Keeping up with the Canada Jay

Today’s blog post comes from bird researchers Alex Sutton and Koley Freeman, PhD candidates at the University of Guelph.

In the world of Gray Jays, winter means one thing: it’s breeding season!

Gray Jays, also known as Canada Jays, are common in Algonquin Provincial Park. Continuing a 54-year-old tradition, a dedicated team of researchers is monitoring breeding pairs. This is the longest study of its kind in the world!

With each passing year, more is learned about the breeding behaviour and life history of these remarkable birds.

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Tundra Swans at Pinery

Imagine you’re standing in Pinery Provincial Park.

You close your eyes and take in the peace of nature all around you. All of the sudden, a loud yodel interrupts the quiet! That unbelievable sound is actually thousands of birds yodeling en masse as they fly over the park in search of their next feeding ground.

This unforgettable experience is courtesy of the Tundra Swan.

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The IBAs of Polar Bear Provincial Park

This installment of our 2017 blog series IBAs in provincial parks — brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada — is very “cool.” 

Welcome to our year-long blog series! For our inaugural spotlight, we are staying in the winter spirit and focusing on Ontario’s far north. That’s right: our worlds collide up there in a big way.

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Canada Jays: the real early birds

Ontario Parks is recognizing iconic Canadian wildlife species this year to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. First up is the gray jay, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s pick for the official bird of Canada.

“The early bird gets the worm” usually makes us think of robins. But the real early bird isn’t Robin Red-Breast. It’s the gray jay, also known as the whiskeyjack or Canada jay.

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A winter birding challenge

Today’s post is from Justin Peter, who was a Natural Heritage Education Specialist at Algonquin Provincial Park from 2006 through 2013. Now a professional travel planner, Justin is a keen local and worldwide explorer, and looks for birds everywhere he ventures.

It’s tempting to say that winter’s not the best time to look at birds in our Ontario Parks. Many species have migrated south. We’re hesitant to venture into the chilly weather.

But the quieter (and leafless) atmosphere of our parks during winter provides an excellent and unique challenge for our sense of environmental awareness.

Up for the challenge? Here’s a selection of birds (and bird signs) you can look for this winter:

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Woodpeckers 101

Today’s post comes from Barb Rees, our Natural Heritage Education and Marketing Specialist in the Northwest Zone of Ontario Parks.

Winter is a great time to watch for woodpeckers. Why? Simply because there are less leaves on trees making most birds more visible.

Typically, there are also more birdfeeders placed out in the winter than the summer (since the bears are hibernating). So attracting birds closer to your home makes bird-watching possible right from the warmth of your living room window.

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Birds and biodiversity

Welcome to the final installment of  our 2017 series “IBAs in provincial parks,” brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada.

It’s been a terrific year sharing bird facts and stories about IBAs and provincial parks, but it’s time to step back and take a look at the bigger picture: biodiversity.

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December’s digital download

Our gift to you this December is this beautiful image of a Gray Jay.

You never know what you’ll see in pristine winter forests.  Birds are often easier to spot because of the leafless trees and serene quiet.

All you need is a set of binoculars, a pair of snowshoes, and some warm clothing.

Happy birding!

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Tidewater Provincial Park and Pei lay sheesh kow IBA

Welcome to the November installment of “IBAs in provincial parks,” brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada.

It’s always exciting when we can announce a new Important Bird & Biodiversity area!

Today’s IBA started out as an area of seven IBAs and is now an amalgamated site with an added 716 km2 of area.

Tidewater Provincial Park and the tail end of Kesagami Provincial Park fit comfortably within our new IBA: Pei lay sheesh kow.

“Pei lay sheesh kow” means “an area that abounds with birds” in Cree. That couldn’t be more true!

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Ploverpalooza at Wasaga Beach

The Piping Plover 10th anniversary event, lovingly entitled Ploverpalooza, is scheduled to take place over the course of the summer of 2017.

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park and the Friends of Nancy Island have spearheaded the Piping Plover Recovery Program since the species returned to Wasaga Beach in 2008.

Help us celebrate the 10th anniversary of the return of this beloved species at risk!

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