The Red Deer River Naturalists are more than just what their name suggests.
RDRN aim to foster an increased knowledge, understanding and appreciation of natural history. They also work to support conservation measures dealing with our environment, wildlife and natural resources.
Judy Boyd, secretary of RDRN, said the group has many goals and the main one of those is to educate the public.
There is also a bird focus group that meets every Monday except holiday Mondays from September to May. They leave from the Kerry Wood Nature Centre at noon on those days.
The bird focus group travels around and learns about different local species of birds and also looks out for their natural habitats and where they dwell on a regular basis.
Speakers also come in about once a month, said Boyd. The purpose of having speakers is to bring in members of the public and educate them further. Some topics include wolfs, wolverines, and many others.
Boyd also said people need to be aware of a bird that may be put on the threatened species list soon because of human actions. “We are really doing a number on the barn swallows. They nest on the sides of houses and they’re only there for a matter of weeks but people knock down their nests rather than leaving them be,” said Boyd.
She said people can just leave the nests there, and once the birds are gone just hose it off. They are small, pretty birds, with a rusty coloured chest, blue colour back, a forked tail, pointy wings and a small beak.
Another thing Boyd said people should really stop doing is feeding the wildlife in general. Many people, especially, feed the birds bread, which is one of the worst things. “It just fills them up but there’s no nutrition to it,” said Boyd.
The best thing for people to do would be not to feed the birds at all, as it acclimatizes them to being around and close to people and then they can become harmful. In fact, Boyd pointed out that a goose can actually break human bones with their wings if they become agitated.
The Red Deer River Naturalists work hard to keep Red Deer’s wildlife in top shape and also field calls from people calling to find out what is going on in their own backyard. Boyd said people call wondering if birds are staying too long into the cold months, or they call if they have an injured animal or perhaps even an animal stuck somewhere on their property.
“I have had to rescue skunks from ponds or that are stuck in fences,” said Boyd.
She said injured animals then go to the Medicine River Wildlife Centre, with whom RDRN works closely with.
Boyd also added that as a part of Nature Alberta, the RDRN offers a young naturalists program for children aged 6-10.
The program costs $15 for a family, whether they have one or nine children, and provides online activities as well as daytime activities for the children to take part in.
For more information on Red Deer River Naturalists, visit www.rdrn.fanweb.ca.