How to be a winter wildlife detective

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Leader David Bree at Presqu’ile Provincial Park

With the onset of winter, we often think of nature going into a slumber, but while she slows down there is still lots going on outside. In fact, winter provides a better opportunity to learn what the animals of our fields and forests are up to than do the warmer seasons.

I am, of course, talking about tracking, tracking in the snow.

Continue reading How to be a winter wildlife detective

The scavenger hunt for survival

Today’s post comes from Anna Scuhr, a naturalist with Lake Superior Provincial Park. 

The arrival of snow and ice transforms the rugged landscape of Lake Superior Provincial Park into a stunningly beautiful, albeit unforgiving place to live.

As temperatures drop, the park can accumulate up to six feet of snow in the interior. This makes just about every aspect of an animal’s life more challenging.

Northern winters are a true test of an animal’s fitness. Let’s look at how they adapt to survive long, harsh winters.

Continue reading The scavenger hunt for survival

The beaver in winter

Pop quiz: do beavers hibernate? Today’s post — from Natural Heritage Education Specialist Dave Sproule — answers common questions about beavers.

beaverIf you’re near water, especially in our northern parks, you might see signs of one of the most important animals in the Ontario landscape, one that molds the landscape to its own needs.

But in the depths of winter, with much of Ontario frozen and white, what are these aquatic creatures up to?

Continue reading The beaver in winter

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.

Continue reading Woodpeckers 101

Kakabeka Falls inspires student art

Big thanks to the students of Valley Central Public School, especially Sara Miller (grade 7) and Trenten Scott (grade 8), for writing this post about their recent trip to Kakabeka Falls.

In September, students from the Valley Central School Learning Academies visited Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park for some outdoor learning.

The main intention of the trip was to plant trees in case the Emerald Ash Borer spreads into their forests. However the students also took the time to sketch landscapes, rock formations, trees, and — of course — the beautiful falls themselves.

Continue reading Kakabeka Falls inspires student art

The year of high water at Presqu’ile

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Leader David Bree at Presqu’ile Provincial Park

It was a wet year for provincial parks in 2017.

If you visited Lake Ontario this spring, you know water levels reached record highs. By early May, the lake was 10 cm higher than the highest it had ever been since records started in 1918. This is also a full metre higher than average.

The damage this caused has been well-documented. At Presqu’ile Provincial Park, we had flooded facilities, lost land to erosion, and had to close for four weeks in June to prevent more damage to our soggy landscape.

The flood was certainly an inconvenience to us, but what effect did it have on the nature and wildlife of the park?

Continue reading The year of high water at Presqu’ile

Underground, underwater or frozen solid: how do frogs & toads spend the winter?

Today’s post comes from David LeGros, one of our Algonquin Provincial Park naturalists.

As the crisp fall days get colder and the occasional dusting of snow whitens the landscape, we know that winter is just around the corner. For the countless songbirds of our forests, they avoid our cold winters and lack of food by migrating south. Other animals are adapted to the cold conditions and may grow a thicker coat of fur or feathers. Some, we think, have the enviable ability to sleep away the long Ontario winter by hibernating.

Continue reading Underground, underwater or frozen solid: how do frogs & toads spend the winter?

Owl-induced whiplash

In today’s post, Alistair MacKenzie, Naturalist Heritage Education Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park, recounts a dramatic encounter with an eastern screech owl.

We desperately needed to confirm breeding evidence for eastern screech owls in our survey squares for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas back in 2005.

It was our last chance given that the atlas was wrapping up the collection period and I was frustrated since I confidently knew that screech owls did indeed breed in the park, but sadly we just hadn’t managed to be in the right place at the right time to confirm it.

Continue reading Owl-induced whiplash