Want to Work With Wildlife?

Wild - - CONTENTS -

We talk with Wildlife Bi­ol­o­gist Nathan Cle­ments

Why do birds do what they do? Why do they sing? Why do they mi­grate? These ques­tions have al­ways fas­ci­nated Nathan Cle­ments. He’s spent years study­ing grass­land song­birds and he even spent his sum­mer band­ing birds in the North. Want to fol­low in his foot­steps? Keep read­ing!

How did you start work­ing with birds?

NC: I was lucky enough to work as a Wildlife Tech­ni­cian for the Cana­dian Wildlife Ser­vice (En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Canada) through col­lege and univer­sity. The job of­fered a lot of bird re­lated ex­pe­ri­ences, like wildlife sur­veys, bird band­ing and ra­dio teleme­try track­ing. I’ve worked with all sorts of ducks and geese species from North­ern Pin­tail Ducks to Cack­ling Geese, White-winged Scot­ers to Com­mon Eiders and Pip­ing Plovers to Fer­rug­i­nous Hawks.

Did you al­ways know you wanted to work with birds?

NC: No, not al­ways. I en­tered the field of con­ser­va­tion with a pas­sion for all fish and wildlife species, but my in­ter­est in birds re­ally grew af­ter work­ing with the Cana­dian Wildlife Ser­vice. And as most sci­en­tist do, I started ask­ing my­self why birds do cer­tain things. First of all they fly, cool! — but why? They mi­grate long dis­tances, which is kind of bizarre if you think about it — but why? And a re­ally cool ques­tion to ask is, why do birds sing? If you’re keen to find out more about why birds sing, do a quick in­ter­net search on the ‘Dawn Cho­rus’. If you’re like me, it may just lead you to ask­ing more ques­tions about our wild species!

Your fo­cus these days has been grass­land song­birds. Can you tell us more about these beau­ti­ful crea­tures?

NC: Grass­land bird pop­u­la­tions are de­clin­ing re­ally quickly. What we know is that many of the species in trou­ble need cer­tain habi­tats to thrive in Canada. For ex­am­ple, Ch­est­nut-col­lared Longspur, Baird’s Spar­row and the Sprague’s Pipit use na­tive prairie grass­land and well man­aged pas­ture­land to nest. One thing we need to bet­ter un­der­stand is where they hang out! That’s what I'm work­ing on. I create maps that show where species hang out the most.

What can we do to help with these an­i­mals?

NC: Habi­tat con­ser­va­tion is su­per im­por­tant to help­ing our grass­land bird pop­u­la­tions. Did you know that we’ve changed over 80 per cent of our na­tive grass­land to an­other land use in Canada? Can you imag­ine how much your life would change if you could only use 20 per cent of your home? Like if you could only hang out in the bath­room. That wouldn't be good, would it? We need to help these birds.

I know this sum­mer you’ve been up in Nu­navut band­ing birds. What are you hop­ing to learn about these birds fur­ther north?

NC: Yes, I just got back from a 16-day trip to the Queen Maud Gulf Mi­gra­tory Bird Sanc­tu­ary putting leg bands on birds. We were mostly band­ing Greater White-fronted Geese (also called Speck­le­belly Geese), and we man­aged to band over 2,000 birds. An­other species we tar­get are Cack­ling Geese, which is a smaller ver­sion of Canada Geese. These species call the Cana­dian Arc­tic home, so we make sure to band non breed­ing birds when they molt their feath­ers. The in­for­ma­tion we get from band­ing is im­por­tant so we can un­der­stand these mi­gra­tory crit­ters. Bird bands that are re­cov­ered and re­ported can let us know where the bird breeds and where they spend their time in the win­ter. It also helps us to un­der­stand how these birds be­have, and gives us more in­for­ma­tion on their sur­vival and re­pro­duc­tion rates. I of­ten think that bird bands are sim­i­lar to giv­ing in­di­vid­ual birds a pass­port.

If one of our WILD read­ers wanted to be­come a wildlife bi­ol­o­gist that fo­cused on birds, what should they study at school?

NC: If you al­ready know birds are your thing, I’d sug­gest find­ing a school with a re­ally good Or­nithol­ogy pro­gram. But don’t just stop learn­ing there, and ac­tu­ally — never stop learn­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.