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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 21 to 28 February

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (Mar. 1, 2019) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.

Despite extremely cold temperatures and gale-force winds mid-week, there were a good number of birders in the Park and birds reported during the period. Further signs of coming spring included an AMERICAN CROW in Mew Lake Campground (the usual time and location of the first arriving migrants here) on Feb 25 and researchers now having located four CANADA JAY nests under construction. A female MALLARD flushed from open water near the bridge at Basin Depot in the Park’s “East Side” on Feb 23 was likely a wintering bird. It was only the second February record of this species ever for Algonquin.

BOREAL RESIDENTS: Four male SPRUCE GROUSE were photographed feeding in a spruce near the parking lot of Spruce Bog Boardwalk on Feb 26. A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was seen at the Trailer Sanitation Station (Feb 21). A BOREAL CHICKADEE was found on Feb 24 near Head Creek Marsh, accessible by following the Old Railway Bike Trail from the Old Airfield west toward Cache Lake. The unusually infrequent observation of this chickadee in Algonquin this winter may be at least partly due to the southward irruption of the species last fall. CANADA JAY was seen most regularly at Spruce Bog Boardwalk, Opeongo Road and the Logging Museum trail.

WINTER FINCHES: Up to a dozen PINE GROSBEAKS continued daily at the Visitor Centre feeders and a few were often seen along the highway as well. From two to six COMMON REDPOLLS were also at the Visitor Centre every day. The Greater Common Redpoll (rostrata), first seen in mid-January at the Visitor Centre, was photographed there on Feb 26. A female RED CROSSBILL came daily to the Visitor Centre feeders from Feb 24 onward and was joined by a male on Feb 28. Four WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were reported at the Visitor Centre on Feb 26. Red Crossbills have been extremely scarce here this winter and the White-winged Crossbill was last reported here in early December. Perhaps this week’s occurrences suggest movement by crossbills. The five AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES continued at the Visitor Centre.

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 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:

Ron Tozer, Algonquin Park Naturalist (retired), Dwight, ON.

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