Sparrows: It’s all in their heads

In today’s post, Rondeau Provincial Park Interpreter Shane Smits will take us through identifying just a few of the many sparrow species found in Ontario. 

For several reasons, whether rightfully so or not, sparrows are often overlooked when it comes to birdwatching.

For starters, they tend to be plentiful. There are usually many sparrows seen hopping around near the forest floor or within dense cover.

But seemingly the most common reason to overlook sparrows amongst beginner bird watchers — that “all sparrows look the same” — is actually a misconception.

This is admittedly something that I have said on multiple occasions. Here’s why it’s wrong. Yes, all sparrows have their similarities. But after spending some time getting to know these little brown birds, their differences become more apparent.

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Square bashes with the Breeding Bird Atlas

Today’s post comes from Anna Sheppard, an Assistant Ecologist for Ontario Parks’ Northeast Zone.

I am admittedly not a morning person by nature — if I had it my way, I would sleep in every single day!

But I am passionate about birds, and for just a couple of months each year I’m willing to roll out of bed at 5:00 a.m. in support of the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.

This past June, I joined a small crew of volunteers who were up at dawn for several days at both Grundy Lake Provincial Park and Mikisew Provincial Park to count birds for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.

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Just for the gull of it!

In today’s post, Awenda’s Chief Park Naturalist Tim Tully defends what some may think is the undefendable: the gull. 

If there was ever an animal that gets a raw deal, it’s the gull.

It’s time to set the record straight and come to the defense of this unfairly maligned avian “underbird.”

For starters, we can’t even get the name right. I hate to tell you, folks, but there is no such thing as a seagull!

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We’re here for the birds: how to be an ethical birder

It’s officially spring, which means that birds are winging their way back to our parks — and birders won’t be far behind them!

As birding becomes more popular, and with the initiation of the third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, we’re expecting that this will be a big year for the activity.

Whether this is your first season birding or your 91st, we know you want to act in a way that is respectful and protects our feathered park inhabitants.

If you and your binoculars are venturing into a park this season, read on for our top suggestions for ethical birding.

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Birding with benefits: therapeutic benefits of bird watching

Birdwatching is a time-honoured tradition that many people enjoy today, offering the opportunity to switch off from the modern world and get back to nature.

Whether you’re simply investing in a bird feeder for your backyard or going for a walk in your local park, birding is beneficial to both your mind and body.

It is renowned for being a meditative exercise where you are fully present in the moment.

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The spring bird migration

Today’s post was written by Laura Penner, a Discovery leader at Rondeau Provincial Park.

Watching the world wake up and spring back to life after a long winter is something almost everyone looks forward to. While the winter has charm and stunning beauty, the thought of those long, warm days simply change the pace of outdoor activity.

We aren’t the only ones anticipating the change of seasons. In fact, nature has been investing large amounts of energy in order to take advantage of this relatively short burst of warmth and the seemingly limitless supply of food that comes with it. This is evident in the countless flocks of birds that migrate north each spring.

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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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Discover birds with your kids

Today’s post comes from Eva Paleczny, Learning & Education Specialist with Ontario Parks. 

On my drive to work one morning last month, I noticed a bunch of Mourning Doves sitting in a row along an electrical line. As I continued driving, I wondered why birds gather in groups like that. Are they being social? Is it advantageous to their survival?

Birds are among the most commonly seen wildlife in our parks and cities, yet probably among the most difficult to observe and identify, due to their intricate colour patterns, quick movements, and ability to stay hidden from view. Not to mention the HUGE variety of bird species out there!

Despite this, I’ve seen many young children express awe and excitement when they see a bird fly by or land on a nearby window sill. These are new sightings for them and they are curious…but eventually, they become ordinary sightings.

How can you tap into discovering birds with your children at home? How can you spark a lifelong curiosity in birds and other creatures?

Here are some fun ideas you can try out from your own backyard:

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