Thursday August 21, 2014

Bird symposium all about nature

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Kathy Morrell

The Yellowhead Flyway Birding Association will hold its annual Symposium at St. Gerard's in Yorkton Saturday, April 26. The events allows people to gather together to enjoy good food, friendly company and interesting presentations about nature.

Myrna Pearman

Myrna Pearman, biologist and site manager of the Ellis Bird Farm (EBF) at Lacombe Alberta, will give the key note address. She will talk about cavity-nesting birds: Mountain Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Purple Martins, Buffleheads and many more.

Pearman is a story teller, a naturalist who has spent a career studying the birds and wildlife on the Lacombe nature preserve. One of her most interesting stories is about Amelia, a purple martin, a bird popular in the area because it feeds on mosquitoes.

Here is the tale she spins.

A group of men are gathered around a very ordinary birdhouse that stands not too far from the EBF Nature Centre. They are businessmen representing MEGlobal Canada, a joint venture of Dow Chemical and Petrochemical Industries, the company that provides the operational funding for Ellis Bird Farm.

These men, many of them from Kuwait, are in Canada to view the company facilities near Lacombe, though this particular morning, they are touring the adjacent Ellis Bird Farm. "Birds" they might ask. They are a little skeptical. One or two glance at their watches. Another man stares off into the distance, wondering perhaps about lunch or the long flight back to Kuwait.

That's when Myrna Pearman begins her story about Amelia, the splash of purple seen leaving and entering her nesting box. That's when Myrna traces the journey of this little creature from the birdhouse to a far-off Brazil. That's when these businessmen, whose world is one of the bottom line, begin to appreciate the reality before them.

Amelia makes an annual migration that is nearly as far as their first class air journey back to Kuwait. The men stand entranced, watching a flitting entity of energy and light, realizing the importance of what they see.

That afternoon, the board of MEGlobal asks the all-important question. What do you need to continue your work at EBF? The answer comes - $450,000 for a new nature centre. That same afternoon, the deal was made. Thanks to Amelia and the work of the centre, Ellis Bird Farm has a new facility that will open in June 2014.

That is the story of Amelia, one little purple martin who made a difference. Story teller Pearman will have many more tales to tell about life in the wild at the Ellis Bird Farm.

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James Edgar

James Edgar, another speaker at the Symposium, will take us upward into the sky, a new topic of interest for Symposium participants. In his presentation, Edgar will talk about the Sun and its many mysteries: the aurorae borealis, sunspots and theories about sunspot activity and climate change.

Edgar started by volunteering with the Vancouver Museum, going into schools, talking to children about the Sun and the stars. In 1999, he bought his first telescope. One year later, his son bought him a membership in The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) and as they say, the rest is history. He is now National Secretary of the RASC, production manager of the Society's bi-monthly Journal, and assistant editor of the RASC Observer's Handbook.

Edgar is passionate about passing on his interest in astronomy to everyone, adults and children alike. His presentation is one not to be missed.

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Roger Nesdoly

Roger Nesdoly is a forestry professional with Mistik Management near Meadow Lake. In his work, Roger is charged with sustaining the forest for its economic benefits, sales for export and jobs in the area. He is also responsible for management of the land in a way that allows those who presently live on the land to continue their way of life. The balance isn't always easy but Roger says he enjoys the responsibility. Every day he finds variety in the work. Every day he lives out the philosophy, "Yes, I give a damn."

Nesdoly brings an approach that balances the economy and conservation. He welcomes questions and audience input.

Tanya Lawson

Tanya Lawson will present the results of a multi-year research study about cougars done in Cypress Hills Park by two Master's students from the University of Alberta. The presentation will include the characteristics of these amazing cats, their distribution within the Park and the predator-prey relationship.

Tanya is the Park Supervisor, West Block Wilderness Area of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Saskatchewan, land that extends across the boundaries of Saskatchewan and Alberta. In her position, she works in the areas of forestry, wildlife conservation and range management.



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