Share the gift of health and wellness this winter. Come celebrate winter in the forest! Appreciate this semi-wilderness habitat with species at risk, eBird hotspots for bird viewing, and an off leash recreation area. Have you come out to the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area or to the George Genereux Urban Regional Park yet? Join the growing community who appreciate these forest spaces. Directions
A 2023 calendar for you to download and print presenting both wildlife and wilderness habitats from Saskatoon’s hidden gems. In gratitude for everyone who became members, and gave donations, we were happy to be able to have calendars this year to showcase these natural heritage greenspaces. We have no more printed copies, so we would like to share the pdf with whomever would like a copy to download and experience the forests this way.
The 50 for 50 Legacy Activity Book is now online to view on ISSUU or download page by page! Thanks for all the amazing donations to make this book come online page by page. Enjoy the crossword puzzles, word searches, challenges, arts activities, and so much more.
“The world’s problem, is not a population explosion, but animal explosion. We’ve got to decide whether we are going to feed animals or humans. To feed animals is a roundabout way of getting food. It takes 18 times more land to feed people on beef than on vegetables, nuts fruits and grains.” Richard St. Barbe Baker.
The Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. encourages everyone to take care of the Earth, by caring for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional Park with our own local campaign #TakeCareOfTheAfforestationAreas! Don’t cut elm in the park. Encourage everyone to reduce, reuse and recycle then we may not see quite so much trash illegally deposited in the forest. Participate in volunteer clean up days, or don’t wait….pick up an item of trash next time you are on a walk. If everyone picked up one or two items of trash, there would soon be none at all 😉
Comment with what you are doing today on Earth day, and what you plan to do for Earth Month.
““Be like a tree in pursuit of your cause. Stand firm, grip hard, thrust upward. Bend to the winds of heaven..”
Richard St. Barbe Baker
“They’re teaching about The Pyramid of Life in the schools today. There is the ground producing all the soil bacteria, which is in the top few inches. That grows the grass, and a a lamb comes along and eats ten pounds of grass, and that makes one lamb, and then a tiger comes along and eats ten pounds of lamb, and that makes one pound of tiger. We have too many tigers. The Pyramid of Life is upset, and one of the things we must do is to turn from an animal economy to a silvan economy. We’ve got to have tree crops, instead of wasting all this land for raising beef and bringing money to the beef barons, who are proud to call themselves beef barons. It takes eighteen times more land to feed people on beef than it does on nuts and fruit. Eighteen times more land. When half the human family today are dying from starvation. I don’t feel justified in making these demands on the earth. I, myself have been a lifelong vegetarian. ” Richard St. Barbe Baker
Podiceps Auritus is quite an amazing looking waterbird with yellow / white unique feathers behind its eyes tufted up to appear as “horns”, thus it name. This little bird is quite striking with black head, red eyes, and the white tufted ears bobbing along above a dark chestnut/black coloured body. These are the breeding colours when the Horned Grebe is all dressed up for show and courtship.
There are many books written nowadays which will tell you about birds as folk of the twentieth century see them. They describe carefully the singer’s house, his habits, the number of his little wife’s eggs, and the color of every tiny feather on her pretty wings. But these books tell you nothing at all about bird-history; about what birds have meant to all the generations of men, women, and children since the world began. You would think, to read the words of the bird-book men, that they were the very first folk to see any bird, and that what they think they have seen is the only matter worth the knowing.
Now the interesting facts about birds we have always with us. We can find them out for ourselves, which is a very pleasant thing to do, or we can take the word of others, of which there is no lack. But it is the quaint fancies about birds which are in danger of being lost. They show what the little feathered brothers have been to the children of men; how we have come to like some and to dislike others as we do; why the poets have called them by certain nicknames which we ought to know…~Abbie Farwell Brown
Nesting of the Horned Grebe will occur at a site in shallow water, most commonly amid wetlands flora alongside marshes. Breeding pairs most often choose sites in temperate zones of the Canadian prairies. The nests are made of wetlands plant material and anchored to the plants alongside freshwater marshes for concealment. Symbiosis played a major role in the co-evolution of the prairie marsh eco-system and the Horned Grebe.
Quite the jolliest season of the year, with the birds, is when they begin to require a home, either as a shelter from the weather, a defence against their enemies, or a place to rear and protect their young. May is not the only month in which they build their nests, some of our favorites, indeed, waiting till June, and even July; but as it is the time of the year when a general awakening to life and activity is felt in all nature, and the early migrants have come back, not to re-visit, but to re-establish their temporarily deserted homes, we naturally fix upon the first real spring month as the one in which their little hearts are filled with titillations of joy and anticipation.~C. C. Marble.
In winter, the Horned Grebe has a black crown, and a pale foreneck, cheeks and underparts, quite distinct from the showy breeding coloration. The Horned Grebe show up here in April, with the majority of sightings in May, June, and July. Sightings of the Horned Grebe continue on until November when they leave to the Aleutians and exposed shorelines of saltwater oceans to overwinter.
A grebe most resembles a small loon when it comes to waterbirds. Grebes in general are ducklike divers with lobed toes (not webbed feet) and sharp pointed bills. This little waterbird is quite fascinating to watch, at times diving down under the water as a loon, at other times just sinking down. The grebe will sit with its body much lower in the water than a duck.
The Horned Grebe needs to be on water to fly, and is not often seen on land. When not on the water, the Horned Grebe will maneuver awkwardly as a jumping and hopping motion, rushing across the surface of the water to gather up speed for flight.
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.
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.” 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 Authority.
“Learn more about IBAs.”
“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?
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
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.
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.]
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
““Be like a tree in pursuit of your cause. Stand firm, grip hard, thrust upward. Bend to the winds of heaven..”
Richard St. Barbe Baker
The trees and vegetation, which cover the land surface of the Earth and delight the eye, are performing vital tasks incumbent upon the vegetable world in nature. Its presence is essential to earth as an organism. It is the first condition of all life; it it the ‘skin’ of the earth, for without it there can be no water, and therefore, no life.~Richard St. Barbe Baker
I believe that water must be the basic consideration in all our national and earth- wide forest programmes. Streams and rivers must be returned to their natural motion. What is a natural motion? A river flowing in its natural course comes to a bend. This gives it a spiral motion. It comes to a marrow, this provides tension. It broadens out, here is relaxation. This is how blood circulates in our veins and the sap circulates in a tree. This is the natural motion. When you destroy this natural motion, the water goes on its way sick or cancerous. When water comes up against a dam, the natural motion is destroyed and the water becomes sick. This sickness spreads up to the tributary rivers and to the fields through which these rivers have come and the sickness will go to the fields bordering these rivers and will affect the grazing animals. They say that cancer is a disease of civilization. You will accept that, won’t you? It was unknown till we called ourselves civilized. ~Richard St. Barbe Baker