New Year’s Resolutions for Naturalists

By Fiona Reid and Don Scallen –

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

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 get a response

If you build it they will come! Homes for Birds, Bats, and Bees

  • Order a new bird house or bat house. Check out new domiciles for bumble bees
  • Make your own house if you are handy
  • Bees and wasps like soft wood: drill holes of varying thicknesses in a 6 x 6 or larger log and hang this on an outer wall or barn

Salamander Season!

  • Join HNPNC on a salamander walk at Silver Creek to learn about these amazing animals
  • Hunt for frogs in local ponds
  • Head to Willow Park in Norval on a sunny day later in the month to look for emerging snakes around the rocks of the hibernacula or beside their small pond
  • Woodcocks may be back and on territory so go for a woodcock prowl at dusk

Help our Pollinators by going Native!

  • Join HNPNC in converting a stretch of the river bank by the St Alban’s church into a home for pollinators and a bank for nesting turtles
  • Help remove non-natives and plant natives
  • If you have a large lawn, why not convert a section into a native plant garden?

Dig it, Dig it Good!

  • Put in a pond in your back yard – nature will come to you (details coming in March newsletter)
  • No space? A dripping hose can attract birds, or a small fountain will lure in dragonflies
  • Turtles love ponds, and this month they will also be out looking for nest sites. Report your turtle sightings to the Toronto Zoo’s Turtle Tally Program
  • Do some pond-dipping to see the huge array of small creatures that live in a healthy pond

Out with the Invaders!

  • Now is the time to pull out dog-strangling vine and other invasive species before they set seed and spread further
  • Start a local initiative to remove Norway Maples and plant native trees
  • Talk to a neighbour about planting native trees and shrubs to provide food for declining birds (caterpillars far prefer native plants and they in turn feed birds)

Have a Wild Night out!

  • Join HNPNC on a moth night, or paint sticky goop (beer, banana and sugar) on trees near your own home to see what moths you can attract
  • Come on a Monday evening walk
  • Watch bats forage over water near the cottage

Help Migrants Journey in Safety

  • Put up weighted threads outside large windows to reduce reflection and bird collisions (check out for more information)
  • Keep cats inside when thrushes and warblers are passing through backyard habitats
  • Plant asters and other late-blooming natives for traveling Monarchs

Fall into Nature!

  • Take a trip with our club to see migrating hawks
  • Look for fall warblers and sparrows
  • Take a child for a walk in nature; it is a great time of year to see animals of all sizes on the move

Buy a new Field Guide and get on Track!

  • It’s slowing down out in the forest, so why not get some new nature books to study for next year and check off what you have seen to date
  • Get out after the first snowfall to look for animal tracks, and bring a book to identify them

Have an Eco-friendly Holiday!

  • Use recyclable wrapping (bags, newspaper, scraps of cloth)
  • Decorate the tree with popcorn and cranberries to put out for birds later
  • Minimize use of colored lights
  • Give nature-inspired gifts – for the friends who have everything, consider buying an acre of rainforest
  • Take part in the Christmas Bird Count and tell your friends all about it

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