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Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 58: Urban Wildlife Adaptations to Winter

January 14, 2015

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I spent yesterday downtown Toronto. It was a cold and blustery day as the mercury, (or more honestly my smartphone weather app) told me it was -22 degrees Celsius. With the winds being channeled through those downtown streets as well the wind chill made it feel significantly colder still.

However, between appointments, I had the chance to step outdoors and noticed urban wildlife all around me. Songbirds from finches to sparrows seemed to huddle on the south facing windowsills of the tall buildings and I had to admit, even I enjoyed the feeling of the extra warmth on my face when I could find a beam of sunlight at street level. I had no doubt that those birds would move from window to window as the sun moved across the sky.

As I walked down Queen Street, I noticed that all the squirrel dreys or nests also seemed to be on the north side of the street and never where there was a tall building keeping that tree in the shade much of the day. The squirrels as well seemed to be taking advantage of the limited sunlight available to them.

Even the Rock Doves or Pigeons had found these warm air vents coming from subway ducts or from other unknown but obviously warmed realms and would not budge. They were reminding me of Marilyn Monroe’s famous scene from the movie The Seven Year Itch as I watched their feathers being blown by the warm subterranean air. Wildlife has a wonderful way of adapting to urban life and even in the depths of winter we can find wonderful examples of how animals survive and thrive in such conditions.

So, I created a short Tellagami Challenge for some of our more urban classes. By starting an inquiry into winter wildlife behaviours in an urban setting I wonder what students will discover, predict and marvel at?

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