The boreal forest: Ontario’s songbird nursery

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education and Marketing Specialist Dave Sproule.

Migrating birds are already arriving along the edges of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, and many southern parks have birding events and festivals.

But for most of the migrants, these parks are just a rest stop after crossing those big stretches of water. Their destination may be much further north: the boreal forest.

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Discover birds with your kids

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

On my drive to work one morning, 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?

Some fun ideas you can try out:

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Pecking away at Presqu’ile: High Bluff and Gull Island bird colonies

This post was written by David Bree, Natural Heritage Education Leader at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

While Presqu’ile is not the busiest park in Ontario, it can get quite hectic at times in the summer. However, I am pretty sure most people could not guess where the busiest place in the park is.

It is not the Friday line-up to register your campsite, or the beach on a sunny Sunday in July. It is not even the line-up for ice cream at the park store on a hot summer day.

It is a place most campers never go…

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The spring bird migration

Today’s post was written by Laura Penner, Natural Heritage Education Leader at Rondeau Provincial Park.

Watching a forest 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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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:

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Tundra Swans at Pinery

Imagine you’re standing in Pinery Provincial Park.

You close your eyes and take in the peace of nature all around you. All of the sudden, a loud yodel interrupts the quiet! That unbelievable sound is actually thousands of birds yodeling en masse as they fly over the park in search of their next feeding ground.

This unforgettable experience is courtesy of the Tundra Swan.

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Keeping up with the Canada Jay

Today’s blog post comes from bird researchers Alex Sutton and Koley Freeman, PhD candidates at the University of Guelph.

In the world of Canada Jays, winter means one thing: it’s breeding season!

Canada Jays are common in Algonquin Provincial Park. Continuing a 55 year-old tradition, a dedicated team of researchers is monitoring breeding pairs. This is the longest study of its kind in the world!

With each passing year, more is learned about the breeding behaviour and life history of these remarkable birds.

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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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