This spring I earned the opportunity to work with Fiera Biological Consulting in their 2019 Co-op Program as a Junior Environmental Specialist. As a freshly graduated Bachelor of Science student specialized in ecology, I was eager to learn everything I could about ecological consulting. The first thing that impressed me about Fiera was their desire to help me achieve my professional goals. Read more
Last week Fiera Biological held a Wildlife Snow-tracking Course in Saskatoon. The two-day course offered is roughly a 50/50 mix of classroom and field-based instruction covering very basic elements of track identification such as deductive reasoning and where/how to look to see tracks and trail patterns, and quickly expands into more technical and advanced concepts and techniques such as foot and footprint morphology, biomechanics, forensic preservation of tracks, and a suite of discriminative criteria. The first day was classroom-based on campus at the University of Saskatchewan in a large, well equipped and comfortable classroom. The all-day instructional lecture drew on nearly 400 PowerPoint slides to convey an immense amount of information.Read more
It’s owl nesting season folks, and here’s why you should give a hoot!
In Alberta, great horned owls can start their mating/nesting as early as January. That’s a pretty crazy time to be thinking about incubating an egg on top of some sticks precariously tangled in the top of a tree, but that’s what these monogamous perching predators are into. Who are we to judge?
Great Horned Owl Nest. Nesting activity can occur as early as January in Alberta.
Owls on the edge!
When most people think of nests, they think of deep, basket-shaped, feather-lined structures, but the truth for great horned owls can be much different. The platform nests they often prefer leave their eggs and their young exposed to the Alberta elements, that is unless mom is there to keep them incubated and warm. Can you imagine being a nestling, sitting on what amounts to a coffee table mounted on the end of a flagpole while virtually naked, in an Alberta winter windchill? Given those conditions its easy to see why survival of baby owls can be pretty tenuous. Unattended owlets can easily succumb to the elements, or fall prey to ravens, and a host of other predators. Thats why it’s very important that the parents are not disturbed by human activity during the nesting period.
Great Horned Owl
Owl nests are protected
In fact, this is so important for all raptors (owls, hawks, eagles, falcons) that the Alberta Wildlife Act protects active raptor nests from any disturbance by people. That means that any land clearing or industrial activity happening in tree stands or woodlots this time of year (January through May) could not only be causing some dangerously chilly and unhappy baby owls, but could also be a violation of the law! Thats why you should call a professional wildlife biologist for advice before doing any land clearing of tree stands or woodlots this time of year.
Give us a hoot!
Where the heck do you find a professional wildlife biologist? Good question, just contact us, and we will put you in touch with a good one!
We are very excited to announce that we will be conducting a Wildlife Snow-Tracking for Professionals course in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
If you are a professional, an aspiring professional, or a keen naturalist, this is a great course for you. A 50/50 mix of class room and practical field work will help hold your attention, lay a foundation for life-long niche skillset. The course will consist of a day-long classroom session on Monday, February 4th, and a day in the field on Tuesday, February 5th, 2019.
Ideal for professionals seeking confidence in track identification, this workshop is for anyone interested in learning how to identify wildlife tracks in snow. Suitable for beginners and experts, the course will cover the kinds of data that can be collected, and the ways data can be used infer information about individuals and populations, in addition to the basics of snow track identification. Over the course of two days, participants will work towards accurate, confident, and efficient identification of similar species. Read more
The Wildlife Snow-tracking for Professionals Course has been a long time coming. The materials and techniques have been compiled over a decade. Last December we tested some of the materials through a condensed workshop, primarily aimed at students, but attended by students, naturalists, hunters, field biologists, and professional trackers. We received a lot of good feedback, identified some gaps, and are ready to offer a full-on 2-day course aimed primarily at professionals, but open to anyone who is interested in learning to identify wildlife tracks in snow.