Song of the Air

Clouds

The song of a bird is not a reminiscence,
… but an anticipation, and expresses happiness or joy.
The day being bright and mild, with great masses of white cloud in the sky.
Can you see the melting away of the cloud into the clean air at the fringe of its edges and here, and now,
Have you caught the tune of the warbler?
A singular medley of notes, hurried chirps,
trills, calls, warbles.
And there to seek with eyes that glisten for the bird in song;
No doubt at all about the superior quality of the song.
Stop, shhh, quiet, listen the song oft repeated and prolonged.
It is a ringing, animated strain, silvern and golden.
And the blackbird with its lilt and only a few bars of its song, Enough to satisfy of the surprising quality of the strain.
High up on the tall tree the red breasted thrush was pouring out his song, and filling the woods with melody.
The sun now high and warm, with hardly a cloud in the sky; and yonder a mist,
Such full-throated harmony and long-drawn cadences.
Melody, tenderness, and plaintiveness.
And in the rising veil of radiant cloud,as Keats once said;
“And with thee fade away into the forest dim.”

Saskatchewan Birding Atlas

What is the best way to protect the native songbirds of Saskatchewan, plant a native tree!  As main aim of Richard St. Barbe Baker is ‘ to develop a tree sense in every citizen, and to encourage all to plant, protect and love their native trees; for forestry is among the oldest and most honourable of the peaceful arts of men, and in its practice is unselfish and constructive service.’ ”

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

Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map

Facebook: StBarbeBaker

Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Facebook: South West Off Leash Recreation Area SW OLRA

Pinterest richardstbarbeb

Tagged Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Twitter: St Barbe Baker

Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”.  Post to MVA 402 Third Avenue South Saskatoon, SK S7K 3G5  Please and thank you!

Membership in the Saskatoon Nature Society  “supports nature conservation projects and [the society] is an active advocate for the preservation of plant and animal habitats”.

Please contemplate joining the SOS Elms coalition ~ an active group interested in forest management~ or make a donation to “Save our Saskatchewan” [SOS] Elms ~ leave a message to support the afforestation area  😉

1./ Learn.

2./ Experience

3./ Do Something: ***

 

“The simple act of planting a tree, which is in itself a practical deed, is also the symbol of a far reaching ideal, which is creative in the realm of the Spirit, and in turn reacts upon society, encouraging all to work for the future well being of humanity rather than for immediate gain. ” Richard St. Barbe Baker

 

 

 

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Heir of the ancient woods

International Day of Forests
21 March 2018

“Come! tented leaves of my tree;
High summer is here, the moment of passionate life,
The hushed, the maternal hour.
Deep in the shaded green your mystery shielding,
Heir of the ancient woods and parent of forests to be,
Lo! to your keeping is given the Father’s life-giving thought;
The thing that is dream and deed and carries the gift of the past.
For this, for this, great tree,
The glory of maiden leaves, the solemn stretch of the bough,
The wise persistent roots Into the stuff of the world their filaments forcing,
Breaking the earth to their need. “Evelyn Underhill

“I believe, therefore, that water must be a basic consideration in all our national and earth wide forest programmes. Streams and rivers must be restored to their natural motion and thus floods and droughts must be eliminated. Forests and woodlands are intimately linked with biological, social and spiritual well-being. I believe that the minimum tree cover for safety is l/3rd of the total land area of every country. Every catchment area should have at least this proportion of tree cover made of mixed species including the broad leaved trees” Richard St. Barbe Baker

“But what are the Americans going to do for oxygen? Where are the other people of the world who are dependent on this last best Oxygen Bank of the world going to get their oxygen?

…Oxygen, is the first call on the forests. Because we can live less than five minutes without air. The second call on the forests
is water. We can live less than five days without water. And the third call on the forests is food. We can live less than five
weeks without food. And so these I regard as the first three of the forests. ~Richard St. Barbe Baker”

How will you celebrate the International Day of Forests?  Check the United Nations Forum on Forests to find out more about Forest Heroes, and the International Day of Forests, films, award winning photographs and posters.

For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city. 52° 06′ 106° 45′
Addresses:
Part SE 23-36-6 – Afforestation Area – 241 Township Road 362-A
Part SE 23-36-6 – SW Off-Leash Recreation Area (Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area ) – 355 Township Road 362-A
S ½ 22-36-6 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (West of SW OLRA) – 467 Township Road 362-A
NE 21-36-6 “George Genereux” Afforestation Area – 133 Range Road 3063
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
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”. Please and thank you!
Twitter: StBarbeBaker
Please contemplate joining the SOS Elms coalition or make a donation to SOS Elms ~ leave a message to support the afforestation area 😉

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

World Poetry Day
21 March 2018

Poet.

E”ver the Poet from the land
Steers his bark, and trims his sail;
Right out to sea his courses stand,
New worlds to find in pinnace frail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Frost Spirit

He comes,—he comes,—the Frost Spirit comes
You may trace his footsteps now
On the naked woods and the blasted fields and the
brown hill’s withered brow.
He has smitten the leaves of the gray old trees
where their pleasant green came forth,
And the winds, which follow wherever he goes,
have shaken them down to earth.~ John Greenleaf Whittier

The Whisper of Earth

In the misty hollow, shyly greening branches
Soften to the south wind, bending to the rain.
From the moistened earthland flutter little whispers,
Breathing hidden beauty, innocent of stain.~ Edward J. O’Brien

“A live squirrel in a tree is poetry in motion; but on the table a squirrel is a rodent that tastes as a rat smells. Beside the ocean a flock of sandpipers is needed to complete the beautiful picture; but on the table a sandpiper is beneath contempt. A live deer trotting over a green meadow, waving a triangular white flag, is a sight to thrill any human ganglion; but a deer lying dead, —unless it has an exceptionally fine head,—is only so much butcher’s meat.”~ William T. Hornaday

Character.

“The sun set, but set not his hope:
Stars rose; his faith was earlier up:
Fixed on the enormous galaxy,
Deeper and older seemed his eye;
And matched his sufferance sublime
The taciturnity of time.
He spoke, and words more soft than rain
Brought the Age of Gold again:
His action won such reverence sweet
As hid all measure of the feat.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Under the Trees

“The wonderful, strong, angelic trees,
With their blowing locks and their bared great knees
And nourishing bosoms, shout all together,
And rush and rock through the glad wild weather.”~Anna Hempstead Branch

“Calm soul of all things, make it mine,
To feel amidst the City ‘s jar
That there abides a peace of thine
Men did not make and cannot mar.”Matthew Arnold

Poet

“To clothe the fiery thought
In simple words succeeds,
For still the craft of genius is
To mask a king in weeds.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Road Not Taken

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,. And sorry I could not travel both. “Ralph Waldo Emerson

For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city. 52° 06′ 106° 45′
Addresses:
Part SE 23-36-6 – Afforestation Area – 241 Township Road 362-A
Part SE 23-36-6 – SW Off-Leash Recreation Area (Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area ) – 355 Township Road 362-A
S ½ 22-36-6 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (West of SW OLRA) – 467 Township Road 362-A
NE 21-36-6 “George Genereux” Afforestation Area – 133 Range Road 3063
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
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”. Please and thank you!
Twitter: StBarbeBaker
Please contemplate joining the SOS Elms coalition or make a donation to SOS Elms ~ leave a message to support the afforestation area  😉

“I had a place.”

International Day of Happiness
20 March 2018

 “All places that the eye of Heaven visits
Are to the wise man ports and happy havens.” ~Shakespeare

“If a man is unhappy, this must be his own fault; for
God made all men to be happy.”—Epictetus

“She was one of those exceptional children who do still spend time outside, in solitude. In her case nature represented beauty – and refuge. “It’s so peaceful out there and the air smells so good. I mean, it’s polluted, but not as much as the city air. For me, it’s completely different there,” she said. “It’s like you’re free when you go out there. It’s your own time. Sometimes I go there when I’m mad – and then, just with the peacefulness, I’m better. I can come back home happy, and my mom doesn’t even know why.”
The she described her special part of the woods.
“I had a place. There was a big waterfall and a creek on one side of it. I’d dug a big hole there, and sometimes I’d take a tent back there, or a blanket, and just lie down in the hole, and look up at the trees and sky. Sometimes I’d fall asleep back there. I just felt free; it was like my place, and I could do what I wanted, with nobody to stop me. I used to go down there almost every day.”
The young poet’s face flushed. Her voice thickened.
“And then they just cut the woods down. It was like they cut down part of me.” Richard Louv

“Life is a great gift, and as we reach years of discretion, we most of us naturally ask ourselves what should be the main object of our existence… we should all endeavor to contribute as far as we may to the happiness of our fellow-creatures.  I cannot, however, but think that the world would be better and brighter if our teachers would dwell on the Duty of Happiness as well as on the Happiness of Duty, for we ought to be as cheerful as we can, if only because to be happy ourselves, is a most effectual contribution to the happiness of others. ~Sir John Lubbock”

Happy Girl
The light that comes from above and within….

“The light that comes from above and within….

I believe that this generation will either be the last to exist in any semblance of a civilized world or it will be the first to have a vision, a daring and a greatness to say:

“I will have nothing to do with this destruction of life. I will play no part in this devastation of this land. I am destined to live and work for peaceful construction for I am morally responsible for the world of today and of the generations of tomorrow.

Let TAWAMHWE-pull together-be our motto and I pray that we may give our active support to all efforts of desert reclamation by tree planting and I pray that I may be just to the Earth below my feet, to my neighbour by my side and to the light which comes from above and within, and this wonderful world of ours may be a little more beautiful and happy for my having lived in it.” ~Richard St. Barbe Baker

For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city. 52° 06′ 106° 45′
Addresses:
Part SE 23-36-6 – Afforestation Area – 241 Township Road 362-A
Part SE 23-36-6 – SW Off-Leash Recreation Area (Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area ) – 355 Township Road 362-A
S ½ 22-36-6 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (West of SW OLRA) – 467 Township Road 362-A
NE 21-36-6 “George Genereux” Afforestation Area – 133 Range Road 3063
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
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”. Please and thank you!
Twitter: StBarbeBaker
Please contemplate joining the SOS Elms coalition or make a donation to SOS Elms ~ leave a message to support the afforestation area  😉

 

 

 

 

Happiness is ….

Happy Valentine's Day!
Happy Valentine’s Day!

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles Shultz

Happy Valentine's Day!

“One way to get the most out of life, is to look upon it as an Adventure”

– William FeatherHappy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!
“Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.”
– K. Friedman

“Quand je lis un livre, j’y mets toute mon imagination, de sorte qu’en ce sens la lecture ressemble un peu à l’écriture; ou plutôt c’est comme si je vivais ce que je lisais”
― Dodie Smith

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

Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map

Facebook: StBarbeBaker

Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Facebook: South West Off Leash Recreation Area SW OLRA

Pinterest richardstbarbeb

Tagged Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Twitter: St Barbe Baker

Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”.  Post to MVA 402 Third Avenue South Saskatoon, SK S7K 3G5  Please and thank you!

Membership in the Saskatoon Nature Society  “supports nature conservation projects and [the society] is an active advocate for the preservation of plant and animal habitats”.

Please contemplate joining the SOS Elms coalition ~ an active group interested in forest management~ or make a donation to “Save our Saskatchewan” [SOS] Elms ~ leave a message to support the afforestation area  😉

1./ Learn.

2./ Experience

3./ Do Something: ***

 

“Man must resuscitate his planet with trees, his heart with faith”

Richard St. Barbe Baker

 

 

Happy Groundhog Day!

Woodchuck Day!

February 2 is Woodchuck Day!

Groundhog, Marmota monax, woodchuck, or whistlepig Adapted from image courtesy EIC
Groundhog, Marmota monax, woodchuck, or whistlepig Adapted from image courtesy EIC

According to standard legend, if it is cloudy when a woodchuck emerges from its burrow on February 2, and the woodchuck spies no shadow then the spring season will be arriving very soon, before the vernal equinox; if it is sunny on February 2, the woodchuck will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

What? No, no, no! This is all wrong, it is groundhog day on February 2, and the groundhog is the one to watch to find out if the groundhog sees its shadow or not.

One problem, however the groundhog with botanical name Marmota monax, is also called a woodchuck , or whistlepig. Marmot has etymological origins meaning “a mountain of a mouse”, or “mountain rodent” a marmot or being a large ground dwelling rodent. Monax meaning digger.

“The world’s a puzzle; no need to make sense out of it.” – Socrates”

Groundhog, Marmota monax, woodchuck, or whistlepig Adapted from Cephas.
Groundhog, Marmota monax, woodchuck, or whistlepig Adapted from Cephas.

So the groundhog, or woodchuck can grow between 0.5 to 1 meter ( 1-1/2 to three feet ) in length, and weigh in at 2 to 6 kilograms ( 5 to 14 pounds). They can be found on the forest edge, feeding on grasses, dandelion, chickweed, and clovers through the summer, and hibernating in the winter. They are a large rodent, but still belong to the squirrel family.

At any rate, whether the groundhog or the woodchuck sees its shadow or not, at this time of the year, February 2, it is midway between the solstice and the equinox, the dark days of the year are behind us. There are two solstice each year; in summer (about June 21) it is the longest day of the year and in winter (around December 21) which is the shortest day of the year. The equinox also occurs twice a year around March 20 and September 23 when the length of day and night are nearly identical. So groundhog day marks the changeover between the darkest time of the year in December the shortest day to spring or Vernal Equinox in March when day and night are on even terms.

“How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
or how about:
Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam
possit materiari?”*

So however you say it; Happy Groundhog’s Day, Happy Woodchuck Day or “Felicem Diem Marmota monaxi”, have fun this February 2!

Carry on with some great weather watching as in the links below! And the range in North America places the groundhog through central and northern Saskatchewan, so keep your eyes open for the groundhog in Saskatoon. As a groundhog is a part of the Squirrel family (Sciuridae), that even helps out for Squirrel Appreciation Day, which can be every day, after hibernation, once you find one!!!

If Man is the most advanced creature in the animal kingdom and the tree is the highest development in the plant kingdom, surely the fruit of the tree, rather than the carcasses of inferior animals, is the natural diet for man.~Richard St. Barbe Baker

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Anecdata to share environmental data.

Be a weather detective.

Citizen Weather Observer Program. Russ Chadwick. Apr 24, 2014.

CoCoRahs Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. How to measure precipitation.

Cooperative Observer Program. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA, National Weather Service

Equinox. Wikipedia.

Groundhog Wikipedia.

Groundhog Day Wikipedia.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck Wikipedia.

I See Change: The Almanac Don’t Just Talk About The Weather… Document It.

The Local Environmental Observer LEO Network. The eyes, ears, and voice of our changing environment.

National Weather Service. Windchill calculator

NOAA, National Archives team up with citizen-scientists to reconstruct historical climate of the Arctic Wednesday, October 24, 2012

* No Title Maureen with Latin phrases on Evil Genius Chronicles.

Pressurenet

SatCam App Send in sky scenes to the Space Science and Engineering Centre SSEC, and receive a satellite image of the area in real time.

Solstice Wikipedia.

Yoder, Dan. Groundhog Day
Book Collection Nonfiction: Middle School Edition
Book Collection: Nonfiction
Edition illustrated
Publisher Stackpole Books, 2003
ISBN 0811700291, 9780811700290

Youth, Howard. Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, Woodchuck (Groundhog) Marmota monax, Part 3
Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, D.C.
Photographs by Robert E. Mumford, Jr.
Illustrated by Mark A. Klingler
Contributor Kirk Johnson
Edition illustrated
Publisher JHU Press, 2014
ISBN 1421412322, 9781421412320

Weather forecasting YouTube

“Not every puzzle is intended to be solved. Some are in place to test your limits. Others are, in fact, not puzzles at all…”  Vera Nazarian

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

Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map

Facebook: StBarbeBaker

Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Facebook: South West Off Leash Recreation Area SW OLRA

Pinterest richardstbarbeb

Tagged Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Twitter: St Barbe Baker

Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”.  Post to MVA 402 Third Avenue South Saskatoon, SK S7K 3G5  Please and thank you!

Membership in the Saskatoon Nature Society  “supports nature conservation projects and [the society] is an active advocate for the preservation of plant and animal habitats”.

Please contemplate joining the SOS Elms coalition ~ an active group interested in forest management~ or make a donation to “Save our Saskatchewan” [SOS] Elms ~ leave a message to support the afforestation area  😉

1./ Learn.

2./ Experience

3./ Do Something: ***

“…Man must resuscitate his planet with trees,

his heart with faith. So you simplified

survival’s creed. Your coniferous hope

sealed my discipleship. What Sahara

could resist your passion for verdancy?  Richard St. Barbe Baker

 

Where is a groundhog when you need them?

Can you really scientifically forecast the weather with a groundhog???

Step One:
Where is a groundhog when you need them?

Groundhog (Marmota monax), has a plethora of names.  A groundhog can rightly be referred to as a woodchuck, or whistlepig, chuck, wood-shock, groundpig, whistler, thickwood badger, Canada marmot, monax, moonack, weenusk, digger and red monk and is a rodent of the squirrel family (Sciuridae) in a classification known as marmots. The groundhog is the largest squirrel found in its range, measuring in at 65 cm (16 to 26 in) long (which is inclusive of the 15 cm (6 in) tail) and weighing 2 to 4 kg (4 to 9 lb). In choice conditions, a groundhog may be as large as 80 cm (30 in) and 14 kg (31 lb). The groundhog can take to their burrow, climb a tree or swim away to flee from their predator. So how does a woodchuck compare to other common mammals in North America?

Groundhog - Marmota Monax Adapted from an image courtesy Cephas_CCxSA3-0
Groundhog – Marmota Monax Adapted from an image courtesy Cephas_CCxSA3-0

The American beaver (Castor canadensis) happens to be the largest rodent in North America weighing in at 11 to 32 kg (24 to 71 lb). The body from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail is 74 to 90 cm (29 to 35 inches) with the large flat tail adding another 20 to 35 cm (8 to 14) inches in length. Both Groundhogs and Beavers to get away from enemies and predators. The beaver’s entrance to the lodge or beaver dam is deep underwater as a defence against predators. The groundhog burrow opens up at the edge of a forest, near a tree or building.

American_Beaver Castor canadensis Adapted from image courtesy _Steve_CCxSA2-0
American_Beaver Castor canadensis Adapted from image courtesy Steve CCxSA2-0

Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus), are about 41 to 64 cm (16 to 25 inches) in length, weighing in at .7 to 2 Kg (1.5 to 4 lbs). Muskrats love marshlands, and will make burrows or lodges out of cattails. In the water, they are distinguishable from the beaver as the muskrat tail will propel the rodent through the water by spinning around and around. The beaver’s tail lies flat behind them when swimming, or lowers in the water. The beaver’s tail is useful to sound a warning by lifting it up and slapping it down on the water surface making as large a noise and as big a splash as possible.

Muskrat Ondatra_zibethicus_Adapted from image courtesy AlexanderKlink_CCx4-0
Muskrat Ondatra_zibethicus_Adapted from image courtesy AlexanderKlink_CCx4-0

The badger’s name comes from the French word “becheur” which means digger.
Like the groundhog’s Latin name Marmota monax; Marmota meaning Mountain rodent, and monax meaning digger. Groundhogs do hibernate, but the American Badger (Taxidea taxus) enters into a torpor or deep sleep for perhaps up to three weeks. The American Badger is low to the ground measuring about 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 inches) long with a weight of 7 kg (15 pounds). Badgers are belong to the family, Mustelidae and are mainly carnivorous. Badgers are not classified as rodents, but groundhogs, beavers, muskrats, and porcupines are rodents. And although one groundhog nickname is “thickwood badger”, the groundhog does not belong to the family Mustelidae, which only hosts the Muskrat, weasel, otter, ferret, and wolverine. Both groundhogs and badgers dig burrows, and have special adaptations for digging.

American Badger (Taxidea taxus) adapted from Image courtesy ODFW_CCxSA2-0
American Badger (Taxidea taxus) adapted from Image courtesy ODFW_CCxSA2-0

Porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum), are another commons North American rodent. the name from two Latin words porcus meaning pig, and spina, quill is very suitable. How does a porcupine compare in size to a groundhog? Well the porcupine has a round body 60 to 90 cm (2.0 to 3.0 ft), and the tail would add an extra 4.5 to 30 cm (5.7 to 11.8 in) in length. The stocky porcupine weighs in at 3.5 to 18 kg (7.7 to 39.7 lb though typically they are seen around 9 kg (20 lb). Porcupines don’t burrow like badgers, muskrats and groundhogs nor do they build burrows and dams like muskrats and beavers. Porcupines live in coniferous and mixed forests creating dens in hollow trees. Muskrats may be seen at dawn or dusk, and porcupines are mainly nocturnal, sleeping during the day up in trees. Where the badger is carnivorous, the groundhog, beaver and porcupine are herbivores. The muskrat is an omivore, mostly eating plants and cattails, but will eat aquatic animals to supplement their diet. The porcupine and beaver will eat tree bark, twigs, roots and stems along with other vegetation, the groundhog, also called a woodchuck, does not chuck wood, or eat trees.

Porcupine, Erethizon_dorsatum_Adapted from image courtesy Danielle Langlois_CCx3-0
Porcupine, Erethizon_dorsatum_Adapted from image courtesy Danielle Langlois_CCx3-0

Where a group of beavers is called a “colony”, and several badgers together are called a “cette” not a herd, or flock. Now then, a group of muskrats could be called a “colony, horde, pack, plaque or swarm.” Very appropriately a group of porcupines is called a “prickle”! There have been some discussions about what a group of groundhogs is called whether it is a “madness of marmots” or a” college of groundhogs”.

Groundhog or Woodchuck (Marmota Monax) Range shown in orange.  Adapted from Image courtesy -Anreyostr-CCx2-5_3-0.jpg
Groundhog or Woodchuck (Marmota Monax) Range shown in orange. Adapted from Image courtesy -Anreyostr-CCx2-5_3-0.jpg

Using these essential elements as a foundation to find a groundhog, take your first steps to locate this most excellent weather forecaster. Groundhogs are usually found in areas where forest opens up into a field, road or marsh. So a groundhog has different habitats, eating habits, size and lifestyle from other large mammal rodents in Saskatchewan. Have you spied a groundhog in Saskatchewan? What about a groundhog in Saskatoon?

How Can a Groundhog Forecast the weather, Scientifically?

How can the groundhog be a “meteorologist” and predict the weather? Is it possible, or is it just a myth? Do not resist delving deep into this myth, it just may be grounded in truth and meteorological science!!!

Groundhog day is February 2, and it is rather an excellent bit of folklore about predicting spring. During the winter months, if the day is sunny the weather will be cold and brisk. It is during a sunny day when the groundhog may indeed see his shadow, and the stark chilliness of the day, may indeed entice the groundhog to turn tail and return to the warmth of his burrow. On the flip side of the coin, in the winter, if the day is cloudy, the weather is warmer from the cloud cover trapping in the heat from the earth. Therefore, on a cloudy day, the groundhog cannot see their shadow as there is no sun to create a shadow, the day is much warmer, and the groundhog may spend some time outside of his burrow suggesting that an early spring is around the corner.

So can this really be a way to forecast if spring will be coming soon, (because the groundhog did not see his shadow)?  Or can it foretell if spring will be yet another 6 weeks away because the groundhog did in fact see his shadow?

Don’t take my word for it, this is what meterologist Nick Walker has to say about winter cloudy and sunny days; “Cloud cover on a winter night means you can expect warmer weather, because clouds prevent heat radiation that would lower the temperature on a clear night.” r So to further explain the difference between a cloudy day and a sunny day in the winter time. “If there are no fronts or precipitation nearby, the daily temperature cycle is primarily controlled by the radiation budget. This is a comparison between the incoming radiation from the sun (sunlight) and the terrestrial radiation given off by the earth’s surface (felt as heat.)”

Walker further expounds that “sunshine is only one thing that affects temperature, and in winter, it is far from being the main thing. … The cold air at Earth’s surface is very dense and heavy, so it’s hard for clouds to form in that cold sinking air. So sometimes in winter, skies are very clear and temperatures are very cold. Also, winter is the time of year that the angle of the sun, especially in the northern U.S. and Canada, is so low in the sky that there’s never enough direct sunlight to warm the Earth very much even at midday with clear skies. And if there’s snow on the ground, the snow reflects a lot of the sun’s energy away, preventing the ground from absorbing it. So temperatures end up cooler than if the ground were bare. Even if the ground absorbs some of the sun’s energy, the heat radiates back up into space with no clouds to keep it near the ground. So when you look outside and see sunshine, you cannot assume it’s going to be a warm day.”

Speaking of weather fronts and clouds, another interesting fact about how no shadow may forecast an early spring is that when there is “a low layer of uniform, dark grey cloud,” then the groundhog would not see their shadow. Furthermore, this solid mass of cloud blankets the sky, then “when it gives precipitation, it is in the form of continuous rain or snow. The cloud may be more than 15,000 feet thick. It is generally associated with warm fronts.”Pilot Friend

So there you have it, resistance is futile. This is how the groundhog myth or folklore actually works scientifically to predict the weather. The Groundhog Day story that if a groundhog sees his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter is actually based in science due to the effects of a clear sky with no clouds. And the folklore which exists on Groundhog day that if the groundhog does not see his shadow would mean that February 2 is a warmer day, and the cloud cover may have formed in conjunction with an incoming warm front.

Did the groundhog in your area look puzzled today?  How did your community fare, is there 6 more weeks of winter, or is spring on the way early this year?

“Besides water, trees provide pure air. They are the great filtering machines for the human organism. They improve and transform the air in a way which is most favorable and most acceptable to the lungs of man.”…~Richard St. Barbe Baker

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Alongie, Jenise. Badger FActs. Animal Facts Encyclopedia. 2011-2017
American Badger. Wikipedia.

Badger Wikipedia.

Bradford, Alina. Facts about Muskrats. Live Science Contributor. Jan. 28, 2017.

Groundhog. Wikipedia.

How to Predict the Weather Without a Forecast

Meteorology – Clouds Pilot Friend.

Muskrats – Water loving Rats. Pictures and facts.

Names of Animal Groups

North American Beaver Wikipedia.

Walker, Nick. Winter and Cold Weather Previously Asked Questions. 2007 Small Gate Media.

North American Porcupine Wikpedia.

Odd names for groups of animals flash cards. Quizlet.

Porcupine. Wikipedia.

For more information:

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Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”.  Post to MVA 402 Third Avenue South Saskatoon, SK S7K 3G5  Please and thank you!

Membership in the Saskatoon Nature Society  “supports nature conservation projects and [the society] is an active advocate for the preservation of plant and animal habitats”.

Please contemplate joining the SOS Elms coalition ~ an active group interested in forest management~ or make a donation to “Save our Saskatchewan” [SOS] Elms ~ leave a message to support the afforestation area  😉

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