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Seven Things I Didn’t Know About Canadian Wildlife

Some years back, as I was in the middle of writing The Ravenstones, I discovered the CWF ( and their monthly publication, Canadian Wildlife. One particular issue I remember provided a great deal of information on the wolverine, detail that had been challenging to obtain elsewhere.

Realizing its value in ensuring accurate information on my characters’ behavior in the wild, it wasn’t long before I began to contribute to the Federation and subscribe to the magazine.

These periodicals became an invaluable source on many of the North American animals that make up this story. At one point, I considered contributing a percentage of the profits from the series to the CWF (and its American sister entity), but then thought I had taken such an artistic license to the characters’ traits, the organization or its members might be offended by the very suggestion.

After all, The Ravenstones series is a work of fiction based on anthropomorphic animals, and it’s certainly neither a scientific tome nor dedicated to celebrating nature, habitat conservation or species preservation. In the end, deciding it would not be appropriate, I chose not to contact the organization or made a public statement to that effect.

A picture containing ground, outdoor, dog

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Illustration by Anuj Shrestha, New York Times, Jan. 26. 2020

As the protection of both animals and habitat is a matter I do care about, I will continue to support the organization and I would encourage every reader to do the same. If (fantasy) readers care equally about these issues, I would encourage them to contribute to this organization or any like-minded entity, international, national or local. There are many worthy and deserving not-for-profits out there.

That being said, deciding to make this post as entertaining and educational as possible, in the vein of so many popular posts in the blogosphere, here are seven things I’ve learned from the CWF journal, Canadian Wildlife:

  1. The hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning) of the black-capped chickadee expands by over 30%, so the bird can better find food, hide it and retrieve it. (Jan/Feb 2021)
  2. The Arctic Woolly Bear moth spends 14 years as a caterpillar, emerging for just one month each summer to eat before returning to dormancy, freezing solid during the coldest part of the year. (Jul/Aug 2020)
  3. A nest of long-tailed jaegers was discovered on Ward Hunt Island (just north of Ellesmere Island) at 83 degrees 05’35.1″. It is the most northerly birds’ nest ever recorded. (Nov/Dec 2017)
  4. Twenty subspecies of Canada’s national animal, the beaver, used to exist across North America. Hunted to extinction, now, only Castor canadensis canadensis remains. “There are no American beavers…only Canadian beavers living in the United States.” (Jul/Aug 2017)
  5. Another species of beaver does exist in North America, the mountain beaver. It doesn’t chew down trees, build dams, slap its tail or live in a well-crafted lodge of sticks. But the poor fellow is home to the world’s largest flea, roughly the size of a watermelon seed. (Jan/Feb 2021)
  6. Bluebirds are not really blue. The blue color is created by the way light waves interact with tiny pockets of air and protein molecules in the bird’s feathers. In other words, the color is structural, not caused by pigmentation. The actual feather is brown. (Sept/Oct 2019)
  7. Subscribing to Canadian Wildlife for several years now, I have conducted my own survey of cover choices. I conclude that the fox wins hands down as the most popular choice, followed by the bear and whale. All other choices (moose, wolverine, wolf, beaver, loon, bat, etc.) were one-offs.
Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

And now that I’m writing the prequel to The Ravenstones, I invite readers/subscribers to propose any animals they’d like to see included in that book. It’s your chance to promote your favorite feathered or furry creature, one who can be immortalized for evermore in literature! Just reply to this post.

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