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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 8 March

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (Mar. 9, 2018) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.

Snow is now reduced to an average depth of about 13 cm, with a hard crust, and some areas are bare. All lakes remain frozen, but rivers and creeks are opening up. Mallard (km 21), Merlin (at the East Gate and at Mew Lake Campground) and Red-winged Blackbird (Visitor Centre feeder) were all somewhat early migrants this week.

Wild Turkeys that overwintered outside the Park were observed moving back into it along Highway 60, as is usual in early spring. However, the male (photographed) and female Ring-necked Pheasants between km 5 and 6 on March 3 were definitely not usual. Originating from released birds west of Algonquin, these pheasants may have wandered into the Park with turkeys. Superintendent George Bartlett tried unsuccessfully to introduce pheasants to Algonquin before 1899 and again about 1902, but they all died in the winter. Bartlett released many alien species in the Park, including Belgian hare, Black Grouse and Capercaillie. Fortunately, none survived except smallmouth bass.

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

-Spruce Grouse: reported along Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Opeongo Road and Beaver Pond Trail.

-Ruffed Grouse: continue to be seen below the Visitor Centre feeders, at Spruce Bog Boardwalk, and on Opeongo Road.

-Black-backed Woodpecker: seen and heard drumming at Spruce Bog Boardwalk and Opeongo Road.

-Canada Jay (Gray Jay): by the end of this week, researchers had located nests under construction by at least 15 pairs. Look for this jay at Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Opeongo Road and the Logging Museum trail.

-Boreal Chickadee: no reports.

-Pine Grosbeak: single birds observed at Opeongo Road, the Logging Museum trail and Mew Lake Campground. They will be moving back north soon.

-Purple Finch: widespread in small numbers, including singing males.

-Red Crossbill: small flocks on the highway are regular. A few often come for grit on the bare ground under the Visitor Centre viewing deck.

-White-winged Crossbill: not as plentiful as Red Crossbill but numerous; many singing males. Also, regular getting grit at the Visitor Centre.

-Common Redpoll: no reports.

-Pine Siskin: widespread in good numbers. A green morph bird was at the Visitor Centre on March 3.

-American Goldfinch: still common, but lower numbers than earlier in the winter.

-Evening Grosbeak: up to 45 came to the Visitor Centre feeders.

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, bookstore and restaurant at km 43 are open on weekends in winter and daily during March Break (March 10 to 18) from 9 am to 5 pm. The Visitor Centre is also open with limited services on weekdays 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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