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Algonquin Park Birding Report

Hooded Mergansers in Algonquin Park

Algonquin Park Birding Reports provide visitors with species observed in recent days within Algonquin Park. Reports are compiled by Ron Tozer. We would greatly appreciate your Algonquin Park bird sightings. Please contact us with your recent sightings.

More About the Birds of Algonquin Park

Birds of Algonquin ParkBirds of Algonquin Park authored by retired Algonquin Park Naturalist Ron Tozer presents detailed accounts of all 278 birds known to have occurred in Algonquin Park. The book includes information on migration timing, nesting habits and behaviour of the 144 breeding species, winter occurrence, historical records and population trends. The influence of climate warming on the arrival and departure time of migrants, and the declining numbers of many species are discussed. This 480-page masterpiece filled with illustrations and images is available for purchase online or at any of The Friends of Algonquin Park stores.

Upcoming Birding Workshop

Experience Algonquin Park WorkshopsSpring Birds and Bird Research - During this workshop, participants will visit a variety of habitats to observe and better understand the diversity of Algonquin Park’s bird species, and learn about ongoing and historic bird research that has shaped our understanding of these complex avian communities. Pre-registration is required. Stay tuned for more Experience Algonquin Park Workshops coming in 2018.


February 15, 2018

The spotting of a female White-winged Crossbill returning to her nest high in a White Spruce and then apparently incubating for the next 20 minutes of observation was a remarkable discovery on February 10. Despite research in Algonquin Park on crossbill behaviour and breeding activities dating back to the 1980s, this was the first record of a nest at the egg stage for either species here. In Algonquin Park, research by crossbill expert Craig Benkman indicated that White-winged Crossbills breed during three main periods which coincide with maximum availability of particular conifer seeds: summer and fall (July to November) associated with white spruce and tamarack; winter (January to March) associated with white spruce; and spring (March to June) associated with black spruce.

Boreal Chickadee in Algonquin Park by Michael Runtz

Boreal Chickadee in Algonquin Park. Photo by Michael Runtz.

Tomorrow (February 16) will be the winter’s third Bird Feeder Friday when feeders at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre are broadcast live on the internet from 9 am to 4 pm. Multiple views allow you to watch for common bird and mammal species (perhaps including a marten). This live video feed is brought to you by The Friends of Algonquin Park. A special thanks to Wild Birds Unlimited Toronto for providing bird feeders and seed for the Visitor Centre.

As part of the Winter in the Wild Festival in Algonquin Park on Saturday, February 17, Guided Bird Walks will occur at Spruce Bog Boardwalk in the morning (10 to 11:30 am) and afternoon (2:30 to 4 pm).

Here are some locations where birders observed the listed species during the past week:

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


February 8, 2018

Winter finches are being seen regularly on Highway 60, especially after snowfalls when sand and salt have been applied to the roadway. Numbers are greater along the road before traffic becomes heavier by mid-morning. Some Red Crossbills are breeding now, with both mating and courtship feeding being reported this week. One or two American Martens are still coming irregularly to feed on black sunflower seeds below the feeders at the Visitor Centre.

Red Crossbill in Algonquin Park
Male Red Crossbill in Algonquin Park. Photo by Michael Runtz.



Here are some locations where birders observed the listed species during the past week:

Winter finches continue to be widespread.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


February 1, 2018

The most unusual bird reported this week was an American Crow at the parking lot near the winter gate on Opeongo Road on January 27. It was a classic day (above freezing temperature) and location (a place where people put out bird food) for a rare winter crow sighting here. The crow probably moved into the Park from a nearby wintering area in response to the milder conditions and likely departed when cold returned. Crows are almost never present in Algonquin during winter.

Black-backed Woodpecker in Algonquin Park

Male Black-backed Woodpecker in Algonquin Park. Photo by Lev Frid.

Tomorrow (February 2) will be the winter’s second Bird Feeder Friday when feeders at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre are broadcast live on the internet from 9 am to 4 pm. Multiple views allow you to watch for common bird and mammal species (perhaps a marten, but not a groundhog or its shadow!). This live video feed is brought to you by The Friends of Algonquin Park. A special thanks to Wild Birds Unlimited Toronto for providing bird feeders and seed for the Visitor Centre.

Here are some locations where birders observed the listed species during the past week:

Winter finches remain widespread.

  • Pine Grosbeak: very scarce; a singing male was noted near Mew Lake Campground on January 24.
  • Purple Finch: regular at the Visitor Centre feeders and frequently observed along the highway.
  • Red Crossbill: small flocks reported regularly along the highway, especially in early morning.
  • White-winged Crossbill: reported regularly along the highway, at the Visitor Centre, and along Spruce Bog Boardwalk and Opeongo Road.
  • Common Redpoll: no reports received this week.
  • Pine Siskin: flocks regularly seen on the highway.
  • American Goldfinch: still common.
  • Evening Grosbeak: from 20 to 40 come to the Visitor Centre feeders daily.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


January 25, 2018

The most notable bird this week was an adult Golden Eagle observed in flight near Smoke Creek Bridge on Highway 60, January 20.

Here are some locations where birders observed the listed species during the past week:

Adult male Pine Grosbeak 
Photo by Michael Runtz

Adult male Pine Grosbeak. Photo by Michael Runtz

Winter finches remain widespread.

  • Pine Grosbeak: two were in the Visitor Centre parking lot on January 21, and two were along Opeongo Road, January 24.
  • Purple Finch: regular in low numbers, but 46 were counted at the Visitor Centre on January 21.
  • Red Crossbill: small numbers regular; a few continue to be seen daily off the Visitor Centre viewing deck, with “courtship feeding” observed there on January 21.
  • White-winged Crossbill: reported regularly at the Visitor Centre and Spruce Bog Boardwalk.
  • Common Redpoll: Opeongo Road produced 12 on January 20 and five the next day.
  • Pine Siskin: widespread, with a total of 300 in several flocks along Highway 60 on January 21.
  • American Goldfinch: good numbers; an estimated 150 along the highway and about 55 at the Visitor Centre feeders on January 21.
  • Evening Grosbeak: from 20 to 40 continue to come to the Visitor Centre feeders daily.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


January 18, 2018

As an “old guy” myself, I was pleased when the male Spruce Grouse that was colour-banded in 2009 and is now at least 10 years old was photographed at Spruce Bog Boardwalk on January 14. According to Birds of North America, the estimated annual survival rate of male Spruce Grouse (canadensis subspecies) is just 38 to 44%. The oldest recorded age for a Spruce Grouse is 13 years. Readers may also recall that a Northern Goshawk successfully preyed on at least one Spruce Grouse at Spruce Bog Boardwalk in January last year, so living there for 10 years or more is quite an accomplishment.

Banded Male Spruce Grouse in Algonquin Park

Image: Banded male Spruce Grouse at Spruce Bog Boardwalk on January 14, 2018. Photo (on eBird) courtesy of Ellen and Jerry Horak.

Tomorrow (January 19) will be this winter's first Bird Feeder Friday when feeders at the Visitor Centre are broadcast live on the internet from 9 am to 4 pm. Multiple views allow you to watch for common bird and mammal species. This live video feed is brought to you by The Friends of Algonquin Park. A special thanks to Wild Birds Unlimited Toronto for providing bird feeders and seed for the Visitor Centre.

Here are some locations where birders observed the listed species during the past week:

  • Spruce Grouse: three or four were in large conifers near the start of the first short boardwalk at Spruce Bog Boardwalk.
  • Ruffed Grouse: continue to be seen along the Visitor Centre driveway and under the feeders below the viewing deck.
  • Wild Turkey: up to nine are still coming daily to the Visitor Centre parking lot feeder, and two continue in Mew Lake Campground.
  • Black-backed Woodpecker: a female was reported along Opeongo Road on January 15.
  • Gray Jay: Opeongo Road, Spruce Bog Boardwalk and the Logging Museum are the best places to see them.
  • Boreal Chickadee: the only report was of one heard briefly on Spruce Bog Boardwalk, January 14. They have not been utilizing the suet feeder there this winter.
  • American Marten: two continued to come to the Visitor Centre feeders fairly regularly.

Winter finches remain widespread, with most species being seen regularly but in moderate numbers.

  • Pine Grosbeak: the only report this week involved two on Opeongo Road, January 14.
  • Purple Finch: regular but not numerous, although 29 were counted at the Visitor Centre on January 16.
  • Red Crossbill: about six have been regular off the Visitor Centre viewing deck early each morning, with some larger flocks often seen on the highway.
  • White-winged Crossbill: typical observations were of five or fewer birds, but they are seen regularly. Listen for their distinctive calls.
  • Common Redpoll: no reports received this week.
  • Pine Siskin: up to 15 at the Visitor Centre feeders, and some larger flocks seeking grit and salt on the highway.
  • American Goldfinch: flocks frequently noted on the highway, and up to about 20 were regular at the Visitor Centre feeders.
  • Evening Grosbeak: up to 35 continue to come to the Visitor Centre feeders daily.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


January 11, 2018

Algonquin Park Male Spruce Grouse

Displaying Male Spruce Grouse in Algonquin Park. Photo by Jim Richards.

Here are some locations where birders observed the listed species during the past week:

Winter finches are coming to seed at the Visitor Centre feeders, Spruce Bog Boardwalk entrance and near the Opeongo Road winter gate.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


January 4, 2018

The Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count, held this year on December 30, always provides a good early winter overview of the birds and their relative abundance. The following discussion includes the CBC totals in brackets. Red-breasted Nuthatch (720), Red Crossbill (359), White-winged Crossbill (521), Pine Siskin (418) and American Goldfinch (635) are common but not as numerous as in several other years of bumper tree seed crops. Purple Finch (122) and Common Redpoll (66) are here in limited numbers. Evening Grosbeak (34) continues to be reported only at the Visitor Centre feeders and the Pine Grosbeak (9) is present, but barely so. American Tree Sparrow (24) and Dark-eyed Junco (185; a new count high) are usually absent or rare here in winter. When they are found in numbers on the CBC our records show heavy tree seed crops and less snow than average on the ground so that fallen seeds are accessible. Black-backed Woodpecker (4), Gray Jay (13; lowest in 44 years) and Boreal Chickadee (4) were remarkably hard to find. A Merlin in the Opeongo Road area was a new species for the count; it occurs rarely here in winter, when small birds are common. A Northern Shrike mobbed by Blue Jays near the Visitor Centre feeders on January 2 was the only count week species.

Merlin at the Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count 2017

Merlin photographed at last light by Nathan Hood on the 2017 Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count.

Here are some spots where birders have observed the listed species during the past week:

The two American Martens continued to come to the Visitor Centre fairly regularly to eat black sunflower seeds below the feeders.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


December 30, 2017

See the results of the 44th Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count held on December 30, 2017.


December 28, 2017

This week’s extremely cold temperatures seemed at odds with evidence of breeding activity by White-winged Crossbills in Algonquin Park. A male was observed feeding a female (“courtship feeding”) near the Old Airfield, and three or four males were singing along Spruce Bog Boardwalk, on December 24. Craig Benkman (in The Birds of North America, 1992) reported that this crossbill breeds during three main periods of the year which coincide with maximum availability of conifer seeds. In Algonquin Park, records indicate breeding in summer and fall (July to November), winter (January to March), and spring (March to June).

Male White-winged Crossbill
Male White-winged Crossbill. Photo by Mike Nelson.

 

Snow depth in the Park now reaches about 25 cm in the open and less under conifers, making it feasible to travel in most areas without snowshoes. As usual, snow on the walking trails has been flattened down with use.

Winter finches reported this week were:
  • Purple Finch (regular at Visitor Centre feeders)
  • Red Crossbill (small flocks on the highway; and often seen off Visitor Centre deck)
  • White-winged Crossbill (small flocks)
  • Common Redpoll (three along Opeongo Road on December 24 were the first reported since late October), a flock of about 40 was observed on Opeongo Road yesterday, which may indicate that this species is starting to move southward in greater numbers.
  • Pine Siskin (fairly numerous)
  • American Goldfinch (fairly numerous)
  • Evening Grosbeak (about 20 at the Visitor Centre feeders daily)

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


December 21, 2017

Evening Grosbeak in Algonquin Park
Male Evening Grosbeak at Visitor Centre. Photo by: Jim Richards

Two American Martens (often together) have been coming regularly to the Visitor Centre feeders to eat black sunflower seeds on the ground. They can be seen at close range from the viewing deck. Average snow depth in the Park is now about 17 centimetres.

Winter finch numbers remain relatively low, but most observers are seeing a good variety. Species reported this week were:

  • Pine Grosbeak: a single bird on Opeongo Road, December 17 and 18
  • Purple Finch: regular at Visitor Centre feeders
  • Red Crossbill: often seen off Visitor Centre deck
  • White-winged Crossbill
  • Pine Siskin
  • American Goldfinch
  • Evening Grosbeak: highest count: 32 at the Visitor Centre on December 20.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


December 14, 2017

Black-backed Woodpecker in Algonquin Park
Black-backed Woodpecker in Algonquin Park. Photo by Michael Runtz.

 

All Highway 60 lakes are now ice-covered, with the last two freezing over on December 11 (Lake of Two Rivers) and 13 (Smoke Lake). Average snow depth is about 15 cm. The suet feeders are now in place at the Visitor Centre and on Spruce Bog Boardwalk at the trail register box.

Winter finches reported this week were: Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch and Evening Grosbeak (highest count: 32 at the Visitor Centre on December 12). Finch diversity is good but numbers reported are still relatively low.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


December 7, 2017

About 1 cm of new snow arrived over the last day at the East Gate with more recorded at the West Gate. Rock Lake Road and Arowhon Road are not maintained by park staff during winter and will be closed until spring.

Ruffed Grouse: one or two are regular along the Visitor Centre driveway and getting seed below the feeders.

Boreal Specialties

  • Spruce Grouse: look on Spruce Bog Boardwalk, particularly near the visitor register box.
  • American Three-toed Woodpecker: one was seen and heard along Opeongo Road just north of the Costello Creek Picnic Ground on December 3. This species occurs here very irregularly in winter when it irrupts southward from the breeding range.
  • Black-backed Woodpecker: try Opeongo Road
  • Gray Jay: regular along Opeongo Road from the locked gate northward, and on Spruce Bog Boardwalk.
  • Boreal Chickadee: try Opeongo Road.

Winter Finches

  • Pine Grosbeak: still very scarce. Observed this week on Mizzy Lake Trail and Opeongo Road.
  • Purple Finch: regular in low numbers, including at the Visitor Centre.
  • Red Crossbill: numbers remain low. Look for them on the highway and at the Visitor Centre.
  • White-winged Crossbill: regular but in low numbers.
  • Pine Siskin: seen regularly, including some larger flocks.
  • American Goldfinch: also seen regularly, including some large flocks
  • Evening Grosbeak: up to 25 are being seen at the Visitor Centre, especially in the morning.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


November 30, 2017

There was much melting of the shallow snow cover this week. Large lakes are open. Winter listers should find a good variety of winter finches in Algonquin Park now. The winter gate on Opeongo Road is closed.

  • Snowy Owl: one was photographed flying southwest near dusk, high over the Old Airfield, on November 25.
  • Northern Shrike: single birds were on Opeongo Road (November 25) and at the Old Airfield (November 28 and 29).

Boreal Specialties

Recent locations for observations of the boreal specialties are as follows:

Winter Finches

Winter finch sightings are increasing now due to sanding/salting operations on Highway 60 and the Visitor Centre feeders.

  • Pine Grosbeak: Scarce. Two were at the Old Airfield on November 25.
  • Purple Finch: Regular in low numbers, including at the Visitor Centre.
  • Red Crossbill: Reported regularly. Look for birds on the highway and at the Visitor Centre.
  • White-winged Crossbill: Regular but in low numbers.
  • Common Redpoll: No reports since late October.
  • Pine Siskin: Seen regularly, including some large flocks on the highway.
  • American Goldfinch: Also seen regularly, including some large flocks.
  • Evening Grosbeak: Up to 20 have been at the Visitor Centre, but irregularly.

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the Park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).


November 12, 2017

As of today, there is a heavy covering of snow on the ground and a few shallow ponds and small lakes along the Highway 60 Corridor are ice-covered. However, it is still fall even if it felt like winter on a couple of -15°C mornings this week. There were fresh Black Bear tracks in the snow on the Visitor Centre parking lot yesterday, for example.

Boreal Specialties

Recent locations for observations of the boreal specialties are as follows:

Winter Finches

The abundant cones on most conifer species in Algonquin Park appear to have been significantly affected by the sustained and unprecedented period of hot days in the latter half of September. The cones opened and limited inspection suggests that many (most?) of the seeds may have been released. It remains to be seen how this will affect finch numbers this winter.

There have been recent observations of nearly all of the expected finches, but in low numbers.

  • Pine Grosbeak: sightings of single birds on November 4 and 11.
  • Purple Finch: regular in low numbers.
  • Red Crossbill: regular in low numbers; four seen almost daily this week at the Visitor Centre. Recordings of larger-billed Type 1 and smaller-billed Type 3 confirmed by Matt Young (Cornell) recently.
  • White-winged Crossbill: low numbers present, but reported less frequently than Red Crossbill.
  • Common Redpoll: observations of one to four birds on October 20 and 21 but no reports since.
  • Pine Siskin: low numbers but likely the most numerous finch currently; 40 at Visitor Centre on November 8.
  • American Goldfinch: regular in low numbers; 17 at Visitor Centre on November 10.
  • Evening Grosbeak: one to three at Visitor Centre this week.

Related Information

 

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Special regulations for Algonquin's special fishery.