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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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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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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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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IBAs of Ontario Parks: the Frontenac Forests IBA

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

Break out the champagne! We don’t often add new IBAs to the Canadian family of sites, so when we do, it’s a special occasion.

The all-new Frontenac Forests Important Bird and Biodiversity Area encompasses Frontenac Provincial Park and Queens University Biological Station (QUBS), and is designated for one of the most beautiful warblers around – the Cerulean Warbler.

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Birding in the boreal

Lev Frid, birder par excellence, recently explored some of our northern parks, and wrote us the following post. If you love songbirds, this is a must-read!

For many Ontario birdwatchers, it’s all about the spring. Great Lakes havens such as Rondeau, MacGregor Point and Presqu’ile Provincial Parks host birding festivals and draw lots of visitors itching to see newly-arrived spring migrants.

What you might not know is that there are many opportunities to view these same birds on their breeding grounds in the boreal forest in some of our northern parks.

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BioBlitz at Sleeping Giant

Team members from our Northwest Zone, including Barb Rees, Evan McCaul, Lesley Ng, Renée Lalonde, Laura Myers and Kyra Santin, combined to share the results of Sleeping Giant’s summer BioBlitz! 

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park isn’t just home to beautiful cliffs and hiking trails. The park also plays host to a diverse group of plants and animals.

Sleeping Giant celebrated this biodiversity with its very own two-day intensive BioBlitz from June 17 to 18.
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IBAs of Ontario Parks: Turkey Point and the Norfolk Forest Complex IBA

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

Summer is a perfect time to talk about the Turkey Point Provincial Park and the Norfolk Forest Complex IBA!

These forests are known for supporting a rich breeding bird community, as well as an astounding array of other species.

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