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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 22 February

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (Feb. 22, 2018) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.

Algonquin Park began to experience “pre-spring” by the end of the week as temperatures went up and snow depth went down. American Crows, the first migrants, were spotted on February 19 and 21. Researchers found the first Canada Jay nest under construction on February 19. And a Northern Saw-whet Owl, that likely spent the winter here, was heard calling near dawn in Mew Lake Campground the same day.

Despite the influx of birders on Family Day Weekend, no Boreal Chickadees were reported again this week. Seventy-six observers on the Algonquin Christmas Count found only four. Is there a real population decline here? Boreal Chickadees in the Western Uplands of Algonquin Park are on the southern edge of their Ontario breeding range. The species is virtually absent from the East Side of the Park. Elevations are lower and temperatures are higher there. Could climate warming now be exerting a negative effect on this chickadee in the western part of Algonquin? Time will tell.

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

-Spruce Grouse: one or two were found along 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 to the Visitor Centre parking lot feeder, and two continue in Mew Lake Campground.

-Black-backed Woodpecker: a male and a female were reported fairly regularly on Spruce Bog Boardwalk.

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

-Bohemian Waxwing: three were seen briefly at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk parking lot on February 17.

-Evening Grosbeak: a flock of 30 to 40 came daily to the Visitor Centre feeders, and a few were observed on Opeongo Road as well.

-Pine Grosbeak: from one to four were observed at the Visitor Centre, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Opeongo Road and Hemlock Bluff Trail parking lot.

-Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill and Pine Siskin: moderate numbers continue to be seen throughout the Highway 60 Corridor.

-Common Redpoll: a few were along Opeongo Road on two days, but they remain scarce.

-American Goldfinch: common.

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; 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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