Archives >

Meet the Northern Flicker!

Despite being classified as a woodpecker, don’t be surprised if you startle a northern flicker up from the ground on your next hike! These striking auburn birds use their specialized beaks to dig up dirt and a 2-inch long tongue, which wraps around the flicker’s skull when retracted, to extract insects and larvae. These birds will also eat fruit and seeds, especially over winter when ants in particular become harder to find. In the spring, northern flickers can be heard drumming on tin flues, siding, gutters, and other materials to attract mates.

Both males and females help to excavate dead or diseased trees for nests, which will be lined with little more than a thin layer of woodchips for a clutch of 5-8 eggs. Northern flickers are quite happy in nest boxes and in reusing tree cavities created by other animals. Nestlings will tend to cling to the wall of their nest between the second to third week after hatching.

These hardy birds are brown in colour with dark spots and a black collar. The nape of their neck is highlighted with a deep red crescent. In flight, bright feathers on the underside of the northern flicker can be seen. These feathers are orange in the red-shafted flicker subspecies of western North America and yellow in the yellow-shafted flicker that dominate further east and north.

 

Northern flickers cover a large range across most of North America and can be found in suburbs, marches, forest edges of the prairie foothills, and all the way up to the treeline of the Rockies. Some northern flickers remain in the United States and coastal regions of Canada year-round while others will migrate further, as far north as Alaska for breeding and into parts of Central America to overwinter. Like most woodpeckers, northern flickers fly in an undulating motion featuring a few quick flaps followed by glides with tucked wings.

 

Although northern flickers are currently listed as a low concern species, habitat loss, insecticides, and other urban hazards can threaten these woodpeckers. Additionally, despite having adaptations, including a reinforced skull and specialized brain cushioning that allow them to withstand the sustained force of pecking, northern flickers and other woodpeckers are still vulnerable to window strikes.

 

If you would like to support the care of these and other native birds brought to AIWC for rehabilitation and release, donate to our Wish List, get organized with a 2018 Calendar, or send your holiday greetings on an AIWC Christmas Card.

 

By Stephanie Ruddock, AIWC Volunteer

 

Sources:

 

https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-woodpeckers-387095

 

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Flicker/lifehistory

 

http://naturemappingfoundation.org/natmap/facts/northern_flicker_k6.html

 

https://cosleyzoo.org/northern-flicker/

Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in Alberta peak in November

The Swainson’s hawk in this photo is a current patient at AIWC after being found near a roadway emaciated and with many injuries consistent with trauma. Like most of our patients, we can’t know precisely what happened to him, but it is very likely he was hit by a vehicle. He was admitted in August, but because his injuries were not healed in time for him to meet migration south with the rest of his species, he will now over-winter with AIWC and be released back to the wild in the spring.

According to the provincial government, approximately half of all rural vehicle accidents in Alberta involve wildlife, with most of these accidents happening between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. There are over a thousand crashes each month, but that number more than doubles each November, with over 2,600 accidents happening on rural Alberta roads.

Here at AIWC, we often see patients brought in with serious injuries following collisions with vehicles, both on highways and on busy city streets. Frequent patients include raptors, such as hawks and owls, who take advantage of roadside perches such as light posts to watch for prey who try to dart across the roadways without cover. Scavengers, such as crows, ravens, and skunks are also at high risk, attracted to litter and garbage in the ditch, or carcasses on the road. In some cases, roads were built through popular migration routes making the likelihood of seeing wildlife crossing high during peak migration times.

So what can you do to minimize vehicle collisions with wildlife?

  • Avoid throwing any litter/garbage out your window which may attract wildlife
  • Be alert and slow down when driving at dusk/dawn when wildlife is most active
  • Slow down once you see wildlife near the road – you can never be sure where they’re going or how many of them there may be
  • Pay attention to posted wildlife warning signs
  • Use your high beams when driving at night for best visibility
  • Avoid distracted driving; paying attention to your surroundings is the best way to prevent a collision!

What to do if you find injured wildlife on the side of the road:

Resources & Further Reading:

“Drivers reminded to be aware of wildlife on roads” www.alberta.ca, November 1, 2013: https://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=35284CD81198C-031F-D478-65CE4D0DE75DDA4F

The Sneaky Neighbour You’ve Never Met!

As today is Halloween, it seems appropriate to profile an animal that is typically associated with all things sneaky and dark: the raccoon!

Many southern Alberta residents may never have seen a raccoon, as these creatures are nocturnal, so are not often spotted during the day. It is a commonly held belief that raccoons cannot be found in the Calgary area; however, they actually have been living in and around Calgary for approximately 25 years (CBC News).

Raccoons are famous for their black “masked” face and striped tail, and measure approximately 60-95 centimetres from nose to tail, and weight six to eight kilograms, with females being approximately 25% smaller than males (Wild Safe BC).

These masked creatures are omnivores and will eat just about anything they can get their hands on. They do, however, have preference for nuts, insects and berries. A raccoon in the wild has a relatively short life span. While a raccoon in captivity may live in excess of 15 years, a wild raccoon has an average life expectancy of three to five years, due to high mortality rate amongst their young (Wild Safe BC).

Raccoons in many parts of Canada have a “winter denning period”, or a period of inactivity that enables them to survive the harsh Canadian winter, when food is scarce. Do not be alarmed if you see a raccoon roaming around during the winter though! These clever creatures are adept at finding food sources and may not have a winter denning period in urban centres or warmer regions, where food is regularly available (Wild Safe BC).

While racoons are typically shy creatures, it’s not uncommon for them to become comfortable around humans or pets. These masked bandits are experts at stealing food from our garbage cans, and can quickly learn to associate humans with good food sources. As they become more habituated to humans, conflicts can occur. You can help discourage raccoons from moving into urban areas by ensuring your garbage cans are closed and secured, harvesting fruit trees and berry bushes as soon as the fruit is ripe, and by leaving pet food inside your home where raccoons cannot access it. If you are having problems with raccoons frequenting your property, installing motion-activated lights may be a sufficient deterrent (Wild Safe BC).

If you are fortunate enough to see a raccoon in the wild, keep your distance. Though they look cute and cuddly, like all wild animals, they become aggressive if they feel threatened, and can inflict serious harm.

As always, if you see injured or orphaned wildlife, please call us at 403-946-2361!

CBC News. “Raccoons spotted in and around Calgary”. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/raccoons-spotted-in-and-around-calgary-1.2789177. Accessed October 29, 2017.

Wild Safe BC. “Raccoon”. Available at: https://wildsafebc.com/raccoon/. Accessed October 29, 2017.

Photo Credit: Alberta Environment and Parks

The American Crow

As Halloween approaches, it’s a perfect time to talk about one of our favorite creatures that is typically associated with all thing spooky – the crow! Crows are a part of the corvid family and are a very intelligent bird. They don’t have the best reputation, and are often thought of as a nuisance – perhaps a little too often. I’m hoping that after reading this blog we will have enlightened some of you who may be on the not-so-fond side of the crow.

Crows can be found globally, and the species here in Alberta is the American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). These birds are opportunists and will eat almost anything they find in the wild (or in their urban jungle) including insects, worms, carrion (carcasses), seeds, nuts, grains, and eggs or chicks of other bird species’ (Cornell University 2015).

Crows prefer to nest in the top third of an evergreen tree. Both parents of a pair (and sometimes their young from a previous year) will build their nest out of sticks and branches, pine needles, weeds, bark and even animal hair (Cornell University 2015).

Crows are extremely social birds and are rarely seen alone. Crow families consist of parents and their offspring from the past two years, the offspring will help raise new young before starting their own families (Cornell University 2015).

If you live in the northwest of Calgary, you might have seen a large group (100+) of crows that gathers in the fall and winter. This could be due to the interesting fact that crows will often congregate in large numbers (sometimes up to TWO MILLION!) in winter to sleep in communal roosts (Cornell University 2015). Some of these roosts have been established for 100 years or more, and will stay in an area even after it has become urbanized (Cornell University 2015).

Now is the time of year that crow fledglings (and other types of birds) start leaving their nests! AIWC is here to inform you that the crow hopping around on the ground may just be newly out of his or her nest! Crow fledglings are very large and look like they could be adults. Don’t be immediately alarmed if you spot one if these birds as just described, but take a minute or two and observe the bird’s behavior. If the behavior seems abnormal at all (lethargic, injured, or other), PLEASE don’t hesitate to call us (403-946-2361) to help! Always remember, it is unlawful to keep any wildlife without a proper license and training to do so.

Other interesting facts:

–          The American crow is closely related to the black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia) and both species are in the same family (Corvidae).

–          Both crows and magpies are known to create and use tools (e.g., putting water on dry food, dropping pine cones on predators near their nests) (Cornell University 2015). Tool usage in the animal kingdom is a sign of intelligence, and not all animals have the ability to use tools.

–          Mobbing is a behavior that crows demonstrate where groups of crows will work together to chase away a predator. Some owls are predators of crows and will eat their eggs or young if they have the chance, and as a result, crows can often be seen mobbing an owl.

–          Crows can learn how to speak (another sign of intelligence)! Peg Leg, a crow and wildlife ambassador of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre in Lethbridge lived to be 23 years old (Ho 2015) and often greeted visitors with a friendly ‘hello’!

By Tayler Hamilton, AIWC Volunteer

Resources:

Cornell University. 2015. American Crow. Available at:  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Crow/lifehistory. Accessed June 13, 2017.

Ho, Clara. 2015. Peg Leg, talking crow at Lethbridge’s nature centre, dies at 23. Calgary Herald. Available at: http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/peg-leg-talking-crow-at-lethbridges-nature-centre-dies-at-23. Accessed June 13, 2017.

Six Things to Know about Red Squirrels!

With fall officially here to stay (for the time being), you’ll no doubt spot a variety of animals scurrying about as they make their winter preparations. One such critter you’ll likely spy this season is the beautiful, yet feisty red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). A native to Alberta, this industrious rodent can be easily identified by its signature reddish coat that thickens considerably as cooler weather approaches. But did you know that the red squirrel is closely related to chipmunks? Or that a litter of red squirrels usually clocks in at four or five babies?

In case you can’t get enough of these lovable yet territorial rodents, here are six facts you may not know about red squirrels:

  1. Though their name hints at a totally red coat, red squirrels aren’t actually fully red in colour. The coats on their backs can range from a grey-brown to a shock of rusty red, while their throats, bellies, and rings around their eyes provide a contrast of stark white.
  2. Red squirrels don’t hibernate during the winter – in fact, they stay active throughout the season. If you spot a red squirrel hurrying about during the fall, it’s likely because he’s on a mission to prepare for the upcoming cold months by collecting and storing food for future consumption.
  3. While we all imagine squirrels munching merrily on nuts or acorns, the red squirrel’s diet is much more varied than those singular items. True, their main source of nutrition comes from some nuts and the seeds from pine cones. But, by definition, red squirrels are omnivores, and their diets extend to include flowers, berries, mushrooms, bugs, mice, eggs, and small birds.
  4. Red squirrels have a firm grasp on food storage. Using tree cavities, underbrush piles, or dens as their own pantries, red squirrels can ensure that the food they’ve gathered for the winter will be kept safely and out of the way of trespassers. Before storing mushrooms that they’ve foraged, red squirrels have been known to lay them out to dry on tree branches.
  5. Red squirrels are feisty and territorial towards intruders, and confrontation between two red squirrels often entails a lot of tail flicking, chattering, and foot stomping. Though these actions may seem adorable to us as onlookers, it can mean that things are getting heated in a squirrel argument.
  6. There’s a reason why a red squirrel’s tail is so big and bushy: when it’s not being flicked around to intimidate a rival, the tail of a red squirrel is primarily used for balance as the animal jumps from tree to tree in wooded areas. With a tail that measures to be about half the size of an average red squirrel (six and 12 inches, respectively), half of the animal’s body’s length is devoted to helping it keep balance and intimidating other squirrels.

If you happen to see a red squirrel – or any injured wild animal, for that matter – that’s injured or abandoned, please contact AIWC at 403-946-2361 for assistance.

By Giselle Wedemire, AIWC Volunteer

Sources:

  • https://natureedmonton.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/the-red-squirrel/
  • http://aep.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wild-species/mammals/rabbits-rodents/red-squirrel.aspx

Women and Wildlife

October is Women’s History Month in Canada, “a time for Canadians to celebrate the achievements of women and girls throughout our history and recognize the trailblazing women who have shaped our country and way of life.” Among those women are a number of biologists, ecologists, and conservationists including AIWC founder Dianne Wittner.

Dianne completed a degree in biology at the University of Calgary and began working as a wildlife rehabilitator in British Columbia. Later she returned to Alberta where she opened the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation in her basement. Dianne received the Western Legacy Award in 2012 for her work which recognizes Albertans that “promote western values and aim to preserve western heritage, pride and integrity within their community” (Leaving a lasting western legacy). Dianne’s contributions to conservation activities consistently exemplified these characteristics.

AIWC is now located next door to her former residence and continues to admit thousands of wild lives every year. The centre is currently managed by a talented team of committed women with complementary skills and expertise that contribute to public engagement, classroom education, volunteer coordination, and animal welfare all while supporting the centre’s primary focus of rehabilitating and releasing injured or orphaned wildlife. You can read more about these capable women who inspire us daily on AIWC’s Staff page.

You too can contribute to the centre’s activities by volunteering your time, donating goods from our Wish List or sponsoring a patient. Further opportunities for assisting AIWC’s efforts are also available under the Support Us tab of our website.

“Today, women, girls, men, and boys continue the quest for equality and inclusion in all areas of Canadian life.” Let us know how you will celebrate this year’s Women’s History Month and heroines of conservation in the comments!

By Stephanie Ruddock, AIWC Volunteer

Alberta Wildlife Recoveries: Wood Bison

What are Wood Bison?

Albertan wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) are a subspecies of the American bison, distinguished by their larger size, darker and woollier fur, and less hair on the forelegs and beards (Bork et al 1991).

The boreal forest, specifically wetland-meadows and open savannah-like shrubland are the most important habitat types, but this can vary from season to season (AEP profile).

Where are Wood Bison found?

Historically, wood bison in Canada were found across the boreal forests of North America, including Alberta and the Northwest territories. In Alberta, they are found in the upper Northeast, primarily in the Wood Bison National Park and surrounding areas. Estimates taken between 2010 and 2015 showed ~9000 free-ranging wood bison left in Canada (Wood Bison recovery strategy 2016).

A carefully managed herd of wood bison reside in the area surrounding the Hay-Zama lake region, and they are kept separate from the free-roaming bison found in the northwest and national park (Alberta Wilderness Association)

What is being done to protect the Wood Bison?

Wood bison are currently listed as “At Risk” by the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report, but the protected herd of the Hay-Zama area are listed as endangered under the Wildlife Act. Wood bison that are free-roaming and found in the northwest Alberta protected area are illegal to hunt without a license. However, a proportion of free-roaming bison found in and around the national park carry strains of tuberculosis and brucellosis, which are introduced livestock diseases. Because of this, they receive no hunting protection, to prevent the spread of these diseases to the Hay-Zama population and domestic bison (AEP profile).

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

The main threats to the protected wood bison populations are the spread of livestock diseases, with the more general threats of increases in agrarian land, climate change and increased predation close behind.

The Recovery Strategy for Wood Bison in Canada (2016) outlines both short-term and long-term objectives for the protection and recovery of both the free-roaming and managed herds. Short-term management of the disease-free populations in the original Canadian range, establish self-sustaining populations and increase genetic diversity. The long-term objective is “to ensure the existence of at least five disease-free, genetically diverse, connected, self-sustaining free range local populations distributed across the natural range, with at least 1000 individuals per population” (Recovery Strategy 2016).

In terms of what the public can do, it is important that we focus on greater consultation with landowners (as many are opposed to the somewhat destructive nature of grazing herds) and increased awareness of where wood bison are protected and how our activities may impact them.

By Jonathan Poll, AIWC Volunteer

References

http://aep.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/wild-species/mammals/wild-cattle-related/wood-bison.aspx

https://albertawilderness.ca/issues/wildlands/areas-of-concern/hay-zama/

Bork, A. M.; et al. (1991). Genetic Relationship of Wood and Plains Bison Based on Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms. Canadian Journal of Zoology 69: 43-48

Environment and Climate Change Canada. 2016. Recovery Strategy for the Wood Bison in Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act. Recovery Strategy Series. Environment and Climate Change Canada. Ottawa. Viii + 52pp

Photo Credit: Alberta Environment and Parks

Winter Adaptations

As you may have already noticed, the fall migration is well under way. Many species make their way south for the winter but many stick around in Canada throughout the year. What is the reason for this? Why do some species leave, while others seem to be able to withstand our harsh Canadian winters?

Thanks to the process of evolution, many species have adapted to be able to physically withstand our colder weather, while others have adapted to fly south.

The Canada goose is a good example. But why do you see them in V-formations heading south? The habitat range of the Canada goose is quite broad, and extends to the northernmost tips of Canada, all the way down to the southern United States and Central America (Cornell University 2017). Geese who spend their summers in the northern parts of Canada will fly south to spend their winters in areas that aren’t as cold. Calgary and Southern Alberta have relatively mild winters compared to the vast majority of the rest of Canada (with the exception of the Pacific coast), and we can see some Canada geese year round here. There are also several species of ducks that choose the Calgary area as their home year-round.

But how do their feet not freeze? Unlike the snowy owl, rough-legged hawk, Ferruginous hawk and Golden Eagle (just a few examples), geese and ducks do not have a warm layer of feathers protecting their legs in the colder weather. Instead, they have a “counter-current heat exchange system”.

Well, that sounds awfully scienc-y (I am sure you are saying to yourself right now). But it’s actually a pretty amazing and straight-forward system. Basically, arteries and veins in the legs and feet of ducks and geese are extremely close to each other. This enables the warm blood from the heart (in the arteries) to pass in close enough proximity to the cold blood from the feet flowing back to the heart (in the veins) (Ask a Naturalist 2010). Therefore, the blood in the arteries warms up the blood in the veins and the legs of ducks and geese don’t completely freeze.

There are several other ways that animals have adapted to winter, and this applies to non-bird animals as well.

Polar bears have a thick layer of fat (blubber) that can sometimes be up to 11 cm thick, and are covered in an extremely thick layer of fur. In fact, polar bears are so well insulated that they can overheat (Seaworld 2017)! Other Canadian bears, the black bear and the grizzly bear, go into a stage of dormancy, more commonly referred to as hibernation. Hibernation is essentially the slowing down of metabolism to reduce the energy requirements for the body. Black bears and grizzly bears will hunker down in a den for the cold months, and can hibernate without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating for up to 7.5 months (North American Bear Centre 2017). By going into hibernation, black bears and grizzly bears are able to live throughout the winter when their food sources are scarce, and the weather is too cold for them.

But what about fish, frogs and snakes? What do they do in the colder months?

Well, dormancy is common in cold-blooded animals and it allows for reduced metabolic activity. Cold-blooded animals lack control of their internal metabolism, therefore, they cannot regulate their own temperature very well (if at all).

Some fish are able to create chemicals within their bodies that can lower their freezing temperature, thereby allowing them to still function in temperatures that they would otherwise freeze in (Michigan State University Extension 2017). Some species of snakes, such as the garter snake, will occupy a collective den with sometimes up to thousands of other snakes. The Narcisse snake pits in Manitoba for an extreme example of a snake den (Manitoba, 2017). Large groups that gather in this manner are more easily able to conserve their collective body heat than if they were to spend winter alone in a den (Michigan State University Extension 2017).

Some frogs can stay alive in a frozen state; they will seek shelter in leaves and debris, and their bodies produce proteins that freeze the water in their blood (National Geographic 2007; Michigan State University Extension 2017). The ice in the blood will draw out the water from the frog’s cells and at the same time, the frog’s liver will produce glucose which will fill the cells and allow them to keep their shapes without collapsing, which is what would happen if the water remained in the cells and did freeze. When spring comes along, water returns to the cells and replaces the glucose, and the frogs can function like normal again.

These are just a few of the many examples of how species are able to survive and withstand our Canadian winters. Because we do have several species that live in Alberta year round, we receive animals at our centre year-round as well. We are always grateful for support that comes our way. Please consider making a donation if you are able to, or sharing this post to spread the information you learned about today…we couldn’t do it without you! Be sure to leave a comment below for any other winter adaptations that you find fascinating that weren’t mentioned here.

By Tayler Hamilton, AIWC Volunteer

References:

Ask a Naturalist (Askanaturalist.com). 2017. Why Don’t Duck’s Feet Freeze? Available at: http://askanaturalist.com/why-don%E2%80%99t-ducks%E2%80%99-feet-freeze/. Accessed September 18, 2017.

Cornell University. 2017. Canada Goose. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds. Available at: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Canada_Goose/lifehistory. Accessed September 18, 2017.

Manitoba. 2017. Snakes of Narcisse. Available at: https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/wildlife/spmon/narsnakes/snakes_status.html. Accessed September 19, 2017.

Michigan State University Extension. 2017. Winter Adaptations of Animals. Available at: http://mff.dsisd.net/Environment/WinterAnimals.htm. Accessed September 18, 2017.

National Geographic. 2007. Antifreeze-Like Blood Lets Frogs Freeze and Thaw with Winter’s Whims. Available at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070220-frog-antifreeze.html. Accessed September 18, 2017.

North American Bear Centre. 2017. Bear Facts: Black Bear – Hibernation. Available at: https://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/black-bear/hibernation.html. Accessed September 18, 2017.

Seaworld (Seaworld Parks & Entertainment). 2017. Polar Bears: Adaptations for an Aquatic Environment. Available at: https://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/polar-bears/adaptations. Accessed September 18, 2017.

Making the Most of Fall Nature Walks

From the cool, crisp air to the jewel-toned leaves, fall is definitely a season that inspires people to get out and experience nature. And with critters hurriedly scurrying about making their winter preparations, fall is certainly one of the best seasons for observing wildlife. Whether you spot a squirrel crossing your path on an evening stroll, or you spy a family of bears while out on an autumn hike, here are a few pointers on how to make the most of your nature walks this season:

  1. Dress appropriately With temperatures dropping (and, let’s face it, unexpectedly rising again, since we’re talking about Alberta), it’s important to dress in layers so you’re prepared for changing temperatures. Carrying lightweight gloves or mittens just in case is always a good idea when embarking on fall adventures, and an emergency toque won’t hurt, either. And if you know you’re going to be exerting yourself, make sure to don your best and most appropriate pair of shoes. Leave the flip flops behind and dig out your sneakers or hiking boots, depending on your selected trail.
  2. Unplug When you’re in the great outdoors, it’s tempting to document all the sights and sounds you encounter to share with your family and friends (and your Twitter followers). But in order to get the full effect of such natural beauty, I strongly urge you to put the phone away and enjoy everything that you see and hear in real time. Trust me, Facebook will be there and waiting for you when you get back to the real world. (And if you have to document the beauty around you, be sure to limit your screen time to only snapping pictures.)
  3. Pay attention The wilderness can be a serene oasis, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks involved. Being around wildlife means discovering their wild animal behaviours, and you may at one point encounter an aggressive or hungry animal. Pay attention to the sights and sounds around you, and keep an alert eye out for animal tracks and droppings. Not only will this save your footwear from stepping in something unsavoury, it’ll help keep you on your toes if you happen to come across an animal that’s not too pleased to see you. Use these tips to prepare yourself for the off chance of encountering an aggressive animal, and contact AIWC if you encounter an injured animal or if you have any questions about respecting animals’ boundaries during their winter preparations.
  4. Savour the moment While taking a vigorous nature walk is great for the body, some could argue that the visual aspect of such a jaunt is good for the soul. We’re lucky to be surrounded by such natural beauty in Alberta, and as important as it is to heed to wild animals and respect their environment, it’s just as important to relish what you see. Fall and all of its seasonal beauty is fleeting, and winter is, inevitably, coming. Make the most of these days and savour them with as many nature walks as possible.

 

By Giselle Wedemire, AIWC Volunteer

Back to School

Heading back to school can be tough for kids, parents, and teachers as everyone adjusts their routines. It can also mean kids spend even more time indoors, but keeping children interested wildlife can encourage them to explore and head outside. Check out some of these activities to keep kids engaged with nature until next summer!

  1. Take a Hike! There are still a few weeks left of summer to enjoy a visit to one of Alberta’s many municipal, provincial, or national parks to see wildlife before hibernation and birds before migration.
  2. Create! Help the kids in your life start a photo blog, write a story, paint a picture, or sculpt an animal. The information you’ll learn together by examining wildlife through different mediums will be surprising!
  3. Be a Detective! Once the snow falls, follow the tracks and see if you can figure out what wildlife has travelled through the area.
  4. Volunteer! Participate in a community cleanup to prevent animals from eating something they shouldn’t or becoming trapped or tangled in improperly discarded items.
  5. Adopt an Animal! Teach budgeting by encouraging children to save their allowance to adopt an animal from AIWC or sponsor a patient.
  6. Prepare! Start planning for next summer by mapping out a pollinator garden and researching the best plants to support bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds and others throughout the spring and summer.
  7. Write a Letter! Help kids write a letter to engage a local, national, or international organization to ask for more information about their wildlife programs and things that they can do to help protect wildlife and their habitats.
  8. Book an Educator! Book a wildlife educator to visit your classroom to learn more about Alberta’s animals.
  9. Fundraise! Get kids to collaborate with friends and classmates to fundraise for local organizations or gather in kind donations for AIWC’s wish list
  10. Build! Help give wildlife a safe space to live next summer by building nest boxes with children over the coming months. Bumblebees, bats, and birds all have unique housing needs, so do some research online to find out more about the best sizes and shapes for different species.

By Stephanie Ruddock, AIWC Volunteer

« Previous PageNext Page »