Tracking common nighthawks to shed light on declining populations

U of A biologists track the migratory birds over 10,000 km with GPS to study their route – and the cause behind their declining numbers

Tracking common nighthawks to shed light on declining populationsA new study by University of Alberta biologists has created a comprehensive picture of the 10,000-km migratory route of common nighthawks using GPS data. The study is the first step in analyzing where and why the birds’ population numbers are declining. “Like many migratory bird species, common nighthawks are declining, but the rate of those…

Eating human food could mean trouble for urban coyotes, study shows

New U of A research illustrates link between anthropogenic diet, human-like gut bacteria and poor health

Eating human food could mean trouble for urban coyotes, study showsA diet rich in human food may be wreaking havoc on the health of urban coyotes, according to a new study by University of Alberta biologists. The research team from the Faculty of Science examined the stomach contents, gut microbiome and overall health of nearly 100 coyotes in Edmonton’s capital region. Their results also show coyotes…

Do reptiles and amphibians actually hibernate during winter?

No. Instead, they go through brumation and remain mostly conscious and are sometimes even active

Do reptiles and amphibians actually hibernate during winter?Man, it’s cold out there! I wonder where the snakes and turtles are? They can’t migrate so they must be here somewhere. Reptiles such as turtles, lizards and snakes, like so many other animals, have to survive our cold, long winters. Generally, they go underwater or underground and hibernate … or do they? They do…

Research reveals new clues to hunting habits of elusive falcons

Study gives a rare glimpse into urban behaviour of birds of prey

Research reveals new clues to hunting habits of elusive falconsA popular Edmonton, Alberta landmark for local birdwatchers is teaching some valuable lessons about falcons – some of the most difficult raptors to observe. The Alberta Grain Terminal, a hulking brick structure in west Edmonton that’s been used to load grain rail cars for 96 years, is also a hotspot for pigeons and their predators,…

Bird bullies are just protecting their resources

Sometimes we see smaller birds apparently bullying larger birds of prey. Here is why

Bird bullies are just protecting their resourcesWhen birds bully others of their own or other species, there are no malevolent feelings involved as is often the case with humans. Bullying is defined as “using superior strength or influence to intimidate, typically by force.” In essence, this is exactly what happens in nature on a very regular basis. Protection or retention of…

Get those bird feeders up and enjoy the show

Here are some tips so the birds – and those who enjoy watching birds – get the most out of your feeders

Get those bird feeders up and enjoy the showThe last few days have been really exciting bird-wise as hawks, ducks, geese, loons and many small passerines (e.g. kinglets, sparrows and finches) are on the move. Winter is here whether we like it or not and those hardy northern birds have decided it’s time to migrate. North winds and cool nights have caused an…

Less winter snow could spell disaster for snowshoe hares

Changing climate in the Canadian North will have a ripple effect for many species, study shows

Less winter snow could spell disaster for snowshoe haresWarmer winters with less snowfall could wreak havoc on snowshoe hare populations in the Canadian North – and the fallout has consequences for other wildlife such as lynx and coyotes, according to a new study by University of Alberta ecologists. “Our study shows that snowshoe hare survival is significantly reduced in shallow snow, particularly when…

Iqaluit and beyond, through snow and ice

Everyone was on high alert, and while the crew sailed and fretted, we watched the parading wildlife

Iqaluit and beyond, through snow and iceI left you last time off the coast of Baffin Island, where we shared the shore with polar bears and followed the tracks of early explorers. Let’s see what happened next on my 20-day journey northward. Nunavut was separated from the Northwest Territories in 1999, as a result of the enactment of the Nunavut Act…

Cougars respond to roads based on traffic, topography, time of day

New U of A research outlines factors that lead cougars to select habitats near roadways in Alberta

Cougars respond to roads based on traffic, topography, time of dayA study by University of Alberta biologists identifies three key factors for how cougars select habitats near roadways: traffic, topography and daylight. “Cougars will avoid roads if there is human activity or while there is daylight,” explained Mark Boyce, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Alberta Conservation Association chair in Fisheries and Wildlife. “However, cougars will select habitat near…

Sailing ever northward in search of wildlife, culture and history

Venturing to rarely-visited sites along the Newfoundland and Labrador coast on the way north

Sailing ever northward in search of wildlife, culture and historyI get to travel to some great places as an expedition guide. A few months ago (pre-COVID-19), I travelled to parts of Canada I had never seen before and filled in gaps on my lifelong adventures in Canada’s remotest reaches. I thought I’d share some insights about Canada’s northern regions as we celebrate Canada’s 150-plus…