Christmas Bird Count — keep the community science tradition going!

Today’s post comes from Cortney LeGros, the Healthy Parks Healthy People coordinator at Ontario Parks.

The holiday season is steeped in tradition.

No matter how you celebrate, there’s one scientific tradition that’s been around for over 120 years to help mark the holidays.

For me, the holidays would not be complete without participating in at least one Christmas Bird Count.

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Join our community of science

We’re making the switch from citizen science to community science.

Here at Ontario Parks, we love it when our visitors can get involved in science.

From iNaturalist to Bumblebee Watch, eBird, bioblitzes, and more, volunteers help us to collect important information about our parks.

These efforts help us to understand how plant and animal populations are changing over time, and help us to discover previously unknown populations of rare species. They also allow us to react quickly if someone discovers an invasive species in a new area.

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An iNaturalist milestone: 500,000 observations!

In today’s post, Algonquin Provincial Park‘s Assistant Superintendent David LeGros helps us celebrate a big milestone for community scientists around the province!

For over five years now, Ontario Parks has been encouraging park visitors to submit their observations of nature — everything from plants, animals, and fungi — to our community science project in iNaturalist.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we surpassed 500,000 observations of 10,325 species by 11,688 observers — a fantastic feat!

Our visitors really like submitting observations.

I tip my Tilley hat to you all.

Continue reading An iNaturalist milestone: 500,000 observations!

Join us for Science Literacy Week 2022

Today’s blog comes from Jessica Stillman, School Outreach Coordinator at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words: counting, measuring, weighing, and calculating?

For us, it’s connection!

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Monitoring birds in northern protected areas

Today’s article comes from our bird recording specialists, Zone Ecologist Ed Morris and Zone Operations Technician Rebecca Rogge. 

Birds are interesting. Most are visually striking, with noteworthy songs to match their brilliant feathers.

They are also very important.

Birds contribute to the health of our environment. They disperse seeds, pollinate plants, and help to control insect populations.

They have direct and indirect effects on human health and well-being as well.

The medical community recognizes the health benefits of spending time with nature and for many people, their connection with the natural world is through birds.

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Turtles: the ultimate survivors

In today’s post, Discovery Leader Olivia Bennett discusses turtles’ impact on Grundy Lake Provincial Park — and vice versa!

When I first started working at Grundy Lake, I was talking turtles with our park superintendent when someone asked, “Why do you care so much about turtles here?”

The answer is simple: while the park boasts a healthy turtle population and quality habitat, other areas are not so lucky.

This is only the beginning of why we should all care about turtles.

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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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Spotted on iNaturalist: our staff’s favourite observations

Did you know April is Community Science Month?

It’s no secret that we’re big proponents of community science, especially using a beginner-friendly app like iNaturalist!

Every observation contributes to park research and helps maintain ecological integrity in our natural spaces.

Not to mention the cool and unusual species we’ve spotted along the way!

Check out some of our staff’s favourite iNaturalist observations:

Continue reading Spotted on iNaturalist: our staff’s favourite observations

By paddle and boot: community science in the backcountry       

This post was written by David LeGros, park naturalist at Algonquin Provincial Park.

Are you an explorer? Heading out into parks on a journey of discovery, anxious to see what is on the next lake, around the bend on the portage, or even what might turn up at your campsite?

Me too. I love exploring the backcountry on canoe trips, and I love getting to know Algonquin a little bit better every time. I am also an avid naturalist, so I like to identify the things I see when I’m out there (and no, I don’t know all the species).

Lately, I have become obsessed with iNaturalist (ask my wife). So when we were planning our last canoe trip, I gently guided the route to be in a place where few nature nerds have made records before. For the glory, but also for real/good reasons too.

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