February 15, 2018: Being a Mystery Bird in Ottawa; Area authority identifies Hintonburg hawk.

February 15, 2018: Being a Mystery Bird in Ottawa;
Area authority identifies Hintonburg hawk.

By T Thibeault.

Early February saw several reports of an unfamiliar and unidentified hawk in at least two area neighbourhoods. Resident Paulette Dozois, started the ball rolling in a note to Newswest, “Two of my colleagues saw hawks in their yards here in Hintonburg and in Little Italy.”

From there, word travelled and the mystery deepened until photos were offered up to help with the identification, and Paulette Dozois “flipped the question to Robert Alvo – local birder and bird author…”

The hawk was first spotted in late January or early February in the neighbourhood of Gladstone and Breezehill Avenue North. At least one other report placed the hawk in Little Italy around the same time.

Andrew Horrall noted that it had been coming to a tree at the end of their garden on Breezehill North regularly over the past couple of weeks, “Sometimes to eat its prey. Other times alone” After mentioning the sighting on the Bayswater/Breezehill email list, he learned that the bird had visited several other neighbourhood gardens as well.

A few photos have since turned up, and offered definite evidence to the identity of the Hintonburg Hawk. Asked to share his considerable expertise, biologist and conservationist author Robert Alvo looked at the images and solved the mystery with the following observation:

“The bird in question is a Cooper’s Hawk. There have been a number of sightings in Ottawa this year, though none have been documented on eBird yet. It is observed in Ottawa every year. It is known to nest in at least a few places in Ottawa, but I don’t know about Hintonburg. It won’t start nesting until March or April.”

Alvo’s recently launched book, “Being A Bird in North America – North of Mexico” devotes several pages to Cooper’s Hawk and others in its family. The book is an up-to-date account of over 200 bird species, including ranges throughout the year, Conservation Status information, and individual species photos as well as the original artwork of 15 cartoonists and illustrators.

The information provided in “Being a Bird in North America” includes a detailed description of the hawk in the photograph, and some pointers that allow a positive identification. “Cooper’s Hawk has a long tail as do other accipiters (compared to Buteos like the Broad-winged Hawk, and has rufous barring across the chest. Compared to the smaller Sharp-shinned Hawk, it has a pale nape and a rounded tip of the tail compared to the Sharpie’s squared off tail.” Compare these points to Bruce Jackson’s photo above and you will agree that it is indeed a Cooper’s Hawk that stalks the ‘hood.

The Cooper’s Hawk sighted in Hintonburg has a range the stretches from Mexico, across the United States and into southern Canada. Ottawa seems to be just on the northern edge of its range. Of particular interest in Alvo’s book are world maps for the various species showing not only their range in North America, but also around the globe. We don’t often think that “our” birds might be quite common in other parts of the planet, but there they are.

And sometimes they are in danger. Alvo’s book further documents the Conservation Status of birds in Canada, USA, Mexico and globally. Categories such as Secure, Vulnerable, Imperiled, Critically Imperilled and even Presumed Extirpated, indicate that the light-hearted approach in “Being a Bird In North America” actually offsets the much darker shadow of the effects of environmental degradation and their threats to humankind’s collective future.

A casual look at the figures is a reminder of the fragility and vulnerability of bird populations worldwide, and of the threats and stresses a human population places on every creature interlocked in the bonds of biodiversity.

This meticulously researched book promises to be only the first of several in a “series of books describing the Earth’s elements of biodiversity.” For its vast educational value and light-hearted introduction to serious ecological thinking, follow-up volumes will make a welcome addition to any library.

In a series of emails, related to the Hintonburg Mystery Bird, Robert Alvo mentioned other sources of information including the website, http://AllAboutBirds.org – another resource for those seeking to positively identify a winter visitor or two.

Another site brought up by Alvo is ebird.org , the website of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This, “the world’s largest birding community”, offers a variety of advantages to persons interested in finding and identifying birds from around the world.

With a good book, and the resources of the Internet at hand, visiting mystery birds won’t be able to guard their mystery for long.
Photo Caption: Neighbours on both sides of the O-Train corridor reported recent unusual sightings of an apparently urban hawk. Robert Alvo, author of “Being a Bird in North America”, identified the bird and provided additional information and expertise. Photo by Bruce Jackson.



February 15, 2018: OCSB Trustee’s Report; Catholic School News.

February 15, 2018: OCSB Trustee’s Report;
Catholic School News.

By Jeremy Wittet, OCSB Trustee, Zone 7.

“Questions arose about the amount of “screen time” kids were engaging in at school and also what types of new technologies were being used in the classroom.”

Artistic Fusion:
On January 15, our talented OCSB staff and student artists transformed the Catholic Education Centre Board Room into an art gallery for everyone to enjoy. This annual event saw dozens of participants from across the board display their artistic creations including, sculptures, photographs, stained glass, water paintings, jewelry, pottery and much more. We are truly lucky to have so many talented individuals working and learning at the OCSB.

Ontario Catholic School Trustees conference:
From January 18-20th, Catholic School Trustees from across Ontario gathered in Mississauga at the annual Catholic Trustees Seminar. It was a pleasure to connect with colleagues from each of Ontario’s 29 English Catholic school boards. Conference seminars included topics such as, improving constituent outreach, the 2018 municipal election and fostering the relationship between school and the parish, just to name a few. A key highlight was the provincial political panel, which featured representatives from all three of Ontario’s major political parties, including an address by the newly appointed Minister of Education. It was a privilege to represent Kitchissippi and Bay Catholic ratepayers and families on the provincial stage.

Catholic School Parents Association meeting:
The Catholic School Parents Association held its monthly meeting on January 24th at the Catholic Education Centre. The topic for discussion was the Deep Learning Framework. Parents representing their local school councils came from across the board and also joined in on-line. Our board superintendent for learning technologies, Brenda Wilson gave an overview of the board’s vision for deep learning and took questions from parents. Questions arose about the amount of “screen time” kids were engaging in at school and also what types of new technologies were being used in the classroom. Attending these meetings is an extremely valuable way to gather parental feedback and learn about what is happening in schools across the district. The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 28 at the Catholic Education Centre.

Chili and Trivia Night – St. Georges Parish:
On Saturday, January 27th, St. Georges Parish hosted their annual Chili and Trivia Night fundraiser. Nearly 20 teams signed up this year making it the largest turnout to date. Questions ranged from pop culture, religion, sports and music. Msgr. Hans Feichtinger was on hand to kick things off and share some of his time with the crowd. Thanks to the Knights of Columbus for their hard work organizing and running the event.

Ottawa Student Transportation Authority:
It is a privilege to have been elected by the OCSB Board of Trustees to be one of the directors on the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority. Safe and reliable transportation to and from school is an essential part of our education system. As a board of directors, it is our responsibility to ensure safety, professionalism and financial stewardship in student transportation. It is also an important area because we share bus routes and costs with our coterminous board, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. Should families have concerns or questions about their child’s transportation needs, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Photo Caption: OCSB Trustee Jeremy Wittet Photo courtesy of OCSB.

February 15, 2018: Federal Report; Constituency Youth Council.

February 15, 2018: Federal Report;
Constituency Youth Council.

By Catherine McKenna MP Ottawa Centre.

Calling All Ottawa Centre Youth – Step up to the Challenge
Are you aged 15-24 and passionate about creating real change? Do you care about what happens in Ottawa Centre? If you answered yes, I want you on my Constituency Youth Council!

This nonpartisan council connects engaged and passionate youth within the riding with me and my team so we can hear fresh perspectives. At the same time, young people like you gain insight into the federal political process while building leadership skills.

The Prime Minister is the Minister of Youth and our government strongly believes that by partnering with young Canadians, we can inspire innovative ideas and initiatives. Difference makers come at all ages, and I am proud to be part of a government that celebrates and encourages the voices of our younger generations.

Members of the council meet regularly to discuss issues in Ottawa Centre that matter to them and work to find solutions. Last year’s council noticed the Glebe Community Centre did not have a composting strategy and decided that was something they wanted to change. Together, with the help of Councillor Chernushenko and the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group, they successfully implemented a composting program at the centre this past fall.

The Council’s compost project is a great, practical example of caring for the environment, reducing our waste and taking sustainable action on climate change. I am so proud to see young people mobilize the community to make a positive impact; everything helps in making Ottawa the greenest capital.

If you are interested in joining the Council, I encourage you to visit my website (http://www.catherinemckennamp.ca ) or contact my office ( 613-946-8682 ) to get more information on how to apply. Applications will be accepted until February 28th, 2018 .

I look forward to meeting the new members of the Ottawa Centre Council and am excited to work together to make Ottawa Centre a more positive and inclusive community.

February 15, 2018: Photo Inset: Cooper’s Hawk in Hintonburg; Mystery bird de-mystified.

February 15, 2018: Photo Inset: Cooper’s Hawk in Hintonburg;
Mystery bird de-mystified.
Photo Caption: In another view of the Cooper’s Hawk from our lead story, the bird’s colouration and large size are apparent when seen in the context of a Bayswater/Breezehill neighbourhood back yard. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has joined with National Geographic, National Audubon Society, BirdLife International, and more than 100 organizations to declare 2018 the Year of the Bird. Photo by Viki Holan.

February 15, 2018: Councillor’s Corner; Current Events in Ward 15.

February 15, 2018: Councillor’s Corner;
Current Events in Ward 15.

By Jeff Leiper, City Councillor Kitchissippi Ward.

Congratulations Kitchissippi – you made it to February! We had a very busy start to 2018 and things are continuing to ramp up in our office as we are working on many important files.

On Sunday, January 28th we celebrated the SJAM Winter Trail! I was thrilled to attend a ribbon cutting of the new connection between Champlain Park and the SJAM Winter Trail, made possible by the autumn closure of Pontiac Street that my office championed.

Groomer Dave, our MPP Yasir Naqvi, the Norwegian ambassador Kari H. Ovind, John Rapp from Dovercourt, four-time Olympian Sue Holloway and many others were in attendance for the ribbon cutting. The ribbon cutting was followed by a ski festival, which included a kid’s loppet and a variety of fun activities. We are so fortunate to live in a Ward with great access to the Winter Trail and all it has to offer.

There is a City-initiated by-law amendment in the works to change the zoning for St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts, the Bronson Centre, Barrymore’s, and places of worship across the city to reflect their capacity as live music and performance venues. The amendment is now available for comment, and comments to the planner Tim Moerman are due by February 27th. Find more information about the study and comment on our website!

The City has submitted a very forceful response to Queen’s Park outlining the issues with the new inclusionary zoning rules. This response addresses the major shortcomings of the rules, especially the requirement to subsidize 40% of the lost value to the developer of an affordable unit and an exemption for rental housing. I was also able to reiterate these points in an op-ed I co-authored with Councillors from Toronto, London, Hamilton, and Kingston Cities.

In related news, I brought forward and inquiry to Council at the January 31st meeting asking what tools the City has to direct housing development and renewal or renovation of existing facilities in rapid transit hubs to be affordable. The inquiry also asks if there are any current urban planning strategies in place to ensure that urban displacement of low-income and vulnerable residents does not occur around rapid transit hubs. As we welcome light rail we must continue to ensure that it is accessible to everyone.

We have a few upcoming events in Kitchissippi Ward. On February 24th we will be working with the Wellington West BIA to put on a community bonfire in Somerset Square Park from 5 to 7 pm. It will be our last bonfire of the season and it’s shaping up to be a fun one, so don’t miss out! We will have our pop-up office hours at Happy Goat (at 35 Laurel) on February 27th from 4-7 p.m. Come see us and chat all things Kitchissippi!

February 15, 2018: Ploughing Through Winter; Volunteer trailblazers on SJAM.

February 15, 2018: Ploughing Through Winter;
Volunteer trailblazers on SJAM.

By T. Thibeault.

In its third year of existence, the Sir John A Macdonald Winter Trail (@SJAMWinterTrail on twitter) is more than just ploughing through. It’s offering robust outdoor experiences for skiers, snow-shoers and winter fat-tire cyclists. All it takes is warm clothes and an appetite for adventure in the great white north.

From a pilot program in 2016, the trail has matured in its second full season and promises to grow even more by the end of 2019 when, after 3 full seasons, the NCC will re-evaluate SJAMTrail’s impact and usefulness, then reach a decision on future plans.

Head groomer Dave Adams took a brief break from his 7-days-a-week labour of love to tell us about the trail and its effect on the people who ski it, and work on it.

Always marked by burning enthusiasm for his subject, Dave’s words show his excitement at the momentum this project builds with each passing season. Where he once had to seek out help and support, he says people are now coming to him with ideas and projects that will only increase the trail’s usability and positive impact on the region.

Adams didn’t even try to hide his excitement when he spoke of being approached by Fabio deWitt of DEW Engineering with an interesting proposal that resulted in a win/win situation for all concerned and especially so for those who regularly use the SJAM Trail.

DeWitt’s engineering firm makes military grade, diesel-powered ski-doos specifically designed for hauling heavy loads over long distances in the Canadian Arctic. Both might benefit, he suggested, from using the SJAM trail and its near-constant grooming needs as a testing ground for DEW Engineering’s equipment.

Both men agreed and the result is greater, state-of-the-art horsepower to keep the SJAM Trail in prime condition while providing measureable results for the construction and development of the machines themselves. The big winner of course, is the individual skier on the SJAM Trail.

With 14 named sectors, maintenance of the trail relies heavily on regular volunteers and occasional helpers from the community. In particular, the hard core volunteers who watch for trouble and maintain peak condition of the trail are, Michael Lee, Dave Haney and Peter Edmison all local men who enjoy the outdoors and who contribute generously to their community by way of the SJAM Trail.

From west to east, the named sectors are: Dominion Station; Westboro Beach; Atlantis Woods, Selby plains, Kitchissippi Woods, Champlain Bridge, Carleton Sector, Champlain Woods, Tunney’s Pasture Extension, Remic Rapids, Parkdale Sector, Onigam Sector, Bayview, and Vimy Avenue. Together, these offer a round trip adventure of an estimated 25 kilometers of groomed trail. Anxious, but not yet free to give full details, Adams mentions at least one other area that is currently being looked at for expansion to serve a densely populated stretch along the trail.

With their harnessed enthusiasm and the support of an outdoorsy and athletic community, groomers Michael, Peter and two Daves, look forward to opening up the joys of winter to anyone with a hankering for snow, nature and a healthy lifestyle.

If you would like more information on military grade ski-doos visit: http://dewengineering.com/products/snowmobile

Photo Caption: Dave Adams, head groomer on the SJAM Winter Trail poses with just some of the equipment used to keep the 25 km round-trip trail in top form. Photo courtesy of SJAM WinterTrail.

February 15, 2018: Neilly’s Neighbourhood; Safety on the Ice.

February 15, 2018: Neilly’s Neighbourhood;
Safety on the Ice.

Ottawans are very lucky to live near waterways that contribute greatly to our enjoyment of the outdoors. From the Rideau Canal running through the centre of the city, to the great Ottawa River, to any number of nearby lakes, big and small, there’s plenty of water around for us to enjoy, even in winter when it freezes over.

Then it’s time for skating, ice fishing (my favourite!), snowmobiling and maybe just the feeling of being able to walk on water. These are all great ways to make the most of winter as long as we don’t forget that the ice is one layer away from really, really cold water.

It’s easy to think that as long as there’s ice, we’re protected from the freezing winter water. But not all ice is safe. Here are a few guidelines for judging the safety of ice thickness:

  • 15 cm for walking or skating alone,
  • 20 cm for skating parties or games,
  • 25 cm for snowmobiles,
  • 35 cm for fishing huts.

If it’s difficult to measure the thickness of the ice, colour can also be a good clue to ice safety. Clear blue ice is usually the strongest, white opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice. Grey ice is unsafe. The greyness indicates the presence of water.

Before venturing onto the ice, check the Lifesaving Society’s ( http://www.lifesavingsociety.com ) guidelines for staying safe, and review guidelines by the Canadian Red Cross ( http://www.redcross.ca ) on what to do if you get into trouble on the ice. When in doubt, be prudent and just stay off the ice.

This information about ice safety can be found on the Ottawa Police web site at http://www.ottawapolice.ca . Pay the site a visit for information about all kinds of safety issues that could save a life.