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…

New observatory opens a window into wonders of the night sky

New observatory opens a window into wonders of the night skyA new University of Alberta observatory opening at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park will give area stargazers a cutting-edge way to enjoy the splendour of the night skies. The Hesje Observatory, located at the Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station, opens with a virtual ceremony on Jan. 12. It brings the wonders of after-dark skies to the public, as well as…

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…

Why Christmas bird counts matter

Why Christmas bird counts matterIn the latter part of the 19th century, sportsmen would gather to take part in annual winter bird hunts called “side hunts.” Everything they saw was shot, regardless of whether it was edible or rare. This was a popular pastime and undoubtedly contributed to significant avian declines during the period. Frank Chapman, author of Handbook…

Interpreting daytime skies

Sky watching isn’t as simple as looking at fluffy clouds

Interpreting daytime skiesWatching the night sky has always fascinated people but daytime skies can be just as interesting. In July, I travelled to Nunavut as a ship naturalist on an expedition to northern Canada. I had the rare opportunity to explore parts of Baffin Island and Ungava Bay that few get to see. While I saw wonderful…

How trees produce spectacular autumn colours

The intensity of the colours is related to weather conditions before and during the time the chlorophyll in the leaves is declining

How trees produce spectacular autumn coloursWe’re fortunate to live in a place and a climate where our four seasons are distinct. Enough natural foliage persists for us to see and admire broad palettes of colour in September, October and even early November. Although foreshadowing the onset of winter, hues of orange, red, yellow and brown intermingle with shades of green.…

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…

Soil fungi act like a support network for trees: study

U of A research is first to show that growth rate of adult trees is linked to fungal networks colonizing their roots

Soil fungi act like a support network for trees: studyBeing highly connected to a strong social network has its benefits. Now a new University of Alberta study is showing the same goes for trees, thanks to their underground neighbours. The study, published in the Journal of Ecology, is the first to show that the growth of adult trees is linked to their participation in fungal…
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