Saturday, June 30, 2012

What The Robin Knows and Animal Orchestras!

Here are some books that are on my "To Read" list - some very interesting studies on bird and animal sounds!  I remember reading about how urban birds have been heard to sing at a different octave or range than their country "relatives" to be able to be heard through the urban noises!

"What the Robin Knows", Jon Young

This book describes a "deep bird language (which) is an ancient discipline, perfected by Native peoples the world over. Finally, science is catching up. This ground breaking book unites the indigenous knowledge, the latest research, and the author's own experience of four decades in the field to lead us toward a deeper connection to the animals and, in the end, a deeper connection to ourselves." (description from Amazon).

Great Animal Orchestra, Bernie Krause

"The acoustic scenarios of healthy habitats are celebrated through the poetic and proto-musical textures of its biophonic phrasing, represented by exquisite bandwidth and temporal organization -- aka the niche hypothesis -- an inherent yet ever-mutable font of knowledge. Nature, in the end, is the best and most prolific editor we know of -- always adjusting for ultimate performance and outcomes. From an emulation and expression of this resource we have acquired the basis of nearly every organic sound and cultural utterance we generate."  (description from Ear to Earth)

Roadside Field Notes also commented on some interesting bird interaction in their post: Cardinals countersing!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

reviving old streams (Detroit)

Ever since I saw the daylighting project that Ecocity Builders did in California, my dream has been to be part of a team that daylights a stream.  This type of work doesn't happen too much.  As in the Ecocity Builders project, a parking lot was being decommissioned so there was an opportunity.  What daylighting entails is taking a stream that has been routed underground (through pipes) and reintroducing it at ground level, which means you have to have the area/space to allow the stream to burble and gurgle across a stream bed, through rocks, around bends and along a stream bank.

Ultimately this means more green and less grey (yeah!) but it's hard to redesign a space and take away infrastructure if it is needed.

I was talking to a teacher at the end of the semester about my dream to daylight and how it is very hard to find potential projects and all of a sudden it came to me - the opportunity in Detroit - so many empty properties, so much change... so I googled for it and found that other people are realizing the how promising their situation could be:  Detroit Officials are looking into "daylighting" Bloody Run Creek.

There was also this link to a Masterplan Memorandum about the potential for Urban Stream Restoration in Detroit: which "provides a description of urban stream restoration, identifies the benefits and challenges to restoration and the application of this information to a specific area in the City of Detroit.

And here's a Mahalo article about Daylighting Streams that provides an example of a completed project.

Image from: Landscape Online

Monday, June 18, 2012

emerald ash borers in cities

By now I'm sure you've heard about the Emerald Ash Borer beetle.  It seems that this beetle just can't get enough of our ash trees!  The changes to our cities, because of the destructive action of this beetle on ash trees, could be large.  Ottawa itself is predicting the loss of almost one-quarter of Ottawa’s tree cover unless something is done. This truly would alter many streetscapes and bring down neighborhood real estate values, as our stately tree cover and lovely tree-lined avenues are lost.

Across the province, different cities are taking various approaches.

The City of Oakville is taking a multi-layered approach that includes treating 7000 trees on public property and encouraging residents to save ash trees on private property.  "One in 10 of the town’s trees are ash — roughly 180,000 and 80 per cent of salvageable trees are growing on private property."   Learn more about their “Canopy Club” and check out the videos the town created that show the use of TreeAzin, which can help prolong an infected trees life at this BioForestTech link

Here is a great article by LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) on the TreeAzin Insecticide.

The City of Toronto, York Region and the Town of Markham are providing funding support to the non-profit LEAF to train EAB Ambassadors. These ambassadors will help spread the word in their neighborhoods about treatment options for ash trees not yet infested, replanting programs and more. There are approximately 860,000 ash trees in the City of Toronto and an estimated 2,800,000 mature ash trees growing in York Region.

In Ottawa, the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre and the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital are working tirelessly to get the word out about this issue and the options that are available to the City and to local residents. Part of their message includes a great reminder of the "Immeasurable Value of Trees".   Here is an excerpt from one of their emails:

Trees, particularly those in an urban setting, are a critical asset vital to the whole community. Whether beautifying our streets, shading our parks or enhancing our property, trees improve air quality and health, save us energy costs, add to the enjoyment of our home and increase the resale value of our property as well as the desirability of our neighbourhood. Trees add to the beauty, liveability and image of a city. 

There has been a lack of community consultation regarding the City's strategy and large number of trees are being cut without any consideration of alternatives.  Is the City moving ahead too quickly and are there questions that should be asked?  Ottawa is primed to cut 75,000 trees down, which could cost up to $100M over the next number of years - are there alternatives that would be less costly and less drastic?

If you are concerned with what this means to the City of Ottawa - write a letter to your local councillor and the mayor.  To provide you with more information, here are maps that show the percentage ash tree coverage in each ward and how the loss of ash trees will affect your neighborhood:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Project CHIRP - Gardening for Songbirds (Toronto)

My friend sent me a link to Project CHIRP! (which stands for “Creating Habitat in Residential Areas and Parkland), which is a conservation initiative to help "inspire homeowners to incorporate native flora into their gardens to support songbird populations".

From the Canadian Wildlife Federation's Wild About Gardening website:

"Project CHIRP! is available to anyone in the Toronto region. Christina Sharma and Richard Joos have made presentations to gardening clubs, conservation societies, naturalist groups, businesses, children’s clubs, church groups and the Toronto Zoo, among others. As Christina notes, “On behalf of Richard Joos and myself, I hope we may have the opportunity to speak to your group. In return, you will receive a colourful talk that will leave you not only with the tools you need to create an attractive habitat for songbirds (and you!), but also feeling empowered and inspired to become an active participant in songbird conservation.”

Christina and Richard offer a “site consult” service to address site-specific concerns and assist with the creation of a basic site map, noting such things as garden dimensions, permanent structures, beneficial vantage points, sun exposure, microclimates and soil type. The fee for this service is about $50. To learn more about Project CHIRP! and upcoming songbird garden tour dates, bird banding station visits, speaking events or home site consults/native garden design, contact Christina at projectchirp at rogers dot com or 416.236.7234."

Image from Green Living

PDF about Project Chirp from Ontario Environmental Network


She also helped launch the Birds of Toronto book (part of the City's Biodiversity Series):
"The book launch will take place at the beginning of the lecture Miraculous Migrants: Why Songbird Conservation Begins at Home, delivered by Dr. Bridget Stutchbury of York University and Christina Sharma of Project CHIRP."

Found this also - Project CHIRP had a garden display at the 2011 Canada Blooms event:

Project Chirp - Wild Things in Your Gardens
We show how to make your garden a home for birds, bees, and butterflies. Native plants, water, and nest sites recreate nature in the city.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Skyscrapers for birds

Image from Richard Register's ecocities - Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature.

While the book focuses more on urban design, sustainable transportation and energy alternatives, there are some brief mentions of design to support nature. I loved this image (from page 123) showing a "birdhouse" in the city - a skyscraper designed for birds only (no people allowed)! Those two "dots" down in the right hand corner? Two people amazed by the building!