flora and fauna


Written by Denise Deby.

North American Porcupine, sleeping in tree, Ottawa, Ontario photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:North_American_Porcupine,_sleeping_in_tree.jpg on Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

North American Porcupine, sleeping in tree, Ottawa, Ontario photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:North_American_Porcupine,_sleeping_in_tree.jpg on Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

“You have to give animals their space.”

My family often uses those words when we encounter wildlife while camping, hiking or even in our backyard. They’re wonderful words, because they convey a relationship with animals that’s based on respect, without creating unnecessary fears.

The words come from Chris and Martin Kratt, also known as the Kratt Brothers. When my kids were young, we watched the Kratts’ energetic and informative TV show, Zoboomafoo, which introduced preschoolers to wild animals and their habitats. The Kratts have gone on to create Be The Creature, Kratt’s Creatures and Wild Kratts—all on the theme of helping people understand and appreciate animals and nature.

I’m excited to see that Martin Kratt and Chris Kratt are headlining this year’s Kidsfest in Ottawa, appearing on Saturday, April 5 at 2:30 p.m. to talk about their Amazon adventures and answer questions. It’s a great opportunity to learn from and share in their enthusiasm.

There’s a lot more going on at Kidsfest, including the Junkyard Symphony and Little Ray’s Reptiles. Kidsfest is April 5 and 6 at the EY Centre (which you can get to on OC Transpo Route 97).

* * *

On the theme of wildlife, the City of Ottawa is running a Wildlife Series and the next session is “Backyard Biodiversity: Welcoming nature into your yard, not your home,” featuring Nature Canada conservation co-ordinator Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl and Bill Dowd of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control. It’s on Friday, April 11, 7 p.m. at City Hall (Andrew S. Haydon Hall). From 6-9 p.m. at Jean Pigott Place, representatives of the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club and the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary will be on hand, and Ontario Electronic Stewardship will accept used electronic equipment for recycling.

All this coincides with the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s National Wildlife Week April 6-12Check it out for ideas about living alongside and protecting urban and other species.

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Katherine Forster of the Ottawa Bird Count for sending along this information.

White-breasted nuthatch, Mud Lake, Ottawa by Brent Eades on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/59355637@N00/7054709181/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

White-breasted nuthatch, Mud Lake, Ottawa by Brent Eades on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/59355637@N00/7054709181/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Katherine Forster alerted us to this opportunity to learn to recognize native bird songs:

Chirps, tweets and trills: Learn your local bird songs

Offered by the Ottawa Bird Count, a volunteer-based, scientifically rigorous survey of birds in an expanding city.

Free course open to all to learn about Ottawa’s native birds. By the end of the course, participants should be able to quickly recognize the songs of at least 70 common species that are encountered within the nation’s capital. Opportunities to volunteer with the organization after training is complete.

Space is limited – please sign up on Eventbrite.

When: 6 Saturday Mornings starting on April 5th from 8 am to 10 am

Where: Jack Purcell Community Centre, 320 Jack Purcell Lane off of Elgin Street

Katherine adds: “The course is free due to the generosity of our business supporters, the Awesome Ottawa fund and Adam Smith (OBC director) who is donating his time to teach the course. We are very grateful for all this support.”

According to the Ottawa Bird Count, a trained birder will hear around 8-10 times the number of bird species than can be seen, so learning bird songs is definitely useful, whether you’re an experienced birder, a new birder or an all-round outdoor enthusiast. Amazingly, there’s no charge for the course. Participants sign up to attend all six Saturdays, so will receive 12 hours of training.

To register, click on http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/chirps-tweets-and-trills-learn-your-local-bird-songs-tickets-10716396029.

To find out more about the Ottawa Bird Count and what they do, check out their website.  Of course, you can follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/OttawaBirds

GPS and field sheets - photo courtesy Ottawa Bird Count

GPS and field sheets – photo courtesy Ottawa Bird Count

 

Written by Denise Deby.

Hidden Harvest Ottawa photo via Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/hiddenharvest/10675653574/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Hidden Harvest Ottawa photo via Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/hiddenharvest/10675653574/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Think gardens, seeds, sunshine, fresh vegetables and fruits. Spring is coming, along with several opportunities to learn about growing and finding food.

Hidden Harvest Ottawa is hosting workshops on making the most of food trees in the city. How To Tap Your Tree for Sap (March 15) is full, but if you let HHO know you’re interested, they may schedule another session. You can register now for workshops on Urban Fruit Tree Pruning (March 23, with Permaculture Ottawa) and the popular Urban Fruit Propagation (May 3).

Through Just Food, you can access Beginner Organic Vegetable Gardening workshops at various community centres around town (several dates through April and May). Just Food is also offering sessions on Winter Storage of Vegetables and Fruits (March 20 and 25) as well as farmer training workshops.

Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa-St. Lawrence-Outaouais Chapter offers its Organic Gardening in the City seminars in April. Topics include soil and composting, starting a school garden, in-ground vegetable gardening, organic container gardening, designing a garden to support pollinators and deter pests, and more.

If you’re keen to learn about wild edibles, The Wild Garden‘s next workshop runs March 22, and 2014 Wild Edible and Medicinal Plant Course sessions will be held May through September.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener, just starting out or simply interested in local food, there’s bound to be something coming up for you.

Written by Denise Deby.

Blue heron with fish, Mud Lake, Ottawa photo by Brent Eades http://www.flickr.com/photos/59355637@N00/8675536933/ - Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence

Blue heron with fish, Mud Lake, Ottawa photo by Brent Eades http://www.flickr.com/photos/59355637@N00/8675536933/ Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence

Great news: Nature Canada is hosting a couple of workshops to introduce people to eBird, eButterfly and other online tools that anyone can use to help track birds, insects and wildlife in their yards and neighbourhoods–information that can be shared with scientists to increase understanding of biodiversity and environmental change.

Whether or not you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or wildlife spotter, you can contribute.

The workshops are on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. or Friday, January 17, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. in the Garden Room at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre, 102 Greenview Ave., Ottawa.

Each workshop will include a 45 minute interactive presentation and a 20 minute outdoor walk (both bilingual). A few binoculars and field guides will be available, and refreshments are included.

Organizers ask that you register in advance with Alex MacDonald by email or phone (613-562-3447 x300).

Check here for more information about the workshops and the Lac Deschênes globally significant Important Bird Area, located right here in Ottawa-Gatineau.

Written by Denise Deby.

Tiny tree by Sandra Regina on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic http://www.flickr.com/photos/sandraregina/379661136/

Tiny tree by Sandra Regina on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic http://www.flickr.com/photos/sandraregina/379661136/

Here are more ideas for making this time of year merrier and brighter.

Greenery

Still thinking about whether or not to get a Christmas tree? Here’s a great idea: you can buy a Norfolk Island Pine tree from Beau’s Brewery and they’ll deliver it through their Buy Your Beau’s Online program. The delivery fee goes to Operation Come Home, and Beau’s will also arrange for a tree to be planted for each one it sells. The tree comes in a recycled, reusable ceramic bottle, too.

If you buy a tree from The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, the funds all go to support patient and family services. (The trees are balsam firs from Nova Scotia.)

OttawaStart has a helpful list of Ottawa-area Christmas tree farms.

If you’re not sure whether to go real or artificial with your tree, check out the David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green post about the options. (Spoiler: real wins out.)

Wrap it up

Go usable, re-usable or recyclable with gift wrap. Cloth gift bags are a great choice (I used to buy them from Arbour Environmental Shoppe, but you can make your own). Other options are old newspapers, comic books or kids’ art, scarves or tea towels, cloth grocery bags, or last year’s paper remnants. You can even make your own plantable wrapping paper using seeds and old paper.

Give and take time

There are many organizations and causes around that could use your support. Check out Volunteer Ottawa for a variety of different ways that you can get involved. Charity Village has a directory of non-profit organizations.

Remember that this is a tough time of year for people who’ve lost loved ones, are dealing with a difficult situation, or don’t have access to adequate resources. Give them–or yourself–support and breathing space.

Don’t forget to slow down and take time to reflect, re-energize and spend time with family and friends if you can. Try heading outdoors!

More inspiration

Have a look back at Alette’s December 2007 posts on simplifying the season and “thingless giving.” UsedEverywhere.com has Christmas greening suggestions, from do-it-yourself gifts to clearing clutter, and The Centre for a New American Dream has plenty of ideas on its Pinterest page.

Finally, see Christopher Zumski Finke’s thoughts on “Less Stuff, More Heart” in YES! Magazine.

Happy holidays!

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