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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 28 December

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (Dec. 29, 2017) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.


This week’s extremely cold temperatures seemed at odds with evidence of breeding activity by White-winged Crossbills in the Park. A male was observed feeding a female (“courtship feeding”) near the Old Airfield, and three or four males were singing along Spruce Bog Boardwalk, on December 24. Craig Benkman (in The Birds of North America, 1992) reported that this crossbill breeds during three main periods of the year which coincide with maximum availability of conifer seeds. In Algonquin, records indicate breeding in summer and fall (July to November), winter (January to March), and spring (March to June).



Snow depth in the Park now reaches about 25 cm in the open and less under conifers, making it feasible to travel in most areas without snowshoes. As usual, snow on the walking trails has been flattened down with use.



-Wild Turkey: several are coming daily to feed below the Visitor Centre parking lot feeder.

-Ruffed Grouse: sightings continued at the Visitor Centre driveway and feeders.

-Spruce Grouse: try Spruce Bog Boardwalk near the trail register box and Opeongo Road north of the winter gate.

-Black-backed Woodpecker: one was seen along Spruce Bog Boardwalk on December 24.

-Gray Jay: regular along Opeongo Road from the winter gate northward, and on Spruce Bog Boardwalk.

-Boreal Chickadee: after several weeks with no reports, one was along Opeongo Road (December 24) and two were at Wolf Howl Pond (December 25).



Winter finches reported this week were: Purple Finch (regular at Visitor Centre feeders), Red Crossbill (small flocks on the highway; and often seen off Visitor Centre deck), White-winged Crossbill (small flocks), Common Redpoll (three along Opeongo Road on December 24 were the first reported since late October), Pine Siskin (fairly numerous), American Goldfinch (fairly numerous) and Evening Grosbeak (about 20 at the Visitor Centre feeders daily).

Addendum:
Common Redpoll: A flock of about 40 was observed on Opeongo Road yesterday, which may indicate that this species is starting to move southward in greater numbers.


Ron Tozer, Algonquin Park Naturalist (retired), Dwight, ON.



DIRECTIONS:

Algonquin Provincial Park is three hours north of Toronto, via Highways 400, 11 and 60. Follow the signs which start in Toronto on Highway 400. From Ottawa, take Highway 17 to Renfrew, then follow Highway 60 to the park. Kilometre markers along Highway 60 in the Park go from the West Gate (km 0) to near the East Gate (km 56).



The Visitor Centre at km 43 will be open daily, 9 am to 5 pm, from December 27 to January 7. Get your park permit and Information Guide (with a map of birding locations mentioned above) at the East Gate, West Gate or Visitor Centre. Locations are also described at: www.algonquinpark.on.ca

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