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Events of interest

Nature Saskatchewan Fall Meet

Plan to attend the Nature Saskatchewan Fall Meet in Elbow on September 29 - October 1, 2017. Come take in a leisurely hike and explore the active sand dunes at Douglas Provincial Park; or explore the Gardiner Dam and learn about it its operations and the power of water. On Saturday evening, enjoy a wonderful banquet with old and new friends and listen to a presentation from David Weiman about Humane Trapping.

For full details including a schedule of events and registration information please go to


Bioblitz at the Meewasin Northeast Swale

Saturday, 16. September 2017 (11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
Join amateur naturalists and Meewasin conservation staff as we collect information on the biodiversity of this important site. Events will be held throughout the day that include insect catching, bird watching, and a sheep grazing demonstration.

Meet at the entrance to the Northeast Swale on Lowe Rd. (Range Rd. 3050). Take Fedoruk Rd. east, then head north on Lowe Rd. Parking will be on the left side of the gate.
Leader: Renny Grilz (306-262-4970) or Kenton Lysak (306-280-1323)


Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in Canada - Connecting birds and people

Canada's Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Program is a science-based initiative to identify, conserve, and monitor a network of sites that provide essential habitat for Canada's bird populations.

Become an IBA Caretaker!

A Caretaker is a local volunteer who is matched to one (or more) Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). Caretakers are community champions, acting as watchdogs to ensure that changes within IBAs, or threats to their ecological integrity, are properly documented – and, ideally, resolved.

Caretaker activities vary depending on site characteristics and their own interests, but can include: collecting bird data; conducting site assessments; restoring habitat; raising awareness; and advocacy efforts.

Assessing the status and trends of bird populations and IBAs, and documenting the value of conservation efforts, will become increasingly important as the program develops. Coordinated Caretaker activity will allow targeting of particularly vulnerable sites for additional conservation action, and will help ensure that Canada's IBA habitats and birds are safeguarded.

Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada, and regional partners affiliated with the IBA Program provide support, guidance, and training to all volunteers. Everyone has something to offer, and the program greatly benefits from the diversity of its contributors.

To become an IBA volunteer, go to


SNS presentations in 2017-2018: A preview

Our first three talks this season are roughly linked by water. I know, this happened a few years ago too. It wasn't planned this way; it's just that everything that happens in nature is controlled by the availability of water. In addition, I am happy to say that two of our own well-travelled members have agreed to provide their own unique slants on colourful topics. And we will visit another recurrent theme, the relationship between the desire to preserve natural ecosystems and the necessity for agriculture. I have deliberately kept the April meeting open because there are several possibilities and they each may require some extra time and effort to organize. Here is our program as it stands.

Our September meeting will feature Elaine Wheaton who is well know on campus as a climate scientist. Through her knowledge of meteorology, and her experience as a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, she will help us understand past, present and future events in our own Saskatchewan backyard. This might include water (21. September).

In October we will hear more about the ecology of an ancient riverbed, Northeast Swale. This will be presented by Kenton Lysak of the Meewasin Valley Authority and will focus on the natural history rather than the politics and, yes, there might be some mention of wetlands (19. October).

One of our members raised the issue of changing water levels in the prairie pothole region and asked how it affects the abundance of wildlife. Michael Pollock of the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency will do his level best to answer this question in November. He will concentrate mainly on birds though he will mention other species too (16. November).

One of our long-time members, Blair McCann, has been visiting all those monarch butterflies at their winter retreat in Mexico. In December he will discuss and illustrate the wonders of their precarious and fragile existence. There will be brilliant colours for a dull month (14. December).

Darrin Qualman concerns himself with humanity's long-term future and he likes graphs. When I asked him if he would talk about managing the delicate balance between agriculture and the wider ecosystem he eagerly accepted and I was delighted. He will, among other things, contrast declining wildlife populations with the burgeoning numbers of domestic animals. Come, listen and take note: January is a time of good resolutions (18. January).

Ron Jensen and friends – all long-term members – are determined to warm up February through their love of Australia and their travels there. Come and enjoy their stories and pictures of a biological system that is so ancient and yet so novel to our eyes (15. February).


Receive SNS newsletter by e-mail

Please consider switching from a paper copy of the SNS newsletter to an electronic copy. You can create a folder in your email system to save your back issues of the newsletters. You will help us save on paper, stamps, and volunteer time. You will get information more quickly and get pictures in color.

Please keep your email address up-to-date

If you are receiving the Newsletter via email and you change your ISP or your email address, remember to send the updated address to Claire Bullaro at c.bear [at]


Journals of interest

The Francis Morrsison Library carries a number of print publications that might be of interest to our members. Thanks to Ron Jensen for the following list.

BirdWatching Daily, library no 3 6001 04419 9087 MA published monthly
Birds & Blooms, library no 3 6001 04421 3391 MA published quarterly
AWI (Animal Welfare Institute) Quarterly, library no 3 6001 04423 4066 MA
Canadian Wildlife, library no 3 6001 04423 4033 MA published monthly
Field & Stream, library no 3 600104423 4793 MA published monthly
Plants, Garden Making, inspiring & informing home gardeners, library no 3 6001 04423 9438 MA
The Gardner for the Canadian Climates, library no 3 6001 04423 0398 MA published quarterly
Natural History, library no 3 6001 04423 6335 MA published 10 issues per year
National Geographic, library no 3 6001 04423 4371 MA published monthly
Our Canada, our country, our stories, library no 3 6001 04423 4413 MA published bimonthly
Outdoor Canada West, library no 3 6001 04423 7606 MA
The 2016 Prairie Garden, library no 3 6001 04419 1019 MA published annually
Rodale's Organic Life, published no 3 6001 04420 0778 MA
Tropical Fish Hobbyist, library no 3 6001 04423 9826 MA published bimonthly


Citizen Science resources

Brenda Dale, in her talk at the December meeting, listed many citizen science projects that are successful because of the volunteers who devote their time and expertise. The web links to many of these projects are contained in the document Citizen Science Summary (pdf) available on the Resources page.

The projects include Breeding Bird Atlas - coming to Saskatchewan soon! Time commitment is 20 hours for each square but can be shared. All skill levels can contribute distribution data.

Christmas Bird Count: one day per count. All skill levels can contribute distribution data.

Checklist / eBird: time commitment and skill levels that can contribute distribution and abundance data vary.

Nest Records / Project Nestwatch: time commitment varies. Can contribute breeding distribution and productivity data for any birds you can identify. Report found bands or observed markers: Anyone can assist with this and help provide distribution and longevity data.

Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS): requires 7 or more days per year and a high skill level at banding, aging, and sexing birds but provides vital information on productivity and longevity needed to understand trends

Migration Monitoring: time commitment can vary. Banding skills or assistance with practical logistics can contribute to understanding migration ecology and to a lesser degree trends.

Chaplin and Reed Lakes shorebird monitoring: from one to several days. Shorebird ID skills required to provide data to track trends and understand migration ecology of shorebirds.

Breeding Bird Survey: time commitment is 1 day for survey and 1 day for logistics, data entry and checking. Skill level to provide abundance and trend data for many species is high.

Free online training to improve skills in bird identification (Dendroica) or aging and sexing birds in the hand (Piranga). You may use the program as a guest but if you get an account you can create and save custom lists.


Books about nature

EcoFriendly Sask, with input from many including SNS, has compiled a list of books about nature in Saskatchewan. It's a work in progress but a good start. If you have books to suggest, please let them know. Meanwhile, check this out!


PAD option for donations to SNS

You now have the option of supporting the work of the Saskatoon Nature Society through either a onetime donation or an ongoing monthly contribution using the pre-authorized debit (PAD) system. To use the PAD system, you simply sign an authorization form indicating the amount you wish to donate regularly from your bank chequing account, and attach a cheque marked "VOID" to provide your account information. An official receipt for income tax purposes will be issued in January of each year.

The Membership/donation page of the Newsletter has been changed to include the PAD option. The PAD authorization form will be available at the membership desk at each monthly meeting, or it can be mailed to you by our Treasurer, or you can download the membership form here (pdf document). Your financial support is greatly appreciated!


3rd edition of the Nature Viewing Sites is here!

Saskatoon Nature Society will launch its new publication, "A Guide to Nature Viewing Sites in and around Saskatoon" (3rd edition) on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 7 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Nature ZViewing Sites - 3rd editionEnjoy the beauty of nature close to home! The Saskatoon Nature Society invites you to explore 36 hot-spots for finding wild plants, birds, animals and other creatures in parks and natural areas in and around our prairie city. Members Donna Bruce, Joan Feather and Anna Leighton, with the help of many others who know and love these places, explain how to find them and what natural wonders await you in all seasons.

This third and much expanded edition of the Society's popular Guide features clear directions and maps, GPS coordinates, full-colour photographs of landscapes and species, and fascinating nature facts that may surprise you. Whether you are a long-time resident or a newcomer, looking for an outdoor break from work or a good place for a stroll, this Guide is for you.

For more information please e-mail Joan Feather ( jfeather [at] )


SNS on Facebook

Our Facebook page needs material. Members are encouraged to upload photos or other media directly through the SNS page, or alternatively to submit files and any descriptive information to Members with active Facebook accounts can access and promote our page by liking us and sharing our page with others on Facebook.


Report on the Naturalized Areas in Saskatoon

The City of Saskatoon has designated several city parks as naturalized parks. These parks are managed to attract birds. Gary Pedersen, Naturalized Areas Supervisor, has prepared an updated report on the Naturalized Areas section. You can download the report here:

Saskatoon's naturalized parks - reportNaturalized parks in Saskatoon - March 2013 report (pdf, 49 KB)



What is eBird? A real-time, online checklist program, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution. It is amassing one of the largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resources in existence.

How does it work?

A birder simply enters when, where, and how they went birding, then fills out a checklist of all the birds seen and heard during the outing. The observations of each participant join those of others in an international network of eBird users. eBird then shares these observations with a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists. In time these data will become the foundation for a better understanding of bird distribution across the western hemisphere and beyond.

Birders wishing to contribute and record their sightings can register as a new user at the website


Web resource - A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching

Thanks to Frannie Davis, a Science Student Teacher from Seattle, we learned about a great web resource for people wishing to learn more about the art of bird watching: A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching for Couch Potatoes. Check it out.


SNS members' discount

With a new membership or a renewal, you will receive the SNS membership card. By showing the card, SNS members can receive a discount at:

  • Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop (330A-2600 8th Street E)
    Offers members a 10% discount on regularly priced books, bird seed, feeders and bird houses.
  • Don's Photo (1902 8th St. E)
    Discount on photo-finishing and certain other items in the store.
  • Members can also get a 10% discount at Early's Farm and Garden Centre (2615 Lorne Ave and 502A-51st Street East) on all regularly priced wild bird feeding products, bird houses, books, etc.


Bird surveys of the Northeast Swale and Chief Whitecap Park

The Saskatoon Nature Society is seeking volunteers to record observations of birds, plants and wildlife in the NE Swale (north of Sutherland) and Chief Whitecap Park (south of the Exhibition Park). The MVA has requested this data from us to support their work in these areas. If you wish to volunteer, please contact Stan Shadick by email to stan.shadick [at] or by phone 652-5975 to receive more details about these 2 projects.

You can download instruction packages and survey forms here (documents will open in a new window):

Link to Northeast Swale Survey PackageNortheast Swale Survey Package (Adobe pdf, 1.4 MB)
Link to NE Swale Wildlife Survey FormForm - Northeast Swale Wildlife Survey (Adobe pdf, 45 kb)

Link to Chief Whitecap Park Survey PackageChief Whitecap Park Survey Package (Adobe pdf, 4.5 MB)
Link to Chief Whitecap Park Wildlife Survey FormForm - Chief Whitecap Park Wildlife Survey (Adobe pdf, 52 kb)

Last updated: 15 September, 2017