Posted December 14, 2013
From Bird Studies Canada
12 December 2013 – Toxic mercury escapes to the atmosphere anytime fossil fuels are burned. Once in lakes, it travels up the food chain to fish and loons. Loons, which are high on the chain, produce fewer chicks when they become burdened with the toxin.
Researchers at Queen’s University and Environment Canada recently determined the proportion of 1900 water bodies across Canada where mercury was high enough to cause problems for breeding loons. Their study was published in Environmental Science & Technology<http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es403534q>.
Fish had enough mercury to lower loon productivity at an alarming 10-36% of lakes. The researchers found the risk to loons was highest in acidic lakes in eastern Canada, because acid enhances uptake of mercury into the food chain.
For the complete Bird Studies Canada's report from the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey, see http://www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/clls/resources/CLLSsummary.pdf
Dave Minden, Revised Nov. 20, 2011
When people hear the word “wildlife”, the first thing that comes to mind is the group of animals that we call mammals. But the word “wildlife” literally means “life” that is “wild” and includes all living things from microscopic Algae and Protozoa to Fungi and Plants, as well as Animals. These 5 major groups: Algae, Protozoa, Fungi, Plants, and Animals are the five Kingdoms of all living things.
There are two main groups of animals: vertebrates (with backbones and internal skeletons) and invertebrates (without internal skeletons – the thousands of species of insects, crustaceans, etc.)
Click here for an overview of the classification of living things.
The following sections on the five classes of vertebrates (mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles) list some of the wildlife found on the Upper French River region. The list is not complete. If you observe a species of wildlife that is not listed, please let us know and we will add it to the list. Species of particular interest have additional descriptive commentary. Information about wildlife species is widely available using Internet search tools.
Mammals Of The French River Region
Thanks to Valarie Duquette (Dokis FN) and Chuck Miller (Superintendent - French River Provincial Park) for their advice. See also Kershaw, Maureen and Hawes, Kyle. Natural Science Inventory of Mashkinonge Provincial Park, 1999.
For details on these mammals, you can “Google” search on the web.
An excellent book is Elder, Tamara, Mammals of Ontario. Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, 2005.
** Note: The following sections include many photos that were lost when the web site was switched from its temporary site to ufrca.com. We will restore these photos. Watch for updates.
Order Insectivora – Insect eaters - Shrews and Moles
Masked shrew (Sorex cinerus)
Northern Short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda)
Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus)
Over the years bats have earned an unfair reputation, mainly due to Hollywood movies. However, what some cottagers may not realize is that bats play a very important role at the cottage: every night they eat a lot of insects including mosquitoes. With the emergence of West Nile virus, bats are seen as a natural partner in mosquito population control.
The main bat species found in Ontario are the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat. Breeding usually occurs in late summer and the female stores sperm until the following April. The female then gives birth 60 to 90 days later. There are usually one or two young who are usually under parental care during June and July. No nest is required, as the young are able to fly and obtain their own food in just three weeks.
Hibernation occurs during the winter months from November to March. The Big Brown Bat is the most likely species to hibernate in buildings such as houses and barns. Little Brown Bats prefer caves or mines to hibernate in for the winter. Bats may select attics for nursery colonies. Bats can squeeze through very tiny spaces as small as 6 mm to access roosting areas. When there are many bats in a colony, they may pose a problem with odour and droppings. This may be a health risk if it has reached a stage where it is noticeable. During periods of extreme cold, bats will often squeeze through the vapour barrier and end up inside a home. If this happens, these bats cannot be immediately released outside, as they will freeze to death.
Bats are nocturnal animals. They feed at night and are most active during the second and third hours after sunset. During the day they roost in trees and buildings.
Bats may be carriers of rabies. Bats observed flying during the day or crawling about on the ground should be avoided, as they are most likely sick or injured. As with any animal, if you must handle it, always wear gloves and if possible use forceps or tongs to pick it up. Place it in a sealed container with air holes. If it has come into contact with humans or pets, contact your local health unit for advice if it's alive, or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency if it is dead. Bat bites are not always noticeable. If a bat is found in a bedroom where a person has been sleeping, contact your local health unit immediately for advice, and contact a local wildlife control agent to capture the animal.
Visit the Ministry of Natural Resources website for more information on bats and rabies.
Order Lagomorpha – Rabbits and hares
Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus)
Order Rodentia (Gnawing animals – rodents)
Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
Least chipmunk (Eutamias minimus)
Woodchuck (groundhog) (Marmota monax)
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
Northern flying squirrel (Glaucomis sabrinus)
Beaver (Castor canadensis)
Deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)
Meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus)
Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
Southern Red-backed vole (Clethrionomys gapperi)
Southern bog lemming (Synaptomys cooperi)
Meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius)
Woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis)
Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum)
Order Carnivora – Meat eatersFamily Canidae (dog family)
Coyote (Canis latrans)
Gray wolf (Canis lupus)– usually called “timberwolf”
Red wolf (Canis rufus)- probably the Algonquin Park wolf
For information on how bears become nuisance bears and how to prevent problems, and what to do during a bear encountersee www.bears.mnr.gov.on.ca
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Lynx (Felis lynx)
Bobcat (Felis rufus)
Cougar (Felis concolor)
Order Artiodactyla – Hoofed Animals
White tail deer (Adocoileus virginianus)
Moose (Alces alces)
* Elk or wapiti (Cervus elaphus)
A Special Note About The Cormorant
Shore And Water Birds Of The French River Area
Posted July 10, 2013
For a list of bird sightings by Bonnie Witmer and others at Solid Comfort, click here.
* Denotes birds observed by the FRIENDS OF MASHKINONJE, (no photos below).
** Denotes birds shown in the collages below.
*** Denotes additional bird sightings from Solid Comfort
Common Loon **
Double-crested Cormorant **
Great Blue Heron **
Green Heron *
Canada Goose **
Wood Duck **
Pin-tailed Duck **
American Black Duck
Buffle Head Duck **
Am. Wigeon *
Northern Shoveler *
Blue-winged Teal *
Green-winged Teal *
Lesser Scaup *
Ringed-neck Duck *
Common Goldeneye **
Hooded Merganser *
Common Merganser **
Red-breasted Merganser ***
Ruddy Duck *
Bald Eagle **
Golden Eagle **
Sandhill Crane **
Spotted Sandpiper *
Least Sandpiper **
Ring-billed Gull *
Herring Gull **
Black-backed Gull **
Black Tern *
Common Tern **
Belted Kingfisher **
Land Birds Of The French River Area
Sharp-shined Hawk *
Broad-winged Hawk **
Red-tailed Hawk **
Marsh Hawk **
Barred Owl **
Common Nighthawk *
Sparrow Hawk **
Turkey Vulture **
Ruffed Grouse **
Am. Coot *
Common Moorhen *
Greater Yellowlegs *
Wilson’s Snipe *
Rock Pigeon **
Mourning Dove **
Black-billed Cuckoo *
Yellow-billed Cuckoo *
Ruby-throated Hummingbird **
Downy Woodpecker **
Hairy Woodpecker **
American Three-toed Woodpecker***
Pileated Woodpecker **
Eastern Wood-Pewee **
Alder Flycatcher *
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher *
Eastern Phoebe **
Great-crested Flycatcher *
Eastern Kingbird *
Philadelphia Vireo *
Blue Jay **
Am Crow **
Tree Swallow **
N.Rough-winged Swallow *
Bank Swallow *
Cliff Swallow *
Barn Swallow **
Black-capped Chickadee **
White-breasted Nuthatch **
Red-breasted Nuthatch **
Marsh Wren *
Winter Wren *
Hermit Thrush *
American Robin **
Gray Catbird *
Brown Thrasher *
Cedar Waxwing **
Nashville Warbler *
Yellow Warbler **
Chestnut-sided Warbler *
Pine Warbler *
Blackburnian Warbler *
Black and White Warbler***
Northern Waterthrush *
Common Yellowthroat *
Canada Warbler *
Savannah Sparrow *
Song Sparrow **
Swamp Sparrow *
White-crowned sparrow **
White-throated Sparrow **
Dark-eyed Junco *
Indigo Bunting *
Eastern Meadowlark *
Brewer’s Blackbird **
Brown-headed Cowbird *
Purple Finch *
Rose-breasted Grosbeak **
Evening Grosbeak *
On the Upper French River there are several common species of snakes:
Eastern hognosed snake (a species at risk)
Note that the Massasauga Rattlesnake is found on the lower French River west of Highway 69 and is rarely seen east of the highway.
For information on identification of local snakes.
Turtles of the French River area
Turtles have a hard shell to protect themselves from enemies. The top part of the shell is called the 'carapace', and the lower part is called the 'plastron'. The carapace and plastron are solidly fastened (fused) on each side of the body in an area known as a 'bridge'. The carapace and plastron are covered with 'plates' or 'scutes' that give each species of turtle a unique colour and design. These plates or scutes are shed as the turtle grows and replaced with newer, larger plates.
Turtles, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded animals and can often be spotted sitting in open areas gathering heat from the sun. This behaviour is known as 'basking' and it allows the turtles to increase its body temperature. By increasing its body temperature the turtle can digest food more quickly. While basking, a turtle stretches out its legs, head and tail. This may help remove pests such as leeches which can attach themselves to turtles. Basking in the sun also reduces the growth of algae on the turtle’s shell. If too much algae grows on the shell, the shell can be damaged. In the summer, turtles are quite active and hunt regularly. This allows the turtle to maintain a good reserve body fat, which is needed to survive the winter when the turtle is inactive.
Snapping Turtles are carnivores (meat eaters), while other species such as the Painted Turtles are omnivores. Snapping turtles eat crayfish, dragonfly larvae, snails, leeches, frog, and fish.
The Painted Turtles, being omnivorous, feed on algae and duckweed plants, as well as aquatic insects, crayfish, tadpoles, and snails.
There are many species of turtles in Ontario. In order to help identify different species, turtles can be divided into groups according to size. Small species include the Stinkpot and the Spotted Turtle. Medium-sized turtles include the Painted Turtle and Map Turtle. Larger species include the Snapping Turtle, Blanding's Turtle and Wood Turtle.To learn more about turtles: http://www.torontozoo.com/adoptapond/turtles.asp
Toads and Frogs
Bull frog Spring Peeper
Western Chorus Frog Pickerel Frog
For frog and toad identification, range, and songs go to http://www.torontozoo.com/adoptapond/frogs.asp
Salamanders and Newts
Northern Two-lined Salamander
Eastern Red-backed Salamander
Spotted Salamander (yellow)
Red Spotted Newt
Fungi Found In The French River Area
website: ontario wildflowers and fungi
Book: Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada, a Lone Pine Guide by Gearoge Barron
Wildflowers of the French River
Water Plants on the French River
Trees and Bushes of the French River