Did you know…amphibian breeding season has begun!

Now that spring is finally conquering the winter weather, the amphibians in the Fraser Valley are rousing from their winter habitat and making their way to their breeding sites. You might have heard male chorus frogs calling at night recently? Even though they are one of our smallest frogs, they have big voices especially when they congregate at breeding time (hence the name). They are the most noticeable frog calling at this time of year and a sure sign spring is on its way!

This means the frogs and toads are on the move – watch for them crossing the roads on rainy nights!

Red legged frog on the right and tiny Chorus frog on the left

Have you ever wondered why the frog crossed the road?

As far as amphibians (frogs, toads and salamanders) are concerned, this is the most important event of the year, and they are all making their way from where they spent their winters, to a pond, marsh, wetland, ditch or even abandoned swimming pools to breed and lay eggs. In our region, this often means that amphibians will have to cross at least one or two roads on their quest to find a mate. Unfortunately, road mortality is a significant threat to our native amphibians and this is particularly concerning given that quite a few of our local amphibians are of conservation concern, largely due to their shrinking habitat.

Since spring is late this year, warmer wetter nights will most likely mean a spike in their migration over the next couple of weeks. Please slow down and be on the lookout for amphibians while driving on wet nights.

If you are out during the day, keep an eye out for freshly laid egg masses in bodies of water. We have just completed a handy Aquatic Amphibian Egg Masses in the Fraser Valley ID sheet that can help you figure out who laid the eggs. There is also the corresponding Frogs and Toad of the Fraser Valley ID sheet if you want more details on the adults.

Recruiting amphibian detectives!

It’s that time of year again…the Amphibians are on the move to their breeding pond and we need help tracking them!

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Do you enjoy cold walks on rainy nights?  Would you like to learn how to identify the different amphibians who are on the move? If so sign up to be an amphibian road survey volunteer and help us monitor the roads in Ryder Lake!

The Fraser Valley Conservancy is looking for tough volunteers to help with night time amphibian surveys as a component of our Ryder Lake Amphibian Protection Project.  The objective of this survey is to determine the effectiveness of our toad tunnel and associated fencing at reducing road mortality.  We will be counting live and dead amphibians along a stretch of Ryder Lake and Elk View roads in Chilliwack, BC.

Volunteers must be prepared to walk 6 km in cold, dark and wet conditions while searching for amphibians.  Surveys will start after dark and last until the survey is complete, generally 1-3 hours.  You will need weather appropriate gear (rain jacket, rain pants, boots or waterproof shoes, gloves).

Unfortunately, surveys cannot be planned in advance as they are completely dependent on rainy weather.  If you are interested in volunteering for this project please e-mail Sofi (Sofi@fraservalleyconservancy.ca) and you will be added to a contact list.  When it looks like conditions are going to be good (i.e. wet) an e-mail will be sent out requesting volunteers for a specific day and time.  Usually this e-mail is sent the day before or sometimes the day of a survey.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to e-mail or call (604-625-0066).

Did you know… Rat poison kills more than rats

Rodenticides (rat poison) are not only killing the intended targets such as rats and house mice. Every year in BC there are documented cases of owls, hawks and other wildlife that have died as a result of eating rodents that have eaten rat poison. Rodenticides are designed to be slow-reacting so that rats and mice do not associate getting sick and dying from eating the poison. Due to these “slow reacting compounds,” and it can take up to 5-7 days before a rodent gets sick and eventually dies. During this lag-time, there is a risk that the rodent will get eaten by a hungry predator, especially if the rodent is becoming slow and lethargic due to poisoning.

There are different types of rodenticides, but the main ones are what we call anticoagulant rodenticides. The active ingredients brodifacoum, difethialone and bromadiolone are very toxic and persistent — one feeding is sufficient to not only kill rodents but also secondary poison predators.

Rodent Control
If possible, avoid the use of rodenticides. Consider preventive measures such as removal of food sources and blocking access to the inside of structures. Rodenticides should only be used as a last resort and application should carefully follow the instructions on the product label.

Preventive Measures
• Removal of open food sources for pests
• Safe storage of food products and or waste management
• Block possible access to the inside of structures
• Keep pet food indoors
• Keep grass short within 1m surrounding barn
• Removal of debris

For more information about this topic and alternatives to rat poison, check out Raptors are the Solution.

Rescheduled AGM next week – Tuesday March 7th

Notice of Annual General Meeting

March 7th, 2017  7:30 pm
33171 2nd Avenue, Mission BC

  • Meet the FVC staff, Directors, and other members
  • Learn what we’ve been up to in 2016
  • Hear about our plans for the future
  • Participate in society business including election of board members
  • If you are interested in sitting on our board, contact us for details and to apply to the nominating committee.
  • Annual $10 membership fee will be collected at the door.

Guests and new members are always welcome!

Meet and greet starts at 7:00 pm. The AGM will commence at 7:30 pm.

We are meeting in the Training Room to the right of the FVC office (Google Maps link)

Amphibian Fencing Volunteers Needed Sunday February 26th

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help install directional amphibian fencing for our Ryder Lake Amphibian Protection Project. The Toad Tunnel is not only used by the thousands of toadlets in the summer but also by the ecologically important breeding adults in the early spring as they migrate to their breeding pond. To ensure this crossing structure is effective, we need to install fencing that will direct amphibians towards the tunnel entrance. The adult amphibians will start migrating to the wetland for breeding in late February or early March.

The fencing will be constructed from silt fencing material attached to wooden stakes using staples or screws. This is the same type of lightweight black fabric fencing seen near construction projects.  The most challenging part of this project will likely be working in wet or muddy conditions on a steep slope. Volunteers must be prepared to work in cold or wet conditions and will need work gloves.

We will be onsite at the Toad Tunnel on Sunday February 26th starting at 10am (wrapping up at 1 pm). If you are interested in volunteering for this project to protect some frogs and toads please send Sofi an e-mail so she can send you further instructions!

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to e-mail or call (604-625-0066).

Did you know… Great-horned owls are one of the earliest breeding birds in BC

Great-horned owl, approximately 40 days old, still covered in thick baby down. At 2 months, it will start to shed the down as adult feathers grow in. While the horns are still small, the talons are fully developed as these provide defense against predators. Great-horned owl talons take a force of 28 pounds to open them.   Photo by Barb Coote

You might have heard a pair calling back and forth in early January which is when they typically begin courtship. Their deep “hoot hoot” call is the classic owl call that everyone recognizes.

Great-horned owls like many other owls don’t make their own nests but rather adopt old stick nests made by other raptors, squirrels, or they nest in big tree cavities or snags.

The female typically starts laying her eggs in mid-February, often when there is still snow on the ground and sub-zero temperatures.  The female lays on average between 1-4 eggs and incubates the eggs for 32-35 days before they hatch. The number of eggs laid each year has been shown to correlate with the availability of their main prey, which is small mammals.

Raising Great-horned owlets is no small feat, and it takes about 2.5-3 months after hatching before the young ones are able to fly. Like any predator, the young ones need to learn how to hunt and capture their own prey, so even though they are able to fly at 3 months, they are still dependent on their parents for food while they slowly acquire hunting skills. As the young ones become more independent and capable of capturing their own prey they will leave the parents’ territory and find their home, this usually happens in early- to mid-fall.

The oldest free living Great-horned owl documented was 27 years and 7 months!

Check out this webcam of a Great-horned owl nesting site from the Owl Research Institute in Carlo, Montana. The owls are around but they haven’t started nesting yet. They typically start mid-February and you can hear the owls calling at night.

Unique Spring Break work experience for budding biologists…

Are you a grade 11 or 12 student (or know one) in Mission, Abbotsford or Chilliwack who is interested in getting into a career in conservation biology? If so, check out this great opportunity to learn from the biologists working with the highly endangered Oregon spotted frog during Spring Break 2017. This is a temporary paid position with the Fraser Valley Conservancy from March 13th to 24th, 2017. Full training and field gear will be provided. You do not need to have previous experience, just a willingness to learn and great enthusiasm for the outdoor environment. More details included in the attachment: spring break job posting.

Send your resume to Aleesha@fraservalleyconservancy.ca by February 5th to be considered for this rare opportunity.

Notice of Upcoming AGM – February 7th

Notice of Annual General Meeting

February 7, 2017  7:30 pm
33171 2nd Avenue, Mission BC

  • Meet the FVC staff, Directors, and other members
  • Learn what we’ve been up to in 2016
  • Hear about our plans for the future
  • Participate in society business including election of board members
  • If you are interested in sitting on our board, contact us for details and to apply to the nominating committee.
  • Annual $10 membership fee will be collected at the door.

Guests and new members are always welcome!

Meet and greet starts at 7:00 pm. The AGM will commence at 7:30 pm.

We are meeting in the Training Room to the right of the FVC office (Google Maps link)