There's always something new to discover at FortWhyte Alive.
As evidenced by the gradual appearance of yellow leaves and the smell crisp September air, fall is well on its way. As far as we're concerned, this isn't bad news. There are still weeks of great weather ahead, and plenty to take in this upcoming season. Whether you load up the car one evening to watch the fall migration or simply drop in for a stroll amid the sights of the changing canopy, there is always something spectacular to take in at FortWhyte Alive.
Come by FortWhyte one evening to witness this magical migration ritual complete with a bonfire and BBQ, or dine in style with a three-course feast Buffalo Stone Café. Learn more about Sunset Goose Flights here and Goose Flight Feasts here.
This two-day yoga festival features classes with renowned instructors from across North America, nature hikes, empowering speakers, and musical delights from local musicians and DJs -- and free admission all weekend at FortWhyte Alive! Visit prairielovefestival.com for details.
Celebrate the harvest and the changing of the season with a full day of family-friendly activities at FortWhyte's Fall Family Festival. Take part in classic FortWhyte fun like bison safaris, bannock roasts, guided hikes and more!
Take part in the longest ‘race’ we’ve ever held by signing up for the FortWhyte Alive Mileage Challenge or sign your family up for a day of fun at FortWhyte Alive's Family Adventure Race, both brand new events this September.
Celebrate harvest time on the prairies with good friends and great fare at the 2nd Annual Harvest Supper at FortWhyte Farms. All proceeds from the supper support youth engaged in healthy food programming and employment training at FortWhyte Farms. September is also your last month to check out The Market at FortWhyte Farms!
Photo by Gerald Kornelsen
Pelicans are the longest native bird in North America; from beak tip to tail they can measure almost two metres! Pelicans also have the second longest wingspan next to the California condor. Their large size and their bright white plumage make them easy to spot from afar. They have giant, flat bills with a large throat pouch for catching fish. Immature pelicans have light grey plumage with a dark brown neck nape. Male and female birds look identical, but while female pelicans typically weigh an average of 10 pounds (4 kg), males tip the scale at an average of 13 pounds (6 kg).
Pelicans nest in groups of several hundred birds on remote islands in freshwater lakes. In Manitoba, the largest numbers of pelicans nest in the Interlake Region, and then fly south to California and the Gulf of Mexico in winter.
Pelicans are rarely hunted by larger animals, as they live in large colonies; however, red foxes and coyotes are their main predators. Some species of gulls have also been known to steal pelican eggs. If pelicans sense a threat, they will not abandon their nests, but instead will fight off the predator with their large beaks!
Pelicans typically eat fish, such as perch and carp, as well as crayfish and small amphibians. In the summer months, pelicans fish on shallow lakes, because warm water brings fish to the surface. Pelicans travel in groups of a dozen or more in search of food. The birds can work together to corral a school of fish, or forage alone and even steal food from other pelicans and gulls.
Watch the pelicans at FortWhyte hunting solo at the aerator bubbler in Lake Devonian, or swimming along shore in groups.
Pelicans arrive at their breeding grounds between early April and early June. During breeding season, both male and females grow a bump on the top of their beaks, which is shed once the pair has laid eggs. Females typically lay two to three eggs, but some produce as many as six.
Pelican chicks are naked upon birth and grow white down feathers before moulting to immature plumage. Chicks can crawl at one to two weeks old, walk and swim at three weeks, and fly at 9 to 10 weeks old.
Photo by Ian Carter
Often confused for a beaver or woodchuck, the muskrat is a small, beaver-like rodent. Its total body length including tail is approximately 60 cm (2 ft) and they weigh between 0.5 and 1.8 kg (2-4 lbs).
Muskrats have dark brown, dense, glossy fur with white areas under the chin and belly. Their eyes and ears are small, and have hind feet that are partially webbed, perfect for life in the water. A muskrat’s tail is flattened vertically, opposite to a beaver’s. The tail acts as a rudder for steering when swimming. Muskrats’ teeth protrude ahead of their cheeks and lips so that food can be chewed underwater without flooding the mouth and throat.
Muskrats are plant-eaters. A muskrat’s favourite plant is the cattail -- which it uses both as food and to make small lodges -- but duckweed is also quite palatable.
Muskrats can hold their breath underwater for up to 15 minutes!
Mating starts right after the ice melts, and continues through the summer. Because of this, there may be two or three litters, of 5-10 kits each, all born in one summer.
FortWhyte Alive's first-ever summer camp for grown-ups was a hit! 600 campers spent the evening outdoors, indulging their inner adolescent with typical camp activities like archery, crafts, sailing, and canoeing. Thanks to our sponsors, volunteers, facilitators and participants, The Great Escape raised $10,000 in support of environmental education programs at FortWhyte Alive. Thank you to all those involved for making this inaugural fundraiser a success, and for supporting environmental education programs at FortWhyte Alive!