If you’ve ever seen a Five-lined Skink, you know just how cute they are!
The Five-lined Skink, which looks a bit like a salamander, is the only lizard species native to Ontario. And while researchers continue to study skinks, we still don’t know very much about what they do on a day-to-day basis, particularly from September to May when they’re hibernating.
Here are five cool things we DO know about Five-lined Skinks, courtesy of Alistair MacKenzie, Resource Management Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park.
You’re out in the woods and a bird flies by. Not sure what is it? There’s an app for that.
Today’s smartphones make ideal field guides. Photograph a butterfly sipping nectar. Video a slow-moving turtle. Record a birdsong. Then look it up, find a match, and enter your geotagged observations in a virtual field book.
These virtual field guides often support citizen science. You just share what you see. Scientists, researchers and conservationists use the crowdsourced data to look at climate change, track migration and monitor species at risk and sensitive ecosystems.
By: Corina Brdar, Southeast Zone Ecologist, Ontario Parks
There is some cutting edge research on preemie health and survival taking place in Ontario Parks. The “preemie” babies in question are Blanding’s turtles –a species at risk in Ontario. Each year the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC) in Peterborough takes in injured (or sadly, dead) female Blanding’s turtles and rescues their eggs. Injured turtles treated at this unique animal hospital are “induced” to release their eggs using oxytocin, just like an expectant mom would be. The eggs are hatched at the centre and raised until they are 2 years old.
Piping Plovers are small shorebirds seen scurrying along sandy shorelines or backs of beaches where water has pooled, searching for insects and small crustaceans. Although well camouflaged, Piping Plovers are identifiable by their short orange bills and bright orange legs. These shorebirds may be little, weighing about 2 ounces and 6 inches in length, but they are mighty. Twice a year they migrate approximately 2,000 miles to the Atlantic Coast of Mexico.
Growing up, I spent quite a bit of my time wandering through the woods, and exploring – looking at flowers, flipping logs, catching insects and watching them in a clear bucket – the type of thing many children do. As I worked my way through university, I realized that there was more to nature than being a naturalist and as I begun to be exposed to wildlife biology I realized that this was the path I wanted to follow. When I headed off to graduate school, and was offered the opportunity to take the lead on a project involving reptile and amphibian conservation in Presqu’ile Provincial Park, in addition to my mammal work, I was thrilled. For someone as interested in conserving the biodiversity that I grew up loving, reptiles and amphibians couldn’t have been a better fit – they are after all, two of the most imperiled groups of animals on the entire planet! Reptiles and amphibians are two of the most diverse classes of animals in the world. Sadly however, they are also experiencing among the fastest extinction rates on the planet.
Government agencies of both Ontario and Quebec, as well as hydropower producers, Canadian Wildlife Federation, the Algonquin’s of Ontario, and other stakeholders are working together to restore the American eel (Anguilla rostrate) within its historic range in Ontario waters. Earlier this summer, over 400 juvenile eels (yellow eel) were collected from the eel-ladder at Hydro-Quebec’s Beauharnois Generating Station in Quebec and released in the Ottawa River at Voyageur Provincial Park. This marked the first assisted passage of American eel into the Ottawa River, and the beginning of a long journey to help restore populations of eel in the Ottawa River Watershed.
Alexander Wilson wrote that “while visiting friends in New England, sitting in the kitchen suddenly the sky became dark, there was no light in the room, and a rumbling noise grew louder, I was certain it was a tornado”. When his friends saw how frightened he was, they exclaimed, “Oh, it’s only the pigeons flying overhead”.
With fossil records dating back to 100,000 years before present and once believed to be the most abundant land bird in North America, with a population of 3-5 billion, how does the passenger pigeon become extinct within 40 years of decline?