Eggs, Feathers and Model Habitat

This past weekend we got out to two separate wetland related events worth mentioning.

After a great experience volunteering to help clean out nest boxes with the Burnaby Lake Park Association last year, we decided it was time for round two. Neil, myself and new 2012 volunteer intern, Jason, attended a three hour blitz of cleaning and recording the results of the Burnaby Lake Wood Duck and Swallow broods. Surprisingly, Burnaby Lake boasts the largest population of Wood Ducks in the Lower Mainland! This is largely due to the great number of nest boxes that have been maintained for them. Wood Ducks need very particular habitat to settle and nest (snags and old logs with nesting cavities in them, at a great height from the ground). North American populations were on the brink of extinction in early 1900s due to habitat loss and overharvesting. Nowadays, their numbers are  stable. We were happy to see that many eggs had hatched.  The presence of a small white membrane, that looks much like a deflated ping-pong ball, indicates a successful hatch. There were, however, many unhatched eggs and a few abandoned chicks (a sad sight!) and this was a result of the long cold  and wet spring of 2011. There also seems to be a thriving family of mink in the lake that enjoy feasting on the ducks. When cleaning the boxes, some fun surprises also come along. One instance of this was a little family of Deer Mice that had taken over a Swallow box. All boxes are emptied and fresh wood shavings are added during the nest box cleaning to encourage our feathered friends to return. Take a look at photos of this great volunteer opportunity by clicking here.

 At the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club in Surrey, a hall was filled on Sunday with environmental groups, artisans and families in honor of World Wetlands Day. The event was also a fundraiser for the Little Campbell Fish Hatchery, which was giving tours to all who visited.  The Wetlands Education Program gave children and adults alike the joy of creating model wetlands to attract a variety of wildlife species.  Participants selected an animal and proceeded to get their hands dirty by designing a wetland that would include habitat features important to that species.  Not only did we share interactive activities with families, but we also had the opportunity to meet with other conservation groups. LEPS (Langely Environmental Partners Society) had us making native seed balls, and OWL (Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society) allowed us a view of their Barred Owl and Roadside Hawk up close and personal. We also had the chance to meet with folks from Burns Bog Conservation Society and BC Naturalists.

Volunteering is a great way to learn about our environment and to give back. If you are interested in helping out with any of the Burnaby Lake Park Association events or visiting the Little Campbell Fish Hatchery, please visit their respective websites for more information.

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