F is for Falconry: Rest and Recovery

Meet Kikki, a gyrfalcon biologists found injured in a field near Beaumont on April 1, 2016.

One year after she was found, Kikki was released back to the wild thanks to the work of Steve Schwartze, who worked with the falcon to get it to peak physical fitness before releasing it in March 2017.

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“To hunt successfully, a bird of prey needs to be firing on all 12 cylinders,” Provincial Wildlife Status Biologist Gordon Court says. “And this is why when injured falcons are helped by wildlife rescue organizations, there can be a lot of work to be done before they can be released back into the wild.”

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F is for Falconry: The Sport of Kings

Swooping, spiraling, diving and whirling. Seeing the graceful movement of a hawk on the hunt, you can start to understand why they are compared to Olympic athletes and why there is still an immense interest in falconry.

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“Falconry is recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Activity. It’s been practiced for 4,000 years. And while it’s not widely celebrated here in Alberta, there is a global tradition of hunting with birds of prey,” Provincial Wildlife Status Biologist Gordon Court says. “While some people in Alberta would like to own a falcon, it’s strictly regulated and you must hunt with them.  It takes a lot of work to look after one of these birds – that’s probably why there are fewer than 40 people in Alberta who are licensed to do so.”

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Spare(ow) a thought for sparrows

Small, short-beaked, and ubiquitous, it’s easy to overlook the unpretentious sparrow.

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Blending into their environments with dun-coloured plumage, these small seed-eating birds are found on every continent other than Antarctica, and live in almost every human city. Because they are so small and easy to overlook, their diversity and importance to an ecosystem can be missed – and in some parts of the globe, they’re disappearing.  Which is why March 20 has been designated World Sparrow Day.

In Alberta alone, there are more than 20 different species of new-world sparrows, from Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrow to the common white-throated sparrow – one of the most recognizable sparrows in the backyards and parks of our cities. Continue reading

Resilient Residents – Frosty Fish

This is the last of a four part series on our province’s most resilient animals. You can find out more about mammals that are active through the winter here, about mammals that are inactive but don’t hibernate here, or about birds that stay in the province over the winter here.

While mammals may burrow or hibernate, and birds can be seen shivering away on a branch, the average Albertan never sees what happens to fish during the frigid days of winter.

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Alberta’s Approach to Caribou Recovery

Alberta is home to abundant wild species, rich biodiversity and immense ecological heritage. This is something we sometimes take for granted.

Mountain/woodland caribou bullIn the past few decades a few things have become apparent when it comes to the environment. We need to make sure we are balancing activities on our landscapes, we need to have plans in place to lay the foundations of work to conserve and protect, and we need to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for our wild species.

An example of this is the work being done to protect Canada’s woodland caribou. In Alberta, caribou ranges cover about 23 per cent of the landscape, with 15 ranges falling under provincial jurisdiction. All woodland caribou in the province are designated as Threatened under both the federal Species at Risk Act and provincial Wildlife Act.

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Resilient Residents – Winter Birds

This is the third of a four part series on our province’s most resilient animals. You can find out more about mammals that are active through the winter here or about mammals that are inactive but don’t hibernate here.

black-capped chickadee

So far this winter, mammals have been all the talk, but we can’t forget about the other animals that brave the Alberta winter experience – like birds. If birds can fly south why wouldn’t they? We know that mammals are considerably less mobile and don’t have the option to fly south for the winter, but most birds could get some distance between themselves and the snow. Continue reading

Resilient Residents – Mammals that are inactive but don’t hibernate

shutterstock_16664695BeaverThis is the second of a four part series on our province’s most resilient animals. You can find out more about mammals that are active through the winter here.

You may have assumed that the mammals you don’t see during the winter are hibernating, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, some mammals use an ‘in between’ strategy that involves a lot of deep sleeping with some activity to pass the time in colder weather. Continue reading

Bridges Over Troubled Waters

Alberta Environment and Parks is part of a team currently working on several culvert operations in an effort to recover populations of native trout and whitefish in the central and northern watersheds of the Eastern Slopes Fish Management Zone.

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A fish rescue downstream of a hanging culvert on a tributary to the Red Deer River

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Resilient Residents – Mammals that stay

shutterstock_2711057CanadianLynxWinter has arrived! Over the past two years, we have looked at animals who leave the province or the ones who take long winter naps until spring. This year, our focus is on those animals that brave the challenges of our cold and snowy climate. This is the first of a four part series on our province’s most resilient animals. Continue reading

Gone Fishing

Burrow Ponds - above

After upgrades, the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery will decrease its greenhouse gas emissions of moving water through the building by up to 67%.

One of North America’s largest fish hatcheries is getting a well-deserved overhaul. The Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery (SLFH), located in southeast Calgary, has raised over 50 million trout from eggs to adults since it opened in 1973. For the first time in more than 40 years, the facility will undergo renovations to update its water treatment systems and modernize its equipment.

Here are five things you should know about the upgrade:  Continue reading