May / June 2018

Welcome to the May and June edition of Saskatoon NatureKids Buzz. This edition is a little late as I’ve been busy cleaning and installing new birdhouses along the Mary Houston Bluebird Trail instead of writing a news- letter. I had a late start this year with the spring weather, so a lot of the Tree Swallows and Mountain Bluebirds have already arrived. They had decided which nestbox to inhabit and were waiting for the boxes to be cleaned for them. I would like to say they were waiting patiently, but seeing their watchful eyes as they sat next to the nestbox, I had the feeling I was being scolded for being tardy. A big thank you to Ron Wick for the donation of front-opening nestboxes. They were installed along the Pike Lake section of the trail.

Everyday brings new changes along the bluebird trail. The Prairie Crocus are finished blooming for the season. Now the grasslands comes alive with an explosion of yellow flowers, soon to be followed by the white blossoms of the yarrow and bedstraw. One of the most abundant yellow flowers this time of year is the Golden Bean (Thermopsis rhombifolia). Also known as Buffalo Bean, the Golden Bean blooms in mid-May to mid-June. This is great news for hungry pollinators like bees and butterflies looking for food. The flowers are bright yellow and resemble the flowers of the pea. The Golden Bean is in the pea family and produces little curled pods of beans. However you cannot eat the ‘beans’ produced by this plant. They contain poisonous alkaloids which can cause illness. The plant is thought to have killed livestock, although grazing animals generally don’t eat the Golden Bean because of its bad taste. First Nations would use the bright yellow flowers to create a colourful dye.

Spring also means new babies. Keep your eyes open for – and keep your distance from – baby hares, foxes, deer, robins and ground squirrels. These animals are quite common in our city. Mother animals are very protective of their young, so please do your wildlife watching from a respective distance. The Canada Goose goslings will also be hatching mid-May followed by various ducklings in early to mid-June. This is the time of year when wildlife rehabilitators get flooded with “orphaned” babies.         Many of these babies were not orphaned, but “rescued” by well-meaning people who did not understand the natural history of our wild animals. Animals such as hares and deer leave their young unattended for long-periods of time. It is easy to mistake these animals for orphans. If you do spot an injured or orphaned animal the best thing to do is call the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan (WRSOS) hotline at 306-242-7177. They have trained volunteers who can safely rescue injured wildlife and determine if an orphan is really an orphan.

Most events are free. Some events have a fee. Some events require advanced registration.

For more information on each event please visit

Tuesday, May 22

NatureCity Festival May 22 to 27, 2018

Our city is a living network of rivers and streets, trees and office towers,

prairies and yards. We are a city of contrasts unified by the natural networks that

hold our ecosystem together.

NatureCity Festival 2018 uses the Cree concept Âniskopicikêwin (pronounced an-scope-chi-ke-win) which means everything is linked together to describe these vital connections.

From May 22nd to 27th is your opportunity to explore the trails, the rivers, the

sidewalks, and the flyways. Let’s celebrate Saskatoon’s wild side!

NatureCity Festival is a de-centralized festival, consisting of 50+ nature inspired events spread across Saskatoon held over a week-long period,

hosted in collaboration with countless individuals and community organizations.

10:00 am Into the Aspen Grove

10:30 am Family Storytime at Frances Morrison Central Library 12:15 pm Mendel Riverbank Bird Walk

6:00 pm Reclaim Our Prairie! At the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre Garden Patch

7:00 pm Bison in Agriculture at the Alice Turner Library.

7:00 pm Lakewood Park Pop-up Naturalist at Lakewood Park

7:00 pm Pop-up Clothing Swap at the YWCA Gymnasium

7:30 pm Nature photography with smartphones at Heritage and Lakewood Parks

Wednesday, May 23

10:30 am NatureCity Baby & Toddlers Together Mayfair Library 12:00 pm MVA Trail Pop-Up Naturalist Event on the riverbank

near the U of S Lutheran Seminary

12:30 pm   Free Wetland Field trips at Chappell Marsh 6:30 pm SOS Elms’ Walking Tour of Woodlawn Cemetery

7:00 pm   Keeping Saskatoon Wild at the Underground Cafe 7:00 pm Plant the Saskatoon Seed Library 7:00 pm Wildflower Identification Workshop.

Thursday, May 24

10:00 am 4 Elements at Churchill Park

10:30 am Storytime at the Frances Morrison Central Library 10:30 am NatureCity Family Storytime at the Cliff Wright Library 12:00 pm Grow where you’ve never grown before

12:00 pm Watersheds and You at the River Landing Spray Park 4:30 pm All about honey bees, urban beekeeping and pollination.

At the Saskatoon Food Bank Garden Patch

6:00 pm An Intro to Canoeing at the Erindale Lake

6:00 pm The Story of Soil: how soil biology supports life on

Earth. At the Saskatoon Food BankGarden Patch 7:00 pm Mindfulness Outdoors at Gabriel Dumont Park 7:00 pm Sleepy Time Stories at the J.S. Wood Library 7:00 pm Survive Outside. At Cabela’s.

7:30 pm Acres to Ales at 9 Mile Legacy Brewing

7:30 pm The Fabulist at the River Landing at the River Landing

Friday, May 25

ALL DAY Saskatoon Cache and Release

at Floral Community Centre 9:30 am Path to Wild Food for Schools

at Wanuskewin Heritage Park (Sold out)

at the Children’s Discovery Museum

10:30 am Family Storytime at the Alice Turner Branch Library 10:30 am Path to Wild Food at Wanuskewin Heritage Park 12:30 pm Tuwanassina – “The place we belong”

at Gabriel Dumont Park

1:30 pm Tour of Hyde Park & Wetland at Hyde Park

7:00 pm Nature Needs Half at Aden Bowman Castle Theatre

9:00 pm Green Drinks at Nino’s on Broadway

Saturday, May 26

9:00 am Labour and Learn at Forestry Farm Park & Zoo

9:00 am Stick and Stone: Friends Forever at Holy Family School 12:15 pm Hyde Park Naturalized Area Shoreline

1:00 pm Misaskwatomina

at the south parking lot of Riverside Pool 1:00 pm The Library of Things YXE

in the basement of the Better Good

3:00 pm Reclaim our Prairie

at St. Joseph High School Grassland Demonstration Site 5:00 pm Bike the Moveable Feast at the Gabriel Dumont Statue at the base of the Broadway Bridge

6:00 pm Permaculture: all things connected at Amigos Cantina

8:00 pm Dancing in the Street on 20th street between Ave B & C

Sunday, May 27

9:00 am Spring Wildflower Walk

at Cranberry Flats Conservation Area

1:00 pm Scotiabank Something on Sundays at Remai Modern 1:30 pm   Forestry Farm House Interpretive Centre opening 2:00 pm Chief Whitecap Waterway Voyageur

(Location provided at registration) 4:00 pm Agriculture Roundtable

at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market 4:00 pm Living Together at The Prairie Lily

7:00 pm B.I.R.D.S. (Birds in Real Danger Saskatoon)–Saving

Birds, One Window at a time.At Wild Birds Unlimited

9:00 pm Firefly Night Walk at NE Swale at the Northeast Swale

Mallard Ducks, Ducklings, & Backyard Nests

Mallard Ducks do not normally nest on the edge of a pond or lake. I assume by hiding the nest away from water she can avoid predators looking for eggs. It is not unusual in Saskatoon to find a Mallard nesting in your backyard or local park. The big problem comes when it is time to march the babies to the closest pond.

Mallards will lay their eggs over a two-week period, but they do not start to incubate until all the eggs have been laid. This way all the eggs will hatch at the same time (usually around mid-June).  If you find a nest in the city, please do not disturb it. Call the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan (WRSOS) at 306- 242-7177 and let them know you have a Mallard nest in your yard. A nesting Mallard will quickly adjust to your presence in the yard. The trick is to move calmly and quietly. Avoid disturbing the nest and keep your pets away. If you do not want the nest in your yard, call the WRSOS for information on moving a nest.

About a month after incubation starts the ducklings hatch. Now comes the dangerous part for the duck- lings as they follow mom to water. In the city this may mean crossing busy streets and negotiating obstacles like fences, curbs, people, and pets. This is where the WRSOS comes in. They have duck specialists that will assist the mother get her ducklings to water.

You can help, but it important not to get too close as

mom will get frightened and fly away. (She will come back when she feels it is safe). You can stop traffic to al- low the duck family to safely cross streets. Make sure all the ducklings cross safely; there is always one or two slow ones at the back! If you have a duck nest in your yard or spot a family of ducks marching through your neighbourhood towards water, call the WRSOS hotline at 306-242-7177 to make sure they make it safely.

Young Naturalists Activity Report

The Crocus field trip was postponed until April 29 due to the late spring weather. April 29 turned out to be a cool and windy day. Although it was not great weather for our field trip, the crocus were very abundant on the grasslands. The crocus is the first flower to bloom on the grasslands and it has special adaptations, like a thick woolly coat, to help it survive the cold temperatures of spring.

Fortunately, the provincial fire ban had not been announced and the Pike Lake field trip was held on Saturday, May 5, with beautiful weather for our campfire lunch. Following lunch we visited the lake to look for underwater insects and invertebrates (animals without back- bones). We also found a few vertebrates like the Wood Frog. There were a few dead fish on the shore. They were most likely the victims of winterkill. Winterkill occurs when fish suffocated from lack of dissolved oxygen. Winterkill occurs during especially long, harsh winters. Lakes like Pike Lake that are shallow and have a lot of aquatic vegetation and mucky bottoms are prone to this problem. We found some pretty cool underwater creatures including caddisfly larva, damselfly larva, fairy shrimp, leeches, and phantom midge larva. We also found a lot of mosquito larva. The mosquito larva were smaller than ones we have seen in the past. Sure enough next weekend the mosquitoes were out. I noticed they were smaller that the usual ones, so there maybe a relationship between the size of the larva and the size of the adult. On our hike we noticed lots of interesting plants that were leafing out for the season. We also learned how to identify poisonous plants like poison ivy and marsh marigold.

Caddisfly left, Damselfly right.

Upcoming Young Naturalists Programs:

Enrolment is limited on Young Naturalists programs.

Early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

Registration is taken on a first-come basis. To register e-mail and indicate the program for which you would like to register. You must register for each activity separately.

(You can register for more than one activity at a time). Most programs are free unless otherwise indicated. At least one parent/guardian must accompany your child/children on all Young Naturalists activities

Young Naturalist Great Horned Owl Banding Field Trip “SOLD OUT”

Wedneday, May 23 6:30 to 9:00

Cost: Free. Donations always accepted. Advanced registration is required.

We will join naturalists’ Marten Stoffel and Martin Gerard as they band and collect scientific information from wild Great

Horned Owls. Space is limited. Pre-registration is required.

Young Naturalists’ Bluebird Trail

Starts May 30 and runs into early July – evenings and some weekends.

Watch for a schedule on our web page comng soon!

Did you know the Young Naturalists’ have be monitoring bluebird populations around Saskatoon since 1969?

Join naturalist Greg Fenty as he works with bluebirds and Tree Swallows along the Bluebird Trail. Space is limited.

E-mail to register or for more information.

At least one parent/guardian must accompany your child/children on all Young Naturalists activities.

Young Naturalists Butterflies and other insects

Thursday, July 19 at 1:30 p.m.

Northeast Swale

Space is limited. Advanced registration is required.

Cost: Free (Donations accepted)

We will be exploring the area around the Northeast Swale in search of butterflies and their favourite wild flowers. On this field trip we learn the proper techniques for catching and observing butterflies. We hope to catch a variety of butterflies and other insects to learn about their ecology – including some of the native plants they love. We will be using butterfly nets, but we only have a limited supply. Be prepared to share.

Space is limited. E-mail to register or for more information.

Young Naturalists Sandhill Crane Field Trip

Saturday, September 22

9:30 a.m.

Space is limited. Advanced registration is required. Cost: Free (donations accepted)

A field trip south of Saskatoon to look for migrating Sandhill Cranes and other wildlife. We’ll have binoculars and a spotting scope along to demonstrate how these tools can improve your wildlife watching experience. Parent Advisory: we will be walking along the shoreline of the South Saskatchewan River on this field trip.

Space is limited. E-mail to register or for more information.

At least one parent/guardian must accompany your child/children on all Young Naturalists activities.

Click here for more upcoming Young Naturalists Programs

(some of the fall programs have been posted)

Want more nature?

Attention Nature Kids Teachers

Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation Outreach Program: Engaging Students with a live animal

Wildlife Educators from Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation will visit your classroom with live animals including bats, birds and their Thirteen-line Ground Squirrel for a wild 45 minute presentation. Because Living Sky is a wildlife rehab centre, they have a unique perspective on the connections between humans and animals. Topics are curriculum based for each grade level and focus on habitat, community, animal characteristics, animal growth, and what to do if you encounter an injured or orphaned animal. Basic fee is $50.00 per class ($75.00 for bat presentation) and funds raised from the presentations support animal rehabilitation.

Call Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation for more information and available dates at 306-281-0554 or e-mail to book your presentation.

NEW: Thanks to a grant from Nutrien and the Saskatoon Foundation the Living Sky Wildlife Outreach program can now be offered to

10 community school classrooms at no charge. This is a first-come-first-served offer.

Saskatoon Zoo Society On-site and Outreach Education Programs

Learn about biodiversity, species at risk, climate change, and Saskatchewan’s wildlife with the Saskatoon Zoo Society and their curriculum-based education programs. Programs take place at Saskatoon’s Forestry Farm Park Zoo or through their outreach program in your classroom. Visit the Saskatoon Zoo Society website for more information on educational critters, programs, and fees.

More Nature….

Check out EcoFriendly Sask.

A weekly round-up of everything environmental in Saskatchewan, and small action grants as well.

Prairie Naturalist

The Prairie Naturalist is a live weekly radio show every Thursday at 6:00 p.m. on 91.3 FM, CJTR, Re- gina Community Radio. But you can also listen on channel 806 on SaskTel Max, or download the CJTR Smartphone App. Host Jared Clarke covers a variety of nature related topics from the prairies. Pod- casts can also be found at or

Saskatoon Nature Society

Lots of field trips (open to all ages) and other information

You can even download the latest newsletter from the Saskatoon Nature Society.

Copyright © 2018 Saskatoon Young Naturalists, All rights reserved.

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Our mailing address is: Saskatoon Young Naturalists PO Box 448

RPO University Saskatoon, SK S7N 4J8