Birder's Guide

MAR 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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30 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2017 Birding Algonquin Park Counterclockwise: n Moose along Opeongo Road. Photo © Cathy deGroot n Spruce Grouse. Photo © Mike McEvoy n Feeding Gray Jays at Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail. Photo © Karla Falk Trail (km 13.8) and northern sections of the Track and Tower Trail (km 25.0) for broadleaf forest species; and the Visitor Centre parking lot (km 43.0) and the trail- er sanitation station (km 35.6) for open or disturbed area species. Finches Success with finding members of this group depends on the extent and composition of tree seed crops, which fluctuate wildly from year to year and dictate the presence and abundance of each species. Some species visit only during winter (Pine Grosbeak, Common and Hoary redpoll); the rest are present in summer or winter (Red and White-winged crossbill, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak). All species may be present in some winters. Finches often gather on Highway 60 during winter to eat road sand and salt, allowing for excellent viewing. Some of the species can also be seen well at feeders at the Visitor Centre. Consult Ron Pittaway's winter finch forecast, compiled each fall, to find out which species are to be expected. It is available through Ontario Field Ornithologists at www.ofo.ca. Final Considerations As we've suggested, Algonquin is ideal for birding. Highway 60 even offers the add- ed bonus of no poison ivy, no poisonous snakes, and no disease-carrying ticks (at least not yet). There is, however, one very important consideration in planning a trip to Algonquin. The park is well known for its black flies and mosquitoes in season. These sometimes-abundant biting insects are typically the worst from mid- to late May through mid- to late June. If you visit during this time, it is best to come pre- pared with a bug jacket, repellent, and a very potent dose of patience. A more positive consideration is the long list of easily found bird species of interest to many birders that we haven't even mentioned yet. These include American Black, Wood, and Ring-necked duck; Common and Hooded mergan- ser; Common Loon; American Bittern; Broad-winged Hawk; Merlin; Wilson's Snipe; American Woodcock; Northern Saw-Whet and Barred owl; Ruby-throated Hummingbird; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; Hairy, Downy, and Pileated woodpecker; Northern Flicker; Eastern Wood-Pewee; Least, Alder, and Great Crested flycatcher; Eastern Phoebe; Blue-headed and Red- eyed vireo; Hermit and Swainson's thrush; Veery; Common Raven; Brown Creeper; Winter Wren; Golden and Ruby-crowned kinglet; Rose-breasted Grosbeak; Scarlet Tanager; White-throated, Song, and Lincoln's sparrow; and Dark-eyed Junco. Within and around Algonquin, there are many services for travelers. For the best information in one place, we sug- gest thoroughly reading the excellent and remarkably comprehensive website main- tained by The Friends of Algonquin Park at www. algonquinpark. on.ca. Here, you can also learn about even more attractions, in- cluding those located away from Highway 60—for example, 20 backcountry access points leading to hundreds of canoe and backpacking campsites, and additional interpretive walking trails, including one that goes along the rim of a 330-foot-high (100-m-high) canyon (Barron Canyon Trail) and another that visits a meteorite impact crater (Brent Crater Trail)—all, of course, with excellent birding. Algonquin is a very special place with exceptional opportunities for birders. We hope we have encouraged you to pay a visit and enjoy the place as much as we do. Continued from page 28

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