Beneath Saskatchewan’s Migratory Flyway
CWF recently donated $15,000 to help the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation buy 100 acres of wildlife habitat near Saskatoon. Read on to find out about this rich prairie mosaic and what makes it so special.
“Anytime you can secure a staging area for a whooping crane, you’re one step closer to preserving the species.” — Jim Kroshus, SWF
Migrating whooping cranes, one of Canada’s most endangered birds, stop en route to stage and fatten up on the waste grain in stubble fields. Their intermission here fuels the last leg of their migration between Texas and summer breeding grounds in the Northwest Territories.
Download our National Wildlife Week teaching unit, “Migration ... An Incredible Journey,” at www.wildeducation.org.
Iconic Species at Risk
To learn more about these species, visit hww.ca and look for the fact sheets on whooping cranes, piping plovers and shoreline birds.
A Birdwatcher’s Paradise
CWF’s free bird posters will help you identify national favourites and offer some thoughtful planting recommendations for attracting birds. Preview Wild About Birds 2 on cwf-fcf.org.
A Fine Balance
Long and thin is the standard blueprint for shorebird legs and bills, like those belonging to this American avocet. Still, small variations in length and structure allow each species to take slightly different prey, or the same prey from different depths in the mud. So even though they’re eating side by side, nature has cleverly found a way for them to avoid competition.
A Scrumptious Feast
At Radisson Lake, the buffet is always open. Staging shorebirds gorge on an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of insects, larvae and tiny crustaceans. The warm, shallow alkali lakes in the area support a rich invertebrate community that grows unchecked in the absence of fish. The lakes occasionally dry out, but some invertebrates have resting stages and can live for a very long time until the water returns.
An Ancient, Submerged Past
Saline lakes have a long history on the Great Plains. Many years ago the Prairies were covered by an ancient sea that became trapped inland after the Rocky Mountains uplifted. The sea evaporated but its salt was left behind. Rainfall and runoff then carried it to the lowest parts of the land, creating the saline sloughs that we see in Saskatchewan today.
Reclaiming Prairie Grassland
Interested in adding some native grasses to your own garden? A good place to start is by reading “Native Grasses for the Modern Landscape” on www.wildaboutgardening.org