Why birds sing before winter weather breaks

Many species court and breed in the dead of winter

Why birds sing before winter weather breaksWe may sometimes feel as if we’re still locked in the dead of winter, but to birds, mammals, insects and even plants, things are changing. Faithful readers will recall how I recently explained that my trees were getting ‘fat,’ as the buds enlarge in anticipation of spring. But they’re not alone in their rush towards…

How changing boreal forests could affect caribou

Researchers examine what logging, climate change and other factors mean for caribou populations

How changing boreal forests could affect caribouNew research by University of Alberta biologists paints a clearer picture of how food webs are shifting in response to changing habitats in Canada’s boreal forests, and what it means for dwindling caribou populations. “We know that habitat, prey and predators such as wolves are all pieces of the caribou conservation puzzle, and here we…

Ancient moccasin suggests Dene migrated farther south than thought

Artifact found in a cave in Utah reveals precolonial connection between Canadian Subarctic and American Southwest

Ancient moccasin suggests Dene migrated farther south than thoughtA piece of leather from an 800-year-old moccasin found in a Utah cave has helped researchers retrace the ancient steps of a remarkable migration that saw some Dene (Athapaskan) people leave their homes in the continent’s Subarctic and eventually create new homes scattered across the southern United States as Dineh (Navajo) and Ndee (Apache) ancestors,…

Are owls wise, all-seeing and good luck – or harbingers of calamity?

One superstition about owls had it that making a potion from the ash of owl eggs improved vision

Are owls wise, all-seeing and good luck – or harbingers of calamity?Folklore abounds with superstition related to owls. I thought it might be fun to share some superstitions I’ve gleaned about owls, since this is the best time of year to see them. These nocturnal creatures often appear in horror films since tufts of feathers on the top of some owls’ heads give them the appearance…

How zebra finches choose materials for their nests

U of A scientists find that learning and past success play a role in how birds build their nests

How zebra finches choose materials for their nestsWhen building a nest, previous experience raising chicks will influence the choices birds make, according to a new study by University of Alberta scientists. The results show that birds that have successfully raised families stick with tried-and-true methods when building their nests, whereas less successful birds will try something new. “We found that when presented…

Putting bison back where they belong heals land and people: researchers

Ecological restoration offers opportunities for reconciliation and decolonization

A project conceived to rebuild a long-lost bison herd in Banff National Park is not only healing the land, according to a pair of University of Alberta undergraduate researchers, but has created a framework for reconciliation and decolonization to follow moving forward. What started out as a literature review of the Bison Belong Project soon revealed…

Researchers pinpoint where wildlife most likely to be killed by trains

Reducing speed limits outside towns of Banff and Lake Louise could mean fewer fatal collisions, study suggests

Researchers pinpoint where wildlife most likely to be killed by trainsThe number of mammals killed by trains in Canada’s Rocky Mountains could be slashed if the railway reduced speed limits along eight km total of track on either side of the Banff and Lake Louise townsites, according to a study by University of Alberta researchers who used the train mortality record to pinpoint the most dangerous…

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…
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