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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 15 February

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (Feb. 15, 2018) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.

The spotting of a female White-winged Crossbill returning to her nest high in a white spruce and then apparently incubating for the next 20 minutes of observation was a remarkable discovery on February 10. Despite research in Algonquin Park on crossbill behaviour and breeding activities dating back to the 1980s, this was the first record of a nest at the egg stage for either species here. In Algonquin Park, research by crossbill expert Craig Benkman indicated that White-winged Crossbills breed during three main periods which coincide with maximum availability of particular conifer seeds: summer and fall (July to November) associated with white spruce and tamarack; winter (January to March) associated with white spruce; and spring (March to June) associated with black spruce.

Tomorrow (February 16) will be the winterís third Bird Feeder Friday when feeders at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre are broadcast live on the internet from 9 am to 4 pm. Multiple views allow you to watch for common bird and mammal species (perhaps including a marten). This live video feed is brought to you by The Friends of Algonquin Park. A special thanks to Wild Birds Unlimited Toronto for providing bird feeders and seed for the Visitor Centre. To see the broadcast, tune in to:

As part of the Winter in the Wild Festival in Algonquin Park on Saturday, February 17, Guided Bird Walks will occur at Spruce Bog Boardwalk in the morning (10 to 11:30 am) and afternoon (2:30 to 4 pm). See the following for details and other events:

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

-Spruce Grouse: no reports; try Spruce Bog Boardwalk.

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

-Wild Turkey: about seven are still coming early in the morning to the Visitor Centre parking lot feeder, and two continue in Mew Lake Campground.

-Black-backed Woodpecker: one was seen between posts 12 and 13 on the Logging Museum trail (February 11) and on Spruce Bog Boardwalk (February 12).

-Canada Jay (Gray Jay): look at Opeongo Road, Spruce Bog Boardwalk and the Logging Museum.

-Boreal Chickadee: only a single report, one with Black-capped Chickadees along the Big Pines Trail on February 10.

-Pine Grosbeak: one was found at Spruce Bog Boardwalk on February 11.

-Purple Finch: a few are regular at the Visitor Centre feeders and they are frequently observed along the highway.

-Red Crossbill: small flocks reported regularly along the highway, and a few at the Visitor Centre daily.

-White-winged Crossbill: still being seen along the highway, at the Visitor Centre, and along Spruce Bog Boardwalk and Opeongo Road.

-Common Redpoll: three were observed along Opeongo Road and one north of Mew Lake, on February 10.

-Pine Siskin: good numbers along the highway.

-American Goldfinch: common.

-Evening Grosbeak: still coming daily to the Visitor Centre feeders but numbers have decreased to a maximum of 20 birds this week.

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 exhibits and restaurant at km 43 are open on weekends from 9 am to 5 pm, including Family Day (Monday, February 19); and are also open with limited services through the week from 9 am to 4 pm. 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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The Muskoka Bird Board is a place to share reports of birds and other nature sightings in Muskoka and surrounding areas. You may also post a question about birds or birding in general. You don't have to include an email address in your post. Remember to include the location of your sightings - even the nearest town or major crossroads would be fine. See the Posting Guidelines for more information and helpful tips about using the Muskoka Bird Board.

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