December 2001

Upper Kananaskis Lake - Click to Learn More

 

Welcome to the first edition of the Rocky Mountain Nature Forecast

This new service of Ward Cameron Enterprises and MountainNature.com leverages the power of the Mountain Nature Network along with the expertise of local naturalists and other lovers of the outdoors. This monthly newsletter will lure you out of the office and into the great outdoors. We'll focus on all those annual events that occur around us. Articles will cover what's blooming, what's migrating through, what the large mammals are up to, what's happening in the heavens and just about anything else we can come up with. Each article will link to a larger discussion on MountainNature.com so that you can be sure to get all the latest details.

The power of this new newsletter is YOU! We rely on our readers to help keep us up to date on natural events and happenings. If you have an idea that would make a great article, drop us a line so that we can all benefit from your brainchild.

The Northern Lights - This year offers one of the best shows in more than a decade!

December will be a great month for viewing the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis. The northern lights vary in intensity over an 11 year cycle. As luck would have it, we are near the maximum end of the cycle. The aurora begins as a large arch centred on the north-eastern sky, and then slowly moves upwards in the sky. As the lights move they may add small rays until they resemble the familiar curtain-like aurora. During particularly good shows, the lights can expand until the entire sky seems to glow. Generally, the lights began to disappear around 1:30 a.m. Click to learn more

Carnivore Watch

More and more communities are learning to live with carnivores. As carnivore numbers rise, so do the opportunities to see these secretive animals. Few things are more exciting than seeing a wolf, cougar, lynx, fox or wolverine from a safe distance. On the other hand, nobody wants these large predators wandering through their community. In some areas, rising numbers of wolves or cougars has caused large numbers of elk or deer to move closer to the safety of the communities. In turn, the carnivores begin to hunt closer and closer to town. We must all take an active role in reducing our communities attractiveness to carnivores. This is a good time to make sure that you don't leave your pets outdoors and unattended. Also, don't leave pet food or other attractants outside. Click to learn more

Is That Your Final Antler?

As you travel through the mountains during December, keep your eyes open for moose, deer and caribou with only one antler. Now that the rut is over, their bodies have drawn some of the calcium back from their antlers, and they will soon be shedding these heavy head ornaments―usually one at a time. Elk generally keep their antlers through the winter, losing them in mid-April. While male caribou will be shedding their antlers, female caribou will be sporting a new spike, allowing them to out-compete the males for a limited winter food supply. Click to learn more

Backyard Birders beginning to see results

Now that the bears have headed into their winter dens, bird feeders are beginning to see some early results.  Black-capped and mountain chickadees, along with red-breasted nuthatches are usually the first birds to make their presence known. Keep your eyes open for these comical little birds. If you're lucky, you may see some of less common birds like steller's jays, blue jays, and evening grosbeaks. Click to learn more