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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 28 March to 4 April

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (April 5, 2019) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.


The reported average snow depth in Algonquin has now increased to about 60 cm; the few areas of open water are limited to places where there is current (and they continue to partly freeze over again during cold nights); and there are only a few areas of bare ground (primarily on south-facing slopes along the highway). The effect of the Algonquin Dome being 200 metres higher than the surrounding country is well shown by the lingering winter conditions this year. Detected spring migrants were few this week but included Dark-eyed Junco (March 29), American Tree Sparrow (April 1) and Great Blue Heron (April 3). Juncos and Tree Sparrows typically overwinter in Algonquin only during years with large crops of coniferous and yellow birch seed that drop on the ground. These two birds have not been seen in the Park since last November.


There were no reports this week of SPRUCE GROUSE, BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER or BOREAL CHICKADEE but that may have been partly due to a scarcity of birders (or at least reports from birders). CANADA JAY continues to be seen regularly at Spruce Bog Boardwalk and Opeongo Road and birders should look there for the other three boreal residents as well.


Winter finches appear to be largely gone from the Park. A PINE GROSBEAK along Opeongo Road on April 4 may turn out to be the last one seen here this spring. COMMON REDPOLLS appear to be on the move. Most days there were six or less at the Visitor Centre, but higher counts were 17 (March 28) and 30 (March 29). Single RED CROSSBILLS were observed at the Visitor Centre (March 29) and at the winter gate on Opeongo Road (April 4). Six PINE SISKNS were reported at the Visitor Centre on March 29. AMERICAN GOLDFINCH numbers at the Visitor Centre went from five to one by late in the week. The Visitor Centre feeders have been shut down for the season now, but birds are still coming to the abundant seed remaining on the ground. An adult SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (probably a newly-arrived migrant) was photographed hunting birds below the Visitor Centre deck on March 29.


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: www.algonquinpark.on.ca


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

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