February is For Love and Family

For such a short month, February sure incorporates a lot of diverse celebratory days for Canadians across the country to enjoy.

  • Groundhog Day (Feb 2): the annual prediction of spring’s arrival
  • Chinese New Year (Feb 5): this year, the official beginning of The Year of The Pig
  • Louis Riel Day (Feb 18): a day honouring a Métis hero and pioneering Canadian politician

But what truly defines the month of February and the days of celebration contained within it is the fact these milestone dates are all about honouring things we love.

  • Love of Country: National Flag of Canada Day (Feb 5)
  • Love of Province: New Brunswick (Feb 18), Nova Scotia (Feb 18), Yukon (Feb 22)
  • Love of Family: Family Day (Feb 18)
  • Love of our Significant Other: Valentine’s Day (Feb 14)

February is a cold month that generates the warmest feelings for things we hold dear to our hearts.

Spend February With Those You Love

family playing outside in snow

At the Canadian Wildlife Federation, what’s closest to our hearts is inspiring Canadians to connect with nature and, in the process, develop a deeper appreciation for the wildlife and natural spaces that define our country the world over.

To do that, we offer some great programs that can be enjoyed throughout the entire month of February and, in some cases, throughout the entire year.

Live Life Outside With Your Family

For starters, creating CWF’s Below Zero initiative is our way of inspiring Canadians to enjoy the great outdoors even when temperatures drop below the freezing mark.

Our Below Zero site is full of great ideas you can incorporate into family time spent in Canada’s winter playground, along with a contest that could earn you a cool $500 toward skates, skis, snowshoes or even toboggans!

Family Exploration With iNaturalist.ca

kids following snow tracks

For those motivated multitaskers who like to be productive, we suggest you download our free iNaturalist Canada app available for all PC, IOS and Android devices. Use it to turn your next winter walk into a “citizen science” activity by snapping pictures of all the flora and fauna you see outside. By uploading your photos via the app, you’re helping to take inventory of species you find while contributing to an international scientific database. Now that’s a walk with a purpose.

Join (or Start!) a local WILD Family Nature Club

hiking outside cold

Finally, CWF’s WILD Family Nature Club program offers individuals and families opportunity to join like-minded outdoor enthusiasts in semi-structured activities outdoors. Check the website to find a club near you, or start your own. There’s no cost involved, just endless hours of fun connecting with nature.

Now that’s a reason to love everything about February!

Dear Canada: Will You Be My Valentine?

‘True patriot love’ is a phrase we hold dear to our hearts as Canadians. Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to be reminded of that love! There’s no better place in the world to experience love at first sight than Canada given our spectacular landscapes, unspoiled wild spaces and sweeping, romantic vistas.  Falling in love IN Canada is one thing; falling in love WITH Canada? Well, that can be naturally serendipitous!

If the allure of the USA is its glitz and glamour, then Canada’s appeal lies in the purity and wholesomeness of its beauty. In other words, they’re Ginger and we’re Marianne (for those readers under age 50, please watch an episode of Gilligan’s Island for reference). There is still an innocence to Canada often reflected in its natural spaces, which makes them a great place for lovers to explore.

There are literally hundreds of places in Canada to which you can travel to rekindle your romance while at the same time enjoying an intense emotional affair with nature. Let’s start with Heart Lake, a perfectly natural formation aptly suited for a romantic hike or spontaneous marriage proposal (if the answer is “no”, tossing your engagement ring into a heart-shaped lake is a wonderfully fitting natural metaphor for lost love).

A post shared by Sanjay Chauhan (@jayeffex) on

In keeping with affairs of the heart, you might want to visit Heart’s Desire, Heart’s Content or Heart’s Delight, three quaint Newfoundland towns that offer all the hospitality and friendly conversation you’d want while on a romantic getaway to The Rock (don’t forget to stop in Cupids as well). On the other hand, if you find yourself single while travelling Newfoundland, there is always an amorous cod available that’s willing to accept a kiss!

Kissing the Cod
Kissing the cod is a tradition iin Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo: bostonglobe.com

When you want love to take you higher, consider a trip to the mountains of Whistler. Outside you’ll find spectacular skiing, stunning scenery and steamy hot tubs; inside, romantic fires and fine vintages from British Columbia’s wine country. If you weren’t in love when you arrived, you will be by the time you leave.

If the mountains don’t bring your love to a peak try heading off to the prairies and a visit to Love, Saskatchewan, where an endless horizon caters to the sensibilities of more level-headed romantics.

Love, Saskatchwan
Photo: Tourism Saskatchewan

Celebrating the spirit of Valentine’s Day year round is easy when you’re a Canadian willing to travel. Why not spend the night in Whitehorse holding hands and watching the Northern Lights? Take a trip north of Quebec City and book a room at the Hotel de Glace, a hotel made of ice that will melt your Valentine’s heart. For a truly great romantic vacation, you can always fly to Churchill to try and catch a glimpse of a polar bear. Even if you don’t see one, you can still get a bear hug from your Valentine.

© Rosa Shieh | CWF Photo Club
Photo: Rosa Shieh, CWF Photo Club

For my Valentine’s Day money, nothing beats a visit to one of Canada’s most iconic natural wonders, situated in the Honeymoon Capital of the World. If gazing through the frozen mist rising from Niagara’s raging horseshoe-shaped waterfall on Valentine’s Day doesn’t inspire your heart to seek love, there’s always a shop close by selling maple fudge. And truly, who doesn’t love fudge for Valentine’s Day!

Better yet, explore your love for wildlife this Valentine’s Day by visiting CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca!

The Heart Works in Mysterious Ways

Ours goes pitter-patter or thump, thump, thump and beats roughly 35 million times per year. The heart.

How does this amazing organ work for wildlife? Let’s take a look.

Hummingbird

A hummingbird zips around by flapping its wings 6,000 times in a minute, so it needs a speedy heart to keep up. Depending on the species, the hummingbird’s heart rate is a whopping 1,000 beats per minute! These tiny birds save energy when the sun goes down by falling into a deep sleep. At that time, their heart rate drops to 50 to 180 beats per minute.

Octopus

What has eight arms and three hearts? An octopus.  This fascinating underwater creature has one small heart on each side of its body and another big one in the middle. The two smaller hearts pump blood to the gills and the main heart pumps blood through the body. The main heart actually stops beating when an octopus swims, which explains why this species enjoys crawling along the ocean floor. Swimming is exhausting!

Blue Whale

The blue whale is the world’s largest mammal and it has the heart to match. The heart of a blue whale is 590 kilograms – roughly the size of a car! This massive organ does a ton of work. A blue whale’s heart pumps seven tonnes of blood through a body that can grow up to 30 metres long and weighs around 64,000 kilograms.

Treefrog

A treefrog’s heart has three chambers: two atria and a single ventricle. Even though treefrogs are small in size, they face the winter head-on. Most Canadian species spend the winter months under leaf litter, rocks, logs or tree bark. They have the ability to create antifreeze, glucose or glycerol, which prevents their organs from freezing.

Harp Seal

Harp seals spend their time in the icy waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. They hunt at depths of 90 metres and can dive to nearly 300 metres. During one of these deep dives, a seals heart rate drops from about 100 beats per minute to as low as 10. A lower heartbeat saves oxygen and allows the seal to hold its breath for up to 30 minutes.

Black Bear

Black bears are not true hibernators, but they enter a deep sleep during the seven months that it takes for winter to pass (shorter in warmer climates). During this time their body temperature drops from 38°C to 31–34°C, their respiration slows, and their metabolism declines so they can live off of fat stores. When a black bear sleeps through the winter, its heart only beats once every 20 seconds.

Looking for more wildlife facts that you can share with the kids at home? Subscribe to WILD magazine. Published six times a year, WILD is jam-packed with wildlife stories, games and pictures for youngsters of all ages.

Save Space in Your Heart for These Species at Risk

We all appreciate wildlife, but there are a few species that could use some extra love this Valentine’s Day.

The Monarch Butterfly, American Eel, Barren-ground Caribou, and Burrowing Owl are just a few Canadian species facing some serious challenges. Read on to find out what’s causing these threats. We hope you’ll be inspired to save a space in your heart for Canadian wildlife this Valentine’s Day.

Monarch Butterfly (COSEWIC Status: Endangered)

Monarch Butterfly

Every year, the Monarch Butterfly makes a gruelling 4,000 kilometre migratory trek to its wintering grounds and back. That’s like completing 95 marathons! Besides sheer exhaustion, these majestic butterflies are struggling to find a place to land when they reach Mexico (as their habitat is being robbed by deforestation). And in Canada and the United States? Agriculture and citizens spray their crops and gardens with pesticides and herbicides – killing off their primary food source – the milkweed.

The fact of the matter is, the monarch could use a little help. To protect the monarch, we truly need to protect all of the places they call home throughout the year in all their life stages. You can help by pledging to make your garden a safe space for monarchs this spring.

American Eel (COSEWIC Status: Threatened)

American Eel

They might have a face only a mother could love, but these little creatures are in serious trouble — and we have to act fast if we want to help the American Eel. This species is in decline worldwide, but one of the most dramatic declines has been in Ontario, where the American Eel is at less than one per cent of its historic abundance. This species is listed as Threatened on a national level, but is severely Endangered in Ontario.

Eels from the St. Lawrence River, Ottawa River, and Lake Ontario are particularly important to the global population. All eels found in these areas are female and they grow to be the largest American Eel in existence. These large females carry so many eggs that, until recently, they contributed 25 to 67 per cent of the global population’s reproduction. The loss of so many highly reproductive females is a major threat to the survival of the entire species.

Barren-ground Caribou (COSEWIC Status: Threatened)

Barren-ground Caribou

The Caribou is an iconic Canadian species, but many of the great northern Caribou herds have fallen to all-time lows. In December, COSEWIC assessed two populations for the first time and found each to be at-risk: the rare Torngat Mountain caribou population was assessed as Threatened and the Barren-ground population was assessed as Endangered.

Several caribou populations migrate hundreds of kilometres between their calving and wintering grounds every year. These caribou are very sensitive to human disturbances. Development has affected the caribou’s migratory habitats, as well as the areas used to birth their young. Warming temperatures in the north also put a strain on the caribou’s natural habitat and its ability to thrive.

Burrowing Owl (COSEWIC Status: Endangered)

Burrowing Owl

The Burrowing Owl was once a common sight in the short-grass prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as in British Columbia. Today, the Burrowing Owl is Endangered. The Canadian population of this little bird of prey has declined over 95 per cent since 1987, and now occupies a mere 36 per cent of its original distribution in Canada.

Although the exact reason for this rapid decline is still unknown, several threats are thought to have had a negative impact on the Burrowing Owl. The conversion of native grassland to cropland, the fragmentation and degradation of the owl’s habitat, as well as pesticide use, has taken a toll. Find out what CWF is doing to help the Burrowing Owl.

There are a few #SpeciesAtRisk that could use some extra love this #ValentinesDay. Find out how you can help.

Share This

Share the love

There are many ways to share your love for wildlife this Valentine’s Day.

  • Symbolically adopt one of the wild species on the CWF shop. Every purchase goes towards conservation and education in Canada.
  • If you haven’t already, become a monthly donor.
  • Help raise awareness by sharing this blog post with your friends and family. The more people know about species at risk, the more support we can give these animals.