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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 14 to 21 March

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (Mar. 21, 2019) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.

Spring migration actually got going a bit this week with the arrival of SNOW BUNTING (March 17), RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (March 19), CANADA GOOSE and HERRING GULL (March 20) and AMERICAN ROBIN and EUROPEAN STARLING (today). However, the average snow depth has only gone from 80 cm last week to 61 cm now, due to melting and compaction in the milder conditions. There is very little bare ground even on south-facing slopes and all ponds and lakes remain completely covered with thick ice.

BOREAL RESIDENTS: A calling SPRUCE GROUSE was reported along Opeongo Road (March 15) and a drumming BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was heard on Peck Lake Trail (March 14). A BOREAL CHICKADEE was foraging in spruce trees beside the parking lot near the Opeongo Road winter gate (March 16). CANADA JAY was seen regularly at Spruce Bog Boardwalk and Opeongo Road, and researchers advise that some females are now incubating eggs.

WINTER FINCHES: Numbers appear to be declining with the onset of warmer temperatures. Only one to three PINE GROSBEAKS were at the Visitor Centre feeders, with a few others observed along the highway, and most have likely gone northward by today. About three COMMON REDPOLLS were noted at the feeders daily and there was one at Spruce Bog Boardwalk on March 18. AMERICAN GOLDFINCH reports indicated only two to five at the feeders each day.

A pair of BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS were displaying and drumming together at a location along the first couple of kilometres of Arowhon Road (gated but accessible on foot) on March 20. A BOREAL CHICKADEE was photographed at Spruce Bog Boardwalk on March 20.

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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