Category Archives: author – Scallen

A Letter to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park Seeking Preservation of Meadows 2016

Attention: Jill Van Niekerk, Superintendent of Forks of the Credit Provincial Park Forks of the Credit Provincial Park contains many hectares of old field habitat, resulting from the abandonment of agricultural land. These expansive meadows provide habitat to a diversity of flora and fauna including a number of species at risk. Meadowlarks (threatened) nest here. Bobolinks (threatened) use the extensive old field habitat for foraging before fall migration. Bank Swallows (threatened), nest in adjacent quarry operations and forage over the meadows. Monarch … Continue Reading ››

A Message From our new President

Though Thanksgiving has passed, this is an apt time for me to offer thanks to the people who help make our club strong. As your new president my first order of business must be a heartfelt thankyou to Fiona Reid, our outgoing president. Under Fiona’s leadership our club has thrived as a vibrant community of naturalists. Fiona effectively communicates her passion for nature through art and writing. We are fortunate that she served and can be thankful that she will … Continue Reading ››

Bird Feeders at Georgetown Hospital

By Don Scallen - I’ve spent a lot of time recently at the Georgetown Hospital, visiting my mother who suffered a broken pelvis on December 1st. Looking out the windows of the various rooms she’s occupied, it occurred to me that a strategically placed bird feeder or two could be a pleasant diversion for bed-bound patients. birdfeeder-donThe hospital management heartily endorsed my proposal to install the feeders. I purchased two feeders along with … Continue Reading ››

Beech trees

By Don Scallen - The smooth gray bark of beech trees evokes elephant skin, making beech strikingly unique among the large trees of the forest. This smooth bark sometimes offers signs of mammals that have passed by: claw marks left by climbing bears, or declarations of love etched by romantic humans. beechbarkBeechnuts nourish wildlife. This bounty, properly referred to as “mast,” once fed legions of passenger pigeons. Where beech trees and black bears … Continue Reading ››

New Year’s Resolutions for Naturalists

By Fiona Reid and Don Scallen -

January Food for Feathered Friends!

  • Consider adding peanuts or suet for extra fat at this time of year
  • A heated bird bath can be very important in midwinter

February Turn down the Heat! Prowl for an Owl!

  • Save money and reduce consumption of non-renewable energy supplies by turning down heat at night or when out
  • Owls nest really early so now is a good time to go out at dusk and listen for them, or imitate them and see if you … Continue Reading ››

Of Birds, Cats and the Urban Landscape

by Don Scallen - There are ten species of birds that commonly nest in suburban Georgetown: Mourning Dove, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, Chipping Sparrow, Common Grackle and Brown-headed Cowbird - a nest parasite. One other, less common nesting species is the Chimney Swift, relying on the specialized nesting habitat of uncapped chimneys. I have observed another three species nesting one time in suburban Georgetown: American Crow, Tree Swallow and Baltimore Oriole. Blue Jays and … Continue Reading ››

Great Egrets

By Don Scallen Great egrets evoke notions of southern swamps - of alligators, bald cypress trees and Spanish moss. And yet, they are now common inhabitants of Ontario wetlands. At this time of year, post- nesting egrets are assembling at foraging sites, prior to their southward migration. Sandy Gillians and I counted about 50 egrets along the Beaver River near Kimberly recently. Other late summer roosts include Luther Marsh and Cootes Paradise. Great egrets are a balm to disillusioned naturalists all too … Continue Reading ››

Wood Frogs

by Don Scallen
Wood Frog female laying eggs
Wood Frog female laying eggs
Behold the wood frog, an evolutionary masterwork. A soft bodied amphibian that survives the fury of Canadian winters as far north as Old Crow in the Yukon. In that cruelest of seasons, wood frogs lie quiescent in beds of leaves, biding time until snowmelt softens their stiff bodies. They protect their delicate cellular machinery by shunting water out … Continue Reading ››

Groundhogs

by Don Scallen, Vice-President
Our landscape is networked by roads – ribbons of death where myriad animals from butterflies to deer meet their demise. And though morbid, an objective look at this mortality can provide insight into changing animal populations. In the 1960’s and 70’s groundhogs, aka woodchucks, were among the most frequent victims of vehicular faunacide. Their bodies littered roadsides as raccoon carcasses do today. Groundhogs are now rare road-kill victims. No, they haven’t evolved the ability to look both ways before … Continue Reading ››

Red-backed Salamander

by Don Scallen, Vice-President
Red-Backed Salamander
Red-Backed Salamander
They weigh about as much as a paper clip. Dew worms dwarf them. They are, by weight, the smallest vertebrates in Ontario. But what they lack in size they more than make up in numbers. Red-backed salamanders are abundant, outnumbering all of the reptiles, rodents and birds that share their forest habitat. Densities of red-backed salamanders have been estimated as 500 to 9000 … Continue Reading ››