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The Raptors Return By Allison Kolynchuk

Heads up! Time to flock together with PWRC for a day at the annual La Rivière Raptor Festival. Come and see our educational booth set up on Apr. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Blair Morrison Hall.

This public event is a hub of activity for the who’s who of Manitoba birders. Guest speakers, guided walking tours, and a photo contest will be highlights of the day. An active tally is kept of all of the birds of prey seen by festival attendees.

The town of La Rivière is located 170 km southwest of Winnipeg. It is located inside of the Pembina River Valley, which is recognized as an important “raptor highway” that runs from southern Manitoba to northeastern North Dakota. Both the Pembina River Valley and the Red River Valley are migration corridors within the larger Great Plains River Valley. At its maximum, Pembina Valley stretches 6 km wide and hosts the Pembina River at its median.

Riverine corridors are commonly used by raptor species, including hawks, falcons, eagles, and owls as they return to spring breeding territories in the north. Raptors have chosen the Pembina Valley as a migration corridor because the forested slopes generate warm air currents, or “thermals”, that ascend to the valley’s precipice.

Migration can be energy draining, so the thermals are used by raptors to maintain their distinctive soaring flight patterns instead of continual wing beating. Wind direction determines in which area of the valley raptors will fly.

Raptors usually begin to fly over the valley around the third week of February and this migration continues until the third week of April, reaching its peak in early April. Some years, the festival has announced that more than 10,000 raptors of 13 species had been counted over the course of the spring migration season.

Throughout March and April, between 100 and 1,000 raptors can be seen flying overhead every day. The Pembina Valley provides the highest count of red-tailed hawks in North America. Other common sights include sharp-shinned hawks, northern harriers, Cooper’s hawks, American kestrels, and merlins. Occasional raptors sighted include turkey vultures, peregrine falcons, and bald and golden eagles. The golden eagle count in the Pembina Valley is the second highest in eastern North America.

It is a well-known tradition among birders in Manitoba that seeing the return of raptors to the Pembina Valley marks the beginning of the spring migration season. Come and celebrate migration with us at the La Rivière Raptor Festival!

Mating in Manitoba: Love is in the Air By Abigail Byle

Many Manitoba mammals start to breed as early as February, and some of them have interesting mating habits. One species that breeds as early as February is the coyote, which may remain together with the same partner for more than ten years and produce one litter a year. Each litter has an average of six pups, which are born in April or May.
Red foxes and swift foxes also breed between early January and mid-March, depending on the area, and are usually, but not always, monogamous. After breeding, the mother fox, or vixen, will select a den to raise her pups. The gestational period is about 50 days, so the pups are born from April through May. Each litter can have up to ten pups, but there are usually around five pups in a litter that are born with their eyes closed.

Other animals that breed at this time of year include skunks, beavers, and raccoons. By late February or March, skunks in Manitoba begin to awaken from winter inactivity, emerge from their dens, and start breeding. Baby skunks are born in early May, and there are usually four to six in a litter. The newborns weigh about 15 g, are blind, and are nearly naked at birth. Beavers breed in late January/early February and also take one mate for life. Beavers have strong family units, centred on the female, who establishes and keeps the den.

Raccoons will begin breeding as soon as late January or early February in the northern ranges. The gestational period is about 63 days, and the litters range from three to seven young. Male raccoons are not monogamous and a male may mate with several females consecutively, while females are monogamous and will not accept any other males after mating. Juvenile females will breed during their first year, but male raccoons usually are not able to mate until their second year because of competition from other males.

Two other Manitoba mammals also breed in February and March: the black-footed ferret and the lynx. Black-footed ferrets were once feared to be extinct and were reintroduced in Manitoba, so their breeding success is even more important. Black-footed ferrets time their breeding according to the sun and have some unusual characteristics. Female ferrets do not actually ovulate and males will only show their testicles right before the breeding season, which peaks in March and April. Gestation for ferrets lasts for 42 to 45 days, with a litter of about three or four kits born blind and hairless.

Lynx mate in February and March, and their young are born in April and May after a 60- to 65-day gestation period. Their litters are usually around four in total and lynx normally give birth under uprooted trees or in hollow logs for protection. Hopefully, this active time of year will result in a spring season teeming with new wildlife in Manitoba.

References

Canadian Wildlife Federation. (n.d.). Hinterland Who’s Who. Retrieved from http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/mammals/.

Board Members Wanted

Love Animals? Come volunteer with us!

This non-profit charitable organization is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors who work to develop and implement strategies and plans for achieving the vision and goals of PWRC. We are currently seeking volunteers to join this team.

We are currently looking for two new Board members:

  1. Walk Event Chair: to take a lead role in organizing and coordinating our annual fundraising Walk event,
  2. Fundraising Director: an individual to lead our Fundraising endeavors.

At our monthly Board meetings (3rd Monday), Directors present and discuss information and ideas that drive the direction and activities of the organization including:

  • Budget, financial statements
  • Fundraising activities and special events
  • Grants
  • Donations
  • Corporate sponsorships
  • Marketing & communications

Is one of these opportunities for you?

  • I am an action oriented person who enjoys challenge and exercising my creativity
  • My planning and implementing plans and programs are strong
  • I have skills in organizing/coordinating fundraising efforts/events that I would like to utilize
  • I enjoy collaborating with others
  • I would like to make a difference in supporting Manitoba wildlife!

Are you interested?

If so, we’d like to hear from you! Contact us at pwrcentre@gmail.com.

February is ‘I Love to Read Month’

In many parts of Canada, February means ‘I Love to Read Month’. It is an entire month dedicated to promoting the love of reading and being read to. February is the perfect time to renew an interest in books and storytelling, which means it is the perfect time to book a presentation with us.

With our Reading with Raptors & Friends program, PWRC volunteers and the education ambassadors together will read stories and share interesting facts about these wondrous birds.

Plan to have PWRC in your classroom and make this year’s ‘I Love to Read Month’ a month of reading memories. Contact us at pwrcentre@gmail.com or 204-510-1855 today!

PWRC Charity #826093155RR0001