Young Naturalist Program Update: (July 7, 2021)

Welcome to Summer 2021.  COVID-19 is still with us, and this will mean some adjustments to the Young Naturalists programming.  Indoor programs will still be cancelled until October 2021.  Most outdoor programming will proceed with some adjustments to ensure our safety and follow COVID-19 safeguards.

Here is what is planned (so far) for the coming months in 2021.  Watch the website for updates and program additions.  Scroll down for more information on each activity.  You can register for any Young Naturalists program at any time by e-mailing saskatoonnaturekids@gmail.com.  Enrolment is limited on most programs and registration is taken on a first-come basis.

Birdhouse Workshop  Saturday, April 10  CANCELLED due to COVID-19.
Crocus Hike  Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18  at 1:00 p.m. FULL – REGISTRATION CLOSED.
Pond Dipping  Saturday, May 1 at 1:00 p.m. FULL – REGISTRATION CLOSED
Great Horned Owl Field Trip (Cancelled due to COVID-19)  May 2021
Bluebird Trail  Starts May 26 and runs through to July 11 – multiple field trips.
Mid-Week Butterflies  Wednesday, July 14 at 1:00 p.m.
Mid-Week Butterflies  Wednesday, August 11 at 1:00 p.m.
Sandhill Crane Field Trip  Saturday, October 2 at 9:30 a.m.
Saw-whet Owl Field Trip (TENTATIVE)     October 2021
Bird Feeder Workshop  Saturday, November 6
Paper Making Workshop  Saturday, December 4
Christmas Bird Count for Kids  Tuesday, December 28

Welcome to the Saskatoon Young Naturalists. Young Naturalists’ activities are open to all ages and offer nature-based activities designed for families. Content is geared towards the 5 to 11 year old range. We operate on the belief that children’s (and parents’) learning is enhanced when the parents/guardians are present. Parent/Guardian supervision is required on all Young Naturalists’ Programs.

The Saskatoon Young Naturalists’ began in 1968. The Young Naturalists is a joint program with the Saskatoon Nature Society and the Saskatoon Zoo Society. Thanks to these organizations most programs are free of charge unless otherwise noted.

Each Young Naturalist activity is an individual activity, separate from the other activities.  You must register for each activity separately (however you can register for more than one activity at one time).

TO REGISTER for a program or for more information send an e-mail to naturekids@saskatoonnature.org or saskatoonnaturekids@gmail.com  indicating which activity (or activities) and the number of children.  Space is limited on most programs so advanced registration is required. Registration is on a first-come basis. You can register at any time.

Upcoming Programs (more coming soon!)

Young Naturalists’ Bluebird Trail
(COVID-19 edition)

**UPDATED SCHEDULE**

Dates:  May 26 to July 9
Time: Weekday mornings and afternoons
(updates with dates and times coming in mid-May)

Cost:  Free.
SPACE IS LIMITED to 6 participants per session. Advanced Registration is required for each session.
To register:
e-mail saskatoonnaturekids@gmail.com to register or for more information.
At least one parent/guardian must accompany your child/children on all Young Naturalists activities.

Did you know the Young Naturalists’ have been monitoring bluebird populations around Saskatoon since 1969? Join naturalist Greg Fenty and help as he works with bluebirds and Tree Swallows along the Bluebird Trail.  Watch for the schedule of dates and times coming in mid-May.  Space is limited each date, but there are lots of dates from which to choose.   Advanced registration is required.  This year we have two meeting locations.  One on the west end of Saskatoon (heading out near Grandora or out to the Pike Lake area) and one on the south-east end (heading out near Blackstrap Lake). 

Here are the tentative dates for the 2021 Young Naturalists Bluebird Trail (as best as I can predict) and some information about our Bluebird Trail.  This schedule will be subject to change.  Updates will be posted on the web page.

Wednesday, May 26 at 7:00 p.m.              West location (Grandora)

Thursday, May 27 at 7:00 p.m.                    West location (Grandora) Cancelled

Tuesday, June 1 at 6:30 p.m.                       West location (Pike Lake)

Wednesday, June 2 at 1:30 p.m.                  West location (Pike Lake) Cancelled

Friday, June 4 at 10:30 a.m.                         West location (Pike Lake) Cancelled

Monday, June 7 at 7:00 p.m.                       West location (Pike Lake)

Wednesday, June 9 at 10:00 a.m.              South location (Blackstrap)

Friday, June 11 at 10:00 a.m.                       West location (Grandora)

Monday, June 14 at 1:30 p.m.                     South location (Blackstrap)

Wednesday, June 16 at 1:30 p.m.             West location (Grandora)

Friday, June 18  at 1:30 p.m.                        West location (Pike Lake)

UPDATED SCHEDULE FOR JUNE 21 – JULY 8
Monday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 22 at 9:00 a.m.

Wednesday, June 23 at 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, June 24 at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, June 25 at 10:30 a.m. 

Saturday, June 26 – cancelled

Sunday, June 27 – cancelled

Monday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m. or 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29 at 1:30 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, June 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 1 – start time is flexible

Friday, July 2 – cancelled

Saturday, July 3 -cancelled

Sunday, July 4 – cancelled

Monday, July 5 – 7:00 p.m. Grandora Section

Tuesday, July 6 – 10:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, July 7 – 10:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 8 – 10:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m.

Friday, July 9 – 7:00 p.m. Blackstrap section

Our west meeting location is the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotia Bank) at 137 Kensington Blvd.  Park on the west side of the parking lot. From here we will either travel about 20 km west (near Grandora) or 30 km south (near Pike Lake).

The south meeting location is the Petro Canada Gas Station at Grasswood Road and Highway 11. (Right beside the big PetroCanada sign where it says ‘no parking’).  The trail is located about 40 km south of Saskatoon and runs roughly parallel to the east side of Blackstrap Lake.

To sign up for any particular date send me an e-mail at naturekids@saskatoonnature.org indicating which date or dates and I will send a confirmation along with more information about the Bluebird Trail.

Be sure to use the bathroom before leaving.  There are no bathrooms on the trail.

The Bluebird Trail is a bird monitoring program to study the productivity (how many babies) and survivorship (how long they live) of cavity nesting birds such as bluebirds and Tree Swallows.  (Cavity nesting birds are birds that nest inside hollow trees.  A nest box or bird house is essentially an artificial hollow tree).  Since 1969 the Young Naturalists, along with many others, have been monitoring special nest boxes.  The boxes are arranged in a sequence that is called the Bluebird Trail.  The Prairie Bluebird Trail runs from near Edmonton to Winnipeg.  Our portion of the trail (The Mary Houston Bluebird Trail) runs approximately 80 km (as the Bluebird flies) from Langham to Hanley. 

Our monitoring of bluebirds and Tree Swallows is part of a larger biodiversity study looking at the recovery of Bluebirds (from a population low in the 1950s) and the long-term population trends of insect-eating birds (“Ariel Insectivores”) on the Canadian prairies.

I have a scientific permit to band birds from the Canadian Wildlife Service, so our program also uses leg bands to track and study the survivorship of the birds.  Unlike other bluebird monitoring programs we carefully remove the baby birds from the nest box (which is the fun part for our group) to fit a numbered leg band around their legs.  We will learn about how to properly hold a bird, and how to avoid stressing out a bird when holding them.

More information (more than you’ll ever need) about Bluebird monitoring check out http://www.sialis.org/

You can sign up for as many dates as you like.  Enrolment is limited to 6 participants on any particular date to avoid stressing the birds and to maintain physical distancing.  I usually stay out of the trail for about 2 hours.  You are welcome to head back home at any time during the program.  (If you are unable to attend on a particular date on which you have signed up, please let me know so we are not waiting for you at the meeting location.  Thanks).  The trail sections are tentative and subject to change.  Bluebird Trail monitoring on any particular day will be postponed or cancelled in the event of inclement weather.

To help you pick some dates, here is a rough guide to what happens on the trail: (Remember, there are always exceptions to the rule when it comes to nature).

Last week of May / First week of June:
We need to record which species of bird is using our nest box and how many eggs or young are in the nest.  This becomes the task of the Young Naturalists participants. (We’ll teach you how to identify the nest types and eggs).

Tree Swallows should be sitting on eggs.  We find out which boxes have Tree Swallows and how many eggs they have.  We will be attempting to band the adult birds in their nest boxes.  I’ll need help from the Young Naturalists to catch them!

Bluebirds eggs should be very close to hatching or there may be young bluebirds in the nest.  (Note: Mountain Bluebirds are a recovering species, only about 2-4% of the boxes have bluebirds).

Second Week of June
Tree Swallows are still sitting on eggs.  Some Tree Swallow eggs may have hatched. 
Most bluebird eggs will have hatched by now and the young birds should be fully feathered.

Third Week of June:
Tree Swallow babies will start to hatch.  Some may be old enough to band. We will be banding the adult birds and any young old enough to band.
Bluebird young will be getting ready to leave the nest.

Fourth Week in June:
Tree Swallow young should all be hatched and fully feathered.  By the fourth week of June we will have visited most of the nest boxes.  We will be driving to specific nest boxes we know contain young ready to fledge (the late bloomers!) and band them.

Young Naturalists July Butterfly Field Trip

Wednesday, July 14
1:00 p.m.
Northeast Swale
Cost: Free – Space is limited.   Advanced Registration is required. 

Join the Young Naturalists as we explore the Northeast Swale in search of butterflies and other insects along with their favourite wild flowers.  On this field trip we learn the proper techniques for catching and observing butterflies.  We hope to catch a variety of butterflies and other insects (and probably the odd spider and harvestman) to learn about their ecology – including some of the native plants they love.

Cost is free. Space is limited.  Advanced Registration is required.
E-mail naturekids@saskatoonnature.org to register or for more information.

At least one parent/guardian must accompany your child/children on all Young Naturalists activities.

Young Naturalists August Butterfly Field Trip

Wednesday, August 11
1:00 p.m.
Northeast Swale
Cost: Free – Space is limited.   Advanced Registration is required. 

Join the Young Naturalists as we explore the Northeast Swale in search of butterflies and other insects along with their favourite wild flowers.  On this field trip we learn the proper techniques for catching and observing butterflies.  We hope to catch a variety of butterflies and other insects (and probably the odd spider and harvestman) to learn about their ecology – including some of the native plants they love.

Cost is free. Space is limited.  Advanced Registration is required.
E-mail naturekids@saskatoonnature.org to register or for more information.

At least one parent/guardian must accompany your child/children on all Young Naturalists activities.

Young Naturalists Programs for Groups:

Due to enrolment restrictions, the Young Naturalists’ Program is normally unable to accommodate groups (the program is designed for families). If you have a special interest group (such as Scouts, 4-H, school group, etc) please email saskatoonnaturekids@gmail.com to arrange a special program for your group. There may be a charge for this programming.