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”

88/150: Whale, hello there Belugas!


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Animalia: Chordata: Mammalia: Artiodactyla: Cetacea: Monodontidae: Delphinapterus: Delphinapterus leucas (Pallas, 1776)

The beluga whale is an enigmatic species well known to the Canadian Arctic. It is also known as a sea canary because of its high-pitched chirping and can grow up to 20 ft in length and weigh more than a ton! Continue reading “88/150: Whale, hello there Belugas!”

85/150: Common Milkweed is bitter and milky, perfect for the Monarch Butterfly


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Plantae: Spermatophyta: Angiospermae: Dicotyledonae: Gentianales: Asclepiadaceae: Asclepias: Asclepias syriaca (Blanco, 1837)

Asclepias syriaca or Common Milkweed is native to eastern North America and receives its name from the milky sap excreted from the stem and leaves when damaged. This full sun, drought tolerant plant blooms in early to mid-summer attracting a variety of insects including bumblebees, monarch butterflies and hummingbird moths. Continue reading “85/150: Common Milkweed is bitter and milky, perfect for the Monarch Butterfly”

78/150: Jumping bloodsuckers Batman! It’s a flea!


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Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Siphonaptera: Ceratophyllidae: Ceratophyllinae: Ceratophyllus: Ceratophyllus vison (Baker, 1904)

This species of flea is an ectoparasitic insect of squirrels, living on red squirrels east of the Rocky Mountains and Douglas squirrels to the west. Being an ectoparasite means that they live on a host, so fleas have evolved particular features that help them live such a lifestyle, such as a loss of wing development, strong claws for grasping onto the host, and a laterally flattened body to move through the hair or fur. Continue reading “78/150: Jumping bloodsuckers Batman! It’s a flea!”

74/150: Skates on all year!


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Animalia: Chordata: Chondrichthyes: Elasmobranchii: Rajiformes: Rajidae: Raja: Raja binoculata Girard, 1858

Raja binoculata are commonly known as the big skate reaching a length of 2.4m and weighing 200lbs! They are normally found at depths of 120m but have been known to dive to almost 800m. They feed on various unsuspecting small organisms such as molluscs, shrimp and small fish by burrowing into the sandy bottom to act as a method of camouflage. Continue reading “74/150: Skates on all year!”

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!”

69/150: Leeches – They don’t all want to suck your blood!


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Animalia: Annelida: Clitellata: Arhynchobdellida: Erpobdellidae: Erpobdella: Erpobdella obscura (Verrill, 1872)

This past week Canadian Blood Services has been promoting awareness of blood donation with Blood Donor Week. We thought we’d share some info about leeches. On first mention of leeches, many people probably think of Hirudo medicinalis, the medicinal leech. But this is only one of almost 700 different species of leeches. Continue reading “69/150: Leeches – They don’t all want to suck your blood!”

65/150: The Buzz surrounding the Yellow-banded Bumble bee


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Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Hymenoptera: Apidae: Apinae:  Bombus: Bombus terricola (Kirby 1837)

The yellow-banded bumble bee is one of nearly 20,000 different species of bees found throughout the world. Yellow-banded bumble bees use a technique called “buzz pollination,” this involves the bee grabbing a flower with its jaws and vibrating their wings, causing inaccessible pollen to shake loose. Continue reading “65/150: The Buzz surrounding the Yellow-banded Bumble bee”

60/150: A beautiful, colourful sea cucumber hiding its beauty in-between crevices


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Animalia: Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Dendrochirotida: Cucumariidae: Cucumaria: Cucumaria miniata Brandt, 1835

The Orange Sea Cucumber (Cucumaria miniata) is easily recognizable by its distinct orange pigment. This radiant colouration is the result of the pigment created by cinnabar or vermilion. Sea cucumbers are related to sea stars and sea urchins, they are all from the phylum Echinodermata, which feature radial symmetry and tube feet. Underwater, this creature displays its oral tentacles in the form of a bush for feeding, while keeping the remaining parts of its body hidden between the crevices of rocks. Continue reading “60/150: A beautiful, colourful sea cucumber hiding its beauty in-between crevices”

56/150: Are Moose mothers baby thieves?


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animalia: Chordata: Mammalia: Artiodactyla: Cervidae: Capreolinae: Alces: Alces americanus (Linnaeus, 1758)

The second week of May begins the start of moose baby season! Baby moose clock in at approximately 30 pounds and can outrun a person within the first five days. Moose calves and their mothers bond quickly and calves are observed calling and attempting to rouse their mothers into playing (usually without success). Continue reading “56/150: Are Moose mothers baby thieves?”