Your Pets and Bats

Visit https://www.albertabats.ca

 

Alberta has at least 9 species of bats, and although rarely seen because of their nocturnal habits, they are often among the most common wildlife in our communities. Bats are major predators of insects, and are important for maintaining healthy ecosystems throughout the province. any pests of forests, crops, and people are among the favourite foods of bats. Their organic control of these pests is estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually to the North American economy (23 Billion to be specific).

Bats and People

Millions of bats live near people and provide tremendous benefits for controlling insect pests. The vast majority of these bats remain out of sight and do not pose a risk to people. However, as with all wildlife, there are important precautions that should be taken to ensure both you and bats remain safe.Never touch bats with your bare hands. Like many wild animals, bats will defend themselves by biting if they feel threatened, such as when someone attempts to pick them up or reaches into a place they are hiding. Although very rare, there is potential to contract rabies from a bat bite. Rabies is a virus that occurs at very low levels in bat populations throughout Alberta. Post-exposure shots must be administered as soon as possible after any exposure, or suspected exposure, because once rabies symptoms appear, the virus is almost always fatal. Bites typically do not leave visible puncture wounds and rarely bleed, so it may be difficult to determine if someone was bitten—if in doubt, always seek medical treatment. Rabies can also be prevented through vaccinations delivered prior to exposure, but regular testing is needed to ensure continued immunity.The best prevention is to never handle bats with bare hands. Bats do not seek out or attack people. Exposure is typically through accidental contact or deliberate handling of bats. Bats should not be allowed to enter the living quarters of a home, although they can quite often safely use portions of a building where human contact will not occur. Pets should always have up-to-date rabies vaccinations.Photos in this guide may contain bats being held by hands covered by disposable latex or nitrile gloves. These are worn by bat researchers to prevent the spread of microbes from one bat to another. Most bats can bite through these gloves, and they do not provide adequate protection from bites. To protect yourself from bat bites, leather gloves must be worn.

Have you or your pet been bitten?

If you come into contact with a bat in Alberta, contact the Provincial Rabies Hotline at 1-844-427-6847 for instructions on receiving treatment (alternatively, contact Health Link at 811). It is important you receive prompt medical attention from a doctor or nurse, even if you are unsure whether you were bitten. Treatment will typically consist of post-exposure prophylaxis, a series of shots that helps your immune system destroy the virus during its early stages. These shots are small injections in the muscle of the arm or leg, much like other vaccinations we commonly receive. Check in with your veterinarian to ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.

How do bats survive the winter?

All bats in Canada eat only insects and other arthropods, and most of these foods are inaccessible to bats during our prolonged Canadian winters. So how do bats survive the winter? There are two strategies that bats use: migration and hibernation.

Migrate:

While all bats are migratory to some extent, three species appear to leave the province altogether—the Hoary Bat, Eastern Red Bat, and Silver-haired Bat. This strategy may reduce the need to accumulate large fat stores to survive the winter, and may help explain why this group typically gives birth to more than one pup. It is largely unknown where our migratory bats overwinter, but it may include the southern US, Mexico, or even the warmer regions of British Columbia. Bats that leave the province for the winter may still hibernate during cold winter weather, albeit for shorter periods

.Hibernate:

The majority of bats in Alberta appear to hibernate in the province during the winter. This includes the Big Brown Bat and all the Myotis species found in Alberta. Bats that hibernate may still undergo long-distance movements between summer and winter habitat. Banding records from Alberta have found Little Brown Myotis, Long-eared Myotis, and Big Brown Bats moving at least 300 – 500 kilometres between summer and winter habitat (one Little Brown Myotis moved almost 500 kilometres from Warner to Stony Plain)[1]. Where the majority of bats in Alberta hibernate is unknown. A few caves have been identified that support hibernating Little Brown Myotis, Northern Myotis, Long-legged Myotis, and Big Brown Bats. Deep rock-crevices, such as those in some Alberta river valleys are known to be used by hibernating Big Brown Bats. Big Brown Bats may also hibernate in buildings, possibly even moving into the cities during the winter, but this has not be observed in other species. All known hibernacula combined account for a very small portion of the bat population, making it uncertain what our bats do during the winter (see also Hibernacula) .

Where are bats found?

Bats occur throughout Alberta. They are among the most common wildlife in cities, especially in our river valleys and parks where there is water and old trees. Some bats have ranges that likely span the entire province, while others may only be found in particular habitat types or regions of the province. The maps on the next page provide an overview, but there is still much to discover about what habitats and regions of Alberta bats occupy.

 

The Buzz about Bees


Bees have been the talk of the town but what exactly is all the buzz? Honey Bee, Bumble Bee, Mining Bee, Hairy Belly Bee, Wasp? Our food depends on pollination to ensure fruits and vegetable seeds can be fertile and continue the food supply. There are other pollinators but bees are under specific stress that makes your efforts even more important. 

First thing! EVENT TIME

JOIN THE PROTECTING POLINATORS PRESENTATION

Awareness has been growing about the challenges faced by native and managed bee populations in recent years. To increase awareness about pollinators and the importance of conserving their habitat, EALT has run an active Protecting Pollinators program since 2016. As part of this program, we give presentations to community groups and offer workshops on how to build bee hotels to support native bees. Currently, we can’t host these large gatherings, but we can still reach out to our community to tell you how you can help the bees!

MORE ABOUT BEES

About 75% of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. Of those, about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals. The rest are insects such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths.

Bees are the primary pollinators. However, about 200,000 invertebrate species, (bees, moths, butterflies, beetles, and flies)serve as pollinators, as well as about 1,000 species of vertebrates (birds, mammals and reptiles).In the U.S., the annual benefit of managed honey bees to consumers is estimated at nearly $20 billion. The services provided by native pollinators contribute to the productivity of crops as well as to the survival and reproduction of many native plants.

Bees are the best documented pollinators in natural and agricultural landscapes. A wide range of plants in the Aster and Rose Families, blueberry crops, and tomatoes are just a few plants that benefit from bee pollinators. Most of us are familiar with the colonies of honey bees that have been the workhorses of agricultural pollination for years in Canada. They were imported from Europe almost 400 years ago and continue to be managed for honey production and pollination services.

There are over 800 species of native ground and twig nesting bees in Canada. Most of these bee species live a solitary life; a minority are social and form colonies or nest in aggregations. Native bees visit and pollinate many crops; in many cases they are better at transferring pollen than honey bees. Our native bees can be encouraged to do more to support agricultural endeavours if their needs for nesting habitat are met and if suitable sources of nectar, pollen, and water are provided. Bees come in a variety of body shapes and sizes, and even have tongues of different lengths. Native bees visit the widest range of flowers and crops of any pollinator group.

Bumble bees (Bombus spp.) form small colonies, usually underground making use of old rodent burrows or dense thatches. They are generalists, feeding on a wide range of plant types from May to September and are important pollinators of tomatoes and blueberries.

Sweat bees (family Halictidae) are medium to small-sized, slender bees that commonly nest underground. Various species are solitary while others form loose colonies, nesting side-by-side. Other common solitary bees include carpenter bees (Xylocopa virginica), which nest by chewing into wood; mining bees (Andrena spp.), which nest underground and are common in the spring; leaf-cutter bees (Megachile spp.), which prefer dead trees or branches for their nest sites; and mason bees (Osmia spp.), which utilize cavities they find in stems and dead wood that they fill with mud.

 

Where Do Pollinators (Bees) Go in the Winter?

As the summer season ends and the cooler weather approaches, once magnificent and colourful flowers begin to wither and wilt, while previously buzzing gardens become stems of silence. But where do the pollinators go? Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and birds all display a variety of amazing and unique strategies in order to survive the cold weather and overcome the harsh climate of the approaching winter.

As the winter temperatures start to freeze the air, honey bees form special clusters inside their hives to keep warm. Worker honey bees huddle around their queen and vibrate their wings and bodies in a “shivering” behaviour in order to generate heat inside the hive. This behaviour is amazingly carried out all winter, and uses up a lot of the bees’ energy. In order to fuel this heated huddle, honey bees use their stored honey as a main source of food in order to stay energized and keep the queen and the hive at an optimal temperature throughout the winter!

Bumble bees take a different approach, and only new queens survive the winter, while the rest of the colony dies off. In the fall, male bumble bees mate with future queens from different colonies, and these future queens spend the entire winter underground or in holes in soft wood that are safe and dry. Queen bumble bees are impressively large in size, and must consume as much nectar and pollen as possible in order to build up crucial fat reserves before entering a dormant phase in overwintering sites. In the following spring, queens will emerge and find perfect nesting sites to start brand new colonies of their own!

For native solitary bees, it is common for females to lay eggs in underground nests (mining bees, sweat bees, polyester bees), or in sealed and insulated cavities above ground (leaf cutting bees, mason bees). These eggs then hatch and survive the winter as dormant adults waiting to emerge in the spring, or as developing pupae kept safe and warm inside nests. Once the weather is warm enough, emerged females will find their own independent nesting sites and lay the next generation of eggs!

LEARN MORE ABOUT BEES & OTHER POLLINATORS

– Sources:https://www.pollinator.org/canada, https://anpc.ab.ca/

SELECTING PLANTS FOR POLLINATORS GUIDE FOR EDMONTON REGION

 

Creating a yard that is a buzzing paradise for honey bees

Creating a yard that is a buzzing paradise for honey bees and native pollinators will support biodiversity and help pollinate urban gardens. Here’s a few tips to a bee-utiful garden:

– Incorporate plants that are native to your area in your yard. Native bees and other native pollinators have evolved with native plants. By providing native plants, you’ll get the most diversity of pollinators and resilient gardens.

– When getting plants, avoid plants that have been treated with pesticides (ask at your garden centre) and avoid plants that are invasive in your region (check your local invasive species council online). While plants that are invasive might provide nectar and pollen, they invade other areas and reduce native plant cover. Check your local invasive species council online for plants to avoid.

– Choose a variety of flower shapes, sizes, and colours. Pick plants that bloom at different times, from early spring to fall so that pollinators have food all season.

– Embrace some ‘wildness’ in your garden—rock piles, bare soil, old stems, and rotting wood can provide nesting and resting sites for many pollinators.

 

Local Clubs, Groups, Native Plant Resources

The Edmonton Native Plant Group is an informal group of people in the Edmonton area who like to grow native plants and promote their use in gardening and landscaping to a wider public. We take part in a number of projects, in cooperation with the appropriate municipal authorities, which aim to enrich the natural flora of various parks and natural areas.

ENPG members raise native plants at the City of Edmonton’s Oldman Creek Nursery and maintain a demonstration native bed at the John Janzen Nature Centre, and the Muttart Conservatory. Volunteers also care for certain parts of City of Edmonton parks as Partners in Parks.

Clark Ecoscience and Sustainability Ltd. (CES) was founded in 2010. CES maximizes ecosystem services through native ecosystem conservation, restoration and rebuilding projects for citizens, industry, government, and non-profits.

CES started as an idea that Michael had while working on a picker truck. He took a look around and decided he wanted to learn more about changes in the environment, after hearing about climate change and biodiversity loss. It was at the University of Alberta where he learned about biology, geology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and finally ecology. While studying ecology, Michael began a second focus on sustainability – working with people to ensure today’s resources are available for future generations. It was in this work that he had the idea to merge sustainability and ecology together and thus Clark Ecoscience and Sustainability was born.

SHOP FOR PLANTS

Trees!

Coast to Coast Reforestation (C2C Trees) is Alberta’s largest—and Canada’s second largest—producer of container and bareroot tree seedlings. With five nurseries and five cold storage facilities located across the province, we supply reforestation and reclamation companies across Canada with premium quality tree seedlings.

For low-volume orders

Please visit our retail website TreeTime.ca We offer the same high-quality trees with the convenience of online ordering and free shipping on all orders over $100.00!

 

 

Crows

American Crows are familiar over much of the continent: large, intelligent, all-black birds with hoarse, cawing voices. They are common sights in treetops, fields, and roadsides, and in habitats ranging from open woods and empty beaches to town centers. They usually feed on the ground and eat almost anything – typically earthworms, insects and other small animals, seeds, and fruit but also garbage, carrion, and chicks they rob from nests. Their flight style is unique, a patient, methodical flapping that is rarely broken up with glides.

Crows are crafty foragers that sometimes follow adult birds to find where their nests are hidden. They sometimes steal food from other animals. A group of crows was seen distracting a river otter to steal its fish, and another group followed Common Mergansers to catch minnows the ducks were chasing into the shallows. They also sometimes follow songbirds as they arrive from a long migration flight and capture the exhausted birds. Crows also catch fish, eat from outdoor dog dishes, and take fruit from trees.
Raven vs Crow

    Ravens are generally larger than crows and have much larger and more curved beaks. Another way   to tell the two apart without seeing them up close is by their sounds. The American Crow makes a “Caw” sound, whereas the Common Raven makes a deeper  croaking sound. In additiona, Ravens tend to move in pairs whereas their Crow counterparts travel in large flocks. Ravens tend to glide more, whereas crows flap their wings a lot more when flying around.  Similar to the Common Raven, American Crows are found across Alberta in both urban and rural areas, and have similar nesting sites atop power poles and tall trees. As well, Crows are very intelligent creatures and are also very adaptable to different and changing environments. Crows are known for eating roadkill, berries, seeds, and even garbage. 

 

 

 

 

Habitat

Habitat Open WoodlandsAmerican Crows are highly adaptable and will live in any open place that offers a few trees to perch in and a reliable source of food. Regularly uses both natural and human created habitats, including farmland, pasture, landfills, city parks, golf courses, cemeteries, yards, vacant lots, highway turnarounds, feedlots, and the shores of rivers, streams, and marshes. Crows tend to avoid unbroken expanses of forest, but do show up at forest campgrounds and travel into forests along roads and rivers. Avoids deserts.

Food

Food OmnivoreAmerican Crows eat a vast array of foods, including grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and many kinds of small animals such as earthworms and mice. They eat many insects, including some crop pests, and also eat aquatic animals such as fish, young turtles, crayfish, mussels, and clams. A frequent nest predator, the American Crow eats the eggs and nestlings of many species including sparrows, robins, jays, terns, loons, and eiders. Also eats carrion and garbage.

Behavior

Behavior Ground ForagerAmerican Crows are highly social birds, more often seen in groups than alone. In addition to roosting and foraging in numbers, crows often stay together in year-round family groups that consist of the breeding pair and offspring from the past two years. The whole family cooperates to raise young. Winter roosts of American Crows sometimes number in the hundreds of thousands. Often admired for their intelligence, American Crows can work together, devise solutions to problems, and recognize unusual sources of food. Some people regard this resourcefulness and sociality as an annoyance when it leads to large flocks around dumpsters, landfills, and roosting sites; others are fascinated by it. American Crows work together to harass or drive off predators, a behavior known as mobbing.

American Crows congregate in large numbers in winter to sleep in communal roosts. These roosts can be of a few hundred up to two million crows. Some roosts have been forming in the same general area for well over 100 years. In the last few decades some of these roosts have moved into urban areas where the noise and mess cause conflicts with people.

Credit facts and photos : https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Crow/overview

https://www.ealt.ca/blog/fun-facts-raven-or-crow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magpies

Black-billed Magpies are familiar and entertaining birds of western North America. They sit on fenceposts and road signs or flap across rangelands, their white wing patches flashing and their very long tails trailing behind them. This large, flashy relative of jays and crows is a social creature, gathering in numbers to feed at carrion. They’re also vocal birds and keep up a regular stream of raucous or querulous calls. Both crows and magpies are resourceful and learn quickly. They are able to mimic the calls of other birds.

Habitat

Habitat Open WoodlandsBlack-billed Magpies live among the meadows, grasslands, and sagebrush plains of the West. Their nesting territories often follow stream courses. Though they like open areas and are not found in dense woods, they stay close to cover for protection from raptors. Magpies don’t avoid human development, often spending time near barnyards, livestock areas, and grain elevators where they have ready access to food.

Food

Food OmnivoreLike other corvids (members of the jay and crow family), Black-billed Magpies have a wide-ranging diet. They eat wild fruit and grain, as well as grasshoppers and beetles that they find while foraging on the ground (they sometimes find beetles by flipping cow dung). They also kill small mammals such as squirrels and voles, and raid birds’ nests. Carrion is also a main food source, as are the fly maggots found in carrion. Sometimes they steal meat from the kills of coyotes and foxes. Magpies also land atop large animals, such as cows or moose, and pick ticks off them. When they find an abundant food source, magpies will cache food for short periods.

Behavior

Behavior Ground ForagerOn the wing, Black-billed Magpies make long, sweeping flights with white flashes of their wing patches and long, trailing tails. They perch at the tops of trees, which is a means of visually establishing their territory, the equivalent of other bird species’ songs. Magpies walk with a swaggering strut. They sometimes gather in flocks, even seemingly living communally, and will band together to mob a raptor. In groups, males establish dominance through a stretch display: raising the bill in the air and flashing their white eyelids. They also show aggression with their wings, flickering or quivering them to display the white wing patches; and tails spreading, quivering, or flicking their elongated tail feathers. During courtship they also use a tail-spreading display. Black-billed Magpies mate for life. The female initiates the pair bond by begging for food from the male, which begins courtship feeding. During breeding, the male stands guard near the female to reduce the chance she’ll mate with another male (which does occur). One of the most notable Black-billed Magpie behaviors is the so-called “funeral”—when one magpie discovers a dead magpie, it begins calling loudly to attract other magpies. The gathering of raucously calling magpies (up to 40 birds have been observed) may last for 10 to 15 minutes before the birds disperse and fly off silently.

Canada Goose

The big, black-necked Canada Goose with its signature white chinstrap mark is a familiar and widespread bird of fields and parks. Thousands of “honkers” migrate north and south each year, filling the sky with long V-formations. But as lawns have proliferated, more and more of these grassland-adapted birds are staying put in urban and suburban areas year-round, where some people regard them as pests.

 

Some migratory populations of the Canada Goose are not going as far south in the winter as they used to. This northward range shift has been attributed to changes in farm practices that makes waste grain more available in fall and winter, as well as changes in hunting pressure and changes in weather.

Habitat

Habitat MarshesCanada Geese live in a great many habitats near water, grassy fields, and grain fields. Canada Geese are particularly drawn to lawns for two reasons: they can digest grass, and when they are feeding with their young, manicured lawns give them a wide, unobstructed view of any approaching predators. So they are especially abundant in parks, airports, golf courses, and other areas with expansive lawns.

Food

Food SeedsIn spring and summer, geese concentrate their feeding on grasses and sedges, including skunk cabbage leaves and eelgrass. During fall and winter, they rely more on berries and seeds, including agricultural grains, and seem especially fond of blueberries. They’re very efficient at removing kernels from dry corn cobs. Two subspecies have adapted to urban environments and graze on domesticated grasses year round.

Behavior

Behavior Ground ForagerCanada Geese eat grain from fields, graze on grass, and dabble in shallow water by tipping forward and extending their necks underwater. During much of the year they associate in large flocks, and many of these birds may be related to one another. They mate for life with very low “divorce rates,” and pairs remain together throughout the year. Geese mate “assortatively,” larger birds choosing larger mates and smaller ones choosing smaller mates; in a given pair, the male is usually larger than the female. Most Canada Geese do not breed until their fourth year; less than 10 percent breed as yearlings, and most pair bonds are unstable until birds are at least two or three years old. Extra-pair copulations have been documented.

During spring, pairs break out from flocks and begin defending territories. Spacing of these pairs is variable and depends on availability of nest sites and population density; where population is large, even after a great many fights birds may end up nesting in view of one another, and some populations are semi-colonial.

Canada Goose threat displays may involve head pumping, bill opened with tongue raised, hissing, honking, and vibrating neck feathers. When an intruding goose doesn’t retreat, geese may grab each other by breast or throat and hit each other with their wings. Fighting may result in injuries.

Female selects nest site, builds nest, and incubates eggs. She may brood goslings in cold, wet, or windy weather and while they’re sleeping for first week after hatching. Male guards the nest while female incubates.

Soon after they hatch, goslings begin pecking at small objects, and spend most of their time sleeping and feeding. They remain with their parents constantly, though sometimes “gang broods” form, especially in more southern latitudes. These can include at least two broods, and sometimes five or more, that travel, feed, and loaf together, accompanied by at least one adult.

Young often remain with their parents for their entire first year, especially in the larger subspecies. As summer wanes birds become more social; they may gather in large numbers at food sources; where food is limited and patchy, may compete with displays and fights.

In winter, Geese can remain in northern areas with some open water and food resources even where temperatures are extremely cold. Geese breeding in the northernmost reaches of their range tend to migrate long distances to winter in the more southerly parts of the range, whereas geese breeding in southern Canada and the conterminous United States migrate shorter distances or not at all. Individuals tend to return to the same migratory stopover and wintering areas year after year. Spring migration may be difficult for observers to track because of over-wintering birds and movements between nighttime resting areas and feeding areas, but the bulk of spring migratory movements tend to move north behind the retreating snow line, where the temperature is averaging 35 degrees.

Migrating flocks generally include loose aggregations of family groups and individuals, in both spring and fall. Flights usually begin at dusk, but may begin anytime of day, and birds fly both night and day. They move in a V formation, with experienced individuals taking turns leading the flock.

 

The red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, is the most commonly seen member of the squirrel family in Edmonton’s natural areas. The red squirrel is a feisty rodent; you have no doubt heard the distinct chattering noise made by the red squirrel to announce its presence and defend its territory. This chattering is often accompanied by tail flicking and foot stomping. If you have ever seen two of these squirrels together you are in for an entertaining and often acrobatic sight as they will chase one another through the trees when staking territory.

As its common name implies, the red squirrel has a reddish coloured coat. The coat Red Squirrelthickens as cooler weather arrives since the red squirrel does not hibernate and remains active throughout the winter months. The coat is contrasted by a white underbelly, white mouth, and white rings around the eyes. Like other rodents, the red squirrel has large front teeth that are constantly being worn down and will continue to grow throughout its lifetime. It can be distinguished from the least chipmunk — Edmonton’s other common member of the squirrel family — by the white and black stripes the chipmunk has on its face and back.
Life in Edmonton doesn’t come without its perils for the red squirrel. Winter survival is dependent on food storage and its main food source, pine cones, can fluctuate depending on the year. Despite their attempts to appear as a tough prey, they face their fair share of predators. Coyotes, owls, hawks, weasels, crows, and housecats all prey on red squirrels. Of course, there is also the pressure of urban development that can threaten their habitat, but the red squirrel is an opportunistic and adaptive rodent which will no doubt continue to share our city with us – chattering, stomping its feet, and sometimes invading our birdfeeders. (https://natureedmonton.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/the-red-squirrel/)

Six Things to Know about Red Squirrels!

Six Things to Know about Red Squirrels!

 

 

Hares & Rabbits

About rabbits and hares

  • In Alberta, there are mountain cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares, white-tailed jackrabbits (a type of hare) and a variety of domestic rabbit breeds.
  • Wild rabbits are grey to brown all year and hares are grey to brown in summer and white in winter.
  • Domestic rabbits can be differentiated from wild rabbits by the variety of colours and sizes and are not protected by any of Alberta’s wildlife laws.
  • Hare populations tend to peak every 10 years.
  • Rabbits normally live only 12 to 15 months and in that time have approximately three litters of up to six young. In the city, rabbit and hare populations are kept in check by vehicles, weather, predators and other mortality factors.
  • In summer, rabbits and hares normally consume a diet of grasses and forbs and in the winter eat the buds, twigs and bark of shrubs and trees.
  • Hares can consume up to 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of green vegetation in one day.