Things to Do at Waterloo Park Crow roost
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The Dandelion’s name comes from Dent de Lion – or lion’s teeth – referring to the leaf shape. They are some of the commonest spring-flowering plants. Their yellow disk flowers can be seen almost anywhere among mown grass. They are sweet smelling and attractive, and they are good pollinator plants for bees and other insects. So why do we make war on them in the lawn?
Perhaps it is because we grew up with stories that we’d wet the bed if we picked them? Or maybe it’s a product of market-making by pesticide companies – You have to have a lawn like a green carpet – right? Either way we spend millions of dollars getting rid of dandelions.
Read more about these interesting urban plants:
By Brandt, Wilhelm; Gürke, M.; Köhler, F. E.; Pabst, G.; Schellenberg, G.; Vogtherr, Max. – http://www.flickr.com/photos/biodivlibrary/7118308873, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43187396
Spot the Ruby Spots
Attractive American Rubyspot damselflies can be found along Laurel Creek that runs through Waterloo Park. The best place to see the damselflies is from the bridge over the creek at the back of University of Waterloo’s “H Lot” parking (enter of Seagram Drive).
The American Ruby-spot is a distinctive damsel fly (a small dragon fly). You’ll recognize it by its red wing bases. It is here along the Grand River in Galt because it likes wide, open rivers.
You can tell the males and females apart. Males have a lustrous red head and thorax whereas the females’ thoraxes are green or copper coloured (The body is divided into a head, a “chest” called a thorax and a long, thin abdomen).
Males defend a territory. Can you work out what is the territory of each male in this area? An intruding male will trigger a flying “dogfight” in ever widening circles.
If you see two damselflies flying in a “cartwheel” formation, they are mating. The tandem pair will fly to floating vegetation where the female will deposit fertilized eggs. These hatch into an immature “nymph” that lives in the river, hunting small creatures. When it is grown next spring, it will emerge on land and split open its skin to reveal a new adult.
The American Ruby-spot is widely distributed: from Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes all the way to Mexico. In southern Ontario it can be seen flying at any time from July to the end of September.
Learn more about the American Rubyspot here
Abbott, J.C. 2006-2016. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata http://www.odonatacentral.org.
A Murder of Crows
There are of flocks of birds, gaggles of geese, colonies of beavers, swarms of bees – but what do you call a gathering of crows? Answer : A murder of crows!
The American crow is a common species around our cities. You can see them in Waterloo at any time of year, but in the winter, at dusk, you’ll see THOUSANDS of crows! They roost here in Waterloo Park and environs each winter evening. At dusk they fly here from all around the city and beyond, and this is a common behavior in many cities in North America. This is not even the biggest roost around!
You will see more crows here when the weather is hard, and they tend to disperse in mild weather. The roost breaks up in spring when the crows disperse to pair up, build nests and raise young.
Best views of the roosting crows are generally to be had from University of Waterloo’s H Parking Lot, off Seagram Drive, also along University Avenue between Seagram Drive and Westmount Road. The best time to see them is at dusk when they arrive or, if your up for it, at dawn when they disperse.
Find out how and why crows gather in roosts, and how their intelligence rivals that of many mammals:
By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons. Bird Lore. National Audubon Society 1914. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABird-lore_(1914)_(14755110002).jpg
Crows are intelligent!
Crows (Corvus) are black birds known for their intelligence, adaptability, and flocking behaviour. They are found all over the world in a variety of habitats, but prefer open areas.
Crows react to threats similar to humans! Research shows that crows can remember their enemies faces and teach their young to avoid them in the future. They can also employ some impressive strategies to adapt to their environment. Here is a short video showing how crows place nuts under vehicles at a traffic light in Japan, for their benefit. You can learn more about crows excellent memory here
Crows flocking behaviour is unique in that if one crow dies, the rest of the crows in the flock will merge together to chase the predator. This behaviour is called ‘mobbing”, which is displayed by a ‘murder’ of crows.
Learn more about Crows here
Photo: © wikimedia commons By Michelle E Wong – Imported from 500px (archived version) by the Archive Team. (detail page), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71433606