Today, Canada’s athletes are competing in the aerials competition. Skiers from across the country, like Travis Gerrits, Sabrina Guérin, and Melissa Corbo, will be dazzling spectators with flips, spins and jumps.
In our own backyards, wildlife is just as capable of these amazing stunts. To honour their ability, we’ve chosen three medalists for their amazing acrobatics.
Bronze Medal Winner – Saw Whet Owl
The Northern Saw Whet Owl is our bronze medalist, chosen for its amazing versatility and the way in which it can find prey. Saw Whet Owls most commonly eat small animals like voles, mice and shrews, but can also catch small insects mid-air, like dragonflies, bees, and spiders. Northern Saw Whet Owls live in areas with dense tree cover, meaning that they spend a lot of their time dodging branches and tree trunks to navigate and find prey.
Silver Medal Winner – Green Darner (Dragonfly)
Any dragonfly could have qualified for the silver medal, as these species have an amazing aerial agility. With their four wings placed in the center of their bodies, and their long, aerodynamic frames, the Green Darner can fly forwards or backwards, or hover in place.
Gold Medal Winner – Chimney Swift
Our gold medalist for aerial acrobatics is the Chimney Swift. Like all swifts, the Chimney Swift has long, slender wings that help it achieve abrupt changes in speed and flight direction. Swifts can drink while flying, picking up water with their beaks as the skim over the surface of a lake. They can also bathe mid-air, picking up water as they fly, and using it to clean their feathers.
The Swift uses its acrobatic skill to catch its main prey – flying insects. While flying, Chimney Swifts can spot and catch dragonflies, bees, blackflies, mayflies, and even spiders on their webs!
Dragonflies like the Green Darner can find and catch mosquitoes mid-air, making them a welcome addition to your backyard. It is important to remember that these animals, like many species in Canada, are safe to be around if you respect them. If you try to catch and trap a dragonfly, they may get stressed and try to bite. If you let them be, they will enjoy your company, and the carbon dioxide you give off, as it this draws in mosquitoes for them to eat.