The beaver: architect of biodiversity

Ontario Parks is recognizing iconic Canadian species this year to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Next up, we join Natural Heritage Education Specialist Dave Sproule for a chat about the ecological and cultural significance of the beaver, which became Canada’s official symbol in 1975.

We all know beavers are industrious. They builds dams, canals and sturdy homes called lodges, which are warm in winter. They repair all those dams and collect enough food to survive long northern winters.

We know beavers are well-suited to the Canadian environment. Beavers are amphibious – more at home in the water than on land — with webbed hind feet, nostrils that can close, a third see-through eyelid that protects the eye when they’re underwater, and a big flat tail that acts as rudder while swimming.

The biggest reason to celebrate the beaver during Canada150, however, is that the beaver built Canada, shaping both its historical and ecological landscape.

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Chilling out by the lake: arctic-alpine disjunct plants along Lake Superior

Today’s post comes from Park Naturalist Lesley Ng of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Did you know there are blooming beauties which are adapted for the arctic tundra or alpine environments? In short, they like it cold!

And we don’t need traverse tundra or climb mountains to see them. We just need to take a spring hike along Lake Superior’s shoreline.

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Bumble bee conservation volunteer opportunity at Pinery and Awenda

Today’s post comes from Hayley Tompkins and Sarah Johnson, biologists with Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Native Pollinator Initiative.  

Calling all nature lovers! If you’re available June 24-25, 2017, we have a great program to help conserve pollinators that you can be a part of!

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April is for beaver-watching at Algonquin

One of the best parts about spring is that it offers some of the best viewing opportunities for two of Algonquin Provincial Park’s most famous mammals.

May has become famous for moose watching in Algonquin but April is prime time for viewing its smaller, toothier associate, the beaver.

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IBAs of Ontario Parks: tundra swans and spring songbirds

This installment of our 2017 blog series IBAs in provincial parks — brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada —focuses on the spring migrations at two of our southwestern parks.

On my recent trip to Rondeau Provincial Park / IBA for the Wings of Spring festival and the Port Franks Forested Dunes IBA (close to Pinery Provincial Park), one thing was clear…

…tundra swans make a big impression.

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Ontario’s trilliums and where to enjoy them

Ontario Parks is recognizing iconic Canadian species this year to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Today’s post comes from Assistant Zone Ecologist Pilar Manorome.

Spring is probably my favourite season as it brings new life to our parks in the form of migrating birds and emerging spring ephemerals, giving our forests’ their long awaited pops of vibrant colours and contrast. One of our visitors’ favourite sights is Ontario’s provincial flower, the White Trillium, as their blooms blanket the forest floor.

Most people know of the White Trillium — also referred to as Wake Robin or Large-leaved Trillium — as Ontario’s provincial flower. This is the flower featured on many of our provincial documents, from health cards to driver’s licenses.

Here are the top five fun facts about this iconic Ontario species:

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Lake monsters in Ontario Parks

Today’s post comes from Roger LaFontaine, park naturalist, classically trained biologist and amateur lake monster researcher. He has spent nearly two decades researching and documenting the occurrence of mysterious creatures in Ontario.

We think that we know our lakes and rivers well, but, in reality, we have barely scratched the surface. Unknown to us, the real action may be happening beneath the surface.

Ontario is home to some of the deepest and largest lakes in the world, and many campers and local communities tell stories of strange things seen in their waters. Tales are told of large creatures that can cause rough waters and storms.

But what do we really know about lake monsters?

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St. Patrick’s Day “green”ery

Our parks are wearing the green this St. Patrick’s Day and you don’t have to be Irish to appreciate it!

“You do need to be observant, though,” says Algonquin Provincial Park biologist Alison Lake. “But it will be well worth the effort.”

Taking St. Patrick’s Day stroll? Here are 7 shades of green you might spot in our parks:

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The science of snow

Today’s post comes from Brianne Brothers, a Zone Ecologist in Ontario’s Southwest Zone. 

Ah, snow. A substance that truly embodies what it means to be Canadian.

While many of us struggle with the idea enjoying something that inflicts hard physical labour and white-knuckled driving, it truly is clean, fresh and beautiful.

In that light, please grab a cup of coffee and a cozy window seat, and let’s explore the science of snow.

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Gray 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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