flora and fauna

Guest post submitted by Matthew Blogg of Nature Canada.


The third annual Bird Day Fair is preparing to take flight yet again this year and Ottawa is getting ready to flock to it like birds of a feather!

WHEN: May 30th 2015

WHERE: Andrew Haydon Park

WHY: The annual Bird Day Fair provides a great opportunity for Ottawa area residents and visitors alike to enjoy a fun day filled with activities for the kids, valuable learning experiences for the adults and is a great reason for anyone in the community to come join us for a beautiful day in the park.

Who: This year the Bird Day Fair has a great lineup of entertainment and educators for all to enjoy. From the creepy crawler creatures of Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo to the majestic falcons of Falcon-Ed there will be something slithering or something soaring all day.

How: Without the generous donations of both time and money by Ottawa local businesses, fun filled events like the Bird Day Fair could not be made possible. It is thanks to the many volunteers and all the people involved that make this fair a success.

Written by Denise Deby.

School garden and seed saving - D. Deby

Ottawa is rich in biodiversity–the variety of life that surrounds and sustains us. It’s not something we can take for granted; as everywhere, human activity often adversely affects species and their habitats.

The International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22 is a reminder that we humans need to honour and extend our commitments to the genetic, species and ecosystem diversity that enables us and everything else to survive.

Here are a few interesting local takes on biodiversity and the international day:

– This year, May 22 is also School Garden Day. What better way to celebrate and strengthen biodiversity than by helping kids understand what growing local, healthy food and native plants in their neighbourhoods is all about? Imagine a Garden in Every School and USC Canada are inviting school communities to hold activities in and around their gardens. (For tips on setting up school gardens, check here or here.)

– For USC Canada, protecting biodiversity means protecting seed diversity. The Ottawa-based organization explains that in the last 100 years, with industrialized and large-scale agriculture, global seed diversity has declined by 75 per cent. Ninety per cent of fruit and vegetable varieties in North America are gone, and three companies control 53 per cent of the global commercial seed market. This loss of diversity is bad news for the environment, our food system and our health.

How to increase food security through biodiversity? Buy food that’s local, fresh and sustainably produced whenever possible. Check out USC Canada’s seed diversity work and their I am a seed saver” initiative. Support their Run for Biodiversity during Ottawa Race Weekend May 23-24.

– The Canadian Museum of Nature is marking International Biodiversity Day by lighting its tower up in green on May 21 and 22. At a special event, Science by Night, on Thursday, May 21, people can visit the museum for free, speak with scientists and take part in activities. On Friday evening, May 22, there’s a Nature Nocturne dance party at the museum celebrating all the colours of nature.

– The State of Ontario’s Biodiversity Report 2015 will be released at the first-ever Ontario Biodiversity Summit happening May 19-22 in Niagara Falls. It will outline how biodiversity has changed in the last five years, and what needs to be done.

Written by Denise Deby.

30X30 Biking - D. Deby

I’ve signed up!

In May, I’ll be taking on two challenges, both designed to get me outside.

David Suzuki Foundation’s 30X30 Nature Challenge

In the 30X30 Nature Challenge, you pledge to get out into nature for at least 30 minutes every day, for 30 days in May. “Nature” can mean a park, a yard, a path—anywhere there’s a bit of greenspace and some flora, fauna or natural elements to observe.

It might sound like a big commitment in our busy lives, but research shows that taking time in the outdoors can improve health, happiness and community life, and give us a better appreciation of our environment. (This 30X30 Nature Challenge infographic presents some of the benefits.)

If you need ideas for spending time outside, the David Suzuki Foundation has some “daily tips” on their website: think outdoor sports, cloud watching, having a barbecue or digging in the dirt.

I’m looking forward to participating. When I signed up last year, I was going through some health challenges, and I’m pretty sure getting outside helped me feel better and stay centred. Plus, I discovered that while I do spend a fair bit of time outside, making the commitment helped me justify the time I spent—providing a great reason to take a walking break from work, sit on a park bench and read or discover nearby food trucks on my bike. I’m hoping to stay just as motivated this year.

Bike to Work Ottawa

May is also Bike to Work month. In this challenge, you commit to cycling to and from work, whether it’s every day, or a day or two a week. You can join as an individual or as part of a workplace team. (If you don’t have a workplace team you can set one up–the campaign has information to help.) Organized by EnviroCentre and the City of Ottawa, Bike to Work includes a chance to win bikes and other prizes. Stay tuned for events as well. On Thursday, Apr. 30, there’s a Cycle Commuting Forum with advice from EnviroCentre, Ottawa Velo Outaouais and the Ottawa Bike Lanes Project (at MEC Ottawa, 6:30-8 p.m.)

I’ve signed up for Bike to Work, too. Last year I didn’t let working from a home office stop me—I participate by recording my bike trips for meetings and errands on my Bike to Work page.

You can sign up for both challenges any time during May. Hope to see you outside!

Written by Denise Deby.

Organic Green Spring Plant Seedlings in Natural Window Light by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Organic Green Spring Plant Seedlings in Natural Window Light by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

If you’d like to hone your gardening skills, check out these spring opportunities.

The Community Gardening Network of Ottawa is holding workshops on several useful topics:

  • Beginner Organic Vegetable Gardening – no-pesticide gardening basics
  • Natural Pest Control – chemical-free ways to deal with what ails your garden
  • Square Foot Gardening – growing in a small space
  • Herbal Tips and Tricks – growing plants that heal

The CGN workshops take place between April 8 and May 12, 2015 at various community sites. See http://justfood.ca/blog/2015/03/18/spring2015_cgn_workshops/ for details and registration information.

Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa – St. Lawrence – Outaouais is holding its Urban Organic Gardening Seminars series from April 14 to May 5, 2015:

  • Basics of organic growing – Soil and Composting
  • Organic Seeds, Germination and Seed Saving
  • Organic Container Veggie Gardening
  • Organic Edible Ornamentals including Edible Flowers and Herbs
  • Organic In-ground Veggie Gardening
  • Designing an Urban Garden to support Pollinators, Pest Eaters and Pest Deterrents

With the COG-OSO seminars, which take place at City Hall, you can sign up for any of the sessions, or all seven as a package. See http://cog.ca/ottawa/urban-organic-gardening-seminars/ for details and how to register.

Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton offers a few gardening workshops, as well as advice through their free help line.

Kinburn Farms (about half an hour from Ottawa) hosts hands-on workshops on seeds, basic gardening and more.

If you’re interested in learning about wild edible plants, check out The Wild Garden’s spring plant walks and classes on healing plants.

Some inspiration while we wait for spring!

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Ottawa Bird Count for the information. (Post edited March 4: changes in italics.)

Poster Chirps Tweets Trills 2015 lowres

Spring means the return of birds and also the return of the Ottawa Bird Count‘s seven week course called “Chirps, tweets and trills 2015: Learn your local bird songs.”

Participants will learn to recognize the songs of the most common bird species in the Ottawa area. They’ll also find out “tips, tricks and technology” for learning bird sounds, and methods for monitoring bird activity in order to be able to participate in Ottawa Bird Count surveys.

People are welcome whether they’re new to bird identification or are experienced birders.

The course runs Saturday mornings from Apr. 11-May 30. It’s free, but you have to commit to doing all 14 hours of the course. There’ll be both indoor lessons and outdoor field work.

Click here for more information and to register.

The course was extremely popular last year, so check it out soon.

Ottawa Bird Count is an environmental and educational charity that runs a volunteer-based bird survey in Ottawa, with the intention of making our city more bird-aware and more biodiverse.

Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Lise Guevremont, City of Ottawa, for information.


Image via City of Ottawa

“Wildlife” isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Ottawa, but our city is home to hundreds of species.

The City of Ottawa is hosting Wildlife and a Liveable City on Monday, Mar. 2, 2015 at City Hall. There’s an “environment trade show” starting at 6 p.m., and a panel discussion on cities and wildlife conservation and co-existence at 7:30 p.m.

Speakers include David Chernushenko, city councillor and environment committee chair; Janet Mason, Ottawa Stewardship Council; and Brenda Van Sleeuwen, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Register here.

The event coincides with World Wildlife Day, celebrated on March 3.



Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Jacqueline Littlewood for the information.

Every Leaf Counts logo by Julia Escott Albert (via Hopewell Yard Campaign)

Every Leaf Counts logo by Julia Escott Albert (via Hopewell Yard Campaign)

Hopewell Avenue Public School has big plans for its yard: to create a vibrant space for kids to play, with shaded green space and welcoming play structures. Unfortunately, right now the yard is mostly asphalt. A number of large trees were cut down last summer due to damage from the emerald ash borer. The aging play structures have to be replaced. As is the case with most schools, there’s no budget for these changes. The school community has launched a campaign, Every Leaf Counts, to raise funds for new trees and new play spaces. One of the fundraising events is a screening of the documentary Project Wild Thing. The film is about a dad in the UK who, frustrated by his kids’ focus on screens and consumer products, creates a national marketing campaign to get kids outside.

Project Wild Thing is the hilarious, real-life story of one man’s determination to get children out and into the ultimate, free wonder-product: Nature.” http://projectwildthing.com/press

Project Wild Thing will screen as a benefit for Every Leaf Counts at the Mayfair Theatre on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. You can buy tickets here. Find out more about the film here: www.projectwildthing.com/film For more information on the Hopewell campaign and how to help, see www.facebook.com/hopewellyard. They’re hoping to raise $200,000, the estimated cost of yard renewal, by March 1, 2015. http://vimeo.com/68072823

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