Nature News

September 2017 – While it may be unlikely that you actually see four footed wildlife on your walk at the Sanctuary, that doesn’t mean you can’t study them anyway.  The trick is look for signs of wildlife versus the wildlife itself, e.g. watch for tracks in the soil, piles of scat, signs of browse, flattened beds in the grass or actual homes and also listen for the calls wildlife makes.  All of these things can be part of your wildlife watching experience as you look for signs of moose, deer, porcupines, coyotes, muskrats, rabbits, squirrels and other furry friends.   Do you know what a squirrel ‘nest’  or ‘drey’ looks like?  Clue: it looks like a mass of twigs, leaves, grass or moss in the crook of a tree. See if you can find one as you walk the trails of the Sanctuary.

May 2017 – So the one bird you have perhaps never seen, but have certainly heard at the Sanctuary in summer is the Wilson’s Snipe.  Especially in the evening, you’ve likely heard a quavering hooting sound coming from overhead, yet try as you might you just can’t see anything.  This sound is caused by the swooping display flight of the Wilson’s Snipe.  As it dives high in the air, it produces a quavering hoot (kind of like the song of a Boreal Owl) as its outer tail feathers vibrate during the dive.  If you have your binoculars handy and have some patience you may be able to spy this in action, but it can be tricky to catch.  Snipes can also be flushed out of the reeds or grasses along the wetland and will disappear in a rapid, twisting flight.  In fact this is where the term “sniper” comes from, as hunters would had to be incredibly fast and accurate to actually shot a snipe.

February 2017 – The one bird you will see almost every day at the Sanctuary is the Black-capped Chickadee.  Every wonder how such a tiny bird survives the cold winter.  At they explain that:

“For winter survival, chickadees have three things going for them: they’re insulated, they’re active, and they have a good memory.
Thanks to a half-inch coat of insulating feathers, chickadees maintain their body temperature at 100° Fahrenheit during daylight hours, even when the air is at zero degrees. At night, their temperature drops 18 degrees, which reserves their store of fat.
Also, chickadees gather food at a terrific rate. In autumn, they stash their winter sustenance all around their territory. Their good memories enable them to find this food when the days are short and cold. It’s not surprising that the part of the brain associated with spatial memory is larger in chickadees than in many other birds.”

December 2016 – Ever wonder how frogs overwinter in this area? You may have heard that they burrow into the mud at the bottom of lakes our ponds, but did you know that most turn themselves into “Frogsicles” instead?  Yes, that’s correct, the common frogs in this area like Wood frogs simply bury themselves under leaves or other forest debris and pretty much freeze up.

As quoted from the Earth Rangers web site: “As the temperature drops, everything the Wood frog does stops. We mean EVERYTHING! It stops moving, breathing, its blood stops flowing and even its heart stops beating! During winter, 35-45% of the Wood frog’s body may freeze and become ice-like. It can pull this trick off by storing glucose in its liver. The glucose gets released into the frog’s blood while it’s ‘playing dead’, preventing its entire body from freezing. The glucose acts as antifreeze to keep this little guy alive while staying completely still. Once things warm up in the spring, the frog comes back to life (so to speak) and returns to its regular activities.”

November 2016 – The date for the upcoming 30th Devon-Calmar Christmas Bird Count is set. This count also includes the Clifford E Lee Nature Sanctuary and surrounding area.  It will be on Tuesday December 27th so mark your calendars.  Also, for more information visit their Facebook page:

October 2016 – If you are feeding birds you are in good company . Birding is one of North America’s favorite pastimes.  A 2006 report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that about 55.5 million Americans provide food for wild birds. Most feeders are found in urban areas where natural habitat is not found.  Feeding birds requires some basic information to keep them healthy.

Cornell Labs did a seed preference test study to find out what birds like to eat from feeders.  The  black sunflowers are the best feed for most species of  birds and the standard mix of seed often bought is wasteful as the birds pick out the prized sunflower seeds and leave the milo, millet, oats, wheat, flax and buckwheat seeds.  These uneaten seeds fall to the ground and foster mold and bacteria growth which can make the birds sick.  Not only can this discarded seed cause problems but poorly maintained feeders can contribute to the spread of infection and diseases and the feeders themselves pose hazards with sharp edges, too deep of  tray for feeding safely and placed out in the open with no protection for the birds.

As the Clifford E Lee Nature Sanctuary is a natural area we do not encourage feeders for many of the reasons pointed out above.  Indeed we have found injured or dead birds in or near the feeders some have placed on the Sanctuary. We encourage people to feed in their own yards were they can keep an eye on feeders and birds as well as cleaning the feeders and spilled seed.

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Clifford E Lee Nature Sanctuary is a protected area in Parkland County with four hiking trails that are perfect for all ages to enjoy wildlife watching.