well. When watching a beaver cutting wood, they may use their tail as a stool by leaning back on it; they will also use either their front teeth or side teeth depending on whether they are eating or cutting respectively.

On Thursday October 19th, MVFN welcomes guest speaker Aquatic Ecologist, Brian Potter (OMNR) who will discuss “Wetland Habitats in the Watershed” (7:30 p.m. Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin Street). For more information on the lecture series please contact Program Chair Joyce Clinton at 613-257-4879/email , or visit our website at . For those interested in an MVFN nature walk, the next one will be hosted and led by Joel Byrne at his property “Big Creek” near Watsons Corners, Sunday October 15th. If interested, and for more information, please contact Mike McPhail at 613-256-7211 or email .

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