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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 4 January

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (Jan. 4, 2018) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.

The Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count, held this year on December 30, always provides a good early winter overview of the birds and their relative abundance. The following discussion includes the CBC totals in brackets. Red-breasted Nuthatch (720), Red Crossbill (359), White-winged Crossbill (521), Pine Siskin (418) and American Goldfinch (635) are common but not as numerous as in several other years of bumper tree seed crops. Purple Finch (122) and Common Redpoll (66) are here in limited numbers. Evening Grosbeak (34) continues to be reported only at the Visitor Centre feeders and the Pine Grosbeak (9) is present, but barely so. American Tree Sparrow (24) and Dark-eyed Junco (185; a new count high) are usually absent or rare here in winter. When they are found in numbers on the CBC our records show heavy tree seed crops and less snow than average on the ground so that fallen seeds are accessible. Black-backed Woodpecker (4), Gray Jay (13; lowest in 44 years) and Boreal Chickadee (4) were remarkably hard to find. A Merlin in the Opeongo Road area was a new species for the count; it occurs rarely here in winter, when small birds are common. A Northern Shrike mobbed by Blue Jays near the Visitor Centre feeders on January 2 was the only count week species.

Here are some spots where birders have observed the listed species during the past week:

-Spruce Grouse: three were in black spruce south of the highway opposite Spruce Bog Boardwalk and one was noted along Opeongo Road.

-Ruffed Grouse: continue to be seen along the Visitor Centre driveway and under the feeders below the viewing deck.

-Wild Turkey: four come daily to the Visitor Centre parking lot feeder, and two are in Mew Lake Campground regularly.

-Barred Owl: Hardwood Lookout Trail.

-Black-backed Woodpecker: the first kilometre of Highlands Backpacking Trail; Beaver Pond Trail; Highway 60 a little west of Opeongo Road; Spruce Bog Boardwalk; and Western Uplands Backpacking Trail entrance.

-Gray Jay: Opeongo Road, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Trailer Sanitation Station and Logging Museum.

-Boreal Chickadee: Opeongo Road north of the winter gate.

The two American Martens continued to come to the Visitor Centre fairly regularly to eat black sunflower seeds below the feeders.

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

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:

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