Ouimet Canyon: a northwestern birding hotspot

Today’s post comes from our Northwest Regional Planning Ecologist Bill Greaves.

Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park is typically visited for its jaw-dropping geological feature, but it’s also one of the better birding hotspots in the Thunder Bay area.

What might you see at Ouimet Canyon?

Continue reading Ouimet Canyon: a northwestern birding hotspot

Spring birding festivals

The songbirds are returning and bringing spring with them!

Catch a bird-banding demonstration, take in a nature photography workshop, or sign on for a bird-themed hike with our park naturalists.

If you love songbirds, you won’t want to miss the Ontario Parks spring birding festivals:

Continue reading Spring birding festivals

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.

Continue reading IBAs of Ontario Parks: tundra swans and spring songbirds

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.

Continue reading Gray jays: the real early birds

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.

Continue reading The IBAs of Polar Bear Provincial Park

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

The secret flight of birds at night

Today’s post comes from Park Biologist Erica Barkley.

As a kid, I always pictured bird migration as Canada Geese flying south in a “V” during the day.

But that changed one calm, clear September evening. A park naturalist pointed out dozens of tiny “peep” noises over our heads. “Those are songbirds,” he said.

“No way!” I said. “Thousands of birds are migrating at night?!”

Continue reading The secret flight of birds at night

Billions travel Ontario’s migration superhighways

Today’s post comes from Brad Steinberg, our Natural Heritage Education and Learning Coordinator. An avid birder, Brad identifies several “migration superhighways” and the role provincial parks play in protecting Canada’s Important Bird Areas. 

Being stuck in traffic sucks. Especially with young kids.

This sentiment recently ran through my head while mired in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto, Ontario. (My conclusion was reinforced when my son loudly announced his urgent need for a bio-break.)

But as frustrating as highways can be; they are vitally important to us, providing a reliable route from one place to another.

Continue reading Billions travel Ontario’s migration superhighways

Noise annoys

How do birds cope with our increasingly noisy world?

The world is a noisy place, and that can pose problems for animals that depend on hearing each other’s sounds to find out about food, predators, and mates. Many species of mammals, birds, fish, and frogs produce louder, longer, or higher-pitch calls in noisy places, to be heard above the noise. But those altered sounds may not be good enough – they may not travel as far or convey the same information as normal songs.

Continue reading Noise annoys

Just passing through: head to The Pinery to see and hear migrating tundra swans

Photo Credit: Alf Rider

How cool would it be to close your eyes and hear thousands of birds yodeling en masse as they lift off in search of their next feeding ground? 

“You’ll never forget it, once you experience it,” says The Pinery’s natural heritage educator Alistair Mackenzie.

If you head to The Pinery Provincial Park (about 230 km southwest of Toronto) over the next few weeks, you might just see and hear up to 60,000 tundra swans passing through on their way to their Arctic breeding ground.  Starting from their southern winter home in Chesapeake Bay and moving north, the swans are in a race against time to reach their final breeding ground at Hudson Bay.  But don’t wait—the swans will likely be gone by the last week of March or first week of April.  And if there’s too much snow, they may overfly The Pinery altogether or stop in smaller numbers. Continue reading Just passing through: head to The Pinery to see and hear migrating tundra swans