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.
Continue reading Sparrows: It’s all in their heads
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.
Continue reading Square bashes with the Breeding Bird Atlas
Provincial parks are not islands.
Well, some of them are. What we mean is: there is no invisible wall around parks limiting their relationships with the outside world.
Even if you never visit a park, you benefit from the pollinator diversity they protect, the CO2 they sequester in wood, roots, and peat, and the clean water filtered by protected wetlands.
Plants, animals, fungi, microbes, water, and air move in and out of protected spaces, with intimate connections on both local and global levels.
In the same way, things that happen outside of park boundaries affect the ecosystems within them. What you do at home, work, or play can impact our parks.
Whether you live next door to a park or 100 km away, here are six ways your everyday actions can help keep parks and nature reserves healthy and biodiverse:
Continue reading 6 ways to be the best park neighbour
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!
Continue reading Just for the gull of it!
Wakami Lake Provincial Park sits very near the “height of land.” That is, the place where water either flows to the Great Lakes and eventually out to the Atlantic Ocean, or north to Hudson Bay and the arctic watershed.
It’s also a place where the southern forests of Sugar Maple and Yellow Birch give way to the trees of the boreal forest. Poplar, White Birch, Jack Pine, Balsam Fir and Black Spruce begin to dominate here.
Bald Eagles and Osprey are commonly seen fishing the productive waters of the lake. Wakami Lake is one of the best Walleye lakes in the northeast. Wildlife is abundant, and so is the quiet.
Continue reading The height of land: Wakami Lake Provincial Park
Today’s post comes from Assistant Ecologist and Piping Plover specialist Ian Fife.
If you’ve visited some of our popular Great Lakes beaches, you may have noticed restricted areas for a tiny bird no larger than a sparrow.
What’s so important about these birds, and why do we fence off parts of our beaches to protect them?
Continue reading Piping Plovers
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.
Continue reading We’re here for the birds: how to be an ethical birder
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.
Continue reading Birding with benefits: therapeutic benefits of bird watching
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.
Continue reading The spring bird migration
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.
Continue reading Birding in the boreal