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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 22 March

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

Continuing night temperatures well below freezing, north winds, persisting extensive snow cover (averaging about 22 cm) and very limited areas of open water all combined to stifle migration this week. However, there were a few signs of spring, including an apparent migrant Red-tailed Hawk (March 21), calling Northern Saw-whet Owls at the West Gate and km 3 near dawn (March 19), the first singing Brown Creeper and Golden-crowned Kinglet (March 17), and a Red-breasted Nuthatch excavating a nest cavity (March 18).

Due to continuing unsafe driving conditions in areas of ice-buildup and erosion caused by flowing water on Opeongo Road, it remains 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: a displaying male along Spruce Bog Boardwalk yesterday closely approached a photographer, perhaps finding the camera shutter noise similar to the grouse’s swishing tail sound.

-Black-backed Woodpecker: single birds were observed at Mizzy Lake Trail parking lot, Spruce Bog Boardwalk and the Logging Museum Trail.

-Canada Jay (Gray Jay): seen regularly at the Trailer Sanitation Station, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Opeongo Road and the Logging Museum Trail.

-Boreal Chickadee: in the first report since February 3, one was heard and photographed yesterday along the return route of the Bat Lake Trail just past the creek. One was observed at about the same place back on January 26. It is certainly worth checking that location in this time of extreme Boreal Chickadee scarcity in Algonquin. Calling should be more frequent now prior to winter flock break-up.

Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches are still numerous and widespread. Purple Finches and White-winged Crossbills are less commonly observed now, but similarly widespread. A singing male Pine Grosbeak along Bat Lake Trail yesterday was likely one of the last of this boreal species here this spring. Up to 30 Evening Grosbeaks continue to come daily 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 now 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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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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