COMMUNITY NEST BOX MONITORING
A community project that greatly improves the breeding success of local cavity-nesting birds, including Tree Swallow, Black-Capped Chickadee, House Wren, Bluebird, House Sparrow, Wood Duck, Kestrel, and Screech Owl . Over 200 nest boxes have been installed in parks, woodlands and open spaces on land owned by the Town of Aurora. These boxes are regularly monitored and maintained by Nature Aurora’s volunteer citizen scientists. Click here to find out how you can volunteer!
Each year, the monitoring results are reported to “Project NestWatch” at Bird Studies Canada. Data gathered during the breeding season is used to follow the health of bird populations across the country. Birds are good indicators of the overall condition of their habitat, and this data provides valuable information of changes in the environment.
Please see Links for documents detailing how to record nest box activity.
IVY JAY COMMUNITY NATURE RESERVE
We have prepared a master plan detailing the design, construction, and management of a 70 hectare nature reserve based on European reserves where the needs of wildlife take precedence over human needs. Ultimately the main goal is to construct and manage this reserve as economically as possible to encourage other municipalities to create similar nature reserves in their own areas.
Click here to download a PDF copy of this comprehensive report.
SNAKE MONITORING (IN THE IVY JAY NATURE RESERVE)
Snakes are sometimes feared and often misunderstood. While some people prefer to disregard snakes’ presence, Nature Aurora is keen on learning about the diversity, abundance and habitat usage of our limbless friends.
Where birds fly or mammals burrow, snakes are limited to a small range. With urban encroachment, populations are limited to the small areas of habitat that remain. This project seeks to identify what species of snakes (and how many) we have in the area.
We currently have a number of “snake boards” placed in the varying habitat that exists in the Ivy Jay Nature Reserve. These snake boards provide a place for snakes to obtain shelter, warmth and a comfortable place to sun themselves. The extra warmth they gain gives them the energy they need to hunt for food. They also allow us to more easily identify the species and monitor their numbers in this 70 hectare reserve.
Many Northern Red-bellied Snakes and Eastern Gartersnakes have been observed in the short time this project has been running, and we hope soon to be able to add Eastern Milksnakes, DeKay’s Brownsnakes and Northern Ribbonsnakes.
DAWN BREEDING BIRD SURVEY (IN THE IVY JAY NATURE RESERVE)
Bird populations and species diversity are good warning indicators of the impact of development on the environment. The breeding bird survey in the Ivy Jay Nature Reserve (entering its 19th consecutive year) has recorded breeding populations since it was farmland, through construction and multiple encroaching housing developments. The survey will continue after construction is completed.
Using British Trust for Ornithology’s Territory Mapping Methods, we can accurately record the breeding bird populations found in this 70 hectare area.
Chimney Swifts have recently been scheduled as an endangered species. SwiftWatch (under Bird Studies Canada) is a province-wide survey that monitors local populations of Chimney Swifts. Citizen scientists provide valuable information about local populations and key threats to habitat. Nature Aurora now annually surveys and reports on the Chimney Swift population in downtown Aurora.
Two to four pairs of swifts have been recorded nesting in chimneys in this area, with 40-50 birds annually roosting in the chimney attached to a local building. As the building was redeveloped, this important roosting site was retained with the help of the developer and Town of Aurora staff. By monitoring the Chimney Swift populations, community members can act together as stewards for these birds and their habitats.
Contact us for Summer 2020 monitoring dates if you are interested in volunteering.
OUTINGS AND FIELD TRIPS
This citizen science activity records the positive and negative frog population trends and can lead to the protection of wetland habitat and species. The data we have collected over time during late evening outings in spring to specified locations in Aurora has been recorded in our studies e.g. Town of Aurora Stormwater Ponds Vegetation and Wildlife Study.
Determining the presence or absence of owls in Aurora during night-time outings in April/May and October/November allows us also to identify the local habitats supporting our owl population.