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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 15 March

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

Temperatures well below freezing caused the few open water areas to be reduced by ice formation and new snow covered the scarce patches of bare ground this week. New migrants were limited to Snow Bunting (March 8) and Mourning Dove (March 9). However, it was a good time to see Otters on the ice bordering open water at locations such as Costello Creek along Opeongo Road, and Canisbay Creek and the Little Madawaska near Highway 60. And an American Marten continued to come for black sunflower seeds below the feeders at the Visitor Centre as well.

Due to unsafe driving conditions in areas of ice-buildup and erosion caused by flowing water on Opeongo Road, it has been temporarily closed to public vehicle traffic beyond the Costello Picnic Area until further notice. Visitors can park at the picnic area and walk the road.

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

-Spruce Grouse: one was found off the main trail near the suet feeder along Spruce Bog Boardwalk on March 10.

-Ruffed Grouse: continue to be seen regularly below the Visitor Centre feeders and along its driveway.

-Black-backed Woodpecker: observed at Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Opeongo Road and the Logging Museum Trail.

-Canada Jay (Gray Jay): by the end of this week, researchers had located the nests of all 18 pairs in the Highway 60 Corridor and the females were incubating eggs in seven of those nests. Look for this jay at Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Opeongo Road and the Logging Museum trail.

-Boreal Chickadee: still no reports.

Finches continued to be seen in many large and small flocks as they sought grit and salt on Highway 60, especially early in the morning. The numerous and widespread species in the Park are Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch. Pine Grosbeak reports were limited to a male at Spruce Bog Boardwalk (March 11) and a pair on the highway at Lookout Trail (March 13). Up to 40 Evening Grosbeaks are still coming daily to the Visitor Centre feeders, along with good numbers of other finch species.

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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