SOURCE: Canadian Wildlife Federation

Canadian Wildlife Federation

Canadian Wildlife Federation

May 08, 2014 12:08 ET

#Giveahoot on International Migratory Bird Day

Help At-Risk Birds Like the Burrowing Owl

OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - May 08, 2014) - International Migratory Bird Day is celebrated each year on the second weekend of May and draws awareness about the need to protect migrating birds and their habitat. This year, the Canadian Wildlife Federation encourages people to get involved by supporting at-risk migratory birds like the burrowing owl, mascot of this year's Walk for Wildlife campaign.

Standing at only 20 cm tall, the burrowing owl is one of the most endangered bird species in Western Canada. Once common in parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, the Canadian population of this little bird of prey has declined over 95 per cent since 1987, and now occupies a mere 36 per cent of its original distribution in Canada. As a result of this alarming rate of decline, the burrowing owl is listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act.

True to its name, the burrowing owl nests underground in burrows often created by other species such as black-tailed prairie dogs, American badgers, or ground squirrels. Unlike most owls, they forage both day and night to accommodate a diet of insects and small mammals. Beginning in early fall, burrowing owls that breed in Canada migrate 2,500 - 3,500 km to southern Texas or northern Mexico and return in the spring. Threats to the burrowing owl include loss and fragmentation of grassland habitats, decreased prey, increased predation, inclement weather, vehicle mortalities, environmental contaminants, and loss of burrowing mammals in parts of the owls' range.

Through its Endangered Species Program, the Canadian Wildlife Federation is working to conserve species at risk like the burrowing owl and their habitats for future generations through research and recovery support, advocacy, education and awareness.

By joining in the Walk for Wildlife, participants can pledge their support to conserving Canada's at-risk birds and other wildlife. The Walk for Wildlife campaign runs until International Day of Biodiversity, May 22, and encourages Canadians to head outdoors and connect with nature. This year's goal is to raise awareness and funds in support of CWF's endangered species conservation program. It is free to register and the first 500 registrants at WalkforWildlife.ca will receive a one year subscription to Chatelaine magazine, courtesy of Just Green. For every dollar pledged, participants will become part of the CWF loyalty program and earn special rewards. Those who raise $100 or more will receive a special Burrowing owl t-shirt. Top fundraiser will have a chance to win a trip for two to Calgary for a special species at risk conservation experience at the Calgary Zoo. Those who just want to head outdoors for some time in nature can log their Walk for Wildlife on the interactive on-line map.

"As Canadians, we are very fortunate to be surrounded by a rich diversity of wildlife. Sadly, many of the species are at risk because of human and environmental pressures," says Wade Luzny, CEO and Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Wildlife Federation (@CWF_FCF). "In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, why not share your love of the outdoors by taking a selfie in nature. Upload you pictures to Instagram or Twitter and tag with #selfie and #giveahoot to show others you care about the burrowing owl and other at-risk species."

About Walk for Wildlife
Walk for Wildlife is a national campaign that encourages all Canadians to get outside and experience the wildlife and natural spaces in their backyards. From the beginning of National Wildlife Week on April 6 until the International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22, help CWF raise awareness and funds for species at-risk, like the burrowing owl. These species have found themselves on the endangered species list and under the protection of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and need our help. For more information, visit WalkforWildlife.ca

About the Canadian Wildlife Federation
The Canadian Wildlife Federation is a national not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to ensuring an appreciation of our natural world and a lasting legacy of healthy wildlife and habitat. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, developing and delivering educational programs, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending policy changes and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. For more information, visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca.

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