Ontario Nature Blog

Protecting wild species and wild spaces since 1931

Author: ON Nature (Page 1 of 2)

Correction: spring 2015

Algonquin_pine_cell_tower_Bill_Kinchlea_CC_BY-NC_2_3Last Word “Keep our parks Wi-Fi free”

We incorrectly reported that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry proposed Wi-Fi expansion in provincial parks. In fact, Ontario Parks does not at present have any plans to proceed with Wi-Fi expansion. Paragraph two of the article should read:

“It seems Parks Canada is sympathetic to their plight: it has announced plans to consider putting Wi-Fi hot spots in our national parks and national historic sites.”

Ontario Nature regrets this error.

Nearby nature reserves

In her article in the spring 2015 issue of ON Nature, Lorraine Johnson demonstrates how neighbours are creating pollinator habitat and restoring ecological connections in towns, suburbs and cities across the province. She provides the example of Palmerston Square Pollinator Patch – a small but diverse community garden that took root in west Toronto in 2014 and has spawned the creation of two similar gardens nearby.

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Remembering a buried river


Re: “A river runs through it” in ON Nature, fall 2014

When I was taking night courses at the University of Toronto in the early 60s, I took a birding course with Professor Baillie. To get to this and my other courses, I rode the subway from Etobicoke, got off at St. George station, crossed Bloor Street and walked down the Taddle Creek path to campus. Baillie often talked about the buried stream under this path and the fact that birds still used this corridor as a migration route. I have lived near Philadelphia since 1984 and have not visited the Taddle Creek path area since then, but my brother who lives in Toronto tells me that it still exists.

I thoroughly enjoy every issue of ON Nature, and place it in the reading lounge of the seniors’ residence where I live. There are a couple of other Canadians who live here and who enjoy the magazine as much as I do.

Sylvia Parker, Philadelphia


Build it and they will come


bank swallow, credit: Zakwithnij-Ejdzej & Iric

Re: “Over a burrow” in ON Nature, fall 2014

I am encouraged by the enlightened attitude of Canada Building Materials towards the bank swallows nesting in their sand and gravel pits. The company’s “live and let live” policy serves as a model for other aggregate operations. Perhaps though, in concert with bank-swallow friendly aggregate policies, we can do other things to support threatened birds.

In the United Kingdom, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds promotes the creation of habitat for bank swallows. Some banks are groomed to the appropriate slope to encourage swallow occupancy, while other banks are drilled into to make appropriate-sized holes.

Such projects would appear to have great merit for parks and conservation areas in Ontario. Created nesting sites could become feature attractions not only for swallows, but also for swallow watchers, and would offer wonderful opportunities to educate the public. Most importantly, colonies established within parks and other protected areas, would enjoy full protection.

There are, of course, many successful precedents for assisting birds through the provision of nesting structures. Purple martin houses, bluebird boxes and osprey platforms come to mind. Recent attempts have been made by Bird Studies Canada and others to help the barn swallow – another declining swallow species – by building structures to counter the loss of old wooden barns. Perhaps the time has come for us to assist the bank swallow too.

Don Scallen, Georgetown

The history of herping in Ontario

Wood turtle photo by Joe Crowley

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

In the spring 2014 issue of ON Nature magazine, Tanya Pulfer wrote an article about 30 years of herp atlassing in Ontario. Limited by the short length of her article, Pulfer could only hint at the rich history of this important conservation work. Here, she provides more details and pays homage to key contributors.

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