Saving the unseen: managing habitat for Eastern Whip-poor-will at Pinery

For some, it’s the song of summertime. For others, it’s the song that signals impending doom. It was part of what made Hank Williams (so) lonesome, but many consider its presence far too surrounding.

Despite your interpretation, it’s easy to learn this bird’s classic “WHUP-poor-WILL” song.

Continue reading Saving the unseen: managing habitat for Eastern Whip-poor-will at Pinery

The Breeding Bird Atlas is coming to Ontario Parks!

This year marks the beginning of an exciting five years for Ontario Parks (2021-2025)!

We’re supporting the third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas: an enormous community science initiative that aims to survey all the province’s breeding birds.

It’s a big job, so if you like birds and care about their conservation, we could use your help!

Continue reading The Breeding Bird Atlas is coming to Ontario Parks!

5 cool facts about skinks

If you’ve ever seen a Five-lined Skink, you know just how neat they are!

The Five-lined Skink, which looks a bit like a salamander, is the only lizard species native to Ontario. And while researchers continue to study skinks, we still don’t know very much about what they do on a day-to-day basis, particularly from September to May when they’re hibernating.

Here are five cool things we DO know about Five-lined Skinks, courtesy of Alistair MacKenzie, Resource Management Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park.

Continue reading 5 cool facts about skinks

The very hungry caterpillars

If you’ve seen an Ontario oak tree recently, you’ve likely been introduced to the invasive Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar).

Gypsy Moth caterpillars were first introduced to North America in the late 1860s, and are voracious eaters! Their favourite cuisine is oak leaves, but in particularly bad outbreak years — like this one — they can spread to many other tree species.

Continue reading The very hungry caterpillars

Just keep swimming: the perilous journey of turtle hatchlings

Today’s post comes from Olivia Pomajba, a summer student at Rondeau Provincial Park.

A turtle hatchling making its way to water reminds us of the perilous journey we all face in life.

The world must seem incredibly vast to these centimetre-long hatchlings, and they face many challenges.

Continue reading Just keep swimming: the perilous journey of turtle hatchlings

Spring is turtle season at Grundy Lake

Many Ontario Parks have their “signature” wildlife: commonly-encountered and charismatic animals that most park visitors hope to catch a glimpse of during their stay.

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is named for the iconic Woodland Caribou.  Murphys Point Provincial Park is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the elusive Gray Ratsnake. Rondeau Provincial Park is the place to see the rare Prothonotary Warbler.

But did you know Grundy Lake Provincial Park is the place to see a Blanding’s Turtle?

Continue reading Spring is turtle season at Grundy Lake

Keeping turtles off the hook

Today’s post comes from Amy Tanner, Biology/Ecology Intern with Ontario Parks’ Southwest Zone. 

Before heading out for a fun day of fishing, we all go through our checklists. Have we got:

But here are two questions many people don’t ask:

  • what other living things could I accidentally catch while fishing?
  • do I know how to handle an unexpected catch?

Continue reading Keeping turtles off the hook

Beyond the light of the campfire

Today’s post comes from Park Naturalist Roger LaFontaine, a classically trained biologist and amateur Sasquatch researcher. He has spent nearly two decades researching and documenting the occurrence of Sasquatch in Ontario.

I have always had an interest in the creatures that others were not fond of: invertebrates under a log, salamanders in the soil, nocturnal creepy crawlies, and even a shy mammal that stays just beyond the light of my campfire.

My interest in obscure creatures began many years ago when I found a strange track along the bank of a river…

Continue reading Beyond the light of the campfire

Bobo-what?

When Bobolinks are mentioned in mixed audiences, you invariably get muffled laughter, quizzical looks and finally the question, “A bobo-what?”

Bobolinks are small songbirds in the same family as grackles and meadowlarks.  The breeding male is most recognizable by its black body and white back with a buff patch at the nape.

Continue reading Bobo-what?

7 amazing citizen science apps

You’re out in the woods and a bird flies by. Not sure what is it? There’s an app for that.

Today’s smartphones make ideal field guides. Photograph a butterfly sipping nectar. Video a slow-moving turtle. Record a birdsong. Then look it up, find a match, and enter your geotagged observations in a virtual field book.

These virtual field guides often support citizen science. You just share what you see. Scientists, researchers and conservationists use the crowdsourced data to look at climate change, track migration and monitor species at risk and sensitive ecosystems.

Here are a few popular apps:

Continue reading 7 amazing citizen science apps