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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The Wonderful World of Wetlands

Sloughs, potholes and marshes, oh my! The names may bring back happy memories growing up on the farm, less happy memories of itchy bug bites or perhaps you haven’t thought about wetlands since grade 5.  In Alberta, wetlands are grouped into five classes; bog, fen, marsh, swamp and shallow-open water. While they are sometimes thought of as a lightweight player in the world of water, these underestimated water-features do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to a healthy environment.

Wetland Sunset

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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

Water’ll we do without it? Finding Nature-Based Solutions to Protect Alberta’s Water Resources

Water has been boiling to the top of people’s mind as the world is faced with more and more water-related issues like flood, drought and water pollution. In Alberta, we continue to find ways to protect our water resources. As World Water Day approaches on March 22, the day’s theme, Nature for Water, couldn’t be more fitting. Finding nature-based solutions to help solve our 21st century world water problems is the key to preserving this resource.

Water blog

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This is the infestation that never ends…

 …Yes it goes on and on my friends.

The thing with invasive species is that once they’re introduced to a habitat in which they are not native, they’re extremely difficult to eradicate, especially if that population has been there for a while AND it’s in the water.

The flowering rush, Butomus umbellatus, is one such species.

Flowering rush

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Popular energy efficiency program expanded to help food services sector

Energy efficiency programs are one way we are working to make life better for Alberta businesses and organizations, saving them money and energy. Businesses, non-profits and institutions are getting more support with the expansion of an already popular energy efficiency rebate program.

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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.

Ice_Fishing

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Women in Science – Part of the Sis-STEM – Dr. Cynthia McClain

In honour of International Day for Women and Girls in Science on February 11, our Chief Scientist Dr. Fred Wrona invited women from across the department to talk about their work and share their experiences as scientists. This is the third and final interview celebrating the fabulous females in this field – for now!

Dr. Cynthia McClain is a hydrogeologist with the Alberta Environment and Parks.

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Women in Science – Part of the Sis-STEM – Shoma Tanzeeba

In honour of International Day for Women and Girls in Science on February 11, our Chief Scientist Dr. Fred Wrona invited women from across the department to talk about their work and share their experiences as scientists. This is the second of three interviews celebrating the fabulous females in this field.

Shoma Tanzeeba is a hydrologist working in Alberta’s South Saskatchewan Region.Shoma5
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Women in Science – Part of the Sis-STEM – Tanya Rushcall

Bright and passionate individuals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are working to answer society’s most difficult questions and find solutions to our biggest challenges. The innovation, creativity and competitive advantage that comes with having a diverse workforce is more important than ever, yet women remain underrepresented in STEM.

In honour of International Day for Women and Girls in Science on February 11, our Chief Scientist Dr. Fred Wrona invited women from across the department to talk about their work and share their experiences as scientists. This is the first of three interviews celebrating the fabulous females in this field.

Meet Tanya Rushcall! An aquatic invasive species biologist with Alberta Environment and Parks.Tanya1 Continue reading