Podiceps Auritus “Members of the family of Grebes are to be found in the temperate zones of both hemispheres, beyond which they do not extend very far either to the north or south. They are usually found on ponds or large sheets of stagnant water, sometimes on deep, slow-moving streams; but always where sedges and rushes are abundant. Probably there are no birds better entitled to the name of water fowl than the Grebes—at least, observers state that they know of no others that do not on some occasions appear on dry land. It is only under the most urgent circumstances, as, for instance, when wounded, that they approach the shore, and even then they keep so close to the brink that on the slightest alarm they can at once plunge into the water. Whatever they do must be done in the water; they cannot even rise upon the wing without a preliminary rush over the surface of the lake. From dry land they cannot begin their flight. Their whole life is spent in swimming and diving. They even repose floating upon the water, and when thus asleep float as buoyantly as if they were made of cork, the legs raised to the edges of the wings, and the head comfortably buried among the feathers between the back and shoulder. Should a storm arise, they at once turn to face the blast, and are usually able, with their paddle-like feet, to maintain themselves in the same place. They dive with great facility, and make their way more swiftly when under water than when swimming at the top. When flying the long neck is stretched out straight forwards and the feet backwards. In the absence of any tail, they steer their course by means of their feet. When alarmed they instantly dive.
Their food consists of small fishes, insects, frogs, and tadpoles. Grebes are peculiar in their manner of breeding. They live in pairs, and are very affectionate, keeping in each other’s company during their migrations, and always returning together to the same pond. The nest is a floating one, a mass of wet weeds, in which the eggs are not only kept damp, but in the water. The weeds used in building the nests are procured by diving, and put together so as to resemble a floating heap of rubbish, and fastened to some old upright reeds. The eggs are from three to six, at first greenish white in color, but soon become dirty, and are then of a yellowish red or olive-brown tint, sometimes marbled.
The male and female both sit upon the nest, and the young are hatched in three weeks. From the first moment they are able to swim, and in a few days to dive. Having once quitted the nest they seldom return to it, a comfortable resting and sleeping place being afforded them on the backs of their parents. “It is a treat to watch the little family as now one, now another of the young brood, tired with the exertion of swimming or of struggling against the rippling water, mount as to a resting place on their mother’s back; to see how gently, when they have recovered their strength, she returns them to the water; to hear the anxious, plaintive notes of the little warblers when they have ventured too far from the nest; to see their food laid before them by the old birds; or to witness the tenderness with which they are taught to dive.Col. F. M. Woodruff.”
Designated Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada COSEWIC, “because over 90% of this bird’s breeding grounds are within Western Canadian wetlands, the continued destruction of marshes and waterways is a major threat to the survival of this species.”Nature Canada “Threats include degradation of wetland breeding habitat, droughts, increasing populations of nest predators (mostly in the Prairies), and oil spills on their wintering grounds in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. COSEWIC”
“The global population has been declined by 30% over the last three decades and by 79% within North America. Within 1985 and 2001, grassland and wetland drainage amounted to 5% global habitat loss. Due to global declines, the Horned Grebe has been unlisted from least concern to vulnerable resulting in conservation and research action plans.*”
According to the Ministry of the Environment, A breeding bird or breeding Grebe colony is protected May 15 through to July 15 of the year, foot traffic, and other low disturbances must maintain a distance of 100 meters. Medium disturbances such as vehicles and ATVs as well as high disturbances, roads, drilling both must maintain a distance of 200m from loons and any Colonial Nesting Grebes. The Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the Afforestation Area formerly known as George Genereux Park are both located in the West Swale which drains into the South Saskatchewan River at Yorath Island/Maple Grove.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Nature Canada suggests:
- “Tell elected officials that you support the protection of at least half of Canada’s Boreal forest.” “The eco-system of a forest is very fragile. It is very easily upset. This would be a fifth reason why tree cover should be maintained…It is not enough for a mayor to put on his chain and plant a tree but he must plant forest trees for our lives”~Richard St. Barbe Baker The afforestation areas of Saskatoon are a vital heritage site, and a true testament to the Parks Department of Saskatoon.
- Dan Kraus,Weston conservation scientist and senior director of conservation program development for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, writes about the temperate prairies, and the endangered grasslands ~ the World’s most endangered eco-system. So it certainly would not hurt to tell your elected officials that you support the protection, as well, of the native grasslands of the West Swale, including those of the Afforestation area formerly known as George Genereux Urban Regional Park, and the native grasslands of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area.
- “When viewed in the context of our climate and geological history, it is evident that prairie wetlands are integral and irreplaceable parts of the Saskatchewan landscape.The challenge is to find a place for these wetlands in our social, economic and land-use systems – a place where their protection and conservation is assured by their inherent value.Managing Saskatchewan’s Wetlands Is there not truly a great symbiosis between woodlands, grasslands and wetlands?
- “Advocate for greater protection of Important Bird Areas (IBA) in your community and across the country.”
- “Learn more about IBAs.” Do you consider Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, the West Swale, and the many and several wetlands around Chappell Marsh an important bird area? Chappell Marsh is huge, extending from Chappell Marsh Conservation Area managed by Ducks Unlimited, into Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area managed by the City of Saskatoon and the Meewasin Valley.
- “Stay informed about endangered birds and other species”
- “Thousands of volunteers have helped conserve Important Bird Areas by surveying bird populations, building nest boxes, erecting signs, removing invasive species, planting native grasses, and promoting awareness of the value of wildlife.”
What will you do?
From the account above, can you recognize the Horned Grebe, now on your travels into the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, and around about the West Swale wetlands, the series of marshes alongside Chappell Marsh?
The elected officials are:
The Honourable Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
“From water and earth we came, and the future of mankind on this planet will be determined by respectful or disrespectful treatment of these basic elements.
Water must be a basic consideration in everything: forestry, agriculture and industry. The forest is the mother of the rivers. First we must restore the tree cover to fix the soil, prevent too quick run-off, and steady springs, streams and rivers. We must restore the natural motion of our rivers and, in so doing, we shall restore their vitalizing functions. A river flowing naturally, with its bends, broads and narrows, has the motion of the blood in our arteries, with its inward rotation, tension and relaxation.” ~Richard St. Barbe Baker
Collins, Henry Hill Editor. Harper and Row’s Complete Field Guide to North American Wildlife. Harper and Row Publishers. New York. 1981. ISBN 0-06-181163-7 page 12.
Continuing Horned Grebe and Snow Buntings sullivancountybirder, Sullivan & Delaware County Birder’s Blog
COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Horned Grebe Podiceps Auritus. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. COSEWIC. 2009. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus Western population and Magdalen Islands population, in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 42 pp.
Audubon Mural Project 2016. New York, NY. Bird #20: Horned Grebe: Giannina Gutierrez. Aug 13, 2016 street artstreet artistsNew York
David Krughoff’s Horned Grebe Prairies North Magazine.
Horned Grebe v.s. Highways. CBC.ca The Afternoon Edition. [Saskatchewan Highways and infrastructure have run into a different kind of roadblock at the site of one of their construction projects: the Horned Grebe.]
Horned Grebe. All About Birds Cornell Lab of Ornithology
October birding around Victoria on a wonderful weekend hazel, FOSSILS & FAUNA
Dec 4, 2016 birdsbcnature
Species Profile Horned Grebe Western population Species at Risk Public Registry. SARA Government of Canada.
Species Profile Horned Grebe Species at Risk Public Registry. SARA Government of Canada.
Horned Grebe Bird Web.
Horned Grebe Bird Watcher’s Digest.
Horned Grebe Wikipedia.
Peterson, Roger Tory. A Field Guide to Western Birds. A completely new guide to Field Marks of All Species Found in North America West of the 100th Meridian and North of Mexico. Peterson Field Guides. Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company Boston. 1990. ISBN 0-395-51749-4. page 26
Nature Canada ~ Horned Grebe Species Spotlight
Sibley, David Allen. Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2003. ISBN 0-679-45121-8. Page 30.
For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque please to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund” (MVA RSBBAA trust fund) and mail it to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area c/o Meewasin Valley Authority, 402 Third Ave S, Saskatoon SK S7K 3G5. Thank you kindly!
Twitter: St Barbe Baker
“In the wealth of the woods since the world began The trees have offered their gifts to man.” – Henry van Dyke
The greatest gift of all is life. For millions of years the trees were paving the way for life on this planet, absorbing impurities, clearing up the foetid atmosphere and the swamp breath, absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off the life giving oxygen that
we breathe.” ~Richard St. Barbe Baker