Archives > December 2017

Wildlife Games for the Holidays

Today’s blog is a little bit of a departure from our informational or educational blogs. Today, we want to focus on the importance of educating children about wildlife. Studies have shown that children learn new topics and remember information easier than adults do (BBC 2006).

By educating younger generations on the importance of caring for our wildlife, we can help create a strong foundation for the future. Children who are taught the importance of respecting and helping wildlife will be more empathetic towards wildlife issues throughout their lives.

So how can you get children involved with wildlife? Why not play some fun games involving animals this holiday season?!

Below is a list of games we have compiled for families of all ages to enjoy over the holidays.

Road Trip Bingo Cards

    We’ve created 5 different bingo cards for you to save and print out (simply click on the follow links).

WildlifeBingo_Sheet1 WildlifeBingo_Sheet2 WildlifeBingo_Sheet3 WildlifeBingo_Sheet4 WildlifeBingo_Sheet5

    These are great if you’re driving between cities over the holiday season and want to give your kids an interactive game.

Animal Charades

    This game could be for the entire family.

    Split into two teams and try to guess what animal each person is acting as using noises and actions.

    Just write different animal types onto pieces of paper, place in a bowl or hat or mug, and start acting!

    You could use any animals, be we’ve compiled a short list of animals found in Alberta:

   Mammals (deer, porcupine, beaver, moose).

   Birds (snowy owl, crow, magpie, bald eagle, screech owl, pygmy owl, red-tailed hawk, duck, Canada goose, swan, loon, chickadee, gull, great-horned own).

   Aquatic (fish, frog, salamander).

Musical Chairs

    Play musical chairs as usual, but when a player is “out”, they must make the sound of their favourite animal and everyone else has to guess what it is.

Draw an Animal

    It could even be as simple as providing your kids with colouring utensils and paper, and having them draw their favourite animal we’ve had at AIWC this past year. Just pop on over to our Instagram page to choose an animal!

 Christmas Bird Count

    For the older kids and adults who are somewhat experienced at identifying birds in their areas.

    This is a yearly tradition that’s been around since 1900!

    The Christmas Bird Count is exactly what it sounds like: count and identify birds in your specific area.

    There are several locations across Canada that have organized bird counts between December 17 and January 4.

    Check the Bird Studies Canada site to get more information and find a count near you: http://www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/cbc/

If games aren’t your thing, we have several items in our gift shop to help get kids involved and learn about wildlife. Keep in mind for your next occasion that we have items such as our children’s book, The Scared Skunk, and several stuffed animals to represent those we often have in care at AIWC. All proceeds go to helping orphaned and injured wildlife admitted to AIWC.

Do you have any wildlife games that you’d like to share? Comment below!

By Tayler Lafreniere, AIWC Volunteer

References:

BBC News. 2006. Why the young learn more easily. Available online at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6172048.stm. Accessed December 18, 2017.

Surviving Alberta’s Winters

With the first day of winter only two days away, it’s the perfect time of year to do cozy activities indoors. But what about those creatures who don’t have a heated, warm home to relax in? How do they cope with the frigid weather?

In order to survive Alberta’s harsh winters, many creatures enter a state of energy conservation that allows them to slow down their body so that they can survive the winter, when food is scarce.

There are three types of hibernation: true hibernation, brumation and torpor.

True hibernation is characterized by slow breathing, a low heart rate, a low metabolic rate and body temperature. An animal in true hibernation will not wake up if there is a loud noise, or if they are touched. Groundhogs and certain bats typically go into true hibernation.

Brumation is a state similar to hibernation that reptiles and amphibians enter when the weather turns cool. Creatures in brumation may wake up to drink water and shift positions, before returning to sleep. The Northern leopard frog is an example of an animal that goes into brumation (Nature Canada).

Torpor is a light form of hibernation. Torpor lasts for short periods of time, allowing animals to wake up during warmer days. While many believe that bears go into true hibernation, they only go into torpor (Science World).

Some animals are so well-adapted to the cold that they can survive the winter without going into hibernation or torpor. Beavers, for example, use the insulating snow to their advantage, and grow thicker coats in the winter. Moose work hard in the autumn to store large quantities of fat and conserve their energy by moving as little as possible (Nature Canada).

Be sure to take advantage of this beautiful season and get outside and experience Alberta’s majestic winter, and the next time you do, pay attention! You never know who, or what, may be resting cozily nearby!

Resources:

“How Canadian Wildlife Survives Winter” www.naturecanada.ca, December 18, 2017: http://www.discoverwildlife.com/british-wildlife/how-tell-torpor-hibernation

“Do bears actually hibernate?” www.scienceworld.ca, December 18, 2017: https://www.scienceworld.ca/blog/do-bears-actually-hibernate

An AIWC Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays are fast approaching and the crunch to buy that perfect gift is definitely on for some shoppers. And while shopping online and at the local mall are obvious destinations, we at AIWC think our online store can be your new one-stop shop for all your gifting needs this season. Not only does our store offer a variety of great gifts, each purchase made in our online store helps support our efforts to save and protect Alberta’s wildlife.

If you’re in the market for gifts that do some good, look no further than our handy gift guide that will in turn make an animal’s days merry and bright.

  • For the bookworm in your life: You know the type – they’re much more likely to have their nose in a book than they are to be parked in front of the TV, and they can spend hours wandering around any given book store. Regardless of their age, if you know a book-lover who also happens to love animals, the Scared Skunk book is the perfect gift for them. A true story about an orphaned skunk who encounters dangerous litter and eventually gets the help it needs, this book packs a punch with its illustrations, fun trivia, and charitable donation (with 100% of proceeds benefitting AIWC’s efforts).
  • For the animal lover who can’t have a pet: Whether it’s because they live in an apartment in the city, or they suffer from allergies, we all know an animal lover who would like nothing more than to have a furry friend in their home. This season, you can help make that a reality by giving them the gift of symbolic adoption. With a variety of adorable plush animals to choose from – including a red fox, a beaver, and a moose that each come with a symbolic adoption certificate – your loved one can adopt an adorable plushy while knowing that the net proceeds from each plushy sale helps fund AIWC’s rescuing efforts. These also make great gifts for kids of all ages!
  • For the person who’s impossible to shop for: Maybe they have really esoteric tastes, or maybe they seem to have everything they could ever want. Regardless of the reason why, if you know someone who’s difficult to shop for, AIWC is here to help. By sponsoring an animal in their name, you’ll be able to share the love for a deserving AIWC patient with a thoughtful, altruistic gift that’s unlike any other they’ll receive this season. It’s a total win-win situation!
  • For the person who hates clutter: If you know someone who’s minimalistic in both style and attitude, you know all too well that they’re incredibly hard to shop for because you know that whatever they receive this holiday season will soon be re-gifted to the nearest thrift store to reduce their home’s clutter level. Luckily, AIWC’s got you covered with low-clutter gift ideas that range from charitable donations and memberships to wall calendars and toques.

By Giselle Wedemire, AIWC Volunteer

Alberta Wildlife Recoveries: Greater Sage Grouse

What are greater sage grouse?

Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasiansus urophasianus) are a species of grouse (a member of the Galliformes order; related to chickens and turkeys) that gets its name from the sagebrush prairies they inhabit. The greater sage grouse is the largest grouse species in North America, and they are distinguished by their rounded wings, long pointed tails and a mixture of brownish-black plumage with white/gray patches on their abdomen (Schroeder et al 1999).

Where are they found?

In Canada, they are usually found in silver sagebrush (Artemesia cana) ranges, specifically in the mixed-grass regions of southern Alberta. While their historic range was once more extensive, the sage grouse population now resides in a 4,000 square kilometre area centred south and east of the hamlet of Manyberries (Alberta Sage Grouse Recovery Plan 2013) and the sage grouse is currently listed as endangered under the Alberta Wildlife Act.

The sage grouse’s habitat selection has been shown to be dependant on local factors such as availability of nesting and brood locations, and nearby leks (open, relatively flat areas that males use to display for prospective mates) (Petersen 1980).

What is being done to protect the greater sage grouse?

In 2005, a provincial recovery plan for the greater sage grouse in Alberta was drafted with the goals of both “enhancing and maintaining habitat for sage grouse to satisfy life-cycle requirements in support of a viable population within its historic range” and to “achieve recovery of the sage grouse population to a level that provides for sustainable recreational viewing and hunting”.

However, this plan was reviewed in 2013, as the population was still declining. The previous goals were thus considered to be long term targets, and new short-term goals were implemented in the recovery plan of 2013 to complete these goals, including the restoration of sage grouse habitat, through increased land use standards and stewardship; reclamation of potential land areas; and predator management. These goals seek to achieve a positive trend in sage grouse active leks by 2018 (Alberta Sage Grouse Recovery Plan 2013).

What more needs to be done, and how can we help?

According to the Alberta Sage Grouse Recovery Plan (2013), the greatest limiting factor in increasing the sage grouse populations is the reduction in suitable sagebrush habitats. Human activity and land development are the biggest contributor to habitat change so reducing these impacts or perhaps ensuring that they are adequately controlled or legislated may do a great deal in helping to preserve the populations already present in fragmented habitats.

As is usually the case with endangered or at-risk species, the best way the general public can help is by raising awareness. Landowners are also encouraged to care for potential habitat usage and stewardship programs, with help from governmental and conservation organisations.

By Jonathan Poll, AIWC Volunteer

References

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Research Development. (2013). Alberta Greater Sage Grouse recovery plan 2013-2018. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Research Development, Alberta Species at Risk Recovery Plan no .30. Edmonton, AB. 46pp.

Petersen, B.E. (1980). Breeding and nesting ecology of female Sage Grouse, in North Park, Colorado. M.S Thesis, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. 86pp.

Schroeder, M.A., et al. (1999). Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in: The Birds of North America, Number 425. (A. Pool and F. Gill, eds.) American Ornithologists Union, Washington, D.C., Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, P.A.

Photo Credit: Alberta Environment and Parks