150/150: Home is where the heart is for the Barred Owl


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Animalia: Chordata: Aves: Strigiformes: Strigidae: Strix: Strix varia Barton, 1799

The Barred Owl is a member of the family Strigidae, the true owls, which it shares with almost all other extant owl species. It is also called the Hoot Owl due to its characteristic mating call. Like most owls, Barred Owls are silent when hunting and possess wing adaptions that enhance their ability to sneak up on prey. The Barred Owl mostly preys on small mammals and has occasionally been known to wade into water to fish for food within wetland habitats. Continue reading “150/150: Home is where the heart is for the Barred Owl”

117/150: Just out of sight-The commonly overlooked Western Redback Salamander


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Animalia: Chordata: Amphibia: Caudata: Plethodontidae: Plethodontinae: Plethodon: Plethodon vehiculum (Cooper, 1860)

The western redback salamander is a relatively small salamander, measuring about 4 to 10 centimeters in length, and is commonly identified by distinctive stripe down their back. Though their name indicates this stripe as red, it can also be yellow, olive, and tan. In some cases, it doesn’t appear at all. Continue reading “117/150: Just out of sight-The commonly overlooked Western Redback Salamander”

115/150: The Giant Puffball is right out of a fairytale!


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Fungi: Basidiomycota: Agaricomycetes: Agaricales: Agaricaceae: Calvatia: Calvatia gigantea (Batsch) Lloyd 1904

The Giant Puffball appears in the folklore of many cultures due to its large whimsical appearance. On average these mushrooms are 10-70 cm in diameter, but get as big as 150 cm! The Giant Puffball is one of many mushrooms found to develop ‘fairy rings’, which are associated with witchcraft in many cultures. Continue reading “115/150: The Giant Puffball is right out of a fairytale!”

110/150: Ant-mimicking spiders; One of these things is not like the other!


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Animalia: Arthropoda: Arachnida: Araneae: Salticidae: Myrmarachne: Myrmarachne formicaria (De Geer, 1778)

Members of the genus Myrmarachne are commonly referred to as the Ant-mimic spiders and represent some of the best examples of Batesian mimicry in the world. Their cephalothorax is elongated, with a tapered waist that imitates the silhouette of an ant and they will often wave their front legs in the air to resemble ant antennae. Continue reading “110/150: Ant-mimicking spiders; One of these things is not like the other!”

82/150: A ravenous bride; the female Praying Mantis is one of nature’s most ruthless predators!


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Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Mantodea: Mantidae: Mantinae: Mantis: Mantis religiosa (Linnaeus, 1758)

The Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) is an insect species of the Order Mantodea which was accidentally introduced to Canada in 1899 from Europe. A common, and intimidating, fact about the Praying Mantis proves how insatiable the female is when pregnant, leading her to partake in sexual cannibalism. Continue reading “82/150: A ravenous bride; the female Praying Mantis is one of nature’s most ruthless predators!”

76/150: Find out why the Grey Jay is Canada’s new National Bird!


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Animalia: Chordata: Aves: Passeriformes: Corvidae: Perisoreus: Perisoreus canadensis (Linnaeus, 1766)

The Grey Jay (P. canadensis) is a songbird from the Family Corvidae, also sometimes called the Canada Jay or Whiskey Jack, derived from the Indigenous name Wisakedjak. The Grey Jay is considered one of the smartest birds in the world along with other Corvids who display the ability to make tools and play complex social games even as youngsters. The Grey Jay uses its intelligence to hoard thousands of pieces of food throughout the summer so that it can last through the winter without migrating, proving it has an exceptional memory. Continue reading “76/150: Find out why the Grey Jay is Canada’s new National Bird!”

70/150: When you think of Ginseng do you think of Canada? You will after reading this!


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Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Apiales: Araliaceae: Panax quinquefolius (Linneaus)

Ginseng is a perennial herb whose root is highly prized and commonly refers to one of two varieties, American Ginseng (P. quinquefolius) or Asian Ginseng (P. ginseng). Both contain ginsenosides, which are the compounds thought to give ginseng its medicinal properties. Continue reading “70/150: When you think of Ginseng do you think of Canada? You will after reading this!”

68/150: Did you know scorpions live in Canada too?


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animalia: Arthropoda: Arachnida: Scorpiones: Vaejovidae: Paruroctonus: Paruroctonus boreus (Girard, 1854)

Paruroctonus boreus, or the Northern Scorpion, is native to British Columbia and Alberta and is the only species of scorpion found in Canada. Though a relatively common species, it is rarely seen due to its nocturnal nature. However, like all scorpions, P. boreus glows under black light due to fluorescent compounds found in its exoskeleton and can be found in the field by using a hand-held UV lamp. Continue reading “68/150: Did you know scorpions live in Canada too?”