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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 25 April to 2 May

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (May 2, 2019) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.

Bare ground is extensive now, but snow persists on north-facing and shaded areas. Small lakes and ponds are becoming ice-free and there are some big areas of open water where rivers enter the larger lakes. However, the usual reduction in new spring arrivals at this time and fewer birders here as attention turns to the southern Ontario migration hotspots have resulted in limited information this week. Algonquin Park Ontbirds reports for the remainder of the spring will be occasional rather than weekly. Thanks for your interest and sightings.

The only reports of first-of-year regular species were OSPREY on April 27 (nine days later than the average arrival date) and BLUE-HEADED VIREO on April 29 (near the average date). A male EASTERN TOWHEE attracted to seed provided at the entrance to Spruce Bog Boardwalk was photographed on April 27 and 28. It was the second earliest spring date ever here for the species. This towhee is a rare migrant along Highway 60 but is a scarce summer resident at a few places on the East Side where it likely breeds regularly. A female OREGON JUNCO, a western subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco that is very rare here, was also photographed at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk seed on April 27.

Opeongo Road north of the winter gate was the place for SPRUCE GROUSE this week, with a female seen on April 29 and a male observed and a female heard vocalizing on April 30. Check out utility poles near ponds, bogs and marshes along Highway 60 for BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS excavating nesting cavities. Opeongo Road continues to be the best place to look for CANADA JAY. Pairs with young out of the nest now will be even more secretive, however.

Two EVENING GROSBEAKS were at the Visitor Centre on April 25 and 28. Very small numbers of COMMON REDPOLLS persisted at the Visitor Centre and elsewhere until the end of the week. For the second week in a row, a single WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL was observed on Opeongo Road. There were a few reports of very small numbers of PINE SISKIN and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH.

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 daily from 9 am to 5 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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