Ontario Envirothon 2021's Journal

March 31, 2021

Challenge 3 - Bird is the Word

Now that spring has sprung, birds have made their presence known across Ontario. Whether they are visiting birdfeeders, singling loudly to attract attention, or migrating to their summer homes, signs of birds are everywhere around us.

In our third Ontario Envirothon Challenge, you are tasked with identifying local birds, either by appearance or song. iNaturalist allows you to either take photos or record audio. Sometimes, birdsong is a more reliable identifier than a blurry photo taken from a distance, especially in the spring when birds are calling for mates.

For your observations to count towards the challenge, you must make note of your reasoning for the ID in the “notes” field of your observation. You should try to observe as wide of a variety of birds as possible, but separate observations for the same species are allowed.

Here are some resources that will assist in your bird identification:

Thank you to Fleming College for supporting the Ontario Envirothon program

GOALS

Envirothon Teams

As a team, collectively make 10 bird observations. These observations can be photographs, audio recordings, or both. You must make reasoning for the ID in the notes or comments of your observation.

Individual Participants

Individually, make 4 bird observations. These observations can be photographs, audio recordings, or both. You must make reasoning for the ID in the notes or comments of your observation.

To submit your observations, please use this form.

Posted on March 31, 2021 15:43 by braymade braymade | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 18, 2021

Challenge 2 - I saw the (Animal) Sign(s)

Animals can be elusive and might not be the easiest to spot, especially in more urban areas. However, they may leave behind evidence of their presence. This can include tracks, scat, shed antlers, fallen feathers, damage caused to trees, or any other sign of an animal’s presence.

In our second Ontario Envirothon Challenge, you are asked to find signs of wildlife that might live around you, or in a landscape that you visit recreationally. This includes photographic evidence of tracks or other signs that point towards an animal’s presence. These observations cannot include pets, such as dogs. Any member of the team can post these sightings. For your observations to count towards the challenge, you must make note of your reasoning for the ID in the “notes” field of your observation.

Here are some resources that might assist in your interpretation of the signs of wildlife around you!

Valid observations for this challenge DO NOT need to go down to a species level. For example, if you find an owl pellet at the base of the tree, the sighting can be classified as just an “Owl (Order Strigiformes)” or, if you are outside of southern Ontario, “Typical Owl (Family Strigidae)”. Animal signs do not always point to a specific species. Observations can include
  • Tracks
  • Scat
  • Damage to plants and trees (e.g. beavers, deer grazing, EAB damage)
  • Remains (e.g. bones, shed antlers)
  • Fallen feathers
  • Tree cavities, stick nests, or other dens
  • Any many more!

--

Envirothon Teams

As a team, collectively find signs of 4 animals. The observations may include the animal in question but must include photographic evidence of tracks, scat, remains (such as bones or shed antlers), feathers, an identifiable den or nest, or other feature that could be used to identify the animal if it wasn’t there. State your reasoning in the "notes" field.

Individual Participants

Individually, find signs of 2 animals. The observations may include the animal in question but must include photographic evidence of tracks, scat, remains (such as bones or shed antlers), feathers, an identifiable den or nest, or other features that could be used to identify the animal if it wasn’t there. State your reasoning in the "notes" field.

To submit your team's observations, please fill out this form

Posted on March 18, 2021 16:37 by braymade braymade | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 05, 2021

Challenge 1 - ID a Tree

Trees are all around us, on our streets, in our parks, and, of course, in our forests. They are living features that are intrinsically valuable to our community and local landscape.

Our first Ontario Envirothon challenge of the year is focused on tree identification, where registered teams (or individually registered participants) are tasked with observing and identifying 15 trees, or 5 trees if you are participating as a registered individual. For teams, any member of the team can post these observations. For your observations to count towards the challenge, you must list at least 3 identifying features in the “notes” field of each observation to justify your identification.

Here are some resources that might help you in identifying trees;

When photographing trees, there are a few things you will need to snap shots of for the ID to be confirmed, especially with dormant deciduous trees. Three features that are important to get an accurate identification are;
  • Bark
  • Buds
  • Branches

Three photographs showcasing different parts of the plant in question will allow other naturalists to confirm the identifying features you have listed in the “notes” field.

While you are outside this winter, keep an eye out for other winter weeds and wild vegetation, and consider adding them as sightings to the iNaturalist project! They might not count towards the challenge, but it is good practice.

To submit your observations, please fill this form.

--
Envirothon Teams

GOAL: As a team, identify 15 trees. You must list at least three (3) key identifying features in the “notes” field of each observation to justify your reasoning.
BONUS: Measure three (3) of the trees as you are identifying it; find the DBH and/or height of the tree, using the methods described in this handout from 2020. Post these measurements in the “notes” field!

Registered Individuals

GOAL: As an individual, identify 5 trees. You must list at least three (3) key identifying features in the “notes” field of each observation to justify your reasoning.
BONUS: Measure one (1) of the trees as you are identifying it.

--

This challenge is brought by Ontario Envirothon sponsors

Maple Leaves Forever
Algonquin Forestry Authority

Posted on March 05, 2021 22:04 by braymade braymade | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 03, 2021

Welcome to the 2021 Ontario Envirothon iNaturalist Project!

Welcome to the 2021 Ontario Envirothon iNaturalist Project! This project will be used to track progress on challenges released biweekly and foster a community of Envirothon participants that want to know more about the world around them.

Check out the Forests Ontario website for more information on 2021 format and FAQ about the program. If you'd like to see live updates as resources are released, follow the Ontario Envirothon Facebook page, or subscribe to our newsletter.

To join this project and post sightings, you will need:

... and that's it! Never used iNaturalist before? Here is a great guide on how to get started! There is also a video you can use for reference. Be sure to check out other sightings in the group and help other participants identify what they have found. If you are under the age of 13, please use this site with parental supervision. Please remember that we are all working together to identify the plants, fungi, and animals shared in this project. All submissions to this project are a small part of an international community of citizen scientists. As such, there is an etiquette to posting and identifying species. Some basic tips:
  • Be bold. You do not need to know what you’re looking at, just make your best suggestion, and others will help you identify what you’ve found.
  • Take multiple photos of the same thing. A single photo may miss key identification features.
  • You do not need to know the species. iNaturalist allows for coarser identifications (ie. "Insect" or "bumblebee" instead of "Common Eastern Bumblebee") that can help narrow down what you're looking at.
  • Avoid automatically agreeing with someone else’s ID. The species that iNaturalist suggests may not be correct. Always use your best judgment when figuring out what you’ve seen.

House plants, gardens, and pets will not be a part of the project. The intent of iNaturalist is to look at the natural world. Captive and cultivated plants and animals are not a part of that – these sightings will be listed as “casual” grade sightings and will not be added to the project.

A new challenge will be posted every other week. Each completed challenge will earn your Envirothon team an additional submission into the draw for spots in the presentation competition if your team is eligible. Each challenge posted to this journal will be associated with a Google Form that your team must fill out to earn the extra entry in the draw.

Participating in Envirothon as an individual student? Great! You might not be eligible to compete in the team-based presentation competition, but you will receive a certificate upon completion of all of the challenges. Also, the individual with the most observations in the iNaturalist project and the individual who has correctly identified the most observations in the project will receive prizes for their participation.

When exploring nature, please be mindful of others, practice physical distancing (2 m), and follow public health guidelines.

If you have any questions about this project or iNaturalist in general, please leave a comment on this journal post. If you have any questions about Ontario Envirothon or Forests Ontario, contact us at envirothon@forestsontario.ca.

Posted on March 03, 2021 23:03 by braymade braymade | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Archives