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Many birders, me included, have an affinity for owls (families Tytonidae and Strigidae). They bring a certain fascination, mystique and inspiration that compel many people to seek out these raptors when in the field.
Throughout the world there are some 205 species of owls, many scientists are suggesting that number could be as high as 226. With the advent of DNA testing there has been some arguments that due to the genetic makeup a new species may be validated. We are extremely fortunate in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia to have a strong representation with 14 species. Several species like the Great Horned and Northern Pygmy reside here year round; others like the Flammulated and Burrowing migrate from southern climes to breed while others like the Snowy and Boreal visit in the winter. …Read more
Genetically Modified Organisms, also known as Genetically Engineered Foods, has been causing a lot of controversy, not only in North America but throughout the world.
Recently I attended a speaker’s tour led by two Canadian scientists, Dr. Thierry Vrain and Dr. Shiv Chopra, who tried to explain in laypersons terms the dangers of eating GMO. I had no idea (as I’m sure most Canadians don’t) about all of the issues leading up to this point in time. ...Read more
Some alarming statistics have recently been reported concerning the number of birds killed by cats in both Canada and the United States.
According to a study by Avian Conservation Ecology (2013) between 100 million and 350 million birds are killed each year by cats in Canada. In a report by the Migratory Bird Center of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute published in January of 2013 between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds are killed each year by cats in the United States.
Both of these studies looked at the overall mortality of avian mortality resulting from mowing and other mechanical operations, industrial forestry, domestic cats, collisions with windows, wind turbines, power lines and vehicles, by catch in commercial fisheries and both offshore and terrestrial oil and gas exploration and production.
For me the Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) is a harbinger of spring, males return and begin singing on territories as soon as the snow leaves the lower grasslands ecosystem, in late February or early March; my earliest record is March 24. Not all Meadowlarks migrate for the winter, some remain in the Okanagan and congregate in small flocks and are often spotted around feedlots. Western Meadowlarks are grouped into the Icteridae family; which are mostly colorful passerines only found in the New World.
They have an unmistakable buoyant, flutelike melody which is very distinctive and easily set to memory. Many times while out walking in my neighborhood, I am almost guaranteed to hear and see a lone male singing from on top of a fence post in a horse pasture during the spring and summer. …Read more