Category Archives: Foundation

Three Ways to Get Involved with the Conservation Halton Foundation

Written by: Lisa Turza, Development Officer

You’ve grown up to believe that our environment is incredibly important; is actually essential to all of human existence. You plant native trees and plants in your yard. You don’t run the faucet while you brush your teeth. You are an environmental champion. But if you are looking for new ways to get involved in working so preserve our local environment, here are six ways that you can get involved with us, and make a difference in your community!

The Deer Clan Longhouse

The Deer Clan Longhouse

1: Go Beyond this Blog Post: Read about what we’ve got going on! There are many projects to support, so find out which one speaks to you! If you believe in educating students about our water and forest resources, then the Halton Children’s Water Festival, or Halton Forest Festival are for you! Are you intrigued by our native Ontario birds of prey? Have a look at how you can help to feed the eagles. Get involved with us and help save an endangered species, purchase lands to protect them forever from development or build a completely new trail network for everyone to enjoy. There are many exciting things going on in your community, find out how you would like to get involved!

2: Donate: So you now know what we’re all about, you’ve read about the Conservation Halton Foundation on our website, and seen a few of the cool things that are done to help preserve the environment. You can support these projects by donating. You can go on Canada Helps, or call us at 905-336-1158 to give. You can give directly to the project that you feel most passionate about, or you can give to our greatest need. By donating, you are investing in the success of the project you believe in. In many ways, our donors make it possible to achieve these great results, and we thank you so much for offering your support to meet these goals.

3: Host your Own Event: Invite your friends to get involved with your passion for saving the environment. Invite them over for an Earth Hour games night (coming up on Saturday March 28!), or an environmental themed movie night. Get together and raise money for your favourite project while having fun with your friends at the same time! Share your event pictures with us and we’d be happy to post them! Show us how much fun saving the environment can be!

Three MORE Ways to get involved with the Conservation Halton Foundation

1: Become a Leader at Your School: Oh the classic bake sale, does it ever go out of style? Educate your fellow students about how you are helping the Conservation Halton Foundation projects, and have them eat your green sweet treats!

2: Visit the Parks: By getting involved with Conservation Halton’s seven Conservation Areas, you are getting closer to what the Conservation Halton Foundation is all about. Projects funded by the Foundation can be found in all of the parks. Come for a Hike to see the Deer Clan Longhouse at Crawford Lake, or take a walk on the Wildlife Walkway at Mountsberg. Our amazing community of donors contribute to projects all around the parks.

3: Keep Being You: Just by taking a moment to think about how you can help to protect the environment in your everyday life, you are making sure that you are doing all you can to support what you believe in: a greener future. Tell us about what you are doing to save the environment every day!

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Our Final Raptor of the Month for 2014: Nahanni the Gyrfalcon

gyrfalcon

Similar to our other feature raptors, Slate the Peregrine Falcon, and Ayasha the Golden Eagle, Nahanni was a captive bred bird that came to the Mountsberg Raptor Centre as a human imprint.
gyrfalcon

 Gyrfalcons have been highly regarded by falconers throughout falconry’s history. A status bird, in the middle ages, only a king could hunt with a Gyrfalcon, however, it’s documented that Catherine the Great and Mary, Queen of Scots, respectively, favoured the gyrfalcon when hunting.

gyrfalcon

 

The Gyrfalcon is the largest true falcon in the world, and they are an arctic bird. The Gyrfalcon diet consists of mostly birds, especially ptarmigan, but they also like small mammals ranging in size from voles to hares.

Nahanni is a charismatic member of the Mountsberg Raptor Centre team. Thank you for helping Nahanni at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre!

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Get Your Give On This Giving Tuesday – The Conservation Halton Foundation

Written by: Lisa Turza, Development Officer

We know that you don’t think about giving back just one day a year. Every day you make decisions about what you can do to be a positive influence in your community. But there is one day where we can all come together and focus on giving back to our favourite cause. Giving Tuesday is a Canada-wide effort to encourage our communities to collectively take a moment from the busy holiday preparations and ponder on your give back: your philanthropy – a belief that you can be a part of something bigger. These are big thoughts, so it’s a good thing we dedicate a day to it.

The Great Give Back: December 2nd 2014. The Conservation Halton Foundation sincerely hopes that you take the time to think about what charity is close to your heart, whether it be for the cause of the environment, or health; social services or education; we are proud to be a part of this initiative, and proud to spread the word of giving.

If you choose to donate to the Conservation Halton Foundation, you have the opportunity to give back to these amazing programs.

owl

The Mountsberg Raptor Centre is home to over 30 birds of prey who have sustained injuries that prevent them from being returned to the wild. Happy, warm and well-fed they stay at the Raptor Centre. Our Education birds are even comfortable enough with people to help educate the community about human impact on Native Ontario Raptors!

shrike

If you love birds like we do, you can also support the recovery of the Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes. For three years now, Mountsberg Conservation Area has been part of an initiative to breed and release Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes into the wild to assist their endangered population. Help save this unique species by supporting the Shrike Recovery Project.

tree

If birds aren’t your thing, how about air – The Conservation Halton Foundation plants thousands of trees every year with the help of our many donors and volunteers – be a part of the success! And breathe easy.

Think about your reasons for giving back. What do you believe in? Whatever the answer to that question is: we thank you for being an engaged part of this community and for being a part of Giving Tuesday.

Please click here to learn more about the projects at the Foundation and how you can contribute.

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The Raptor of the Month for November is Scout the Merlin!

Scout the Merlin

Written by: Karlee May, Digital Media Coordinator

Scout, the Merlin, came to the Mountsberg Raptor Centre in Fall 2008 at less than a year old. He transferred to Mountsberg Conservation Area from another raptor facility. He had strong signs of being imprinted, and it’s a guess, but he may have been kept as a pet illegally. He loves the warm sun and taking a refreshing bath. Scout is one of the most vocal residents at the Raptor Centre!

Merlins are small, fierce, and aggressive birds that are mostly found in northern North America. Merlins are not much bigger than the American Kestrel, although Merlins are heavier and often appear considerably larger. They are exceptionally aggressive towards other raptors and crows. For a smaller bird of prey, it makes up for its small stature with a feisty personality!

Scout the Merlin

Merlins are specialist hunters, and hunt mostly song birds and shore birds. They patrol shorelines and open areas, and rarely glide when they fly. They are usually scanning or flying at maximum speeds. The average flight speed is 30 miles an hour.  While hunting, they will spend a long period of time perched—waiting for prey. They also use surprise attack tactics to catch prey–typically catching them in midair during high speed attacks. It’s been documented that famous Medieval aristrocrats, like Mary, Queen of Scots, used merlins to hunt song birds for recreation.

Scout the Merlin

As with most raptors, female Merlins are larger than males. Merlins lay their eggs in abandoned nests of crows and hawks, in either conifers or deciduous trees of semi-open habitats. They tend to choose nests with a good view of the surrounding area. During the breeding season they are very territorial, and outside of the breeding season they are very solitary birds.

For more information about the Raptor of the Month program, and to learn more about the Foundation, please visit the Foundation webpage!

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Takenya the Red-Tailed Hawk is the October Raptor of the Month

Red-tailed Hawk

Written by: Karlee May, Digital Media Coordinator

Did you know that the “classic” call attributed to Bald Eagles is actually the high pitched scream of the Red-tailed Hawk? The broad wing span of the Red-tailed Hawk, floating over open land, is a common sight in the skies above our watershed. You may even see not one, but two hawks in the sky because they sometimes hunt in pairs during breeding season. Red-tailed Hawks hunt small mammals, for example, voles, mice, rabbits, and squirrels. Red-tailed Hawks are one of the biggest raptor species in North America, but even the biggest females only weigh three pounds. Red-tailed hawks are aggressive when defending territory. Courting birds swoop and chase after each other. An aggressive posture they use is holding their body and head upright while their feathers are standing erect.  They are the most common species of hawk in North America, and you can identify them from their broad round wings, and short wide tail—perfect for coasting on thermals over open country, like farms.

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawks are famous for their brick red tail feathers. These feathers do not grow in until maturity. Once their prey is spotted they drop head first in a “swoop”. Red-tailed Hawks are vulnerable when they swoop in a hunt to a predator they share with other birds of prey: us. Vehicles frequently hit and kill Red-tailed Hawks. If a passenger throws food out of the window, mice and rats are attracted to the garbage thrown onto road sides. When a Red-tailed hawk swoops to the side of the road, in pursuit of its prey, it can’t see oncoming vehicles, and consequently, the vehicle will hit the Red-tailed hawk. It’s important to practice good stewardship even when you’re in a vehicle, and put garbage in an appropriate place once the vehicle has come to a stop (even biodegradable garbage like an apple core!).

Red-Tailed Hawk

Takenya is one of our resident Red-tailed Hawks, a popular education bird, and the Raptor of the Month for October. Takenya was transferred to Mountsberg from a rehabilitation centre in the Muskoka area where she was recovering from being shot in the wing, reason unknown. Her wing could not be fully repaired enough for her to fly properly so Takenya enjoys life meeting visitors at the Raptor Centre year round!  Despite the fact that she is not human imprinted like many of the other education birds, she has become a wonderful education bird due to her calm nature.  Takenya has much darker plumage than most Red-tailed Hawks found in Southern Ontario.  Our belief is that Takenya hatched in Northern Ontario and was injured during her first migration south.

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Keep Calm and Carrion: Casey the Turkey Vulture is Our Raptor of the Month

Turkey Vultures

 

Written by: Karlee May, Digital Media Coordinator

Walk along the ridge on Rattlesnake Point and you may see the powerful, broad wings of the Turkey Vulture born aloft by thermal drafts. The ubiquitous Turkey Vulture is close to our hearts at Conservation Halton: they are literally the symbol of our organization. Their flights over the Escarpment takes ones’ breath away. Across the globe, vultures are unfairly maligned. Yes, they feast on carrion–dead bodies. They are scavengers, not killers, and for whatever reason the pursuit of the hunt is held up as a ‘noble’ characteristic of animals. Yes, the Turkey Vultures pee on themselves. And, yes, they vomit the contents of their stomachs in self defense. These bodily functions, albeit unattractive and off-putting, are unique adaptations that have poised vultures as the janitors of the world. : it’s tough work to pick and clean at rotten and maggoty remains decomposing in the open–harbringers of disease. Vultures don’t spread disease; vultures consume disease for us.

turkey vulture escarpment

Why do Turkey Vultures pee on their legs? They bathe by peeing! Their urine is very acidic and acts like a sanitizer to clean and cool their legs. Cleanliness is important to vultures. Turkey Vultures are bald so decomposing flesh doesn’t stick to feathers when they eat. A vulture maintains a sparkling visage when dining out–he is a gentile dining companion. Additionally it is difficult to track Turkey Vultures for study because the acidity of their urine. The acid corrodes trackers bound to their legs.

Why do Turkey Vultures vomit in self defense? Does it come from fear? The answer is threefold. First of all the smell of vulture vomit is repugnant. The stench overpowers some predators. Furthermore, the regurgitated innards served up are an offering of a hot meal: it’s better to lose your lunch than to lose your life. Lastly, by relieving itself of a full belly, the Turkey Vulture becomes lighter. A lighter body mass means that the Turkey Vulture will quickly flee from danger.

turkey vulture

In the midst of danger, or injury, Turkey Vultures help each other. Turkey Vultures are social animals. If a Turkey Vulture is injured, their family will care for them by bringing food. Turkey Vultures take care of their fledglings for a longer period of time than expected: it’s not altruism, it’s just how they think.

Our friend Casey the Turkey Vulture came to us in 1999. Casey was found sitting on a lawn in a semi-residential area of New Hamburg.  When found, he was very thin and dehydrated.  He was also unable to fly due to an old, healed fracture of his right humerus bone.  We believe that Casey was injured earlier in the year and the wing healed leaving him unable to fly.  It is very possible that he was hit by a car as Turkey Vultures are often seen eating road kill by the side of the road.  Due to the fact that Turkey Vultures are social and live in family groups, it is possible that his family fed him by regurgitating for him.  However, when they migrated south for the winter, he was left behind.  Unable to fly, he wandered around looking for food.  Due to his young age and relaxed temperament, the staff at Mountsberg decided to keep him as an education bird.

For more information on our Raptor of Month program, please click here.

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The Eastern Screech Owl: Echo is the Raptor of the Month for August!

"I don't get out of my nest for less than 10,000 a day"

“I don’t leave my nest for less than $10,000 a day”

Written by: Karlee May, Digital Media Coordinator

Standing at a gargantuan height of about eight inches: Echo the Eastern Screech Owl is the resident Angry Bird at Mountsberg Raptor Centre and perennial favourite for the Raptor Encounters. She has been a resident since 2003, only a hatchling, after her nest tree was cut down in 2002. When her nest tree was cut down, she was found by well meaning people who intended to raise her to release her back into the wild. Unfortunately their generous efforts and care of Echo made her a human imprint. She is deemed non-releasable because all she knows is that food comes from humans and therefore cannot hunt for herself.

Eastern Screech Owls are so tiny they can fit in a pint glass, but their ear tufts may stick out! The ear tufts are used in a special defensive posture called the “cryptic” posture. If Echo was in the wild and felt threatened, she would pull in all of her feathers, stand erect, close her yellow eyes, and put up the ear tufts to resemble a branch on a tree. Another defensive tactic the Eastern Screech Owl uses is to balloon it’s body up to make it look bigger than it is.

Echo the Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owls are active nocturnal predators: the generalist hunter will prey on shrews, mice, lizards, and sometimes bigger prey like another owl. Eastern Screech Owls use their beak to tear the prey into smaller bit size pieces.

While the Eastern Screech Owl breaks its bread into chewable pieces, other, bigger, predators are eyeing the tiny owls for their own snack. There are many predators of the Eastern Screech Owl: larger owls, hawks, weasels, raccoons, crows, mink, skunk, snakes, and opposums. Another common threat to this species are ant and insect infestations that attack fledglings. Research suggests a possible symbiotic relationship occurs between Eastern Screech Owls and blind snakes. The owl will take the snake back to the nest cavity: the snake keeps the nest cavity clean, and the owl lets the snake live safely in the nest away from predators. It’s more likely the snake is fed to the fledgling chicks, but this relationship has been reported rarely.

Echo the Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owls are named after the “screech” sound they make. They don’t screech in the way we think of it: the sounds are mostly whinnies and trills. Mated couples will often coo and trill at each other through the night. Eastern Screech Owls also use different sounds for annoyance, defence, and mating.

You’ll notice that Echo is the Ontario grey colour. Some Eastern Screech Owls are red, and both grey and red can come from the same nest. Since maple and breech trees are more common in Ontario, the Ontario grey colour is more successful, conversely, in a pine and cedar forest, the red feathers are more successful.

Echo the Screech Owl

At this time of year, you can see in the picture above, Echo molts. The Eastern Screech Owl molt once a year so new feathers can grow in before the winter.

Come to Mountsberg Raptor Centre to say hello to Echo, and visit the Wildlife Walkway to greet the other birds. Please help Conservation Halton care for Echoand the other Raptors at Mountsberg Raptor Centre by contributing to the Raptor of the Month program.

Disclaimer: You can meet Echo for a Raptor Encounter, and the staff will do their best for you to meet our lovely Raptor of the Month, but sometimes mitigating circumstances arise. Our staff will do their best for you to meet your choice of bird, but please mind the fact that our beloved raptors have needs of their own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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