Monday, December 12, 2011

urban industrial stream restoration (U.S.)

From Susan J. Tweit's Walking Nature Home Blog

"As I worked my way gradually upstream between trail and creek, I thought about how this block of urban creek and its thread of habitat for people and wilder life has changed. When I first saw this shallow spring creek, it ran ruler-straight between dirt banks thinly hazed by a prickly growth of invasive annual weeds. Chunks of concrete protruded from the dirt here and there, along with oozing spills of asphalt, rusting fence wire and pieces of cast-iron engine blocks, and other remnants of the place's industrial past, the whole festooned with windblown trash.

It was not a thing of beauty. But Richard and I had just purchased the formerly industrial property on the other side of the creek. It came complete with six-foot-high chain-link fence topped with sagging barbed wire, crumbling century-old brick shop building, rusting junk, and knee-high weeds. (Our friends thought we were crazy.) Richard wanted the place for the shop, which he had already restored in his mind's eye for an office and studio; I was drawn to that slender thread of water.

I have always wanted a creek to play with, and I was not daunted by the shabby condition of the one I got. Right away, before we pulled up the posts and removed the fence around the property (we donated both to the town public works department), before we hauled away many construction dumpsters of unidentifiable industrial detritus to clear a space for our house-to-be, before Richard cleared the old shop building down to its beautiful timber-frame and brick bones and fixed it up, before we built our house and planted wildflowers and constructed our kitchen garden in the embrace of one old u-shaped stretch of cement wall left from the property's industrial past, we set to work reclaiming the creek.

First came weeding: Richard and I spent whole hot, sweaty weekend days pulling tumbleweed, cheatgrass, and kochia by the trailer-load. We grubbed out weedy Siberian elm trees and Canada thistle. When the annual weeds sprouted from the carpet of the previous year's seeds, we burned them with a propane torch, hoed them, and sprayed them. And then we planted native shrubs to begin the slow process of reweaving the natural community: red-twig dogwood, golden-currant, skunkbrush sumac, chokecherry, Indian plum, rabbitbrush, and my favorite, big sagebrush with its silvery-green leaves and pungent fragrance.

As we weeded and watered the tiny sprigs of shrubs that were all we could afford, other natives returned. Two clumps of streambank willow sprang up just above the creek, their wand-like stems reaching five and six feet tall and casting lacy shade over the bare bank. Soon more clumps of willow appeared, sprouting from the underground roots of those pioneers. Indian ricegrass, with its cloud of seedheads, appeared on the dry upper bank, along with purple aster and scarlet globemallow.

Over the decade-plus since, we have urged the native plants along in recolonizing this block of formerly blighted creek, spreading seeds here, pulling weeds there, planting a few more shrubs, plus a rescued clump of wild Rocky Mountain irises, and a couple of cottonwood trees. We have watched the butterflies return on fluttering wings to feed from the wildflowers and lay their eggs on their favorite plants, the bees buzz in to gather pollen, and the hummingbirds hover, sipping nectar. We have heard Northern dippers practice their warbling songs in the concrete culvert where the creek goes under the street, and seen tiny trout flash in the water under the shade of the willows."

Found this through a link from The Tangled Nest Blog. She also has a great post on the other restoration work her and her husband did on the industrial land and their house: Lighten Up - Living On Less

Read about riparian buffers and the three levels of stream restoration (2011 blog post).

Monday, December 5, 2011

urban biodiversity (moths, starlings) toronto

Have been finding some great stuff on the Urban Biodiversity Facebook Group (Toronto) page:

From last summer:

Discover the "butterflies of the night" at the annual High Park Moth Night with the Toronto Entomologists Association. TEA leaders (Dave Beadle, Tom Mason) and members will set up special lights and help us identify moths. Meet at the benches across from the Grenadier restaurant at 8:15 pm. This outing is especially good for children - bring the whole family! Please bring flashlights, insect containers, moth guides if you have them.

And this recent video of a Starling Murmuration at Yonge and Dundas:

Flock of Starlings from Karen Whaley on Vimeo.

Read more here: Torontoist Article: Flocking Fantastic - December 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Roerich Garden Project (Montreal)

"Emily Rose Michaud is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersections of community development, civic participation, performance, and land art. In recent years, her experimental and socially driven practice has resulted in a series of performances incorporating living ‘sproutfits’ and tapestries, a guerilla gardener’s ensemble, an electronic book designed to be reproduced and remixed by others ( and the Roerich Garden Project – a three-year land art project in a post-industrial railyard turned urban meadow.

She is also part of Sprout Out Loud! which is an on-growing gardener's ensemble that seeks to support and develop the relationship between residents and the land around them. This project seeks to:
- Engage with the meadow creatively and document how people use and care about this space
- Valorize this living space before it is forgotten in silence
- Draw attention to the city's plans and provoke dialogue
- Reclaim the commons, activate unused urban spaces, re-enchant the public with the natural world and living systems of the urban core

- Invite others to plant similar ideas in their own environments where needed"

You can find out more about her activities here: Pousses Blog

Monday, November 21, 2011

Renaturalized (Broken City Lab - Windsor)

When the City of Windsor was on strike the summer of 2009, mowing parks and other city owned property was halted. Many of these areas became "naturalized" and Broken City Lab had the brilliant idea to do a bit of activism and get people to take notice of these areas in a different way:

From their Blog in July 2009: "We recently decided to demarcate some of many accidental meadows across Windsor with these Naturalized Area signs. In hopes that these signs might momentarily allow residents of Windsor to look at these naturalized spaces for what they are—that is, wonderful additions to our urban landscape—instead of the result of a politically-charged issue, we spent the earlier part of this week designing the signs, getting them printed, drilling holes, and installing them."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Green Alleys... je t'aime! (Montreal)

Reading about this made my day! I love the Promenade Plantée in Paris and want to explore the High Line in NYC and now these Green Alleys in Montreal! Great idea!

Montreal boroughs build green alleys
- Flowers, trees to help make areas more appealing (CBC Article - July 2011)

The Montreal borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is working on making its alleyways a friendlier place to be — both for local residents and the environment.

The neighbourhood, located in the east end of the city, said Wednesday that it would invest $20,000 to plant flowers and trees in four alleys this year.

Borough mayor Réal Ménard said the initiative is designed to make the areas more inviting to the public, creating spaces for people to sit and relax.

"It's a gathering event for [people]," he said.

The increase in foot traffic will also discourage criminals and drug users because they will be unwilling to break laws in the presence of other citizens, Ménard said.

With the addition of four new green alleyways, the borough will have a total of eight. The project was started in 2010 and Ménard said more are planned for next year.

Although the project — which started in 2010 — is organized by the Maisonneuve Longue Pointe Eco-Centre, volunteers actually do the landscaping.

"They're the ones who are going to build the boxes that the flowers are going to be in," said Anne Gosselin from the centre. "They're going to be planting trees, They're going to paint the streets."

Gosselin said the alleys have been a success and help to mitigate heat coming from the asphalt.

"They offer a nice place for people to spend time," she said.

And it is residents who get to decide which alleys will be greened, Gosselin said.

Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve isn't the only neighbourhood looking to make its thoroughfares a nicer place to be.

On July 6, the nearby borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal, also said it would invest $137,000 to build five eco- and citizen-friendly alleyways.

There are similar initiatives throughout Montreal, and a total of 100 streets have been transformed into green space.

Frommers Link: How To See Montreal on Two Wheels

Sunday, October 30, 2011

purple martin nesting (in Ottawa)

From Ottawa Start dot Blog: A photo snapped by Ben Wood, at the marina near Andrew Haydon Park in Nepean. It's home to a couple of purple martin hotels.

Every spring volunteers from the Innis Point Bird Observatory, tag all the nestlings and check on their health.  They invite the public to come view this work and learn more about purple martins!

Other Urban Bird Posts:

Barred Owl Visit to Parklette in Toronto (2014)

Urban Bobolink in Ottawa (2012)

The Pigeon Paradox (2012)

Urban Chimney Swift Towers (2011)

Purple Martin Nesting (2011)

Roosting Crows in Ottawa (2011)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

urban restoration

Green Apple Corps: Ecological Restoration with NYC Department of Parks and Restoration

The Green Apple Corps works to restore natural areas throughout New York City by doing intensive, hands-on ecological restoration work in the more than 12,000 acres of undeveloped parkland managed by New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Corps members remove invasive and exotic plant species from forests, meadows, marshes, and freshwater and coastal wetlands, while helping to re–plant degraded areas with native species. Corps members also work to slow down erosion of slopes caused by inadequate drainage as well as foot and bicycle traffic, using cribbing techniques and materials that are designed to blend in with the natural surroundings. Additionally, throughout the program, Corps members take on exciting projects such as installing green roofs, building rainwater harvesting systems, and spearheading community plantings and coastal cleanups.

The GreenApple Corps collaborates with several other restoration groups, including Parks’ Natural Resources Group, Prospect Park Alliance, Central Park Conservancy, Grow NYC and the Gaia Institute. The combined efforts of the GreenApple Corps and its collaborators allow for increased amounts of ecological restoration work to be done, while also giving Corps members the opportunity to learn from practitioners with years of field experience.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

roof top garden in georgetown

An Urban Meadow: Georgetown's Hidden Rooftop Garden

- Garden in the Sky -
High above the bustle of Georgetown, an unusual rooftop offers condo residents a prairie of their own.

By Adrian Higgins, Washington Post
Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tom Carroll pulls up the birdsong application on his iPhone, summons the call of a song sparrow and points the device to the meadow that starts about 20 feet from his home.

Sure enough, after a minute or two, an actual song sparrow starts calling back to the digital one. This might be little more than an endearing party trick if Carroll and his wife, Dora Marcus, lived on the edge of a field in, say, upper Montgomery County. But they live a little farther downstream on the Potomac River, in the shadow of Key Bridge. The meadow, perhaps Washington's greatest secret garden, is perched atop a Pepco electrical substation on the Georgetown waterfront.

The straw-colored flower heads of a grass called calamagrostis are just visible for the most observant of motorists on the Whitehurst Freeway, and pedestrians on Key Bridge might glance back to see the fuzzy-topped brick substation, but there is no real public vantage point to view the full sweep of this prairie in the sky. This paradox is heightened during rush hour, when the freeway, Key Bridge and M Street NW are filled with weary drivers unaware of the meadow floating above them.

The grasses give movement in the slightest breeze: The calamagrostis sways like pennants on wires on the meadow's southern edge, and the molinia stems shimmer veil-like on its western side. From high summer into fall, the full meadow goes through subtle color gyrations.

For Carroll and Marcus and their neighbors, the garden presents layers of color and texture, and a kinetic quality augmented by the birds. Mallard ducks, doves, sparrows, goldfinches and other species find both refuge and food here. In this 10,000 square feet of meadow 42 feet in the air, they thrive unmolested by cats, raccoons, people, snakes or floods. Only landscapers have access to the plants, and they must use long ladders. "Nobody picks the flowers," said Marcus, chuckling. And yet from their fifth-floor, two-bedroom condo, it's almost as if you can reach out and stroke the grasses.

Look to the right, and the meadow forms the ground plane for a view of Key Bridge with the Rosslyn skyline behind. Look downriver, and the garden frames a vista of the Potomac curving before the Watergate and the Kennedy Center. With the balcony door open, the apartment is filled with the whooshing of cars on the Whitehurst Freeway and the growl of jets twisting their way to Reagan National Airport. Close the door, with its soundproofed glass, and the scene shifts to one of surreal silence. The calamagrostis continues to dance.

Marcus and Carroll live in the plush condo building known only by its address, 3303 Water Street. The nine-story building is sandwiched between the freeway and the C&O Canal, and contains 72 apartments. It looks like a converted factory or warehouse but is only five years old and stands on a site that used to be occupied by electrical transformers and a canalside hill.


The garden was planted and is maintained by Washington Landscapes, whose owner, Peter C. Dickens, lives in the condo building, though his view is of the C&O Canal. His 10-member crews spend a day on the roof each month between March and December. The gardeners gain access with long extension ladders tethered to the roof's parapet. Wearing rock-climbing gear for safety, they use ropes to move material on or off the roof. They check the irrigation system and hand-pull weeds and any little trees that the birds have brought in. All the dead top growth of the grasses and perennials is cut and removed in late winter. Maintenance is funded by the residents' condo fees.

In the spring, thousands of daffodils sway in the April breezes. By June, the herbaceous plantings provide a textured carpet of green against the rose pink drifts of Nearly Wild and the oranges and yellows of daylilies. By July, flowers erupt for a summerlong display, including the wispy violet blossoms of the Russian sage, the golden black-eyed Susans and the azure blossoms of the chaste tree. The roses just keep blooming.

When visitors see the meadow "they say you've got your own Serengeti," Marcus said. "They can't get over it."

Adrian Higgins is a staff writer. He can be reached at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chimney Swift Towers (Winnipeg)

Some very interesting projects to help establish new habitat for chimney swifts:

Stevens Point Sculpture Park - Stevens Point, Wisconsin

The Stevens Point Sculpture Park is working in partnership with the Aldo Leopold Audobon Society to develop and install two or more sculptural objects that can function as chimney swift nesting towers.

Call for Entries - Sculptural Chimney Swift Habitat

Nature Manitoba - Chimney Swift Program - Winnipeg and Surrounding Area

From 2006 to 2011, the Manitoba Chimney Swift Initiative received funding from the Manitoba government’s Sustainable Development Innovations Fund (SDIF) and from Environment Canada’s EcoAction Community Funding program. The project has also received support from Manitoba Hydro and other institutions.

In 2008, swift towers were erected in Starbuck, St. Adolphe, Portage la Prairie, and Winnipeg. In addition to watching these sites, the group continues to identify and monitor roosting and nest sites around the province.

Link to: Chimney Swift Program

Other Great Resources (online & hardcopy):

- Chimney Swift Towers: New Habitat for America's Mysterious Birds by Paul Kyle
- Online website for Chimney Swift Research and Info: Chimney Swift Org
- Ottawa Stewardship Council - Chimney Swift Monitoring Report
- Nature London's Swift Fact Sheet - 30 pages (pdf format)

Other Posts about Chimney Swifts:

Chimney Swift Tower in Toronto (2011)
Chimney Swift population decline is not due to lost habitat - 2012 Ontario Study (2016)

Other Urban Bird Posts:

Barred Owl Visit to Parklette in Toronto (2014)

Urban Bobolink in Ottawa (2012)

The Pigeon Paradox (2012)

Purple Martin Nesting (2011)

Roosting Crows in Ottawa (2011)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Urban Wetland Art (in Toronto)

From Wet Kit:

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association commissioned Noel Harding, to create "The Elevated Wetlands:" a plastic-based, functioning, ecological sculpture. The initiative informs the public of the usefulness, resourcefulness and aesthetic appeal of recycled plastics. "The Elevated Wetlands" is located right beside the Don Valley Parkway, one of Toronto's busiest highways next to the Don Mills Road exit and the Don River.

Solar-run pumps draw water from the polluted Don River into the ponds below the six raised plastic "planters." The water is pumped from the ponds to three of the planters where it flows into three others. The structures use a recycled plastic "soil substitute" to promote vegetative growth that isolates and retrieves wastes, toxins and other impurities from the water. The project was inaugurated on October 1, 1998.

P.S.  Check out my latest "urban wild" nature blog: Wild. Here.(2016 update)

Monday, September 19, 2011

new discoveries in Ottawa!

Canada Lands Company purchases CFB Rockcliffe, Ottawa

Cannot wait to see what they come up with here!

Update December 2011: There is now a project coordinator listed and this description on the CLC website:

"The 310 acres (125 hectares) of the former Canadian Forces Base Rockcliffe, so close to Ottawa’s downtown core, present a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to discuss and address issues of urban reintegration, quality of life and factors important in designing the place where you live, work, learn and play.

The mission is to develop an exemplary diverse contemporary neighbourhood offering a choice in housing, employment, commercial, institutional and leisure activities which will be defined by the site’s unique setting, along with a commitment to environmental sustainability and long term economic viability.

The company will now activate a development process of the site, beginning with assembling a team of professionals. CLC looks forward to renewed consultations with the community and the City to create a vibrant mixed-used sustainable neighbourhood. More will be said about this as CLC’s development team and the consultation process takes shape over the coming months."

I'm also thrilled to have found out about the Montfort Woods!

From 90 wpm @ F22: "The Montfort Woods is a 9-acre wooded area located between the Montfort Hospital and the former Rockcliffe air base in east-end Ottawa. Originally owned by the Sisters of Wisdom, it was acquired in the 1990's to DRC Phoenix, a real estate developer. An application for re-zoning of the land was filed and granted by the City of Ottawa in 2002, allowing DRC Phoenix to build 258 townhouses on the land.

Local citizens and community organizations mobilized; the fate of the woods remained uncertain for the next two years. The National Capital Commission got involved by proposing a land swap with DRC Phoenix, whereby Phoenix would get Moffat Farm along the Rideau River in exchange for the Montfort Woods. The Moffat Farm project was ultimately rejected by the City, but the Montfort Woods remains the property of the National Capital Commission. The land was declared an environmentally sensitive area in September 2004, which rules out any future applications for re-zoning."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Native Plants Crossroad

created by (Canadian Museum of Nature)

Great Canadian online resource referencing Fletcher Wildlife Gardens, Old Field Habitat Garden, Montreal Botanical Garden, Toronto Botanical Gardens and organizations like Naturescape (BC), CMHC, Environment Canada, Evergreen, etc.

Resources (online brochures, websites) for:

- Balcony Gardening
- Rooftop Gardening
- Butterfly Gardening
- School-Ground Greening
- Ecological Restoration
- Shoreline Rehabilitation
- Guerrilla Gardening
- Stewardship
- Native Plant Gardening
- Wildlife Gardening
- Naturalized Gardening
- Xeriscaping
- Organic Gardening

Don't overlook their list of provincial, national and international organizations that are concerned with native plants!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ottawa Urban Wild Tours 2011

Series of five summer Urban Wild Tours in Ottawa are complete!

What a great summer we had with attendance ranging from 15 to 80 people on various tours. The support people showed for the tours was incredible! We were so thrilled with the turnout (both families and individuals) and the interest that everyone had in the great tour topics.

It was a pleasure to work with Julie who had the inspiring idea and recruited others to bring about these tours. With her creativity, enthusiasm and talent these events were easy to organize and she showed such dedication to seeing them through. And her design and graphic work gave these events such a professional online presence.

Working with all five tour guides who volunteered their time was a thrill. It was wonderful for them to share their knowledge and their love for the urban wild and their individual focus on specific flora and fauna topics. We were so lucky to find such passionate and informative guides.

Thanks so everyone for a wonderful summer!

Ottawa Urban Wild Tours Blogspot

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

amphibian habitat study (Ottawa)

The Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Research Laboratory at Carleton University has also done a conservation study on amphibians to determine the effect of road and land use around local ponds and the effect they have on frog and toad populations.

You can read more about the conclusions of their study and the recommendations in the following online brochure.

A short summary is: Terrestrial habitat of up to 2 kms around breeding sites (ponds, wetlands and wet forests) needs to be conserved along with networks between breeding sites (corridors). Reduced traffic along roads within these boundaries is key. Both forest and open space are important to have a diverse frog and toad population in urban/suburban areas.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Unique ecosystem in Ottawa

Did you know that Ottawa has a sand dune ecosystem (that has existed over 10,000 years)? Did you know that it is shrinking every year? Ottawa could lose this sand dune for good within 10 - 15 years.

But there is good news:

A restoration effort is being carried out by Biodiversity Conservancy in collaboration with the National Capital Commission and funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation to restore the remaining part of the SSD system to a sustainable level. The restoration includes making a scientific assessment of orgsanisms living in SSD, removing weeds, selected trees, accumulated organic material, and cleaning the sand in the core of the remaining dune to stabilize the system. A corridor of woodland will be maintained around the perimeter of the SSD to minimize erosion by wind and to contain the sand in the dune.

For more information on this important biodiversity project go to the Biodiversity Conservancy website. They also have a Biodiversity Journal which they publish four times a year.

Photo Credit: Steph Willems

Saturday, July 16, 2011

bears in urban areas

Bear and Human Interaction:

"People often mistake a bear clacking his jaws as threatening, but he is really saying "get out of here, leave me alone and don't hurt me," Stringham said.

Non-threatening behaviour and sensitivity to body language usually defuses the situation, he said.

Some cities are now ensuring there is a green corridor so lost wildlife can be escorted out of town, he said."

Read more here.

To study or to act:

"Still, $3 million (for a bear census on Kenai Peninsula) would buy a lot of bear-resistant garbage cans and fund a significant outreach campaign to educate the public about decreasing bear attractants. That may be a better use for the money, Selinger said. As much as he’d like to have an answer when people ask how many bears there are on the peninsula, he’s hesitant to be enthusiastic about a census without knowing how valid that result would be."

From the Redoubt Reporter.

Photo Credit: Larry Lewis, Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Creek Rehabilitation (Ottawa) CBC News Article

Ottawa looks to protect waterways from run-off

Pinecrest Creek rehabilitation to be pilot project aimed at waterways affected by development

CBC News
Posted: Jul 30, 2011 9:56 AM ET

The City of Ottawa wants to rehabilitate an urban stream in the west end that frequently floods because of surrounding developments, and says the plan could be a template for similar streams in the city.

Pinecrest Creek, a four-kilometer-long tributary that flows from Algonquin College into the Ottawa River, can rise by more than two metres after a rainstorm, ruining the shoreline and killing the aquatic life.

Jennifer Lamoureux, a biologist with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, says the conditions also mean that oil, salt and pet feces run from neighbourhoods into the waterway after rainstorms and eventually the Ottawa River, just upstream of Westboro Beach.

"It does get into Pinecrest Creek," she said. "There is very little control, if any, as far as filtration."

To deal with the creek's woes, the city is working on a proposal that will be released this fall. Dixon Weir, Ottawa's general manager of environmental services, says the report will encourage property owners to take responsibility for their stormwater run-off.

The plan may include incentives for rain barrels and perforated parking surfaces.

Weir says it's a pilot project that could become a template for managing other urban streams.

"This is a key learning opportunity for the city, and also for the residents, to understand better their impact and their positive contribution and influence they can have on the environment," he said.


Since 2008 the National Capital Commission has been improving the creek's capacity to handle storm water run off and trying to lessen bank erosion:

"The NCC will undertake with the support of the City of Ottawa work to restore sections of the creek experiencing severe erosion or degradation to a fully-functioning, natural system. The proposed approach follows natural channel principles that enhance fish habitat while mitigating erosion forces. The following modifications are proposed at many restoration sites within the 2.3 km natural creek channel to help the creek system deal with erosion due to increased flows and steep hydrographs:
- Increased channel capacity and increased access to adjacent floodplain areas by the use of proposed floodplain pools, cutting back the channel side slopes, and the creation of shallow floodplain benches;

- Reduce flow velocities by the use of proposed meander pools, mid-channel low flow channels in exposed bedrock areas, in-stream anchor boulders, and modifications to channel widths;

- Reinforce bank stabilization in high impact areas; and

- Clearing of channel blockages, such as sediment and woody debris accumulations, channel protrusions which obstruct flow, and mid-channel bars which deflect flows.
Nine restoration sections, with a total combined length of approximately 670 metres of the 2.3 km of open channel, are proposed for restoration. Modifications will result in approximately 635 cubic metres of additional channel capacity."

From the NCC Website

Read this 2011 post if you want to know about riparian buffers and levels of stream restoration!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

replanting of an acreage in southeastern Manitoba

Silver Plains Project

From the website:

The plan for the Silver Plains Project combines elements of restoration, revegetation, and wildlife planting. We are gathering seed from the surrounding area (or obtaining it from vendors and acquaintances whose sources are nearby). We look forward to the day when the yard is low-maintenance. We have already seen an increase in native fauna: mostly insects, but also many birds.

While this replanting is close to being a restoration it can’t really be called that because species from many components of the Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem are being compressed into two hectares, including species for an artificial wet meadow which will not survive (in dry years) without someone to turn on the water. This planting might be considered revegetation or a wildlife planting except it is a yard, not a pasture or a uninhabited field.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

bird safe building design

Some great links for this:

- NYC Audbon Society's Guidelines

- Ontario Nature's Campaign re: Birds & Buildings

- Ontario breeding birds - migration dates (by Denis LePage of Bird Studies Canada)

- FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program) Toronto - check out their Lights out Toronto Program

- Toronto Becomes World's First City to Mandate Bird-Friendly Buildings - PRESS RELEASE: October 28, 2009


From "Amended Toronto Green Building Standards Retain Bird-Friendly Measures" (November 2009)

"Council left intact existing green standard measures aimed at preventing bird-building collisions.
Window glass on new constructions must still be treated with a density pattern of between 10 and 28 centimetres apart or otherwise be able to mute reflections for at least the first 10 to 12 metres of a building, above grade.
The same goes for a requirement that builders ensure ground-level ventilation grates have a porosity of less than two centimetres by two centimetres.
Council adjusted new reduced light pollution targets “to make them a little clearer,” Welsh said.
New constructions and properties must reduce nighttime glare and light trespass, exterior light fixtures must be shielded to prevent glare or light trespasses onto neighbouring properties, and the city no longer allows up-lighting from exterior light fixtures unless a heritage designation applies.
The City has also added one requirement. When green roofs are built adjacent to glass surfaces, the glass must be treated to at least 12 metres above roof-level.
“We did a study on migratory birds and that was one of the recommendations from the study,” Welsh said. "


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

three levels of stream restoration & riparian buffers

Stream restoration images (before and after) from Natural Resources Conservation Services Website (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)

Three Levels of Stream Protection:

1. To restore a stream means to re-create meanders, stabilize soil and install gently sloping stream banks. Stream restoration is not always possible due to constraints such as utility crossings, structures or roadways.

2. To enhance a stream is to attempt meanders and gentle slopes where possible and to stabilize the soil.

3. To stabilize a stream is simply to secure the stream banks from further erosion because constraints limit other degrees of stream protection.

From: Charlotte-Mecklenburg website

Riparian Buffers:

A riparian buffer is the forested area next to a body of water that serves as a protective strip against pollutants and erosion. The establishment of a riparian buffer is actually one of the most effective and important steps to restoring a stream and should be incorporated in stream restoration projects whenever possible. Many considerations should be taken into account when implementing a riparian buffer, but with some small amount of guidance, the average homeowner can improve the short-term and long-term health of a stream greatly and with less of a monetary investment than other stream restoration techniques.

When designing a riparian buffer, consideration should be made to use native, site-appropriate species (fitting light, soil and moisture requirements). Also, the riparian buffer should be designed to include all levels of the forest canopy (this includes large trees, shrubs, herbaceous material and native grasses). Riparian buffers serve many functions for a stream such as reducing nutrient inputs, reducing stream bank erosion and the subsequent sedimentation, reducing thermal pollution, providing habitat to aquatic and terrestrial species, and providing a food source for aquatic macro-invertebrates. While serving all of these functions, riparian buffers can also be aesthetically pleasing, incorporating wildflowers and budding trees.

Riparian buffers can provide many long-term ecological functions for a stream ecosystem while requiring minimal effort to implement.

From Wildlands Conservancy website.

P.S. Check out my latest "urban wild" nature blog: Wild. Here. (2016 update)

Monday, May 16, 2011

roosting crows and supportive urbanites

Amber of Unstuffed Blog posted earlier this spring about the editorial regarding the crows of Alta Vista (Ottawa). What was heartening was reading some of the comments supporting the crows...

Rivereview park alumnus
9:13 AM on April 6, 2011

It is disappointing to see the "kill them" attitiude whenvever there is a conflict between wildlife and humans. I lived in Riverview Park for 15 years up until a year ago. Yes there are lots of crows compared to other areas. So lets find ways of working with the influx of crows. We have adapted to ever increasing numbers of people. A little balance is what is called for. It may be we have to adapt to the increased numbers. Crows aren't "creepy". That is an attitude that needs adjustment. If you take the time to get to know crows, they are fascinating - smart, loyal to their families and resilient. They are ominvores just like people. I think more education on efforts to co-exist would go a long way to helping the problem.

Well, I live right next door to those ol'crows at Baleena Park. In fact, I go to work around the time they are just getting up and starting to move about...I have yet to step in any poop, despite occassionally seeing some on my truck,which could have been left by the one of the large number of sea gulls in the area.

At night when the crows "come Home" from their day of scavaging and eating garbage it's cool to see them come into the neighbourhood in small squadrons all lining up on the roof tops waiting for their turn to park for the night in one of the tall trees.

In the morning, even though they can be a bit loud, it's cool to see them circling around and heading off to their business......Leave the crows be you anti-nature creeps and learn to enjoy what little nature is left in your city-ass lives!

Sheesh some poeple are just jerks.....

President of the Alta Vista Crow Lovers Club

1:15 PM on April 5, 2011

What's with the idea of tying an owl to bait crows ?
Or people suggesting we open shooting contests ?
Or culling geese ?
Or poisoning crows ?
Seriously, folks suggesting that have personal issues.
Is that how you treat people also ?

Can't anyone here just enjoy nature anymore ? Respect people and animals around them ? Not be violent ?
Ottawa used to be nice with the greenbelt, the surrounding woodlands and fields, the geese and birds and swans. It was a great and safe place to bring up kids with people who enriched lives rather than trying to take them away.
What happened ?

10:33 AM on April 5, 2011

It is very true that it is a necessity to clear crows away from areas where they can cause damage, and endanger people's lives, but is the best idea that the City Councillor can come up with for protecting the hospital helipad really one that involves torturing an innocent owl?

And how much of a necessity is it really to clear them completely out of the neighborhoods? Because they get into garbage bags? We have to protect our garbage from racoons anyway. Is the bird poop really a big issue? I see the great flocks of these birds everyday when they are roosting in the trees, flying overhead, and walking in the grass, but I have yet to notice any bird poop.

The presence of these birds does bring joy and pleasure to some people, who like to see a bit of wildlife where we live, to remind us that we are not just machines living on a paved earth. Do we really need to destroy a great part of nature just because it provides a slight inconvenience to some?

8:02 AM on April 5, 2011

I live near a crow's roost, and I can't believe what I am reading. I have never once considered them a nuisance.

I get that we need to keep them away from the helicopter pad, although the method seems very cruel to the owl. But other than that, people are just being silly.

The crows are fascinating to watch,and they do a fabulous job of cleaning up the neighbourhood of small dead animals, of which there is usually an abundance. We are also overrun with squirrels, bunnies,and field mice. Which, by the way, is what likely attracts the crows to these areas.Not to mention they clean up some of the garbage the filthy humans leave lying about.

I am overjoyed to feel like I can live amongst nature so close to the city centre. I don't get that the crows, or any other animal, are a nuisance (except when safety is a factor).

Neighbours who make a pastime out of complaining, now them, I would like to get rid of.

7:24 AM on April 5, 2011

Owls will attract agressive attention from a large murder of crows. i wouldn't want to be the owl that gets this job.

Nobody complained when people built houses on the crows homes. The crows are just returning the favor!

"Dear Residents of Alta Vista, We're not sure about how you redecorated our forrest, but thanks for all the garbage.

The Crows"


P. S. Read this post about Crow Planet written by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Other Urban Bird Posts:

Barred Owl Visit to Parklette in Toronto (2014)

Urban Bobolink in Ottawa (2012)

The Pigeon Paradox (2012)

Urban Chimney Swift Towers (2011)

Purple Martin Nesting (2011)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

make your voice heard for biodiversity


Ontario Nature’s goal is to generate 10,000 signatures by the 22nd of May 2011 (which the U.N. proclaimed as the International Day for Biological Diversity) to request that federal, provincial and municipal governments to take action and stop the loss of Ontario's biological diversity by 2020. Right now they have over 5000 and a little over 10 days left. Why is it important for us to protect the biodiversity that we have in Ontario (and in the rest of the world)?

"Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play. For example,
- A larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops
- Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms
- Healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters."
(Quote found here.) The continual increase in human population has meant a larger encroachment on wilderness every year - whether it's for dwellings, food or resource extraction. We may be on our way to the next mass extinction. It's up to us to protect what is left and enrich what we can.

Please sign the charter at Ontario Nature's website.

Angonoa Image is from the University of Manitoba

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Urban Bird Counts (Ottawa)

Just found out about the Ottawa Bird Breeding Count! It is headed up by the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Research Laboratory at Carleton University: "A Volunteer Based, Scientifically Rigorous Survey of Birds in an Expanding City".

You can find out more about the Count and the GLEL at the website. They have a course for volunteers to learn bird songs. Listen to CBC radio interviews about the OBBC and about the Bird Song - Point Count Course.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SLOE - Rideau River herptile survey (ottawa)

Reptile and Amphibian Survey

Sustainable Living Ottawa East is hosting its first reptile and amphibian survey along the Rideau River Nature Trail. The goal is to discover the rich diversity of reptile and amphibian species living in the community, so further action to protect these species can be taken as well as to preserve the health of the Rideau River shoreline. This event will also help SLOE build stewardship within the neighbourhood. This event will be a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

Sat May 14, 9 am - 12 pm and 9 - 10 pm.
Sat Jun 18 9 am - 12 pm and 9-10 pm.

For information and if you want to participate, contact Jess Pelow

Great summary of it here: SLOE - Surveying Our Aquatic Neighbours by Mary Trudeau

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

bioengineering for stream restoration

From the R.V.C.A.:
Bioengineering is erosion control using live cuttings of willows and dogwoods to help stabilize banks and revegetate shorelines in areas where tree planting will wash out. It is an alternative to using harder structures, such as rip rap, gabion baskets, armourstone, etc. Layers of soil are wrapped in coconut fiber to hold them into the bank. Live cuttings of willows and dogwoods are used to create a fascine (tubular structure) placed along the water line, and live cuttings are then placed between the layers of wrapped soil. Shrubs are then introduced at the top of slope.
Link to Ontario Streams for a more detailed description of fascines.

Here is a link to a report on a bioengineering project for Graham Creek in Ottawa.

Read this 2011 post about riparian buffers and the three levels of stream restoration.

Image from Charlotte-Mecklenburg website.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nature in the City (London)

Nature in the City is a six–part series of illustrated talks on nature within the City of London. It's run by Nature London and held at the City Library over the winter months. Here's the lineup they had for the last winter (2010)!

January 18
TALKING TURKEY: Fun Facts and More

January 25
INVASIVE PLANTS: When Newcomers Get Too Pushy
(Ausable-Bayfield Conservation Authority)

February 1
THE ELUSIVE BADGER: Playing a Game of “Where’s Waldo?”
(Ministry of Natural Resources)

February 8
YEASTS IN THE CITY: A Soap Opera of Villains and Innocents
(UWO Biology Department)

February 15
THE BUZZ ON SOCIAL INSECTS: Honey Bees and Friends

February 22
MEADOWLILY NATURE PRESERVE: Challenges and Benefits of Urban Nature Reserves
(Thames Talbot Land Trust)

* Image from Nature in the City website

Sunday, March 6, 2011

bird skyscraper design (Chicago)

Found Online:

September 17, 2009

A skyscraper for the birds: Aqua gets an award from animal rights group

Chicago architect Jeanne Gang's 82-story Aqua tower (left) isn't done yet, but PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is giving Gang and her firm, Studio Gang Architects, an award for the bird-friendly design of Aqua. The group says that birds are less likely to kill themselves flying into Aqua's windows because of the skyscraper undulating curves and because its exterior glass is etched with marks that birds will be able to see.

"The American architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase 'form follows function,'" PETA's president, Ingrid Newkirk, says in a news release. "In the Aqua Tower, form follows compassion."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vertical Garden City projects (by Mori)

Urban Design Consultant: Mori (Japan)

From their website:

Adopting the “Vertical Garden Cities” as our redevelopment concept, one of our primary missions is to build environmentally friendly cities rich in greenery, striving to maximize open space and “green” the cityscape. Through intelligent consolidation and redevelopment of densely developed areas and the building of high-rise buildings to free surface land for greenery and by taking proactive steps to “green” the buildings with roof gardens, we are able to create numerous corners of nature within the city.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Urban Wildlife Resources (Maryland)

Urban Wildlife Resources was founded in 1995 to serve as an information source and clearinghouse for urban wildlife-related matters. A major objective is to facilitate interaction and cooperation among land managers and planners, biologists, and landscape architects in achieving better management of natural resources in urban and urbanizing areas through research, planning, design, and education.

The bookstore includes an "Urban Wildlife Manager's Notebook" - a set of information bulletins for homeowners, open space managers, wildlife biologists, and others interested in wildlife conservation in urban areas. Contents include:

- A Wildlife Plan for Small Properties
- A Simple Backyard Pond
- Feeding Birds in Winter
- Housing for Nesting Birds
- Natural Landscaping--Meadows
- Reptiles and Amphibians
- Birds That Attack Houses
- A Guide to Developing an Urban Wildlife Library
- Brushpiles and Rockpiles: Small Habitats for Backyard Wildlife
- Dragonflies and Damselflies in Your Backyard Pond
- Butterflies in Your Garden
- Saving Snags for Urban Wildlife
- You and Stinging Insects

There also are Conservation Education Packs for Teachers


Columbia, Maryland

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Urban Habitats (New York)

URBAN HABITATS - "An Electronic Journal on the Biology of Urban Areas Around the World"

Urban Habitats is published by the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), a collaboration between Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Rutgers University. Articles available here on: flora, wetlands, birds, frogs, etc. It seems that a new volume of this journal is published annually in December with a full pdf of the issue available in January. However the last Volume was published in 2009.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"No wonder we close our eyes, toss birdseed, and hope for the best."

"Any landscape marked by human intrusion is, in ecological parlance, disturbed, and as a habitat-type, the urban landscape can only be called highly disturbed. The word disturb has a Latin root, turbare, which means "to agitate" or "to confuse," to "pour together," "to mix utterly". How fitting! Wild and domestic. Native and introduced. Rare and invasive. Pavement and pathway. Human and wild. The extraordinary and the commonplace."

"Nearly all of our urban planning frames the city as a home for humans and fails to account for the presence and needs of nonhuman animals. Even sustainable city efforts pay little attention to the needs of animals per se, focusing instead on issues of water purity, clean air, parks, and green space for the health, recreational, and aesthetic benefits they confirm upon humans. As ill-conceived housing developments sprawl into areas that were very recently forested, the human/wild clashes become more complicated, sometimes involving displaced (wildlife) that unwittingly wander back into their previous home range, where they are no longer welcome..."

"We can be a friend to wildlife by planting trees, or restoring land, or moving dead animals off the road so the scavengers that come to eat them don't become roadkill themselves"

"Living daily alongside (wildlife), I remember to check the lid on the garbage can, to refrain from observing too closely the warbler's nest in the backyard vine maple lest I draw a predator's attention, to put a net over the koi pond at night... I'm reminded to fight like hell for the green space that will allow a range of species to flourish, not just the synanthropes but the birds that can live near cities as long as areas of contiguous forest are conserved or restored... For us that means a Violet-green Swallow box under the eaves, and the still-uninhabited bat box on the other side of the house... I'm reminded to keep replacing the grass with native plants and shrubs that flourish in local conditions while providing natural food and cover for wild birds (the single best way to limit number of dominant birds such as crows and starlings that thrive on the confluence of concrete and traditional "yards")."

Crow Planet
Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Debs Park (Los Angeles) opened 2003

As a follow up to yesterday's article on nature in Los Angeles I found information on the Audubon Society's first urban nature center in L.A., along the Pasadena Freeway, northeast of downtown. "It will be called a nature classroom, and will cover a 16-acre parcel within the 282-acre Ernest Debs Regional Park near Montecito Heights. The space hosts more than 130 species of birds. The center will include an amphitheater, nature exhibits and a hummingbird garden. It is expected to open by 2003 at a cost of $15.5 million."

 Here are some links:

March 2004 Urban Oasis Magazine - Article written by Dan Koeppel about the Audubon Center at Debs Park

Direct Link to the urban nature center at Debs Park, Los Angeles

Update 2013: New link for Debs Park

P.S. Check out my latest "urban wild" nature blog: Wild. Here. (2016 update)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"13 ways of seeing nature in L.A." (article)

I came across this article from The Believer magazine:



APRIL 2006

The First Six Ways and a Trip to the River

DISCUSSED: Nathanael West, Mike Davis, Raymond Chandler, Temescal Canyon, Dolphins, Hawks, Ducks, Mango Body Whips, Coyotes as Urban Terrorists, Seismic Retrofitting, Feral Peacocks, Aaron Spelling, The Concrete Straitjacket

Another Seven Ways and an Arrival At the Confluence

DISCUSSED: Urban Demographics, Consumerist Valhallas, Nature Writing, The American Eden, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Muggings, Suntan Lotion, Hydrology, The L.A. River Greenway, Clean Air Legislation, Nature’s Revenge

Friday, January 14, 2011

green paving technology

Great stormwater runoff technology for development in Ottawa: The East Towns - Chesnut and Evelyn:

(The five townhouses will include) rooftop gardens and a driveway made from green paving technology — instead of traditional heat-absorbing asphalt — that allows grass to grow. This approach will add a park-like setting to the development. “I think it will be the first project in the city to use the technology,” says Surface Developments president Jakub Ulak.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Celebrating the old oaks of Champlain Park, Ottawa Canada

From the website:

"These magnificent old trees are all that remains of Ottawa's Oak forest, and the oldest of them are estimated to be more than 200 years old - which means they are not just older than our 60 year-old neighbourhood, they are also much older than Canada itself, and some were here long before the first permanent European settlers.

This oak forest ecosystem would have covered the South shore of the Ottawa River when Samuel de Champlain explored the area that bears his name in the early 1600s - and he surely would have seen some of the parents of our current oaks. The neighbourhood of Champlain Park - near the Champlain Bridge in the West End of Ottawa - has managed to preserve more than two dozen of these centuries-old trees."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

radio series on nature (colorado)

WildLives: Celebrating the World Around Us

by Susan J. Tweit (blog website)
CD Genre: Spoken Word: With Music
Release Date: 2010

From the website:

"This is WildLives from Salida, Colorado..." Enjoy 28 favorite commentaries from this popular weekly radio series that celebrates the world around us—the "community of the land." I hope they move you to get to know and find inspiration and sustenance in the world of wild lives wherever you live—city, suburb, small town, or deep in the countryside. Restore your heart and feed your soul with these lyrical commentaries that illuminate nature—the "community of the land" around us.