Drew Monkman

I am a retired teacher, naturalist and writer with a love for all aspects of the natural world, especially as they relate to seasonal change.

Feb 122018

I photographed this Merlin this morning, February 13, in Lakefield. Jeff Keller

Merlin – Jeff Keller – Lakefield – Feb. 13, 2018


















Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Feb 12, 2018 08:30 by Colin Jones
– Peterborough–Robinson Place, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42701090
– Comments: “Adult flew in from the east, landed briefly on the building, then flew out and around the south side, towards the west. Seemed small, possibly suggesting a male.”

Peregrine – Karl Egressy








Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (2)
– Reported Feb 07, 2018 13:56 by S Ro
– Jackson Park, Peterborough CA-ON (44.3114,-78.3385), Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42706134
– Comments: “Presume they were mates. One was sitting on a limb in a small tree on the park side of the bridge. Mate arrived on tree beside it, then flew to the same tree. Approximately 6pm”

NSWO – Warsaw – Tim Dyson









Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) (2)
– Reported Feb 12, 2018 13:48 by Warren Dunlop
– Bailieboro–460 Scriven Rd, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42717191
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “Perched in hedgerow.”

A pair of Eastern Bluebirds – male at upper right – Wikimedia











I sighted two Bald Eagles soaring in the cold winds above Lakefield arena today, February 12. Decent sized. They were fairly high up.  Andrew Lipscombe

Bald Eagle – Lakefield – Feb. 12, 2018 – Andrew Lipscombe

Feb 102018

The average North American child can identify over 300 corporate logos, but only 10 native plants or animals – a telling indictment of our modern disconnection from the natural world. Even though children are born with an innate interest in nature, our society does little to nurture this predisposition. It is largely for this reason that Jacob Rodenburg, Executive Director of Camp Kawartha, and I decided four years ago to sit down and write a book to help address this problem.
Released just last week by New Society Publishers, “The Big Book of Nature Activities: A year-round guide to outdoor learning” sets out to answer the question “What can you do outside in nature?” In response, the book provides nearly 150 activities, including games, crafts, drama, and stories. It will also help young and old alike to become more aware of how the sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes of the natural world change from one season to the next. The book is aimed at parents, grandparents, classroom teachers, outdoor educators and youth leaders of all kinds. Much of the information – and many of the activities – will also be of interest to adults, especially if you need to brush up on your own nature skills. Adults should also be interested in the extensive background information on evolution, citizen science projects, nature journaling, nature photography and how to make the most of digital technology,

The Big Book of Nature Activities

The Big Book of Nature Activities


We begin the book by discussing the disconnection from nature that characterizes so much of modern society. In an increasingly urbanized world, our children are much more likely to experience the flickering a computer screen or the sounds of traffic than the rhythmic chorus of bird or insect song. And sadly, they can more easily identify corporate logos or cartoon characters than even a few tree or bird species. We therefore ask the questions: Where will tomorrow’s environmentalists and conservationists come from? Who will advocate for threatened habitats and endangered species? What are the impacts on one’s physical and emotional well-being from a childhood or adulthood spent mostly indoors? We then go on to discuss some of the consequences of what the environmental educator Richard Louv calls “Nature Deficit Disorder”.

The activities, species and events in nature, which are described in the book, cover an area extending from British Columbia and northern California in the west to the Atlantic Provinces and North Carolina in the east. This includes six ecological regions such as the Marine West Coast and the Eastern Temperate Forests. In other words, the book applies to most anywhere in North America where there are four seasons.

The introduction also provides ideas on how to raise a naturalist (hint: take your kids camping!), how to get kids outside, how children of different ages respond to nature, how nature can enhance our lives as adults and the importance of being able to identify and name the most common species. We provide lists of 100 continent-wide key species to learn – everything from birds and invertebrates to trees, shrubs and wildflowers – as well as about 50 key regional species. We also introduce the reader to three cartoon characters, namely Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson who will tell stories of the wonder of evolution and the universe throughout the book.

Charles Darwin cartoon character - Kady MacDonald Denton

Our Charles Darwin cartoon character gives examples of the wonder of evolution throughout the book – Kady MacDonald Denton

Basic Skills

Connecting to nature is easier when you have learned some basic skills. In this section, we provide hints for paying attention (be patient and slow down), how to engage all the senses (learn to maximize your sense of smell), how to lead a nature hike (have some “back-pocket” activities ready to go), nature-viewing and traveling games from a car or school bus (do a scavenger hunt), how to increase your chances of seeing wildlife (try sitting in one place), how to bring nature inside (set up a nature table), how to get involved in “citizen science” (start at scistarter.com) and how to connect with nature in the digital age (make the most of your smartphone and social media). The latter section is especially detailed. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, there are actually many ways in which digital technology can inspire people of all ages to explore nature and share their experiences with others.

We also provide information on the basics of birding; insect-watching (butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and moths), plant identification, mushroom-hunting, getting to know the night sky, nature journaling, nature photography, and nature-based geo-caching. Additional basic skills are covered in the activities in the seasons chapters themselves. These include fish-watching, mammal-watching, amphibian- and reptile-watching and tree identification.

Key Concepts

The third chapter in “The Big Book of Nature Activities” deals with four important concepts, which help us to more fully understand and appreciate nature. We start by explaining why we have seasons, and how the tilt of Earth’s axis makes all the difference. This is followed by a discussion of phenology, which is the science of observing and recording “first events”- such as spring’s first lilac bloom or frog song. Next, we talk about how climate change is affecting different habitats and species, and why a connection with nature is so important in light of this threat. Finally, we discuss the importance of understanding evolution and how it is manifested in even the most common backyard species. Armed with a little knowledge of evolution, we can learn to appreciate the wonder that resides in all species, not just the charismatic ones. We also want children to know that science is just beginning to unravel many of the mysteries of evolution and the incredible stories it has revealed. Our Darwin cartoon character tells many of these stories. The good news for young scientists-to-be is that there’s so much we don’t yet understand

The book explains the basics of evolution and natural selection, without getting into the details of genetics. We then provide a story for young children on how evolution might work within a population of imaginary sand bugs. For older children and adults, we go on a “field trip of the imagination” in which we visit our ancestors, starting with our self, our grandfather, our great-grandfather, etc. and ending up at our 185-million-greats-grandfather who, by the way, would have been a fish! This section concludes with a shortened version of Big History, the evidence-based story that takes us from the Big Bang to the present, in which we humans are “star stuff pondering stars”.

The book contains over 400 illustrations.

Hundreds of drawings

 Seasons’ chapters

The four seasons’ chapters make up the heart of the book. Each begins with a summary of some of the key events in flora, fauna, weather and the sky. This includes events that occur across North America as well as happenings that are specific to each region. Most of the activities in the chapter relate to these events. This is followed by a seasonal poem to enjoy and maybe memorize; suggestions for what to display or collect for the nature table;

ideas about what to photograph or record in your nature journal; a short seasonal story called “What’s Wrong with the Scenario” in which you try to spot the mistakes; the story of Black Cap, the Chickadee, which takes you through a year in an individual chickadee’s life and includes activities; and ideas for what to do at your Magic Spot, a special nature-rich area close to home.

The final and largest section of the seasons’ chapters is called “Exploring the season: Things to do.” It comprises 50 or more activities to activate your five senses, keep track of seasonal change, explore evolution, and have fun discovering fascinating aspects of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, plants, fungi, weather and the night sky. We also offer up suggestions on how to make nature part of seasonal celebrations like Thanksgiving. Some of the activities include making a scent cocktail and touch bag, using a roll of toilet paper to create a history-of-life timeline, meeting the “beast” within you, a non-identification bird walk, a woodpecker drumming game, mammal-watching with a trail camera, observing spawning salmon, a frog song orchestra, exploring seaside beaches and tide pools, a “bee dance” drama game, conducting a pond study, “adopting” a tree to observe over an entire year, dissecting flowers, a fungi scavenger hunt, a classroom “hand-generated” thunderstorm, going on a night hike, making tin can constellations, creating your own moon phases, celebrating the winter and summer solstices, ideas for Earth Day, and more. Scattered throughout the activities are suggestions for getting involved in citizen science projects. The book concludes with an appendix with blackline masters for photocopying and a detailed index.

There are 16 pages of colour photos that link to some of the activities.

Sixteen pages of colour photos that link to some of the activities.

The book also contains several hundred drawings, most of which were done by talented Lakefield artist, Judy Hyland. Others were contributed by Kim Caldwell, Kady MacDonald Denton, Jean-Paul Efford and Heather Sadler (drawings by her late father, Doug Sadler). In the middle of the book, you will find a 16-page block of colour photos by the authors and others.

“The Big Book of Nature Activities” is available at Happenstance Books and Yarns at 44 Queen Street in Lakefield (705-652-7535), at Camp Kawartha (1010 Birchview Road, Douro-Dummer), at Chapters (Landsowne Street west in Peterborough) and online at Chapters.Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca. It would make a great end of school year gift. The cost is $39.95. A book launch hosted by Happenstance will be held on July 24, from 2-4 p.m. at the Camp Kawartha Environment Centre at 2505 Pioneer Road. For more details and regular updates about the book, please go to drewmonkman.com. The authors can be reached by email at dmonkman1@cogeco.ca and jrodenburg@campkawartha.ca





Feb 082018

February 12 is a day to reflect on the principles of perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin.

With the arrival of February – a time I like to call ‘pre-spring’ – bird sound is slowly returning to the natural world. A week ago, I heard the boisterous song of the cardinal for the first time since last summer. Our neighbourhood Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are making their presence known, too, as they drum against resonant tree trunks to advertize ownership of territory and to renew or establish pair bonds. Whenever I hear this hammering, I can’t help but wonder how their brains have adapted to endure a lifetime of head-banging at such incredible forces of acceleration. Humans suffer concussions at forces ten times smaller.

However, thanks to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, science has a powerful tool with which to investigate this question. In the 25 million years that woodpeckers have been on this planet, their bodies have undergone a continual process of evolutionary adaptation. There have been changes in the beak, the neck muscles, the skull and even at the level of certain proteins. Recent research has shown that woodpecker brains have high levels of a protein called ‘tau’, which is also present in the brains of humans who have suffered brain damage or neurodegenerative disease. Scientists are learning that some kinds of ‘tau’ are protective, while others can become toxic. Do woodpeckers have the protective form and therefore don’t suffer neurological repercussions? Learning more about woodpecker tau may be highly useful some day in treating concussions and neurodegenerative disorders in humans. This is just one example of how the theory of evolution is routinely used to figure out where to look for potential cures. Without his discovery of natural selection – the process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring – the greatest achievements in medicine and human well-being over the past two hundred years would have been impossible.

Pileated Woodpecker 2 – Jan. 1, 2016 – Mark St. Peterborough – Helen Keller

Time scale

Part of the difficulty in understanding evolution is our inability to grasp the staggering amount of time it has had to work with. Our brains have evolved to understand time on the scale of decades and centuries at most. The idea that life has been evolving for over three billion years is therefore quite impossible to grasp. To make this time-span a little more tangible, let’s imagine it as a 4.6 kilometre walk, starting at the Disc Golf Course at the north end of Riverview Zoo and ending at City Hall in downtown Peterborough. The starting point represents the moment in time 4.6 billion years ago when planet Earth was created from a nebula cloud of gas and dust. The end point represents the present day. As we walk along the route, we’ll point out the moments in time when key events in evolution occurred. At this scale, each step represents about 700,000 years. (Note: BYA = billion years old and MYA = million years ago)

For the first kilometre, Earth is devoid of living things. You see little more than a scalding rock with choking fumes. However, as we pass the zoo’s miniature train station and the fighter aircraft on display (3, 5 BYA), the first life appears in oceans. At Marina Boulevard (3.25 BYA), life evolves the ability to capture the sun’s energy through photosynthesis. Twelve minutes of walking later, at Anson Street (1.9 BYA), the first cells with nuclei have evolved, but it’s not until we arrive at Locks Salon & Spa, just south of George Street (650 MYA) that multi-cellular organisms emerge. Having mastered the cell, evolution can now start moving faster. At Edinburgh Street by Amusé Coffee (500 MYA), the first land plants show up and at London Street (245 MYA), the age of the dinosaurs begins. Then, as we pass in front of the former George Street United Church (200 MYA), the first mammals arrive on the scene. Having crossed McDonnel Street, a mass extinction at 65 MYA event wipes out all of the dinosaurs, but not the branch that went on to become birds such as woodpeckers. However, it’s only when we arrive at the bottom of the steps at City Hall (3.5 MYA) that the first proto-humans appear. At this point, we’ll need to get out our tape measure. At a mere 10 cm from the main doors, evolution produces Homo sapiens, our own species. But it’s only in the last centimetre – 10,000 years ago – that recorded human history begins, and only in the last one-fifth of a millimetre that we enter the Industrial Revolution and present-day times. Now, take a moment to reflect back on how far we’ve walked – and all the time that evolution has had to produce a species that can reflect on its own origins!

City Hall – Peterborough, ON – Michael Morrit






Darwin Day

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, on February 12 1809. Ever since he published his radically insightful book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin has been the focus of commemorations and tributes by scientists, artists and scholars. The 200th anniversary of his birth in 2009 saw an entire season of BBC programming on Charles Darwin himself as well as evolution and natural selection. Since then, Darwin Day events have been organized each February throughout the world.

Charles Darwin (Wikimedia)

The purpose of Darwin Day is to promote Darwin’s contribution to science and to call attention to the importance of science in general. According to the International Darwin Day website, the day “will inspire people throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking and hunger for truth as embodied by Charles Darwin.” Science is our most reliable knowledge system and has provided enormous benefit to the health, prosperity and intellectual satisfaction for our human existence. These are worthy achievements for all people to celebrate. This is especially important given that some people, including the U.S. government, appear unconcerned by scientifically-proven threats to civilization such as climate change.

Get informed

A great way to celebrate Darwin Day is to become more informed about evolution yourself. Make a point of talking about it with your children and grandchildren. If you are a teacher, consider organizing some Darwin Day activities. Your students would love a classroom science celebration.

Darwinday.org provides wonderful resources for becoming more informed about Darwin himself and his theory of evolution. They include six websites, four books for children, eight books for adults, six videos, four documentaries and two dramas. I especially enjoyed looking at “Darwin’s Diary”, which delves into Darwin’s life and work through an interactive diary created for PBS’ program, Evolution. The “Understanding Evolution” website is also excellent. This “one-stop website for information on evolution” provides an in-depth course on the science of evolution as well as superb teaching materials for grades K-2 all the way to 9-12. You will also find a fascinating article on how backyard birdfeeders in the U.K. appear to be driving the evolution of longer beaks in Great Tits, a type of chickadee. If you’re interested in fish, I’d also recommend checking out “A fisheye view of the tree of life”. This interactive evolutionary tree highlights some of the amazing innovations that have evolved in the different lineages of fish.

The annual Darwin Day Lecture will also be taking place at the Royal Ontario Museum on February 13 from 7:00 -8:00 pm. It is entitled “How do Tardigrades Survive Everything?”

Discovered in 1773, tardigrades, also known as “water bears,” are found everywhere on Earth. Dr. Thomas Boothby, from the University of North Carolina, will explain how evolution has equipped these micro-animals to survive the most extreme environments imaginable, including outer space. Call 416-586-5797 for more information.

Vancouver Resolution

The Darwin Day Foundation believes it’s time for a global celebration of science and humanity. To this end, they have introduced Darwin Day Resolutions to the U.S. House and Senate and in various states. Cities, such as San Diego, Omaha, Regina and Vancouver have also passed Darwin Day resolutions. The text of the Vancouver Resolution reads as follows:

WHERAS February 12, 2013 is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 1809; AND WHEREAS Charles Darwin is recognized for the development of the theory of evolution by the mechanism of natural selection; AND WHEREAS Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is recognized as the foundation of modern biology, an essential tool in understanding the natural world and the development of life on earth; AND WHEREAS Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has provided, and continues to provide, the basis for great advances in science, medicine, and philosophy; AND WHEREAS The anniversary of Darwin’s birthday is an appropriate period on which to reflect and celebrate the importance of scientific advancement to all people; AND WHEREAS The City of Vancouver is rightfully proud of its commitment to scientifically-based environmental awareness, appropriate technology, and progressive education: NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gregor Robertson, Mayor of the City of Vancouver, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM February 12, 2013 as “INTERNATIONAL DARWIN DAY” in the City of Vancouver.  Let’s encourage Peterborough City Council to pass a similar resolution next year!

Finally, the next time you hear a woodpecker drumming, pause for a moment to thank Charles Darwin for making sense of what’s going on – and why the bird isn’t suffering from a splitting headache!


Feb 062018

I heard a Great Horned owl at the edge of the cedar/ash/white pine forest by the Otonabee River near 9th line. On Feb 10- 5:45 am. Susan Chow

Great Horned Owl – Dec. 23, 2015 – Glen Grills













Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Feb 09, 2018 18:30 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Rotary Park & Walkway, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42629795
– Comments: “heard vocalizing three times from the direction of Nichol’s Oval at the entrance to the park at Rogers St.”

Barred Owl – Wilco Overink – Nov. 29, 2014















There is an abundance of Snowy Owls in our area this year. Most any concession in the Lindsay area will yield a Snowy. Try Post Road (Hwy 7 north to Hwy 36) and Fieldside Road (Cheese Factory Road intersection).  The bird photographed here is the closest to home I have sighted. Feb 9 / 2018 at the Bypass & Bensford Bridge Rd ramp.  Carl Welbourn, Kawartha Camera Club

Snowy Owl – Feb. 9, 2018 – Carl Welbourn

















Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Feb 09, 2018 12:30 by Basil Conlin
– Lady Eaton Drumlin, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42625033
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “sitting about 50m away from flock of feeding robins, perhaps waiting for one to let its guard down?”

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Feb 09, 2018 08:32 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Peterborough–King St just W George St, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S42615388
– Comments: “perched on communication towers atop Charlotte Towers (245 Charlotte St)”

I took this picture of a Cooper’s Hawk on February 6 behind our unit. It was on a Rock Pigeon.  Don Finigan

Cooper’s Hawk – Don Finigan – Feb. 2018





















Today, Feb. 6, at about 2:00 pm, I had a Carolina Wren at my feeder eating suet. The bird feeder is high up – at the back of the
house. I live at 123 Creekwood Drive in Peterborough.

Sherry Hambly

Carolina Wren – Feb. 6 2018 – Creekwood Dr. PTBO – Sherry Hambly

Carolina Wren (Wikimedia)











Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Feb 04, 2018 20:00 by Brendan Boyd
– 711 Armour Rd, Peterborough CA-ON (44.3159,-78.3098), Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “A yard bird I never expected. Sitting on the hydro line above the driveway.”

Barred Owl Feb. 8, 2015 – Television Road – Brenda Ibey











 Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (2)

– Reported Feb 04, 2018 16:11 by Matthew Tobey
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Calling near park entrance at 1740.”

Northern Saw-Whet Owl – Kelly Simmonds – March 26, 2014








Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (4)
– Reported Feb 03, 2018 14:38 by Warren Dunlop
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “2 individuals & one group of 2 – all flyovers calling – gip gip gip.”

Red Crossbill – male – Wikimedia

Feb 012018

Abundant Wild Turkeys entertain rural residents with their interesting behaviours.

It was a blockbuster trade for the ages. However, it wasn’t athletes that were shuffled around. It was wildlife. In 1984, Ontario sent River Otters to Missouri, Ruffed Grouse to New York and Moose to Michigan in exchange for 274 Wild Turkeys from all three states.

The last native Wild Turkey disappeared from Ontario more than 100 years ago. Habitat loss and unregulated hunting did them in. There were many attempts at reintroduction, including at least one in the 1960s with turkeys from Pennsylvania. It was spearheaded by ‘Turkey Jack’ Davis, a well-known outdoors writer who later moved to Peterborough. His daughter, Wendy, remembers a “garage full of turkeys” at their Port Credit home. These early attempts were never successful, unfortunately, because they used captivity-raised birds, which couldn’t adapt to life in the wild. However, thanks to the wide genetic spectrum of the turkeys acquired in 1984, this reintroduction was an astounding success.

Bearded hen & tom Wild Turkey – April 8, 2017 – Doug Gibson

Since then, Ontario’s turkey population has skyrocketed to about 100,000 birds. Most remarkably, they now range as far north as Algonquin Park and Sudbury, which is likely outside their historical range. Initially, there were fears that the climate would be too harsh, but the resilient turkeys proved the biologists wrong.

Catching the wild American birds was made possible by the development of a Howitzer-propelled net – a technology still used today. Jennifer Baici, a PhD student at Trent University who studies Wild Turkey social structure and behaviour, describes how the trapping works.” We begin by finding a flock and learning its schedule. This includes noting when the birds typically leave the roost, the path that they take throughout the day and what time they tuck in for the night. Turkeys are highly predictable in the winter, so we can make a plan about how to bait them. This involves intercepting their daily path with a ‘bait line’ of corn. We extend this line out into the middle of a field where we put down a large pile of corn. Once the flock is visiting the bait at roughly the same time each day, we set up a camouflaged net and wait for the turkeys to arrive. Although these birds are usually quite predictable, they still surprise us by occasionally sleeping in way later than expected!” To see a 10-second video of turkey trapping in action, click HERE.

A bird we notice

In researching this article, I contacted a number of people living out in Peterborough County for any turkey anecdotes they might have. As we’ll see, everyone had numerous stories. I should note, too, that turkeys often show up right in Peterborough.

Wild Turkeys are a striking bird. They have iridescent bronze-green feathers and bare skin on the head and neck, which can vary from to red to blue-grey. The bare skin probably plays a role in heat dissipation, since turkeys are essentially southern birds where hot weather is a challenge. Males – and very occasionally females – also have a bristly “beard” made of modified feathers that extend off the chest. Its purpose is poorly understood, but it may play a role in mate selection by the female.

Wild Turkeys in front of barn on Chemong Road at 3rd Line – Wasyl Bakowsky

In early spring, the toms (males) gather in clearings to perform courtship displays. They strut about gobbling with hormone-charged exuberance. Annamarie Beckel, who lives just south of Lakefield, has had a front row seat to the spectacle. “We woke up one May morning to find a tom and about six hens in our front yard. The hens were browsing in the grass, while the tom was displaying for all he was worth – the fully fanned tail, the fluffed up feathers and the dropped wing. The hens, of course, appeared to ignore him!”

The hens nest in hedgerows, along the edge of woodlots and sometimes in hayfields. The birds stay in family groups most of the summer. Sometimes two or three hens and their broods will join together. Winter flocks, however, are the largest. On average, a flock contains 25-50 birds, but sometimes there are many more. “In winter, we’ve seen large flocks of 100 or more in neighbouring fields,” says David Frank, who lives on Stewart Line near Cavan.

Wild Turkey nest (Marie Adamcryck – Bailieboro)

Turkeys are well-established north of Peterborough, too. Dennis and Lynn Johnson, who live on the north shore of Stony Lake, have been noticing them for at least 12 years. Across the lake on Dodsworth Island, Rob Welsh sees them there, too. “In winter, they parade between islands in more or less single file – a comical sight!”
At dusk, turkeys fly up into trees to roost for the night. For several years, Tim Dyson watched a flock that roosts in trees west of the junction of Preston Road and Fire Route 23 near his former home at Belmont Lake. One night he counted 118 turkeys lining the branches.



Turkeys eat just about everything. This includes acorns, beech nuts, hickory nuts, fruit, insects, worms, snails and even amphibians. Tom Northey of Little Britain told me of a hunter friend who was cleaning a bird and found Leopard Frogs in its crop. They will also eat crops such as wheat and corn, which does not go over well with farmers.

Turkeys can also turn up at backyard feeders. Dyson recalls a behaviour he dubbed the ‘Kenturkey Derby’. “The birds would see me go outside with a tub of bird seed. After I went back in the house, they would come running from 100 metres across the field to gorge themselves.” Dennis and Lyn Johnson’s Stony Lake birds will come right up and practically eat out of their hands.

Unfortunately, the turkey’s taste in foods can become problematic. Dennis explains. “Last year, my wife Lynn made her usual fall/winter outdoor pots of greenery. Included in the arrangement were several sumac heads. We’d never seen them eating sumac in the wild, but they sure enjoyed eating them from Lynn’s arrangement. After replenishing the sumac three or four times, Lynn decided that the turkeys could go down the road and get their own!”

Wild Turkeys at Armour Road condominiums (Betty Mitchell)



An abundance of nutritious turkey meat has not gone unnoticed by predators. Several people I emailed have seen coyotes stalking the birds. Raptors, too, are getting in on the action. Rick Stankiewicz of Keene writes, “On the edge of an open field at daybreak, I watched as a Great Horned Owl attacked and tried to fly off with a turkey decoy!” Tom Northey saw a Northern Harrier grab one in a hayfield, and this past fall his daughter came across a Bald Eagle eating a turkey.

Tim Dyson watched a female Northern Goshawk attack one of eight wild turkeys as they fed on scattered seed behind a house. “Once the hawk had seized the much heavier turkey by the rump, the other turkeys quickly surrounded the two and put on a rather aggressive display by spreading their tails and dragging their wings in an manner not unlike their courtship display. This intimidation seemed to work, since the hawk soon released her grip and sped off. The turkey fared well – only minus a few feathers!”

The interplay between turkeys and competitors for food is also interesting. Rick Stankiewicz has seen numerous interactions between turkeys and White-tailed Deer.” They always seem curious and tolerant of each other, but not in a friendly or playful way.” Trent’s Jennifer Baici also has an interest in these interactions. She is studying flocks of turkeys that congregate with groups of deer and hopes to learn more about the social dynamics between the two.

Turkeys and geese also interact in curious ways. Laura Summerfeldt, who lives near Keene, writes: “A few years ago in late autumn, we saw an extraordinary spectacle. A flock of Canada Geese had settled in the corn field adjacent to our house. The resident flock of a dozen or so turkeys withdrew to the hedgerow. The geese stayed on. The next afternoon we happened to be watching and observed that the turkeys “rallied” and en masse CHARGED the flock of geese in an organized manner. With wings outspread, they ran across the field in a line. Truly, it was like a cavalry charge. They drove the geese to the far end of the field and then resumed feeding!”

Wild Turkeys at Dodsworth Island – Feb. 2017- Rob Welsh


Thanks to their abundance, there is now both a spring and fall turkey hunt. In the spring, only males can be targeted. This puts less pressure on the population, since the toms are highly polygamous and can impregnate up to 15 hens. Hunting turkeys is not easy, however. Turkeys are extremely wary and have excellent eyesight and hearing. The success rate for both seasons is only one bird for every three hunters. For hunters who are successful, the meat is delicious and close to domestic turkey in taste.

Population study

Part of Jennifer Baici’s research is to investigate the usefulness of citizen science platforms such as eBird and iNaturalist in estimating turkey population size. This winter, she is running a pilot project in Peterborough County and is requesting turkey sightings that fall between December 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018. This can be done either by adding observations to eBird or by submitting photos of any flocks seen to the Peterborough Wild Turkey Count project on iNaturalist. You will need to sign up for the project first. Be sure to include where you saw the birds and how many there were. Eventually, Jennifer hopes to expand the project and explore whether citizen science platforms can be applied to estimate Wild Turkey population size for larger areas, such as the province of Ontario – so stay tuned.







Jan 282018

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) (1)
– Reported Feb 02, 2018 15:30 by Iain Rayner
– Ptbo – Hannah Rd, Peterborough, Ontario
– Media: 7 Photos
– Comments: “Cracking views of Adult flying over road near Hwy 28. Watched for 5 minutes as it was kiting to the S and then slowly glided to the N not too far above trees. Golden nape visible, long tail-short head. No white at base of tail or at base of primaries. For the first few seconds I thought it was a dark RLHA as it was kiting, the golden head looked pale in the light, the dark carpal marks contrasted with paler flight feathers, and the tail looked like it had a broad terminal band…but then it turned showing size and broad eagle shaped wings(although not as barn board like as BAEA). It proceeded to put on a fantastic show for 5 minutes and came close enough for decent pictures.”

Adult Golden Eagle photographed at Petroglyph Provincial Park (Tim Dyson)









Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Feb 01, 2018 09:11 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Peterborough–King St just W George St, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42415089
– Comments: “adult, unsuccessfully chasing around a dozen pigeons low over King Street Parking Garage and 150 and 151 King St; flew W landing on communications towers atop Charlotte Towers (245 Charlotte St.).”

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Feb 01, 2018 08:03 by Iain Rayner
– Peterborough–Millennium Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42407446
– Comments: “Sitting on antenna atop Charlotte Towers”

Peregrine eating Rock Pigeon – PRHC – Jan. 13, 2015 – Loree Stephens








Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) (1)
– Reported Jan 28, 2018 16:45 by Dave Milsom
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “seen flying out of giant white pine near auto wreckers yard.”

Great Horned Owl – Fleming Campus in Peterborough – Drew Monkman












Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (2) CONFIRMED
– Reported Jan 28, 2018 15:39 by Kim Zippel
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “We listened to 4-5 sessions of calls at dusk each lasting 1-3 minutes, separated by about 3-5 minutes. During one session a second owl joined in so there were definately two. A saw-whet was reported very close to this site within the past few days.”

NSWO – Warsaw – Tim Dyson









My wife, 3 kids, 3 dogs and I just moved to Buckhorn from Toronto at Christmas. We live in the bush on a slab of Canadian  Shield nestled in a gorgeous forest. My dogs discovered on January 10 of this year that we share the forest with numerous animals including (unfortunately for my curious pointers, who discovered her the hard way) this big Porcupine out of her den taking in some milder weather.   Justin Michaelov, Buckhorn

Porcupine – Buckhorn – Jan. 10, 2018 – Justin Michaelov









Today, Jan. 28, I captured a picture of these two Trumpeter Swans on my lake today. The milder weather seems to be bringing out more waterfowl.  Laurie McLaughlin-Maveal, Lake Katchewanooka

Trumpeter Swans – Jan. 28, 2018 – Lake Katchewanooka – Laurie McLaughlin-Maveal

Jan 262018

Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2018 16:15:21 -0500
From: Fred Helleiner <fhelleiner@trentu.ca>
To: ontbirds birdalert <birdalert@ontbirds.ca>,
“webcomm@friendsofpresquile.on.ca” <webcomm@friendsofpresquile.on.ca>
Subject: [Ontbirds] Presqu’ile Birding Report for Week Ending January
25, 2018.
Message-ID: <80e03963-2d64-95e2-e222-26808819d78c@trentu.ca>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed

Most of the birds seen at Presqu’ile Provincial Park in the past week
are species that one might expect in winter, but as usual a few that
have normally migrated further south have also appeared.

Whereas in previous years MUTE SWANS are in Presqu’ile Bay by the
hundreds, recently there have been only a dozen or so even when there is
plenty of open water. REDHEADS have been coming and going according to
the ice conditions, with over 100 on some days and none on other days.
Last year a few CANVASBACKS wintered at Presqu’ile but the first
significant increase in their numbers occurred on January 27 after three
days of mild weather. Perhaps a few will arrive this weekend. A few
(up to half a dozen) WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS can usually be found between
Salt Point and the lighthouse. Seven COMMON MERGANSERS were off the
government dock on Sunday. Not unexpectedly, many of the relatively
uncommon birds that have kept showing up in recent weeks have also been
sighted this week. They include WILD TURKEYS, BALD EAGLES (up to six at
the offshore islands and one near Salt Point), RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS,
PILEATED WOODPECKERS (three in one day), NORTHERN SHRIKE (at the calf
pasture), BROWN CREEPERS, and COMMON RAVENS (up to four in one day).
There was a report of a NORTHERN FLICKER, which is not a common bird in
the Park in winter. A lone HORNED LARK was again seen on Gull Island on
Friday, this time in the company of the usual flock of SNOW BUNTINGS.
Singles of the long-awaited PINE SISKINS have finally arrived. The
feeders at 83 Bayshore Road have attracted a few welcome over-wintering
birds in the past few days: SONG SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW,

Male Redhead – Wikimedia

White-winged Scoter on Otonabee River – Tom Northey – Feb. 2, 2014









To reach Presqu’ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton.
Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid
that is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull Island not using a
boat should be aware that the ice between Owen Point and the islandmay
or may not support the weight of a human. They may also encounter
aslippery coating of ice on the rocks. Ice cleats are recommended.
Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird
sightingsboard provided near the campground office by The Friends of
Presqu’ilePark and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed

Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu’ile may be

Jan 222018

On my way home from a friend’s this evening at dusk (Jan. 27 – 4:45pm) while driving through pouring rain on Co. Rd. 38 between the Dummer-Asphodel Road and Webster Road south of Warsaw, an immature Snowy Owl suddenly appeared flying along beside me at about hydro line height. It then turned and crossed the road ahead of me and came to land briefly on a utility pole, before taking flight gain and heading far out to the west until it finally disappeared from my view. This was my third of the winter and first of 2018. The one photo I snapped off doesn’t show much of anything good enough for posting. Hmm… three Snowies and still no good pictures. Will keep watching and hoping! Tim Dyson, Warsaw

Immature Snowy Owl (Karl Egressy)








Bird chatter when filling feeders

I was filling my bird feeders this morning (Jan. 25), and I noted that once I had started there was a good deal of bird chatter.  Would they be communicating with each other to say “she’s filling the feeder, let’s eat”?  I’ve experienced this a few times now.  The chatter stops, lasting maybe 10 seconds or so.  Once I close my door, I noted that the birds wait, and once they feel I’m gone they go at the feeders. I have the usual birds – chickadees, finches, cardinals, etc.  Sue Ramey

NOTE: Please send me an email if you’ve noticed this phenomenon yourself. D.M. (dmonkman1@cogeco.ca)

Northern Cardinal – by Ruthanne-Sobiera








Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (3)
– Reported Jan 24, 2018 12:45 by Scott McKinlay
– 120 Fradette Avenue, Peterborough, Ontario, CA (44.287, -78.311), Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Continuing birds along this stretch of the Otonabee. 2 males 1 female.”

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) (1)
– Reported Jan 24, 2018 16:40 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “giving tremolo call frequently for ten minutes near entrance to park”

Eastern Screech-owl – red phase – 9th Line of Selwyn Twsp – March 11, 2017, Kathy McCue








Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) (2)
– Reported Jan 24, 2018 16:40 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “very vocal pair”

Great Horned Owl at dusk (Luke Berg)








Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (2)
– Reported Jan 24, 2018 16:40 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “two individuals, one calling very loudly from cedars near Holy Cross, another calling loudly from cedars near trail head. Both birds could be heard hooting back and forth for 35 minutes beginning at 5pm”   LISTEN HERE

Saw-whet Owl banding – Wikimedia

Northern Saw-whet Owl – Kelly Simmonds – March 24, 2014








On January 21, I came across an immature Red-tailed Hawk eating a Gray Squirrel on the side of Golfview Road, beside the Kawartha Golf and Country Club and right behind the Clonsilla Ave. fire station. It sure scared the jogger who happened by! The hawk wouldn’t give up his squirrel and flew off with it into the woods. Mark Scriver

Immature Red-tailed Hawk eating Gray Squirrel – Jan. 21, 2018 – Golfview Rd. – Mark Scriver









I have two Sandhill Cranes that I’ve seen twice and heard once in the past week. I have cranes here every spring, summer and fall, but am surprised that they’d be around at this time of the year.  Leo Condon, 947 Douro 4th Line 

Sandhill Cranes – Wendy Leszkowicz









Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Jan 23, 2018 07:49 by Scott Gibson
– Downtown – Robinson Place roof, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “feeding on pigeon on corner of roof”

Peregrine perched on steel girder – Wikimedia











Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (1)
– Reported Jan 22, 2018 08:50 by Ben Taylor
– Peterborough–Beavermead Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42155983
– Comments: “Continuing bird,”

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (2)
– Reported Jan 21, 2018 14:12 by Chris Risley
– Peterborough–Little Lake Cemetery, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42151124
– Comments: “Continuing birds: male and female”

Female Red-breasted Merganser (Karl Egressy)

Red-breasted Merganser on Otonabee River -Tom Northey








Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) (1)
– Reported Jan 21, 2018 14:20 by Chris Risley
– Peterborough–Otonabee River (Lock 19), Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42151121
– Comments: “Continuing bird. Only male seen, among mallards just below lock on west side of river”

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) (2)
– Reported Jan 21, 2018 16:15 by René Gareau
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Heard an owl calling, and 20 min. later located two great horned owls approx. 50 ft up a tree in north-east portion of Harper Park (south of Holy Cross school running track) at approx. 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 21.” 

Great Horned Owl – Karl Egressy

Harper Park in the south end of Peterborough is a natural treasure – Drew Monkman

Jan 212018

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (1)
– Reported Jan 20, 2018 14:00 by Alexandra Israel
– Lang Area, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42106339
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “Alerted by mobbing chickadees. Only general location given.”

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Dave Heuft)








Gray Jay (Northern) (Perisoreus canadensis [canadensis Group]) (1)
– Reported Jan 20, 2018 10:14 by Kenneth G.D. Burrell
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Club trails, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42093450
– Comments: “Called a few times, Lill spotted it along Trillium just north of Wolf Pond(?). Pretty unexpected!”

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park – March 2014









I had 16 Purple Finches on my property on January 19.  Don Munro, Campbellford

Purple Finch (male) – Karl Egressy











White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera) (4)
– Reported Jan 18, 2018 11:00 by Scott McKinlay
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Club trails, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S42053565
– Comments: “On the Adam Scott trail. They were singing the varied pitch song from spruce trees next to the trail before flying off.”

White-winged Crossbill (female) – Wikimedia








Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (2)
– Reported Jan 18, 2018 11:00 by Scott McKinlay
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Club trails, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Good views of a male and female that were responding to pishing by calling continuously and flying back and forth between three white pine trees that surrounded me. There was no white at all for either bird on the solid dark wings. The gip gip gip calls were in groups of 2 to 6. These were located about 1/3 of the way along the PT trail, travelling east to west.”

Red Crossbill – male – Wikimedia






Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) (2)
– Reported Jan 19, 2018 12:30 by Tim Haan
– 158 George Street North, Peterborough, Ontario, CA (44.299, -78.318), Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Both male and female near the train bridge”

Pair of Northern Pintail – Karl Egressy






Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (3)
– Reported Jan 16, 2018 08:07 by Daniel Williams
– Peterborough–Beavermead Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41958892
– Comments: “Males. Flyover. ”

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1)
– Reported Jan 16, 2018 09:44 by Scott Gibson
– 288 Scriven Road, Bailieboro, Ontario, CA (44.146, -78.313), Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41959644
– Media: 2 Photos
– Comments: “top of hill in tree beside rd. pics.”

I had a couple of firsts today: first time skiing and first Snowy Owl of the winter. I saw an eBird posting at 11:15 this morning (January 16) and immediately twitched out to see the bird at 11:30 on Scriven Line. I also, watched about 100 Snow buntings for 20 minutes but couldn’t find one Lapland Longspur. Michael Gillespie

Snow Bunting (from Crossley ID Guide)











Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) (1)
– Reported Jan 15, 2018 09:05 by Chris Risley
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Black head and back with barred sides, hammering on and peeling bark from a red pine. Spotted about 300 meters beyond the park gate.”

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (3)
– Reported Jan 15, 2018 15:17 by Toby Rowland
– Peterborough–Otonabee River (Lock 19), Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.2879468,-78.3082509&ll=44.2879468,-78.3082509
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41943549
– Comments: “Continuing three slightly worn males just below the lock”

Red-breasted Merganser (male) – Wikimedia








Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1)
– Reported Jan 14, 2018 16:00 by Colin Jones
– Peterborough–Little Lake, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.2965341,-78.3105472&ll=44.2965341,-78.3105472
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41908174
– Comments: “Sitting on the water fountain structure in the middle of the lake. Found earlier in the day by Warren Dunlop.”

Ruffed Grouse: I read your recent column on the winter bird counts. What you say about grouse is accurate. I saw one grouse today, whereas normally I would scare up six. The most I have ever seen in one group decades ago was 18 on a rainy day because they don’t like to fly when they are wet. Mel Fee, Cavan

Ruffed Grouse – Parry Sound – via Rob Moos








Ruffed Grouse: I wanted to comment on the grouse mystery. Growing up on a farm in the 50 & 60s we did hunt locally and there were always an abundance of grouse, hares, jacks and cottontails. Habitat has been reduced in some areas but not in others so what has changed? Coyotes have arrived in great numbers all across southern Ontario. We continually have tracks in our yard. Along with a very healthy Red Fox population I believe that anything nesting on the ground doesn’t have much of a chance. Would be interested to know if other ground nesting birds such as the Killdeer have seen declines. Always enjoy your columns and just to let you know I stopped hunting 50 years ago.  Al Mace, Westview Dr. Omemee

Jan 192018

Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:10:57 -0500
From: Ron Tozer <rtozer@vianet.ca>
To: ontbirds <birdalert@ontbirds.ca>
Subject: [Ontbirds] Algonquin Park Birding Report: 18 January 2018
Message-ID: <9EB826CE-F822-457A-BD69-C0D6961B2718@vianet.ca>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”UTF-8″

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.

January 19 will be this winter’s first 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. 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. To see the broadcast, click HERE.


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.

Ron Tozer, Algonquin Park Naturalist (retired), Dwight, ON.

DIRECTIONS: Algonquin Provincial Park is three hours north of Toronto, via Highways 400, 11 and 60. Follow the signs which start in Toronto on Highway 400. From Ottawa, take Highway 17 to Renfrew, then follow Highway 60 to the park. Kilometre markers along Highway 60 in the Park go from the West Gate (km 0) to near the East Gate (km 56). The Visitor Centre exhibits and restaurant at km 43 are open on weekends from 9 am to 5 pm, and are also open with limited services through the week from 9 am to 4 pm. Get your park permit and Information Guide (with a map of birding locations mentioned above) at the East Gate, West Gate or Visitor Centre. Locations are also described at: www.algonquinpark.on.ca

Jan 192018

We have been getting a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers for the last 2 years. We also had a sighting of a Red-headed Woodpecker this past September (2017). I feed all year so we get a lot of different birds here. I also sighted a pair of Sandhill Cranes in September. We are just north of Millbrook on Fallis Line. Ab Parsons

Red-headed Woodpecker – May 28, 2017 – Buckhorn Lake -Nima Taghaboni

Virginia Opossum in Ennismore – 2011










Virginia Opossums: We have 3 opossums living in our garage/hut –  a father, mother and baby. The male is a big white one; the female is grey and the baby is grey. The baby is about half the size of the mother. We live near Rice Lake on Wood Duck Drive on the north shore of Rice Lake. They are wandering around probably in the wooded area behind us which is owned by Southview Cottages. Sandy Kirkland

Virginia Opossum – Rice Lake – Jan. 2018 – Sandy Kirkwood








Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) (1)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 10:30 by Ryan Hill
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “just off main road, a bit north of the gate”

Black-backed Woodpecker – Wikimedia



Red_Crossbill – male – Wikimedia









Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (3)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 10:30 by Ryan Hill
– Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Peterborough, Ontario

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca) (1)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 14:48 by Toby Rowland
– Lakefield- Lakefield Marshland, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41807307
– Comments: “Continuing female WWSC from the report yesterday. Amongst mixed male and female COGO – will add photos ”

White-winged Scoter on Otonabee River – Tom Northey – Feb. 2, 2014

Male Red-breasted Merganser (Karl Egressy)









Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (1)
– Reported Jan 09, 2018 15:33 by Chris Risley
– Peterborough–Little Lake Cemetery, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41804772
– Comments: “long bill, green head, shaggy back of head, brown breast band; swimming in open water opposite Beavermead Park”

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) (1)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 15:30 by Ben Taylor
– feeder on County Rod 6, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “continuing bird at house at 3372 County Road Six. Actively feeding at feeder”

Sparrow-like female Rose-breasted Grosbeak – Cindy Bartoli

Male White-winged Crossbill – Wikimedia











White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera) (4)
– Reported Jan 10, 2018 09:30 by Chris Risley
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Area, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Heard and then saw flying over trees. Distinctive chips checked with recording online. Familiar with these chips”

On January 9, we had 15 American Robins at our house in Campbellford.  Donald Munro

American Robins feeding on Wild Grape – Beavermead Park – Feb. 7, 2016 – Helen & Larry Keller –










While having morning coffee, this Cooper’s Hawk swept down to the deck and caught a Mourning Dove having a drink at the heated bird bath. Took over an hour for her to finish her meal and leave.  Sue Paradisis 

Cooper’s Hawk eating Mourning Dove – January 2018 – Sue Paradisis













Red-winged Blackbird, male, spotted in the morning on January 12th, at my feeder on George Street in Lakefield. Don’t usually see these until March! John Dandrea

Red-winged Blackbirds – Dec. 23, 2017 – Fife Line _ Michael Gillespie

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker – Campbellford – January 2017 – Donald Munro











Red-bellied Woodpecker: (Observed Jan. 7, 2018) We live at the corner of Centre Road and County Rd 32, aka River Road. This is the first Red-bellied for us. Luba Klama

Jan 182018

Exploring the characteristics of twigs and buds is a great winter pastime     

After the dramatic reds, oranges and yellows of fall leaves, it’s easy to think that the seemingly barren trees of winter offer little of interest. Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy winter botanizing, the trees are anything but barren. A closer look reveals that they are adorned with buds, tiny jewels that harbour the promise of spring. Better still, they provide a surefire way to identify the tree. All that’s needed are observant eyes – a curious nose can help, too – and some knowledge of what species grow in our area.

Although we tend not to notice them until autumn when the leaves have fallen, the buds of most species have been present since summer. Stored within three kinds of buds, the tree’s entire future lies in waiting. Leaf buds contain embryonic stems and leaves – miniaturized, folded and pressed together like the tiniest and tightest of parachutes. They are biding their time, waiting for their turn to capture sunlight and manufacture food. Flower buds, as their name suggests, contain one or more flowers. We often forget that trees are flowering plants in the same way as roses and tulips. As such, they produce flowers whose goal it is to produce seeds and assure a new generation. Flower buds are generally larger than leaf buds, sometimes differently shaped (e.g., red and silver maples) and often located at the tip of the twig (terminal bud). Finally, trees also have mixed buds, which house all three structures – undeveloped stems, leaves and flowers. It’s usually necessary to dissect a given bud to know exactly what is hidden inside.

Bud biology

Although trees can usually be identified by their overall shape and by characteristics of the bark, buds provide a much more reliable means of identification. The starting point for understanding buds is to be able to recognize the twig, the part of the branch where the buds are located. The twig is the section at the end of each branch that constitutes the previous year’s growth. A twig’s point of origin is marked by a distinctive, ring-like node around the branch and a change in the colour and smoothness of the bark. The node is where the scales of the previous year’s terminal bud fell off and left several lines encircling the twig. For this reason, it is called a bud scale scar. To see how much the twig grew last year, measure the distance from the tip of the twig to the first bud scale scar. You can usually find the bud scale scars from two and three years ago, as well.

Bud arrangement is critical information in species identification. Because buds form in the angle between the stem and the stalk of the leaf, both leaves and buds have the same arrangement on the twig. In opposite arrangement, the buds on the sides of the twig (lateral buds) are located directly across from each other. In alternate arrangement, they are staggered singly at intervals along the twig. Only a few genera of trees and shrubs have opposite buds and leaves. This makes their identification easy. They include honeysuckle, ash, maple, lilac, viburnum, elderberry and dogwood. Just about all of the other tree and shrub species are alternate. The following mnemonic (memory aid) that I devised – which unintentionally sounds like a rallying call for animals rights – may be helpful in remembering these seven groups: HAM LIVED! Each genera or group corresponds to one letter in the mnemonic; lilac corresponds to LI. Start by learning the opposite buds, especially maple, ash and dogwood, and then move on to some of the common and distinctive alternate species like poplar, elm and willow.

Opposite buds (H=honeysuckle, A=ash, M=maple, LI=lilac, V=viburnum, E=elderberry, D=Dogwood) Alternate Basswood buds on far right.
















If you take a closer look at a bud, you will notice that it is covered with scales. These structures, which are usually leathery and sometimes hairy, serve to protect the embryonic leaves and flowers from the elements. The number, shape and arrangement of the bud scales are different for each species of tree. Beneath the scales, you will sometimes find tiny hairs, which provide additional protection to the bud’s precious cargo. Pussy willow buds are a well-known example of this feature.

Leaf scar and bundle scars of horse-chestnut – Wikimedia











Below each bud, you will also see a leaf scar. It marks the location where last summer’s leaf was attached. The scar therefore corresponds in shape to the base of the leaf stem. Each tree species has its own characteristic leaf scar, almost like the tree’s fingerprint. In red maples, the scar is U-shaped, while in white ash there is usually a deep notch in the scar. You may need a small hand lens to see this. If you look carefully at a leaf scar, you will see tiny markings known as bundle scars where veins passed from the stem of the leaf into the twig. These veins carried water into the leaf and food – made through photosynthesis – back out into the twig and to the rest of the tree. In some species – black walnut, for example – the leaf scar looks like a little face.

Flower bud opening on Norway Maple – Drew Monkman

Leaf buds of Manitoba Maple opening up – Drew Monkman









A primer

Let’s look at the buds and twigs of some familiar, easy-to-find species. You might want to go outside and gather these or use Google Images as a visual reference.

1. Sugar maple: Shiny, reddish-brown twigs with opposite buds. Buds are brown and conical, almost looking like upside down ice-cream cones, minus the ice cream. Covered by 6-8 pairs of scales, which are arranged in staggered rows. Large terminal bud. V-shaped leaf scar, containing 3 bundle scars.

2. Red oak: Reddish brown twigs with alternate buds. Buds are reddish-brown with 10 or more bud scales. Terminal buds form a cluster. Leaf scar is a semi-circle with numerous, scattered bundle scars.

3. American basswood: Light-brown, smooth twigs of zigzag shape. Buds are reddish, plump and opposite. 2-3 bud scales of unequal size. Leaf scar is semi-circular with 3 bundle scars.

4. Balsam poplar: My favourite winter buds! Narrow, long, pointed alternate buds with 4 leaf scales. Terminal bud larger, up to 25 mm, with 5 scales. Leaf scar roughly circular with 3 bundle scars. All buds are resinous and exude the smell of spring when rolled between your fingers.

Numerous guides for winter tree identification can be found online. Just Google “winter tree identification Ontario”. I especially like “Appendix C Winter Tree ID”, which should come up first in the search results.


1. What’s inside? Try opening some buds to see what’s hidden below the scales. Lilac and horse-chestnut buds work especially well. Using tweezers or just your fingers, try peeling back the scales and unfolding the contents. Count the tiny leaves inside. A hand lens will come in handy. Can you already see what shape the leaves are? Children are often amazed to see so many miniscule leaves are hidden inside such a small object. Large lilac and horse-chestnut buds may have tiny, pre-formed flowers inside. For small children, try cutting open some Brussels’ sprouts, which are actually large, immature leaf buds containing tightly overlapping leaves.

2. A twig collection: Collect the twigs of the most common trees and shrubs of your area. Attach these to a piece of cardboard with a glue gun, grouping them by opposite and alternate. Make sure you include twigs with both side and terminal buds. Cutting the twigs at an angle will expose the pith (the inside of the twig), which can also help in identification. Label each species.

3. Sneak preview: If you just can’t wait for spring to arrive, try forcing twigs for indoor blooming and leafing out. I’ve had especially good luck with dogwood, forsythia, crabapple, silver maple and birch twigs, but any species is worth trying. Head outside and cut off foot-long twigs with big, healthy buds. Make an angled cut at the base. Strip away buds and twigs that will be under water. Smash the woody bases with a hammer to enhance water absorption. Place in a water-filled vase in a cool, dark spot. Once the buds start to open – usually 7-12 days – move to a window, but out of direct sunlight. The cooler the spot, the longer the leaves and blooms will last. You might want to photograph or sketch the leaves, stems and flowers as they emerge. Try to identify which buds produced leaves and which produced flowers – or both!

Spring’s promise

Knowing these finer details of our trees and shrubs opens up a whole new world of winter beauty and adds immeasurably to any outing. Keep in mind that by March, sap will flow upwards from the tree’s roots, directing water and minerals to the buds and causing them to swell. With the warm days of late April and May, a new generation of leaves, shoots and flowers will emerge. The new growth will provide food for legions of insects, which in turn will become fuel for the rest of the food chain. The song of a Baltimore oriole on a May morning is directly linked to the buds of the winter forest.

Baltimore Oriole by Karl Egressy





Jan 112018

The annual Christmas Bird Count reveals the ups and downs of bird populations – and always some surprises.

Between mid-December and early January, birders in more than 2,500 localities across North, Central and South America take a break from the holiday festivities to spend a day outside, identifying and counting birds. Dating all the way back to 1900, the Christmas Bird Count is probably the longest-running Citizen Science project in the world. The information collected by thousands of volunteer participants forms one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data.

One of the most interesting trends the numbers show is the decades-long northward march of the Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, Northern Mockingbird, Tufted Titmouse and Northern Cardinal. Mourning Doves, for example, were extremely rare in the northern states and Canada until the 1960s, and it was only in the 1970s that their numbers really increased. All of these species used to be restricted to the southern U.S. Their range extension northward is most likely the result of a combination of milder winters and more people feeding birds.

The counts are organized at the local level, often by a birding club or naturalist organization. The count area is a circle, measuring 24 kilometres in diameter. The circle is then sub-divided into sectors, each of which is covered by a different group of birders. The basic idea is to identify and count – as accurately as possible – every bird seen or heard.

Once again this year, two local counts were held – one centred in Peterborough and the other in Petroglyphs Provincial Park. The Petroglyphs Count circle can be viewed at bit.ly/2EfuPt8. Martin Parker of the Peterborough Field Naturalists organized the Peterborough count, while Colin Jones was in charge of the Petroglyphs count.

Ruffed Grouse – Jeff Keller

Peterborough Count

The 66th Peterborough Christmas Bird Count was held December 17 under cold but sunny conditions. Seventy-one members and friends of the Peterborough Field Naturalists spent all or part of the day in the field, while 10 others kept track of birds visiting their feeders.

By the end of the day, participants had found 13,166 individual birds of 60 species. A pair of Fox Sparrows and a Sandhill Crane were new to the count. Both of these migratory species should have left the Kawarthas well before mid-December. At the compilation dinner after the count, Scott McKinlay described his group found and identified the crane. “I saw this bird through my scope from a considerable distance – maybe a kilometre – as it flew low over an open field in full sunlight. It had broad wings and the slow, arching wing beats typical of large herons and cranes. It was clearly brown in colour. I was reluctant to call it as a Sandhill because of the distance and time of year, but nothing else fit. A short time later, I reunited with the rest of the group, who had been surveying the area in the direction of my sighting. Before I uttered a word, they yelled out, “I think we saw a Sandhill Crane!” They described it as being the size of a Great Blue Heron with an outstretched neck, long trailing legs and flying low over a field in my direction. All three were adamant, however, that it was not a heron.”

Sandhill Crane (Wikimedia)

Record high numbers were tallied on the count for Cooper’s Hawk (12), Bald Eagle (13), Red-bellied Woodpecker (16), Pileated Woodpecker (28), Dark-eyed Junco (731) and Northern Cardinal (144). Previous highs were tied for Merlin (3) and Peregrine Falcon (1). The 466 Blue Jays tallied was three short of the previous high of 469.

There were also some notable low numbers. As has been the pattern in recent years, Great Horned Owls (2 vs. 40 in 1992), Ruffed Grouse (17 vs. 82 in 1979) and House Sparrows (181 vs. 2209 in 1981) were conspicuous by their relative absence. It is well known fact that Ruffed Grouse numbers fluctuate a great deal from year to year and even decade to decade. However, the factors responsible for these periodic fluctuations remain poorly understood. Road mortality and changes in habitat, especially south of the Canadian Shield, probably play a role, as well. These include forest fragmentation and fewer early-successional, aspen-dominated forest blocks. Ruffed Grouse are only capable of relatively short flights.

The decline of Great Horned Owls is another mystery. The Canadian population has dropped by over 70% since the 1960s. Collisions with vehicles and high mortality of fledged young due to starvation are acknowledged as playing an important roles. Declines in principal prey species, such as cottontails, hares and rodents (e.g., a big drop in muskrat numbers) may be a contributing factor.

Great Horned Owl – Drew Monkman

The downturn in House Sparrow populations, however, may be the biggest enigma. This is evident across the bird’s range, which includes every continent except Antarctica. The cause or causes are not yet known. In rural areas, it may be that changes in agricultural practices have resulted in fewer nesting sites and less food availability. In northeastern North America, it also been postulated that competition with a relatively new arrival, the House Finch, is a playing a role. However, House Finches have also been declining for a number of years. Only 181 were found this year, which is about one tenth of the record high of 1197.

Finally, not a single American Kestrel was found on the count. It is estimated that the continent-wide population of this small falcon has declined by about 50% since 1966. Part of the reason may be the felling of standing dead trees on which they depend for nesting sites. Removing hedgerows and brush as part of “clean” farming practices are almost certainly having an effect, too. According to Don Sutherland of the Natural Heritage Information Centre in Peterborough, American Kestrels are still common in parts of northern Ontario, particularly in the Big and Little Clay Belts where agriculture is less intense and there is an abundance of hayfields and pasture.


American Kestrel – Nima Taghaboni

The total tally sheet for the Peterborough count is as follows:   Canada Goose 400,  American Black Duck 8, Mallard 964,  Bufflehead 2, Common Goldeneye 100, Hooded Merganser 1, Common Merganser 7, Ruffed Grouse 17, Wild Turkey 223, Sharp-shinned Hawk  2, Cooper’s Hawk 12, Bald Eagle 13, Red-tailed Hawk 49, Sandhill Crane 1, Ring-billed Gull 9, Herring Gull 121, Glaucous Gull 1, Iceland Gull 1, Great Black-backed Gull 1, Rock Pigeon 1680, Mourning Dove 1088, Eastern Screech-Owl 2, Great Horned Owl 2, Snowy Owl 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Red-bellied Woodpecker 16, Downy Woodpecker 90, Hairy Woodpecker 62, Northern Flicker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 28, Merlin 3, Peregrine 1, Northern Shrike 8, Blue Jay 466, American Crow 612, Common Raven 9, Black-capped Chickadee 2065, Red-breasted Nuthatch 27, White-breasted Nuthatch 88, Brown Creeper 7, Golden-crowned Kinglet 28, American Robin 181,  European Starling 2227, Cedar Waxwing 115, Snow Bunting 143, American Tree Sparrow 439, Dark-eyed Junco 731, Fox Sparrow 2, Song Sparrow 1, White-throated Sparrow 5,  Northern Cardinal 144, Red-winged Blackbird 2, Brown-headed Cowbird 1,  House Finch 181, Purple Finch 2, White-winged Crossbill 1, Pine Siskin 99, American Goldfinch 424 and House Sparrow 181.  A Northern Harrier, Ring-necked Pheasant and Carolina Wren were also seen during the count period but not on the day of the count.

Petroglyph Count

            The 32nd Petroglyph Christmas Bird Count took place on December 27, in frigid weather conditions. The 24 participants braved temperatures of close to -30 C in the early morning and only -18 by mid-afternoon. Despite the weather, 32 species and 1826 individual birds were tallied, which is close to the 10-year average of 33.5 species and 2,248 individuals. There was virtually no open water, however, and therefore no waterbirds.

Although no new species were recorded or records broken, there were some notable results. An above-average 7 Bald Eagles, 146 Red-breasted Nuthatches, 122 American Tree Sparrows and 134 Dark-eyed Juncos were counted. A Gray Jay was also located in a bog along the Sandy Lake Road south of Lasswade. Up until 2009, this species was recorded annually but since then only observed in 2014 and during the week of the count in 2016. Two other birds of note were an immature Golden Eagle seen soaring over the Kawartha Nordic Ski Trails near Haultain and a Black-backed Woodpecker in Petroglyphs Provincial Park.

Black-backed Woodpecker – Wikimedia

As for winter finches, 41 Red Crossbills and 8 White-winged Crossbills turned up, some of which were singing! These birds will nest in any month of the year if sufficient food is available. This year, nearly all of our conifers produced a bumper seed crop. Crossbills feed almost exclusively on conifer seeds. Two Purple Finch, 114 Pine Siskin, 103 American Goldfinch and 2 Evening Grosbeak rounded out the finch count.

The total  tally sheet for the Petroglyph count is as follows: Ruffed Grouse 7, Wild Turkey 40,  Bald Eagle 7, Red-tailed Hawk 2, Golden Eagle 1, Rock Pigeon 10, Mourning Dove 9, Barred Owl 1, Downy Woodpecker 25, Hairy Woodpecker 39, Black-backed Woodpecker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 11, Gray Jay 1, Blue Jay 206, American Crow 4, Common Raven 42, Black-capped Chickadee 641, Red-breasted Nuthatch 146, White-breasted Nuthatch 40, Brown Creeper 17, Golden-crowned Kinglet 32, American Robin 2, European Starling 10, Cedar Waxwing 6, American Tree Sparrow 122, Dark-eyed Junco 134, Purple Finch 2, Red Crossbill 41, White-winged Crossbill 8, Pine Siskin 114, American Goldfinch 103, and Evening Grosbeak 2.



Backyard Count

If you are inspired by the Christmas Bird Count and want to contribute to Citizen Science yourself – and maybe introduce your children or grandchildren to birding – consider taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count. It takes place February 16-19 and anyone can participate. Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. You can do so from any location. Go to gbbc.birdcount.org for details. To see the results of last year’s count, visit gbbc.birdcount.org/2017-gbbc-summary/




Jan 092018

N.B. “Home” and “the yard” is between Warsaw and Lakefield.

On December 12th, a Golden-crowned Kinglet flitted about with a few juncos and chickadees in the apple trees in the yard.

Three White-winged Crossbills and a Brown Creeper were the avian highlights in the yard on December 20th.

After having read reports during recent years about Red-bellied Woodpeckers moving into the area, I recalled that the last ones I likely had seen were way back in 1984 at Rondeau PP on Lake Erie. What a gorgeous bird, and I really wanted to see one. On the morning of December 21st, I had just e-mailed Drew Monkman, thanking him for telling me of a few reliable Red-bellied Woodpeckers in the county, and for providing me with contacts, should I decide to follow up on any of them. Being four days before Christmas, however, I mentioned to Drew that perhaps I would wait until after the holidays, not wanting to interrupt anyone’s other plans at this, the most hectic time of year. I suggested to him that “I might just hold off, and see if one comes here to my feeder and pays me a visit instead”.

Well, (I later checked the time of my e-mail), less than an hour later, there was a lovely male Red-bellied Woodpecker enjoying the suet just outside my window! How does it get any better than that? Talk about a dose of old time Christmas magic!! The bird was there for a total of four minutes, and then off he went with a glob of suet in his bill. Of course, I waited, but I never saw him again that day. On the morning of the 24th he returned. Again, he was very brief, and left the yard carrying a pinch of suet and headed off in the same direction he had gone three days before. I had not seen him since… until today (January 8th) while writing up this little report. He came just before 2:30pm, and over a period of about fifteen minutes, went back and forth between the suet and an elm tree a short distance away. Finally, I was able to take some photos of his back! Too bad for the heavy overcast, (but I’ll try not to complain!)








Also on the 21st of December, a Northern Shrike flew through low between the feeder and the house. Nothing significant really, as I normally enjoy many sightings of the species each year, but I think this was the first I had seen this season. Typically, I notice the first one or two by mid-October.

Same day, at dusk, a large immature Northern Goshawk perched atop one of the many spruces east of the yard. She sat long enough for a few lousy photos to be taken and she then headed north into the Red Pines. A few hours later, one of the property Barred Owls called from the hardwoods. Just single “Boo, boo, boo” calls, for nearly a minute. December 21st 2017… not a bad day of “yard birding” at all!







Shortly after seeing the Red-bellied Woodpecker on the 24th, we headed into Peterborough just before noon. While waiting for a red light on Charlotte St. at Aylmer, I looked up at the top of the large building on the s-w corner. I began counting all of the antennas on the roof, and noticed one at the east end had a preening adult Peregrine perched on top. We made three left turns so we could come back around and have a look at the back of the bird. I had been in town many times over the past few months, and now, had finally seen Peterborough’s infamous falcon.

On Christmas morning, I watched the feeder from bed. New there that morning was an American Tree Sparrow, (finally), a House Sparrow, (quite a rarity here now), and a leucistic Dark-eyed Junco with uneven whitish areas of feathers on its face, throat, and sides of its head. The sparrows have only returned once or twice, but the junco is here now almost daily.

On December 27th I heard a Lapland Longspur uttering its calls as it flew overhead. I pished at it and it came to land briefly and poke around in the snow near the bases of some dead goldenrod stalks by the cedar rail fence for a very short while.




Period eagle sightings:

– December 13th a 1st winter Bald at about 1:30pm and an adult Bald at 1:55pm flying by over the house.









– December 16th a 1st winter Bald in flight over the house.

– December 25th (reported by Ed Heuvel over his house n-w of Norwood) one adult Bald Eagle.

– January 6th (after a dry spell of three weeks for me) finally an adult Bald Eagle soared over my house near Warsaw.

N.B. If any birders are out and about in Lakefield, please check the river north of the bridge for a female Barrow’s Goldeneye. I watched a few goldeneye there on January 4th, and one looked suspiciously like a Barrow’s. They were actively feeding, however, and I was getting only two-second looks at best in between dives. Then my ride came and I had to go. I’ve not been back since. It might be worth a search, and I’d love verification as I was not completely sure of what I saw.

Jan 042018

2017 saw dire environmental stories grab centre stage but all was not doom and gloom

As we shiver into 2018, I would like to take a moment to look back at 2017 and revisit some of the top environmental and climate change stories. The past 12 months represent a stark cautionary tale that our climate is changing faster and with more catastrophic intensity than ever before. Scientists also reminded us this year that it is 100 percent human-caused. In fact, if it weren’t for Homo sapiens, the planet would be cooling.

To anyone paying attention, these changes are also apparent here in the Kawarthas where extremes in temperature and other weather events have become the norm. We might not know what the weather is going to bring, but we can be increasingly sure that it will be an extreme of some sort – and that it will last for much longer than ever before.

A year of extremes

1. Stronger storms: This was a savage year for hurricanes in the U.S. Three ferocious storms (Harvey, Irma and Maria) pummeled Florida, the Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico, causing deaths and billions of dollars of destruction. A growing scientific consensus is that climate change is increasing the rainfall, wind speeds and storm surges associated with hurricanes. Many experts believe that the intensity and frequency of these events will only increase.

2. Flooding:  Ottawa and Montreal had their wettest spring on record with over 400 mm of rain falling. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, more than 5,000 residences were flooded. This resulted in 15,750 claims and $223 million in property damages. In April and May, Peterborough was drenched with 299 mm of rain, which was almost exactly double the 1981-2000 normal of 150 mm. In mid-May, water levels in Lake Ontario were their highest in 157 years.

On August 28, Windsor received 222 mm of rain in less than 48 hours. Insurance payouts totaled $154 million, which was the most expensive single-storm loss across Canada in 2017. This occurred less than a year after a record $153 million flood hit Windsor and Essex County in 2016.

Peterborough Flood 2004 – Janine Jones photo

3. Wildfires: British Columbia saw its longest and most destructive wildfire season ever. The BC Wildfire Service reported 1,265 fires that charred 1.2 million hectares of timber, bush and grassland. This represents an area twice the size of Prince Edward Island. It shattered the previous record for burned land by 30%. Fighting these fires cost the province more than half a billion dollars, while insured property losses approached $130 million. In California, too, the wildfire season was the most destructive in recorded history. This included the 20 most destructive fires ever seen in semi-urban areas. With climate change fueling more and bigger blazes, the Western wildfire season in the U.S. is now 105 days longer than it was 45 years ago.

4. Record heat: Planet-wide, 2017 will likely go down as the second-warmest year on record. What is most astounding is that this occurred in the absence of an El Niño, which drives up global temperatures. The hottest year ever was 2016, which broke the record set in 2015. The ten hottest years have all occurred since 1998. In eastern Canada, we saw “summer in September”. From September 22 to 27, over a thousand heat records fell. The mean monthly temperature in Peterborough was 2.6 C warmer than the 1971-2000 normal, while October temperatures soared an amazing 3.2 C above normal. To put this into context, the goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit planet-wide warming to well below 2 C.

5. Record cold: This December and January have been unbelievably frigid – once again thanks to the polar vortex. The mean December temperature in Peterborough came in at 3.2 C below normal – in other words, as much colder as October was warmer. It’s not just the severity of the cold, however; it’s also the duration. Outbreaks of cold weather almost never last this long. Bone-chilling Arctic air is projected to be with us through at least January 10.

So, doesn’t the cold mean that global warming is nothing to be concerned about – maybe even desirable? It’s important to remember that this is a short-term weather event and not a long-term climate trend. In fact, warmer-than-average air is dominating the rest of the planet right now.

The polar vortex is influenced by the temperature difference between the Arctic and more temperate regions to the south. In recent years, the Arctic has been warming at twice the global rate as sea ice melts. Many scientists now believe that the narrowing of the temperature difference between the Arctic and more southerly regions has caused the jet stream to weaken and become more wave-like. This weakening appears to have allowed Arctic air masses to spill southward and remain in place longer. In the past, a robust jet stream usually impeded Arctic air masses from spilling southward for more than a few days.

6. Donald Trump: From his announcement to exit from the Paris climate accord to appointing climate change deniers like Scott Pruitt to key environmental posts, the U.S. president did his best in 2017 to undo any environmental progress President Obama had made. Protected land was an easy target as he sought to weaken bans on industrial activity. He appears committed to gutting Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Dire warning

In November, more 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issued a warning that the ongoing destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems is putting the very future of humankind at severe risk and leading to catastrophic biodiversity loss. It stated that humankind must take immediate action to reverse the effects of climate change, deforestation, unsustainable agriculture (especially ruminants for meat consumption) and species extinction. The alert came on the 25th anniversary of a similar warning in 1992. This time, however, 10 times as many scientists were signatories. The warning states that we have unleashed a mass extinction event – the sixth in the past 540 million years. The scientists provided a number of broad solutions: They include moving away as quickly as possible from fossil fuels; using energy, water, food and other materials much more efficiently; promoting a diet of mostly plant-based foods; reducing and eventually eliminating poverty; ensuring sexual equality and guaranteeing women control over their own reproductive decisions. Not surprisingly, the warning generated very little reaction.

Barn Swallows have seen their population crash by at least 80% in the last two decades – Karl Egressy

According to another major study published in July, the extinction crisis is far worse than most people think. Of the 177 mammals for which the researchers had detailed data, over 40 percent have lost more than 80 percent of their ranges. In terms of individual animals, wildlife populations have decreased by 50% in just the past four decades. “The massive loss of populations and species reflects our lack of empathy to all the wild species that have been our companions since our origins,” says lead author, Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Good news

It was not all doom and gloom, however. There were some good news stories.

1. Canada, along with four other Arctic coastal countries, signed a 16-year moratorium on commercial fishing in an area covering 2.8 million kilometres of the central Arctic Ocean. This is roughly the size of the Mediterranean Sea. The treaty is seen as a historic victory for Arctic conservation.

2. Thanks to a DDT phase-out and reintroduction programs, the peregrine falcon has been assessed as no longer at risk by the Committee on the Status on Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Peregrines at Anstruther Lake nest – July 19, 2014 – photo by Drew Monkman

3. The ozone hole this year was the smallest since 1988, thanks to a decades-long international effort to ban ozone-depleting chemicals.

4. Monarch butterfly numbers bounced back this summer, following several years of severe declines. Tim Dyson, who lives near Warsaw, tallied no fewer than 532 monarchs in 2017, which was more than double his previous high. It is expected that the overwintering population in Mexico will increase from the 2.91 hectares of last year to 4 hectares or better this winter.

5. The evidence of a strong link between health and time spent in nature received increased attention this year – even by groups like the World Economic Forum. Human health is quickly becoming an important driver for conservation.

6. Local environmental organizations continued to do excellent work this year. The number of such groups is truly astounding for a community our size. They include Peterborough Pollinators, Peterborough Field Naturalists, Peterborough Greenspace Coalition, Peterborough GreenUp, Sustainable Peterborough, Camp Kawartha, Otonabee Conservation, Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, The Land Between Conservation Organization, Transition Town, Kawartha Land Trust, For Our Grandchildren, Leap Manifesto Group, Natural Heritage Information Centre and many more. UNESCO also recognized Peterborough-Kawarthas-Haliburton as a Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. No small accomplishment!

Peterborough Pollinators garden on Medical Drive – photo by Drew Monkman


Like me, you have probably been asking yourself for years why humans allow climate change and other forms of environmental degradation to continue unabated. Research provides a clear but disconcerting answer: for most people, the environment is simply not a priority relative to other issues in their lives. This is true even in developed, prosperous countries like Canada. We are all caught up in a complicated web dominated by material culture and values such as perpetual economic growth and our separateness from nature – the very values that have allowed industrial capitalism to flourish. However, many social scientists would argue that a deliberate shift in what we value is unlikely. An optimist, I suppose, might contend that the huge change in attitudes vis-à-vis  the rights of women, homosexuals and minorities proves that profound value shifts are indeed possible. I just wish I was more convinced.




Jan 032018

I am quite sure I spotted an Elk in an open field on Jan. 6, 2018. It was just east of the village of Warkworth on County Road 29 (north side) around 11:45 am.  Doug McNabb

Elk – Division Road east of Peterborough – October 19, 2013 – John Morrit














Great Horned Owl (Great Horned) (Bubo virginianus [virginianus Group]) (1)
– Reported Jan 04, 2018 14:00 by Matthew Tobey
– Peterborough–Harper Park, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “North end of the park, being harassed by ~12 American Crows”

Great Horned Owl – Fleming Campus in Peterborough – Drew Monkman












Barred Owl (Strix varia) (2)
– Reported Dec 30, 2017 14:30 by Basil Conlin
– Peterborough–Rotary Park & Walkway, Peterborough, Ontario
– Media: 3 Photos
– Comments: “one being mobbed by chickadees near the gate at Hazlitt, another being mobbed by crows at the same time closer to the river near the London St. bridge.”

Barred Owl – Quarry Bay – Tim Dyson









Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Jan 03, 2018 09:15 by Ben Taylor
– Town Ward, Peterborough, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Being harassed by 2 crows in a tree by the west side of the Holiday Inn pedestrian bridge. Flew off across the river to the point (southwest).”

Peregrine eating Rock Pigeon – Jan. 13, 2015 – PRHC – Stephanie Pineau












Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) (1)
– Reported Jan 02, 2018 12:00 by Iain Rayner
– PTBO – Edgewater road and Railway, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Adult on ice in front of marina with HERG. White head. Similar size and colour to HERG but primaries mostly white with some grey. (pale end of kumleini spectrum)”

Iceland Gull (Crossley Guide) First winter bird is lower left. Some are browner.










Trumpeter Swans (Observed Jan. 1) I was driving up Water St. today and was surprised to see an adult Trumpeter Swan swimming with 3 large immature birds. They were in the open water below the dam at the zoo. The young ones were as big as the adult.  Bill Astell

Adult Trumpeter Swans and four immatures – Oct. 14, 2012 – Bethany, ON – Paul Anderson








Pileated Woodpecker (Observed Jan. 2) This must be my lucky week; I sighted a Pileated Woodpecker at 2:00 PM in the lower part of Burnham’s Woods today. I hear them from time to time but rarely see them. Ross Jamieson

Pileated Woodpecker 2 – Jan. 1, 2016 – Mark St. Peterborough – Helen Keller










Bald Eagle (Observed Jan. 2) I was driving to work yesterday morning at 8:25am, and as I was crossing the Hunter Street Bridge a Bald Eagle flew over the bridge (quite low), heading south down the Otonabee River. It was unbelievable! Thought I’d let you know in the event there were other sightings.  Sarah Gencey

Bald Eagle – Jan. 14, 2014 – in flight over Woodland Drive – Bill Astell









Red-bellied Woodpecker (Observed Jan. 2 & 3) Female seen in trees at house at 85 Kelleher Rd, Campbellford. There was one all last winter, too. Don Munro

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker – Campbellford – January 2017 – Don Munro











Peregrine Falcon (North American) (Falco peregrinus anatum) (1)
– Reported Jan 01, 2018 14:22 by Luke Berg
– Luke’s Yard, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Hunting pigeons over the backyard and George street. ”

Peregrine – Karl Egressy

Jan 012018

The 32nd Petroglyphs Christmas Bird Count was held on Thursday, December 27, 2017 during very cold conditions. It was nearly -30 degrees C first thing in the morning and only warmed up to about -18 by mid-afternoon.

Participants: 24
Total species: 32 (close to the 10-year average of 33.5)
Total individuals: 1826 (10-year average is 2248)
As a result of the very cold weather there was virtually no open water and therefore no waterbirds.

Notable species and count highs (no new record highs) included:
BALD EAGLE: 7 (slightly higher than average)
GOLDEN EAGLE: 1 sub-adult bird seen soaring over the Kawartha Nordic Ski Trails

BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER: 1 in the Petroglyphs Provincial Park (although previously recorded nearly every year this species has only been detected 3 times in the past 10 years)

GRAY JAY: a single bird was located in a bog along the Sandy Lake Rd (until 2009 recorded annually but since then only recorded in 2014 and during count period in 2016)

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH: 146 (well above the 10-year average of 87 but nowhere near the count high of 526)

AMERICAN ROBIN: 2 (absent in most years)

CEDAR WAXWING: 6  (absent in most years)

AMERICAN TREE SPARROW: 122 (well above the 10-year average of 18; count high is 218)
DARK-EYED JUNCO: 134 (well above the 10-year average of 12 and near count high of 168)

American Tree Sparrow – Karl Egressy









Low Counts:
RUFFED GROUSE: 7 (below 10-year average of 15 and the count high of 77)ROCK PIGEON: only a single flock of 10 (well below the 10-year average of 58 and the count high of 89)
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH: 40 (well below the 10-year average of 80 and count high of 233)
EUROPEAN STARLING: 10 (below 10-year average of 26 and count high of 114)

Winter Finches:



WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL: 8 including singing individuals




Notable Misses:
SNOW BUNTING: recorded most years (has only been missed 5 times)

Colin Jones, Count Compiler

Male White-winged Crossbill – Wikimedia

Purple Finch (male) – Karl Egressy

Gray Jay -Tom Northey Algonquin Park – March 2014

Dec 262017

Barred Owl: Sighted Saturday, December 30, at 2:30pm in Burnham’s Woods (Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park) on Hwy 7, just east of Peterborough. It was sitting in one of the large hemlock trees about 40 metres from the end of the parking lot. I wouldn’t have seen it had it not flown to its perch from another location west of the trail. I was able to watch it from a distance of about 20 metres for about 10 minutes before it flew to another location.  Ross Jamieson

Barred Owl – Michael Gillespie










Algonquin Park Report

Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2017 10:01:48 -0500
From: Ron Tozer <rtozer@vianet.ca>
To: ontbirds <birdalert@ontbirds.ca>
Subject: [Ontbirds] Algonquin Park Birding Report: 28 December 2017
Message-ID: <A7327352-E422-4BC0-8158-F8AE6C174739@vianet.ca>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”UTF-8″

This week’s extremely cold temperatures seemed at odds with evidence of breeding activity by White-winged Crossbills in the 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, records indicate breeding in summer and fall (July to November), winter (January to March), and spring (March to June).

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.

-Wild Turkey: several are coming daily to feed below the Visitor Centre parking lot feeder.

-Ruffed Grouse: sightings continued at the Visitor Centre driveway and feeders.

Spruce Grouse: try Spruce Bog Boardwalk near the trail register box and Opeongo Road north of the winter gate.

Black-backed Woodpecker: one was seen along Spruce Bog Boardwalk on December 24.

Gray Jay: regular along Opeongo Road from the winter gate northward, and on Spruce Bog Boardwalk.

Boreal Chickadee: after several weeks with no reports, one was along Opeongo Road (December 24) and two were at Wolf Howl Pond (December 25).

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), Pine Siskin (fairly numerous), American Goldfinch (fairly numerous) and Evening Grosbeak (about 20 at the Visitor Centre feeders daily). Ron Tozer, Algonquin Park Naturalist (retired), Dwight, ON.


Bald Eagles: Sighted Dec 30, 2017 at 7:30am. I had two Bald Eagles perching in a large tree at the waters edge on Rice Lake. A beautiful sight! Esther Ross, north side of Rice Lake, Bailieboro east 

Bald Eagle: Sighted Dec 29, 2017 at 2pm. I just saw a big, beautiful adult Bald Eagle fly north over the farm towards County Road 2.  Michael Gillespie, Fife Line, Keene

Bald Eagle (Karl Egressy)










Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) (1)
– Reported Dec 28, 2017 07:05 by Tyler L. Hoar
– Sandy Lake Pine barrens/Sedge marshes, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “In Black Spruce Bog area east side of largest sedge fen.”

Gray Jay in Algonquin Park – Jan. 2012 – Drew Monkman








Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (12)
– Reported Dec 28, 2017 07:05 by Tyler L. Hoar
– Sandy Lake Pine barrens/Sedge marshes, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.659557,-77.8931522&ll=44.659557,-77.8931522
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41394509
– Comments: “11 of 12 were in White Pine dominated areas, 1 in Eastern Hemlock was actually singing.”

Red Crossbill – Wikipedia







Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) (1)
– Reported Dec 28, 2017 09:50 by Colin Jones
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Club trails, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Slowly soared overhead at 12:56 pm”

Juvenile Golden Eagle – USFWS










Barred Owl (Strix varia) (1)
– Reported Dec 28, 2017 09:50 by Colin Jones
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Club trails, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.6201046,-78.1319386&ll=44.6201046,-78.1319386
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41383205

Barred Owl – Jan. 18, 2017 – Michael Gillespie








Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) (1)
– Reported Dec 28, 2017 07:30 by Iain Rayner
– Ptbo – Petroglyphs CBC Area D, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist:
– Comments: “Flaking bark from dead Red Pine in Petroglyphs Park N of McGinnis lake on E branch. Just S of connecting road.”

Black-backed Woodpecker – Wikimedia











Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (2)
– Reported Dec 28, 2017 08:22 by Colin Jones
– CA-ON-North Kawartha (44.6205,-78.1324), Peterborough, Ontario

Red_Crossbill – male – Wikimedia







Red Crossbill (Female), Wikimedia








Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) (12)
– Reported Dec 28, 2017 09:50 by Colin Jones
– Kawartha Nordic Ski Club trails, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.6201046,-78.1319386&ll=44.6201046,-78.1319386
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41383205
– Comments: “Several small groups”

Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) (2)
– Reported Dec 26, 2017 11:00 by Ben Evans
– The Bird’s house, Peterborough, Ontario (in village of Douro)

Lapland Longspur – Note rufous on wing coverts – Wikimedia

Flock of Lapland Longspurs – Wikimeda







Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) (1)
– Reported Dec 26, 2017 09:00 by Martin Parker
– Peterborough – 1494 Westbrook Drive, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.3048253,-78.3463812&ll=44.3048253,-78.3463812
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41335870
– Comments: “continuing individual”

Common Grackle – from The Crossley ID Guide to Eastern Birds











Snow Buntings: Today, Dec. 26, at noon. My first winter birds! A “squall” of Snow Buntings – at least 30 – flying over Hwy 28, just south of County Road 6 (Lakefield), to a field on the west side. Quite the sight!   Marilyn Freeman

Snow Buntings – Wikimedia








Snowy Owl: On December 24, 09:50, I saw a Snowy Owl (probably a male) northeast of Lindsay. It was on a hydro pole along Highway 36, about half-way along the north-south stretch from Cheese Factory to the bend before Snug Harbour Road.  Alan Crook

Snowy Owl (Nima Taghaboni)








Rough-legged Hawk: Despite the deteriorating mound of the deer carcass in the orchard, it did attract a Rough-legged Hawk this morning, December 24. Michael Gillespie, David Fife Line, Keene

Rough-legged Hawk (Karl Egressy)








Red-bellied Woodpecker: On Nov 18, I reported a Red-bellied Woodpecker female and saw another female today, Dec 24, on the north shore of Buckhorn Lake at Kawartha Hideaway. It was poking under the bark of an old maple tree. Jane Philpott

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female) – Jennifer MacKenzie Dec 31, 2014

Dec 212017

The winter solstice is a time of wonder and the assurance of spring’s return

Today marks the winter solstice and the first official day of winter. It is a time of contemplation and reverence, not only in its spiritual dimensions but also as a reflection of the human capacity for wonder. I always imagine being out in space and casting an eye down on our blue planet as the northern hemisphere tilts at its greatest angle away from the sun. The solstice is a tangible reminder that we earthlings are indeed passengers on a body of rock and water orbiting a luminous sphere of hot, glowing gas.

From our perspective here on Earth, we see the sun tracing its lowest and shortest trajectory through the sky. Even at noon, it climbs little more than halfway above the southern horizon. The sun rose this morning at its most southerly point on the eastern horizon; likewise, it will set at its most southerly point in the west. This results in the shortest day of the year. At the solstice, Peterborough receives only eight hours and 51 minutes of daylight – approximately half of what we enjoy in June.

The solstice serves of a reminder of why we have seasons. Think of our planet as a spinning top, tilted at an angle of 23-and-a-half degrees – just like a desktop globe.  As Earth cruises through space, the northern hemisphere leans towards the sun for part of the year – our summer – and away from the sun for part of the year – our winter. In fall and spring, Earth is intermediate between these two positions. This tilt causes a huge difference in the amount of heating the Earth’s surface receives from one season to the next.

The Winter Solstice assures us the days will once again grow longer – Edmison Heights grade 4 class

In summer, sunlight strikes the northern hemisphere almost perpendicularly. Heating is fast and efficient. The solar radiation also takes a shorter path through the energy-absorbing atmosphere before striking Earth. This also means that noontime shadows are very short. Winter sunlight, however, arrives at a much shallower angle and closer to horizontal. The light also travels through more atmosphere and scatters over a larger area. This results in far less heating occurs. Mid-day shadows are much longer, too.

The difference in heating between the summer and winter can be demonstrated with a flashlight – the stronger, the better. Shine the flashlight directly over a tabletop so that the beam is nearly vertical. You will notice that the light is concentrated in a small area. If your flashlight is strong enough, the tabletop will soon feel warm to the touch. The light beam is just like the solar radiation of early summer when the sun is high in the sky. If you place a small, vertical object on the table, you will also see that it casts a short shadow. To simulate winter, angle your flashlight to the side so that the light scatters over a larger area. You should be able to feel that far less heating occurs, because the same amount of light spreads out over a larger area. The shadow cast by the object on the table will be much longer, as well.

The tilting also means that there are more hours of daylight in the summer and fewer hours in the winter. This makes a huge difference in the lives of plants and animals, be it the rapid plant growth and frenzied bird song of sun-soaked June or the dormant plants and avian silence of December.

The word solstice means “the point at which the sun stands still”. However, Copernicus demonstrated that the sun does not move, at least not in relationship to Earth. The very fact that we continue to use the word “solstice” – even in the face of its scientific inaccuracy – should remind us all of how far humanity has come in our understanding and appreciation of the world around us. What better time than the solstice to acknowledge the great scientists – Copernicus, Darwin, Einstein and many more – who challenged the status quo and rescued us from myth and superstition.


For ancient peoples with no knowledge of science or the movement of celestial bodies, we can easily imagine that the solstice was a time of profound fear but also gratitude.  It is an event that was noticed and celebrated by cultures across the world. Neolithic farmers, whose lives were intimately tied to the seasons and the cycle of harvest, were closely attuned to the movements of the sun.  They would see the sun rising and setting further south each day, notice the hours of daylight growing shorter and struggle to stay warm in the increasing cold. They would almost certainly have feared the sun’s complete disappearance. However, just when the world appeared to be on the brink of utter darkness and oblivion, the sun would suddenly stop its southward march in sunrise and sunset points.  Its mid-day elevation, too, would cease to slip lower and lower in the sky.  The sun would appear to stand still before once again moving northward and climbing higher in the sky.

The fear that the failing sunlight and warmth would never return was no doubt the reason why the ancients felt compelled to intervene with vigil and ceremony. Ancient Mesopotamians celebrated 12 days of fire building in an effort to “rekindle” the dying sun. The Romans paid homage to Mithras, the Persian god of light, in the feast of Saturnalia – the Celebration of the Unconquered Sun. In 350 AD Pope Julius I declared December 25 as the birth date of Jesus, purportedly to take advantage of these well established solstice festivities and to  attract new followers to Christianity. It is intriguing how the solstice themes of light and the tenacity of life as reflected in evergreen trees have combined to make one of the dominant symbols of modern Christmas: the Christmas tree.

Get outside

The winter solstice reminds us of the close links between the holiday season and the rhythms of the natural world. What better way to celebrate these connections than to get outside ourselves. Here are some things to pay attention to.

  1. The profound silence: Other than the sound of the wind, the crunching snow beneath our feet and the odd call of a chickadee, nature is quiet. Notice how the birds aren’t singing; there is no reproductive reason to do so.
  2. Winter colours: Pay attention to the subtle shades of the sky and the paleness of the sun. Watch for red and orange berries still clinging to vines and shrubs, patches of brightly-coloured lichens on tree bark and the different shades of green of conifers.

    Greenshield Lichen – Drew Monkman

  3. Shapes and patterns: Look closely at the tree twigs and you’ll notice that some are opposite each other (e.g., maples and ash) while others are positioned in an alternating fashion (e.g., oak, poplar). Compare the shapes of pines and spruce and how their needles differ. Have fun looking for faces in tree bark and for different shaped holes in the trunks. A long, rectangular hole is the telltale sign of pileated woodpecker activity.
  4. Bird and squirrels nests: Scan the bare branches for big, bulky grey squirrel nests and the much smaller, cup-shaped nests of songbirds.
  5. The absence of smell: Unlike spring and summer, the winter woods and fields have few natural smells. Take time to rub conifer needles and the buds of trees to enjoy the hidden scents of the season.
  6. Sunrise and sunset locations: Take an early morning or late afternoon walk to watch sunrise and sunset. This is convenient to do in December since families are often up before daybreak and darkness falls so early. Pack some warm drinks and head to a large open area with an unobstructed view of the eastern and/or western horizon. Armour Hill is a great location if you live in Peterborough. Take note of exactly where the sun rises and/or sets in relation to landmarks such as trees or buildings. You might also want to snap a quick photograph. Do the same at the spring equinox, summer solstice and fall equinox, making sure to stand in the same spot. You will be amazed by how much the sunrise and sunset point changes with each new season. Taking time to appreciate the beauty and location of the rising and setting of the sun is also energising and uplifting.

    Path of the sun through the seasons – Judy Hyland

  7. Shadows: Notice how long your shadow is. Stand up straight with your back to the sun and take turns measuring each other’s shadow. By doing so at the beginning of each new season – preferably at noon each time – you’ll discover how much shadow length changes over the course of the year. Measuring shadows helps all of us – adults and children alike – understand that shadow length depends on how much our hemisphere is tipped toward or away from the sun. It also lays the groundwork for understanding why we have seasons.
  8. The night sky: Find a spot free of light interference and look up at the heavens. Try to find the Orion constellation, the Pleiades and Sirius, the brightest star of winter. When you are finished stargazing, walk with candles for a short distance. The kids will love it.

As a final thought, always remember that the winter solstice represents the assurance that the days will once again grow longer and spring indeed will come.


Dec 182017


Bald Eagle:  We live on the Sixth Line of Selwyn (right behind Paris Marine). I spotted this adult Bald eagle in the tree beside our house on Monday, December 18. Hope you enjoy it. Heather Turner

BAEA – Dec. 18, 2017 – Paris Marine, Selwyn Twsp – Heather Turner









Red-winged Blackbirds:  My “ long overdue to leave”, so-called friends. They sometimes number over 30! (Dec. 23, 2017) Michael Gillespie, David Fife Line, Keene

Red-winged Blackbirds – Dec. 23, 2017 – Fife Line _ Michael Gillespie


This morning, there was a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds at my bird feeder. I live just east of Westwood, between Keene and Hastings, and have never noticed red-winged blackbirds here at this time of year before. Is this the new normal? Debbie Lynch, Westwood

N.B.  Not the new normal, but more than usual this winter. Most years at this time there are a few reported, but usually less than five. They may be part of the same flock that has shown up on Fife Line. D.M.

RWBLs – Dec. 23, 2017 – Debbie Lynch

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) (1)
– Reported Dec 22, 2017 10:00 by Dave Milsom
– 1093 Scollard Drive, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.3412121,-78.3001087&ll=44.3412121,-78.3001087
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41253932
– Comments: “female made very brief visit this morning”

Note: Also seen December 24.

Ring-necked Pheasant – female -Wikimedia








Common Ravens: On December 22, at 250 Lindsay Road, between Craftworks and Pawz-N-Train, I saw 30 ravens circling above the silo on a barn. David Beaucage-Johnson

Common Raven – Wikimedia










Carolina Wren (Northern) (Thryothorus ludovicianus [ludovicianus Group]) (1)
– Reported Dec 20, 2017 13:11 by Matthew Tobey
– Matthew’s Backyard, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41220532
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “Visited feeder for a brief period; flew off before I could get a decent record shot.”

Carolina Wren (Wikimedia)







Sharp-shinned Hawk: I’m quite distraught, because a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew straight into one of our windows on December 16. Had a quick demise. This happened close to the bird feeder, which was well populated at the time.  Jill Stocker, Millbrook

Sharp-shinned Hawk – window collision – Millbrook – Dec. 16, 2017 – Jill Stocker











Woodpeckers and a shrike: I had a Red-bellied Woodpecker (male) at the suet feeder and sunflower feeder yesterday and today (Dec. 17, 18). Pretty exciting -and hard to miss. It seems like all the woodpeckers – Pileated, Hairy and Downy – have been pretty active the past few days. On Dec. 21, I also had a visit from a Northern Shrike! Annamarie Beckel, Lakefield

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Lynde Creek, Whitby- Photo by Brian Crangle









Opossums and Robins: We have had visitation since late summer of a pair of Opossums….rather unusual creatures…. rather comical the way they walk and run off when you talk to them….we haven’t had problem with raccoons since they came and they don’t seem to bother our rabbits that come all year for a date wrapped in whole wheat bread…… some of my most loveable friends have been the robins we have. One we call Robbie Robin… he picked up on the feeding of rabbits in early spring and took a taste for the dates they were getting from us, so he now perches on the rail outside the patio doors, waiting for the next treat… this also lead to grapes, raisins and apples … he would come maybe 6 times a day …if we didn’t go out he started coming to the patio doors and looking in… this has been going on for 3 years……he is different than the other robins in that he has some feathers that seem to be sticking out on one side of his body…. just a few of my memories for spring, summer and fall and winter… we have the Opossum still and our lovely rabbits….. we are located on the north side of Rice Lake in the Bailieboro area on the lake……. we also have an otter and a beaver that eats cedar hedges!  Esther Ross

Opossum on Johnston Drive, south of Peterborough – Mary Beth Aspinall – Feb. 2014












Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) (2)
– Reported Dec 17, 2017 10:13 by Scott Gibson
– aa_Peterborough – Edmison Rd right-of-way, Peterborough, Ontario
– Media: 2 Photos
– Comments: “first birds of the day! both in same spot, 200m in from end of Edmison Rd.”

Fox Sparrow – Wikimedia








Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) (1)
– Reported Dec 17, 2017 10:00 by Scott McKinlay
– Peterborough, Ontario, CA (44.225, -78.293), Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “I saw this bird through my Kowa scope from considerable distance (1km?) as it was flying over an open field in full sunlight . It had broad wings and slow arching wing beats typial of large herons and cranes, and it was clearly brown in colour, even at that distance. I was reluctant to call it because of the distance and time of year, but nothing else fit. This was during our Peterborough Christmas bird count and when I reunited with the rest of the group for our sector, who had been surveying the area in the direction of my sighting, the first thing they said, before hearing about my sighting, was that they had seen what looked like a sandhill crane. They described it as being the size of a blue heron, with an outstretched neck and long trailing legs. All three birders were adamant that it was not a blue heron, and that it was lighter in colour than a blue heron. They had viewed it while it was flying low over fields just ahead and of and to the side of the car they were travelling in. They followed it and then got out of the car to watch it in binoculars as it continued to fly in my general direction. There are no photos.”

Sandhill Crane (Wikimedia)

Great Blue Heron (Paul Anderson)











Eastern Screech-Owl (Northern) (Megascops asio [asio Group]) (1)
– Reported Dec 17, 2017 07:50 by Matthew Tobey
– Peterborough CBC Area 7, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Mervin Ln.”

Eastern Screech-owl – red phase – 9th Line of Selwyn Twsp – March 11, 2017, Kathy McCue








Northern Shrike (Lanius borealis) (2)
– Reported Dec 17, 2017 08:30 by Scott McKinlay
– Bensfort Road Landfill Site, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist:

Northern Shrike (Lanius borealis) (1)
– Reported Dec 17, 2017 10:13 by Scott Gibson
– aa_Peterborough – Edmison Rd right-of-way, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “middle of marsh”

Northern Shrike – Tom Northey








Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) (1)
– Reported Dec 17, 2017 07:36 by Luke Berg
– Peterborough CBC Area 2, Peterborough, Ontario

Snow Bunting (from Crossley ID Guide)

Dec 162017

The necropsy results from the September 3 Mallard deaths on Tobin Court in Peterborough were released by MNRF on December 16, 2017. They ruled out poisoning. They did extensive testing for botulism, which is a reason that the results took so long. The results for botulism were negative, as well. However, they did indicate that botulism is extremely tough to test for and can result in false negative test results. So, it looks like we will never know what exactly happened but, if anything, the neighbours can be assured that it was not as a result of poisoning.

Barb Evett

N.B. More information about avian botulism and cholera can be found HERE.

Mallard deaths – Peterborough – Sept. 3, 2017 – Barb Evett

Dec 142017

Seeds, bee houses and more: Tips for what to put under the Christmas tree

If you have someone on your Christmas list who would rather spend time in the garden than head to the mall, who prefers nature books to the latest novel, and who wants to support conservation and environmental education, you might be looking for some gift ideas this holiday season. The good news is that there are some wonderful options. Better still, most have a local flavour.

Seed Packages

In its ongoing effort to promote the creation of pollinator gardens throughout Peterborough and the Kawarthas, the Peterborough Pollinators has undertaken a special seed project called “Rewilding Our Gardens”. They have prepared gift bags containing seven seed envelopes of pollinator-friendly plants: Bee Balm, Borage, Bachelor Buttons, Calendula, Cosmos, Mexican Sunflower, and Zucchini Squash. The package also includes a beautifully illustrated story guide, along with planting instructions. Each plant has a story to tell, whether it is ecological, spiritual, medicinal or culinary. Bee Balm, for example, can be used to make a wonderful potpourri, thanks to its Earl Grey tea aroma. It is also a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Zucchini blossoms attract squash bees, the males of which crawl inside the flowers in the afternoon and fall fast asleep!

Last year, the Pollinators produced a beautiful calendar, which also served as a pollinator garden and backyard nature information resource. This year’s seed project is more of a direct action phase, by making it easy and inexpensive for people who have never planted a pollinator garden before. The seeds can also be used to enhance an existing garden. We can all make a difference in reversing the decline in many pollinator populations by growing plants that provide the pollen and nectar on which these species depend. In fact, cities are becoming places of refuge for pollinators, with urban gardens supporting healthy pollinator populations.

Planting a pollinator garden is a wonderful way to get children interested in nature and conservation. These gardens also enrich family life as parents and children alike discover the fascinating and beautiful insects that come to visit. Pollinator gardens also contribute to a sense of community in neighbourhoods, as people can come from all sorts of backgrounds but still find common ground over what’s happening in their garden.

Peterborough Pollinators is looking forward to hearing the stories that come from people’s experiences with planting these seeds and making their own gardens, be it in a schoolyard, in pots on the deck or balcony or as part of an existing perennial or vegetable garden. The seed packages are available in Peterborough at the GreenUP Store, Kawartha Local Marketplace, Avant-Garden Shop and Bluestreak Records. You can also purchase them in Lakefield at Happenstance Books and Yarn. At only about $12 per bag, this is a great stocking stuffer. It is also affordable for students and for kids wondering what to buy their mom or dad.

Bee houses

Another way to support our declining pollinator populations is to provide nesting sites for native solitary bees, all of which are important pollinators. There are about 300 species in Ontario alone. These bees have been here for thousands of years – well before the first settlers brought over the European honey bee. They are called “solitary” bees, because they live on their own and don’t form colonies with a queen and workers like honey bees and bumble bees. Most nest in small tunnels in the ground, but some choose the hollow stems of dead plants or holes in wood. Many species are very small and not easily recognizable as bees. Each female builds her own nest, collects her own nectar and pollen and lays her own eggs. She will then usually use mud or leaves to build walls and divide the tunnel into a series of sealed cells. Each cell contains an egg, along with a deposit of pollen for food. And, no, solitary bees are not aggressive. Even if you were to grab one and squeeze, you would barely feel the sting.

Because solitary bees don’t travel more than 500 metres between their nesting site and food sources, an important part of supporting our local pollinator population is to ensure that they have a place to nest. Stem- and hole-nesting bees will readily use an artificial bee house – or “bee B&B” if you want to be cute about it. A variety of bee houses can be found at Avant-Garden Shop on Sherbrooke Street, just west of George, and at Kawartha Local Marketplace at 165 King Street in downtown Peterborough. The bee houses at Kawartha Local are built by Three Sisters, a social enterprise founded by three Peterborough women who are passionate about native gardens and plants. They are made of reclaimed wood and finished with a natural, non-toxic stain to ensure a safe and long-lasting nesting site. Three Sisters has created a selection of houses to choose from, each of which accommodates different species or combinations of species of solitary bees.


If you would prefer to make a donation in someone’s name this holiday season, consider Peterborough GreenUp. They are raising money for the construction of a new Children’s Education Facility in 2018. Your donation will also ensure that GreenUP’s renowned environmental programs will continue for years to come. With any donation of $30 or more, you will receive a puppet to give to the little nature lover on your list!

You might also consider donating money to groups such as Kawartha Land Trust, which is in the business of protecting habitat. Pressure on habitat in the Kawarthas is expected to increase exponentially with the completion of Highway 407 to Highway 115 by 2020.

Camp Kawartha, too, is an excellent organization to keep in mind. Both the Camp and Environment Centre, which is located on Pioneer Road, depend largely on contributions from individuals and businesses to provide their award-winning outdoor education and environmental programming. As a teacher, I took my students to Camp Kawartha for over 20 years and, even now, they often tell me that it was one of the most memorable experiences of their school years.


In just the past few years, a number of excellent books on pollinators and pollinator gardening have been published. Some of my favourites include “Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening for Bees, Butterflies and Other Pollinators” by Rhonda Fleming Hayes, “The Bee Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity” by Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn, “100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive” by the Xerces Society, “Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants” by Heather Holm and “The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees” by Joseph Wilson and Olivia Messinger Carril.

You will also find lots of pollinator games and activities for children in “The Big Book of Nature Activities: A Year-round Guide to Outdoor Learning”, which I co-authored with Jacob Rodenburg. The book also contains instructions for building bee houses and creating your own pollinator garden. If you are new to the Kawarthas or new to nature observation, you might also be interested in my 2012 book entitled “Nature’s Year: Changing Seasons in Central and Eastern Ontario”. The book is an almanac of key events occurring in nature each month – often in your own backyard – and covers birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, invertebrates, plants, fungi, weather and the night sky. My goal in writing the book was to help people to become more attentive to and appreciative of the many wonders of the natural world that surround us in this exceptional region of Ontario. Both of these books are available at the GreenUp Store and Avant-Garden Shop. You will also find “The Big Book of Nature Activities” at Chapters, Kawartha Local Marketplace, Hunter Street Books and Happenstance in Lakefield.

Dec 112017

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Dec 16, 2017 12:29 by Dan Chronowic
– 615 Weller Street Peterborough, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41133580
– Comments: “Flew low over the house heading in a NE direction.”

Peregrine – Karl Egressy








Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Dec 14, 2017 12:30 by Jenn Baici
– 428 Douro 8th Line, Douro-Dummer CA-ON (44.3629,-78.2578), Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S41105680
– Comments: “Perched in deciduous tree along rural concession line ”

Peregrine perched on steel girder – Wikimedia











Red-winged Blackbirds:  Just enjoying a cup of coffee (December 15) whilst viewing a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds at my feeder. Third time this week for them. They are a welcome sight, given the paucity of winter bird list rarities and fall “leftovers“.  Michael Gillespie, David Fife Line, Keene

Red-winged Blackbird at feeder at Reifel Bird Sanctuary near Vancouver – Wikimedia










Red-bellied Woodpecker: I have a Red-belly coming to my feeder regularly at 733 Ford Crescent, Cavan. Ken Rumble

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female) – Jennifer MacKenzie Dec 31, 2014









White-winged Crossbills: Today (December 10) during the noon hour, I was just finishing preparing my lunch when through the kitchen window, I noticed a chunky, little finch atop one of the spruces that form the border between the field and forest east of the yard. The scope revealed it to be the first White-winged Crossbill that I have seen this year. It was a female. A scan of the rest of the tops of spruces turned up a second, and it was a male. They both seemed wary, actively looking about. Neither of them ventured lower to feed on the abundant cone seeds just below them. I watched for about ten minutes, and then off they went together.  Tim Dyson – Warsaw

White-winged Crossbill (female) – Wikimedia

Male White-winged Crossbill – Wikimedia

Dec 082017

N.B. Whenever I refer to “home”, it is between Warsaw and Lakefield, south of the Sawer Creek Wetland.

Passerines and other birds and animals.

  • A Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew over my kayak as I began to paddle up the Indian River from Back Dam Park at Warsaw on September 9th. It called twice upon landing across the river.
  • This was the last date I saw the Great Egret that I had originally discovered there on August 5th.
  • Two Red Crossbills were also seen and heard a little way up the river on that day, and others were seen and/or heard several times over the course of the fall at Warsaw, at home, and spots around Stoney Lake, Northey’s Bay Road, and Nepthon. No real “flocks” as yet, but birds numbered from one to six individuals when encountered. Most recent were six at home on December 5th.
  • An American Pipit was skulking about in a pasture south of Long Lake, NW of Warsaw, on September 28th.
  • Pine Siskins have been occasional from early October to present. With the exception of 40+ birds seen near Warsaw on November 22nd, (and not unlike the crossbills that have been around), siskin numbers remain rather low.
  • On October 26th, at Nephton Ridge, I saw my last Monarch of the year. It was #532 for 2017, which is more than double my previous highest annual count since I began counting them seven years ago. Of the 532, 31 were observed as road fatalities.
  • Also on October 26th, I heard a Greater Yellowlegs call before dawn from the starry sky above at home, and another near Nephton Ridge later that morning.
  • One Tundra Swan with nine Canada Geese was seen flying overhead at home on October 27th, 28th and 30th. A lone Tundra Swan flew over the same location on November 2nd. I wondered if it was the one who had been flying with the nine geese?
  • On September 24th, I stepped out of dense cedars into a pasture and found myself very close to two Sandhill Cranes. They seemed at ease as long as I stayed in motion, just walking about as they were. Whenever I stopped or crouched, they moved away from me.

  • The loud calling of just over 300 Sandhill Cranes in two groups on Nov. 17th was heard as the birds were heading westward over my house. I photographed each entire flock at wide angle so I could later zoom the images on the computer and get an exact count. The first flock at 2:13pm numbered 173 birds and the second group four minutes later contained 128 for a combined total of 301 cranes. These birds were very likely the same, or associated with the large groups that Bill Buddle had reported at about 2:30pm the same day over Lakefield.

  • Ed Heuvel and I saw a much smaller flock of seven birds over his house between Cottesloe and Norwood on Nov. 23rd.
  • No doubt due to the warmth of early December, two Eastern Chipmunks were seen running across Round Lake Road north of Havelock on December 4th. They had all but disappeared not too long ago, and I’ve now seen five back out just this month.
  • Another warm weather sighting was of a Leopard Frog hopping across the yard at home on December 5th. I took some photos, and half an hour later, it was nowhere to be found.

  • On December 8th 2017, Ed Heuvel reported a road-killed Virginia Opossum he had just seen along Hwy 7 south of Sherbrooke Street.

   Raptors of interest

  • On September 11th, an immature Peregrine appeared amidst twenty-four kettling Turkey Vultures NW of Warsaw. The falcon harassed a couple of the vultures before peeling off on its own, heading SW.

  • As is my habit if I am out in the yard after dark during the fall or winter, I called for owls. From about the 24th of September until about the 3rd of November, Saw-whet Owls move about during their annual fall migration. The first that responded to my calls this year was a single bird on September 29th. On October 18th, however, no less than four of the little owls showed up inside of about a minute of my first attempt at calling. One was in the spruces to the east of the yard, while the other three were surrounding me, within the small grove of apple trees where I stood. With the three of them looking at each other more than at me, I found it easy to take some photos of the two that were closest to me, (about two metres away).
  • Dates later than the average “end date” of their normal migration that I have called one in this year have been November 8th, 12th, 27th and December 1st. These likely represent one or more wintering birds, and all have been at home near Warsaw.

  • Ed Heuvel flushed a Short-eared Owl from the ground on the morning of Oct. 17th on his 40 acre property NW of Norwood while out for a walk with his dog. Ed has turned what was once a sloping old field into a thriving tallgrass prairie, having seeded it with many native prairie plant species. I thought it quite fitting for such a bird to turn up in this “new” prairie grassland habitat. Good one, Ed!!
  • Paddling up the Indian River from Back Dam again on October 21st, Angela and I saw a few good raptors during our time on the water. First was an immature Northern Goshawk flying overhead, and then, about two minutes later, an immature Cooper’s Hawk following almost the exact same “path”. A while later, paddling back downstream, Angela spotted an adult male Merlin as it perched in the dead top branches of a spruce. Driving back through Warsaw, a Red-tailed Hawk soared low over the village. We headed up Payne’s Line towards home and spotted the first Golden Eagle of the season (a sub-adult bird) slowly soaring not far from the large metal tower there. We took a few photos and headed home. The next day, I saw another (immature this time) Golden Eagle fly over, east to west, from the yard at home.

  • I was accompanied by three friends, (Drew Monkman, Martin Parker, and Ed Heuvel) on Oct. 26th for a few hours of raptor watching in the Nephton Ridge/Kosh Lake area at the east end of County Road #6. My one intent for the day was to point out to Drew, his first “Ontario” Golden Eagle. Well, unless the “eagle sp.” we saw that morning was a Golden, we did not see one. However, we were treated to 8 Bald Eagles which, apart from one 4th winter bird, all were adults. At one point, four adult Balds soared together directly overhead. A while later, two adults came along together, and after that, another by itself. Since there was such a lack of immature eagles, and the fact that four adults had come from different directions, soared a while together, and then dispersed somewhat northward… we questioned how many of them might have actually even been migrants, or perhaps local breeding birds. Additional raptors for the day were five Red-tailed Hawks, and two (one adult and one immature) Red-shouldered Hawks.

  • Just after 11:00am on Nov. 11th a group of large birds caught my eye to the north of the house. On closer inspection, I could see three Common Ravens dive-bombing an immature Golden Eagle. I watched them for several minutes before the ravens went east and the eagle, west.

  • On October 29th a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk was seen perched in a tree along County Rd #6 just west of Camp Line. It was the first of the season for me, and since, I’ve seen another eight Rough-legs between Norwood and Lakefield. Of the nine seen so far, three have been dark morph birds.
  • Having had seen no immature Bald Eagles during the autumn season as yet, on the morning of Nov. 17th, two 1st winter birds, and then a 2nd winter bird appeared soaring over my yard in a ten-minute period. They all seemed to come from the west, and once a considerable altitude was reached, they each headed off in completely different directions. I suspect that they had all spent some time feeding together, and were now dispersing. It was only two days after the annual rifle deer hunt had ended, and I wondered if they had just dined on the gut pile of a deer left somewhere by hunters.
  • The great backyard birding continued on November 26th, as no sooner had I sat in the yard with my morning coffee, an immature Northern Goshawk flew from east to west. If that wasn’t enough, my fourth Golden Eagle of the season (an adult) appeared over the forest to the east, soared two circles, and headed back east just after noon.
  • Nov. 29th an adult rufous morph Red-tailed Hawk soared over the yard. I had to run in and get the scope as it looked not like a typical Red-tail. The rusty-red undersides and the dark brown back were easily seen with the optics. It had been a long time since I’ve seen this variety of the species.
  • On the night of December 01 – 02, after calling at home for Screech, Saw-whet, and Boreal Owls, (the latter, because you never know if you don’t try), I finally stirred an Eastern Screech Owl who called for quite a while afterwards. And briefly, a Northern Saw-whet Owl answered my calls with the “tew, tew, tew” call. About an hour later, just after mid-night, while bringing in some firewood, the pair of Northern Barred Owls that live on the property year-round, began calling with hoots which soon morphed into their monkey-like “whacka, whacka, whacka” calls. Not too bad for spending a little time in the yard after dark!!
  • Just after 2:00pm on December 6th, I saw a large, pale bird far out to the east, soaring in wide circles. It appeared gull-like as it moved quite fast in the strong winds. I got the scope on it just before it passed in behind the treetops and out of my view. Revealed by the scope was the darkish under-body contrasting with entirely white undersides of the wings of an immature Snowy Owl. Unless my memory is misfiring, this would be the first of this species I have seen this century. If that wasn’t enough stimulation for one day, a little over an hour later, I saw a second Snowy for the day as it flew into strong south winds at 3:15pm. The latter bird was decidedly whiter than the first, with very few dark markings. The first bird simply would not show up in the photos I took, (too far), and the camera was nowhere near me as I watched the second owl sail past much closer. Both were heading in a north-to-south direction, lending a little support to the idea that they might have been in migration at the time.
  • On December 7th while I still lay in bed, through the window next to me, I spotted a 1st winter Bald Eagle fly past over the trees to the east. It soared briefly and then continued on in a SE direction.
  • While moving the fallen foliage around with the leaf blower on December 8th at home, I looked up, (as I find I constantly am doing these days) and saw two large, dark birds very high almost straight above me. Before I was able to grab the scope, I could see that they were eagles. Once in focus, the white bases of tails and primaries with all other plumage completely dark, identified them both as 1st winter Golden Eagles. A strong and steady SW wind pushed them NW of me. They were only about ten wingspans (about 20 m) apart and one was just a little ahead of the other. They slowed briefly once or twice, but never paused to soar while I had them in view.

1st winter Golden Eagle – USFWS

Tim Dyson – Warsaw

Dec 072017

The holiday season is the perfect time to get to know the conifers

With practice, it’s possible to identify many plants and animals by size and shape alone. Any two European starlings will always look plump, have a relatively long, straight bill and sport a short, square tail. In flight, the wings will appear triangular and pointed. The shape of trees, too, is remarkably consistent and often allows for quick recognition at a glance. Identifying distant trees against the winter sky adds enjoyment to any walk or car trip as you mentally compile a list of the species you observe. It is also a useful skill to have when pointing out the location of a distant object such as a bird. “Do you see the hawk perched at the top of the white pine over there? I think it’s a red tail.”

The holiday season is an especially appropriate time to sharpen our conifer (i.e., cone‑bearing trees) identification skills. Whereas deciduous trees are now bare to the sky, our conifers are dressed in their finest holiday foliage. Juxtaposed against their leafless neighbours, the unique contour of each species is easy to see. Christmas is also the time of year when we decorate our homes with evergreen wreathes, make winter planters and put up a real (the only choice!) Christmas tree. But, how many of us can tell the different species apart?

For each conifer group described below, I’ve provided hints for identifying the trees by shape and by characteristics of the needles. I’ve also included a memory aid or mnemonic with similar spelling for linking these characteristics to the name of the tree. (e.g., pine and pin).


Towering high above its forest neighbours is the eastern white pine, Ontario’s official tree and an iconic species of the Kawarthas. If you only learn the shape of one species, learn this one. The irregular crown and stout, wing-like branches growing at right angles to the trunk make this species instantly recognizable. The crowns of many white pines become one‑sided in appearance because of the effect of the prevailing wind. Jackson Park in Peterborough is crowned by a majestic stand of these imposing giants.

Although less common, the red pine is also native to the Kawarthas. Like the white, large sections of the trunk are visible almost to the top. The crown, however, is usually symmetrical. This species also has a very open, airy look with most of the needles grouped together in ball‑like “tufts.” This is because the foliage is crowded towards the tips of the branches. The scaly reddish bark is also a useful field mark. There is a stand of red pine planted on the south side of Lily Lake Road, just west of Ackison Drive.

A pine needle is like a long like “pin”. The white pine has bundles of five needles, which is the number of letters in the word “white”. Red pine has bundles of two needles. (Sorry, but red has three letters.) Care must be taken, however, not to confuse red pine with Scots (Scotch) pine, an introduced species whose needles also come in pairs. The red pine has long brittle needles (close to six inches) which break in half when bent. The needles of Scots pine are only half as long and are twisted. Just to confuse matters, the two-needled Austrian pine is another commonly planted conifer in cities and along highways. The bark, however, is dark brown to gray.


Our most common native species is the white spruce. The entire tree has a near-perfect symmetrical appearance. The crown is cone-shaped or somewhat rounded. Most of the trunk is usually hidden by the bushy branches. The bark is gray and scaly, becoming darker with age. Spruce are particularly easy to identify this year because of the abundant cones, which are concentrated at the top of the tree. The cones of white spruce are about two inches in size.

By far the most common spruces in Peterborough, however, are the non-native Norway and Colorado (or blue) spruce. In fact, they are the most common tall conifers of any species in the city. Norway spruce are often planted around farms, too, where they serve as windbreaks. This species is easily distinguished by its large, horizontal branches from which secondary branches hang straight down. The cones, on average, are about six inches in length. Colorado spruce have a striking bluish colour, especially at the tips of the branches.

Spruce needles “spiral” all the way around the twig and are usually “stiff”, “spiky” and painful to touch. Because they are rounded, they roll or “spin” between your thumb and index finger.


The only fir you’re likely to see in eastern Canada is the balsam. Unfortunately, they are rarely planted as ornamentals and are therefore uncommon in the city. Firs have a near‑perfect symmetrical shape, but differ from spruce in that they are narrower and taper to a skinny point at the top. This gives them the nickname of the “church steeple” tree. The smooth, grayish bark of young trees is covered with raised sap blisters, which are fun to poke. This species makes a great Christmas tree, thanks to the wonderful balsamic fragrance, symmetrical shape and the long-lasting, dark green needles. Fir needles are “flat” and very “flexible”. You can’t roll them between your thumb and finger. Fir are most common in low, damp habitats on the Shield. Watch for them along Highway 28 north of Burleigh Falls. They also grow in Harper Park.


The eastern hemlock is another tree with a conical crown, but it becomes ragged and irregular with age. This gives the tree an untidy outline. Unlike the spruce and fir, the tip of the crown and other branches usually droop. Hemlock foliage has a feathery – almost lacy – look to it and the tiny cones can be found on even the lowest branches. While the white pine surely qualifies as king of the forest, the hemlock is my choice as the queen.

Hemlock needles are flat like balsam fir, but very short (less than an inch) and nearly white underneath. To connect the needles to the word hemlock – yes, it’s a stretch – think of the prefix “hemi”, which means half (e.g., hemisphere). Hemlock needles are half white (underside) and half green (topside). There are a number of spectacular hemlocks in Jackson Park, where they grow on the north side of the steep hill above the concrete bridge over Jackson Creek.


By far the most common conifer in the Kawarthas south of the Canadian Shield, white cedars grow in dense, single-species stands or along forest edges. Trees growing in open environments such as fields are conical to almost columnar in shape and have a neat, trimmed appearance. The foliage is dense and often hides the trunk right to the ground. Forest-grown trees have a visible trunk and open irregular crown. The lower branches are usually dead. The bark, which matures into flat, stringy narrow strips, is shiny, smooth and reddish brown in young trees and grey in older individuals. This year, cedars are laden with an exceptionally heavy crop of small, tightly packed cones.

Cedars are unique in that they have scale-like, flattened needles. If you need a mnemonic – another stretch, I’m afraid – remember that cedar needles have scales, just like fish in the sea! (“sea”dar).


The only tree-sized juniper in the Kawarthas, Juniperus virginiana, is usually known by its inaccurate common name of eastern red-cedar. They are small trees (usually less than 30 feet tall) and are most abundant in abandoned fields. The shape is variable, ranging from oval to columnar or pyramidal. The berry-like cones are dark blue in colour and often covered with a whitish powder. They are a favourite of robins and waxwings. There is a tall hedge of eastern red-cedar on the north side of Parkhill Road, just west of Wallis Drive.

Junipers have two kinds of bluish-green leaves: soft, rounded scale leaves, resembling those of the white cedar, and sharply-pointed needle leaves. The scale leaves can become yellowish-brown in winter. Both types of leaves often appear on the same branch. So, to remember the juniper, think of a pair of different kinds of leaves or juni”pair”.

Tamarack (larch)

Watch for these medium-sized, spruce-shaped trees in swampy lowlands, especially on the Shield. Winter identification is simple: the branches are bare because all the needles are shed each fall. In fact, you might mistake them for dead spruce. All that remains on the twigs are seed cones and some little protrusions or lumps, where the bundles of needles grew. Maybe think of “leafless larch”. There is a particularly nice stand of tamaracks on County Road 10, just south of Hooton Drive/Wilson Line on the west side of the road. They are beautiful in the fall when the foliage changes to a smoky gold.

Being able to recognize the various conifers that dot the landscape of the Kawarthas provides a very satisfying sense of place. Like the common loon and the white‑tailed deer, the pines, spruce, cedars, firs, hemlocks, junipers and tamaracks tell us we are home.






Dec 032017

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
– Reported Dec 09, 2017 12:01 by Ben Taylor
– Charlotte and Rubidge, Peterborough, Ontario
– Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40994101
– Comments: “Seen flying east along Charlotte Street. Stocky bird with steady, powerful wingbeats.”

Northern Shrike (Lanius borealis) (1)
– Reported Dec 09, 2017 08:48 by Matthew Tobey
– Otonabee River b/w Peterborough and Lakefield, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Hunting on far shore north of lock 24.”

Northern Shrike – Tom Northey

(Bubo scandiacus) (1)
– Reported Dec 09, 2017 10:20 by Ian Sturdee
– Cordova Lake, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “On rock island in middle of lake. Probable young female female- heavily patterned. ”

Snowy Owl – Wendy Leszkowicz

Snowy Owl: I photographed this Snowy Owl on December 4 near Colborne. The bird was just south of the 401 on County Road 25, just past Purdy Corners.  Jeff Keller

Snowy Owl – Colborne – Dec. 4, 2017 – Jeff Keller


Northern Goshawk (American) (Accipiter gentilis atricapillus/laingi) (1)
– Reported Dec 06, 2017 11:10 by Luke Berg
– Lansdowne St W at The Parkway, Peterborough CA-ON , Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “First winter bird flying south over Lansdowne, briefly pursuing a flock of pigeons. ”

Northern Goshawk – Wikimedia

Red-bellied Woodpecker:  This red-bellied has been visiting my office window feeder at Camp Kawartha on Clear Lake. Jacob Rodenburg

Red-bellied Woodpecker at Camp Kawartha – December 4, 2017 – Jacob Rodenburg

Snowy Owl:  We sighted and photographed this Snowy Owl this morning, Dec. 3 at 8:30 AM on Clear Lake.  John McGregor

Dec 022017



Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1)
– Reported Dec 02, 2017 09:40 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Peterborough–E side Airport Rd opposite Peterborough Municipal Airport, Peterborough, Ontario
– Media: 1 Photo
– Comments: “perched atop ventilation ducts on roof of easternmost blue building (Flying Colours Corp) on N side airport. Record shot from 500 m to S.”

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1)
– Reported Dec 01, 2017 07:25 by Iain Rayner
– Pigeon Lake–Sandy Point, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Truthfully in Kawartha Lakes…Sitting on green marker buoy across lake directly out from launch. Seen well through scope in good viewing conditions with limited haze. Some markings on breast, clean white head.”

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) (1) Yesterday afternoon, November 30, I was lucky enough to have a Snowy Owl perch on top of my house around noon. I only noticed when I heard the crows alarm-calling. I live right on George Street in Peterborough and added the observation to eBird if you’re interested in exactly where he was. He was beautiful and rested there for about 20 minutes. It was a first for me and a very timely sighting given your article!   Jenn Baici


Snowy Owl (Karin Laine)

Snowy Owl (Nima Taghaboni)








Redhead (Aythya americana) (1)
– Reported Dec 02, 2017 11:13 by Donald A. Sutherland
– Rice Lake–Pengelly Landing, Peterborough, Ontario
– Map:
– Checklist:
– Comments: “male, in with HOME in mixed flock to W of cormorant colony on island”

male Redhead – Wikimedia









A great morning of birding in Peterborough and southern Peterborough County

The highlight of our birding outing this morning, November 29, were the waterfowl at Pengelley Landing on Rice Lake, located at the bottom of Scriven Road. They included 400 Common Mergansers, 200 Hooded Mergansers, 500 Canada Geese and 1 Common Loon. We also saw a Rough-legged Hawk on Country Road 2, just east of Bailieboro. In Peterborough, we found 2 American Coots by the Silver Bean Cafe at Millenium Park, 2 Pied-billed Grebes at the T-wharf on Little Lake, 64 American Goldfinch and 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet at Little Lake Cemetery and 24 American Robins at GreenUP Ecology Park.  The goldfinch were eating seeds from the abundant cones on the Eastern White Cedar. The robins were feeding on European Buckthorn berries.

Drew Monkman, Martin Parker and Brian Wales

Common Merganser (female), Wikimedia

Common Merganser male – Wikimedia

male Hooded Merganser – Peter Beales

Pied-billed Grebe – Wikimedia















Rough-legged Hawk (Karl Egressy)

American Coot (Karl Egressy)









Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) (1) CONFIRMED
– Reported Nov 25, 2017 08:01 by Daniel Williams
– Peterborough–Little Lake Cemetery, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Yellow rump, faint yellow on sides, white chin/throat. Feeding along waters edge near railway bridge. Calling frequently. ”

Yellow-rumped Warbler at feeder – Nov. 28, 2014 Franmor Dr. Ptbo – Sue Prentice

Cackling Goose (Richardson’s) (Branta hutchinsii hutchinsii) (1)
– Reported Nov 26, 2017 13:46 by Martin Parker
– Rice Lake–Pengelly Landing, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “With large Canada Goose flock near shore on Rice Lake.”

Cackling Goose (foreground) – Brendan Boyd

Nov 302017

Expect a lot of snow and a ‘classic Canadian winter’

In my fall nature almanac, I had the temerity to predict that the sunshine and cool temperatures of early September would lead to extraordinary leaf colour. Well, I sure got that wrong. In fact, this fall’s colour show was one of the worst in recent memory – especially for sugar maples, which are a dominant tree species in the Kawarthas. From all accounts, the reason for the poor display was the intense heat that soon arrived and lasted until the end of October. With average temperatures about three degrees above normal and near-drought conditions, the intense reds, oranges and yellows never materialized. Yellow and brown leaves dominated the landscape and many leaves fell early. As a result of climate change, warmer temperatures are expected to delay the onset of peak colours in future years and shorten the colour season as a whole. When temperatures are as extreme as they were this year, duller colours are likely to be the norm, as well.

Looking ahead to winter, the forecast right now is for more snow than usual – a “classic Canadian winter” in the words of The Weather Network. La Nina conditions in the equatorial Pacific are expected to affect the weather pattern across North America in the coming months. La Niña is a large-scale climate pattern associated with cooler than normal water surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. La Niña often results in greater precipitation in eastern Canada. That being said, the winter is not expected to be unusually cold.

As a reminder of what to watch for in nature in the coming months, I have prepared the following list of highlights.


·        A large incursion of snowy owls is possible this winter, maybe similar to 2013-14. Several birds have already been seen locally, including one at the Peterborough Airport. Snowy owls are usually observed in fields, where they perch on knolls, fences and hay bales.

·        Last winter, record numbers of American robins overwintered in the Kawarthas, thanks mostly to a huge crop of wild grape. This year’s grape crop is quite small, however, so far fewer robins are likely to remain. Those that do stay might be attracted to the abundant berries on eastern red cedars and winterberry hollies.

·        Keep an eye out for wild turkeys. Their large, dark bodies are easy to spot in winter, as flocks feed in fields. Jenn Baici, a PhD student at Trent University, is studying these birds and would love your help. If you see wild turkeys, please submit your sighting at eBird.org. You can also share a photo of the flock at the Peterborough Wild Turkey Count project on iNaturalist.org. Just be sure to include the location and number of turkeys observed. Using this data, Jenn hopes to estimate the size of Peterborough County’s wild turkey population.

·        Throughout the late fall and winter, gray squirrels are often seen high up in maples feeding on the keys.

·        Ducks lingering on lakes until freeze-up may include common goldeneye, buffleheads and both common and hooded mergansers  A small number of common loons, mostly young-of-the-year birds, remain until the ice comes, as well.

·        The early morning hours of December 13 and 14 are the peak viewing times for the Geminids meteor shower, which is the most consistently good meteor display of the year.

·        Before too much snow falls, take time to walk around the edge of wetlands to look for interesting ice formations such. These include ice crystals imitating stalagmites. Leaves, sticks, and bubbles frozen in the ice can also be intriguing.

·        Welcome to the “dark turn of the year.” Daylight this month averages only about 8 ¾ hours. Compare this to 15 ½ hours in June – a difference of nearly seven hours!

·        Balsam fir makes the perfect Christmas tree. I love its symmetrical shape, long-lasting needles and wonderful fragrance.

·        From December 14 to January 5, Christmas Bird Counts take place across North America. The counts data reflect trends in bird populations. The 66th Peterborough Christmas Bird Count will be held on Sunday, December 17, while the Petroglyphs Count is scheduled for Wednesday, December 27. Birders of all levels of experience are welcome to participate. For more information, contact Martin Parker (mparker19@cogeco.ca) for the Peterborough Count and Colin Jones (cdjonesmclark@gmail.com) for the Petroglyph Count.

·        Thursday, December 21, marks the winter solstice and the first day of winter. The tilting of the Earth away from the sun also produces the longest night of the year. The sun rises and sets at its southernmost points on the eastern and western horizons.

·        Watch for common redpolls and pine siskins at your nyger-seed feeder. There is a good possibility that both species will turn up this winter. Keep an eye on the tops of your spruce trees, too, for flocks of white-winged and red crossbills. They love to eat the seeds hidden in the cones, and this year’s cone crop is huge!


·         Even though the days grow longer after the solstice, they begin to do so very slowly. In fact, in the first week of January, sunrise is later than at any other time of the year. The sun doesn’t peak over the horizon until 7:49 a.m. Compare this to June 20 when the sun rises at 5:29 a.m.

·        Watch for ruffed grouse at dawn and dusk along tree-lined country roads. The birds often appear in silhouette as they feed on buds such as those of trembling aspen.

·        Small numbers of common goldeneyes and common mergansers can be seen all winter long on the Otonabee River, at Young’s Point and at Gannon Narrows.

·        Coyotes are quite vocal during their January to March mating season.

·        If you’re walking in the woods, you’ll notice that some of the smaller trees have retained many of their leaves. These are usually beech, oak, or ironwood.

·        Honeybees are the only insects to maintain an elevated body temperature all winter. They accomplish this by clustering together in a thick ball within the hive, vibrating their wings to provide heat and eating stored honey for the necessary energy.

·        Barred owls sometimes show up in rural and suburban backyards, where they prey on feeder birds or mice and voles that are attracted at night by fallen seeds.

·        In late January, black bears give birth to cubs no larger than chipmunks. Generally, two cubs are born.


·        We begin the month with about 9 ¾ hours of daylight and end with 11, a gain of about 75 minutes. The lengthening days are most notable in the afternoon.

·        Groundhog Day, February 2, marks the mid-point of winter. However, our groundhogs won’t see their shadow – or light of day, for that matter – until mid-March at the earliest. In case you were wondering, no animal or plant behaviour can portend upcoming weather beyond a few hours.

·        Although tentative at first, bird song returns in February as pair bonds are established or renewed. Black-capped chickadees, northern cardinals, and white-breasted nuthatches are several of the birds that usually start singing this month.

·        Gray squirrels mate in January or February and can often be seen streaming by in treetop chases as a group of males chases a half-terrorized female. Amazing acrobatics are usually part of the show.

·        The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place Friday, February 16, through Monday, February 19. This citizen science event engages bird watchers of all levels of expertise to create a real-time snapshot of the whereabouts and relative abundance of birds in mid-winter. Anyone can participate. Go to www.birdcount.org for details.

·        The male common goldeneye puts on an elaborate courtship display in late winter. He thrusts his head forward and then moves it back towards his rump. With his bill pointing skyward, he utters a squeaky call.

·        On mild, sunny, late winter days, check the snow along the edge of woodland trails for snow fleas. What looks like spilled pepper may begin to jump around right before your eyes!

·        Testosterone-charged male skunks roll out of their dens any time from mid-February to early March and go on nocturnal prowls looking for females. The smell of a skunk on a damp, late winter night is a time-honoured sign of “pre-spring.”


·         Duck numbers increase as buffleheads and hooded mergansers start arriving.

·        Chipmunks make their first appearance above ground since late fall. They were somewhat active all winter, however, making repeated trips to their underground storehouses for food.

·        The furry catkins of pussy willows and aspens poke through bud scales and become a time-honoured sign of spring’s imminent arrival.

·        By mid-March, the first northward-bound turkey vultures are usually seen. The first songbirds, too, usually return by mid-month. In the city, the most notable new arrivals are robins and grackles. In rural areas, watch for red-winged blackbirds perched high in wetland trees.

·        For anyone paying attention, the increase in bird song is hard to miss. If you don’t already know the voices of common songsters, this is a great time to start learning them. Go to allaboutbirds.org, enter the name of the species, and click on the Sound tab.

·        Jupiter and Mars are spectacular in the early morning sky this month.

·        The spring equinox occurs on March 20 as the sun shines directly on the equator. Both the moon and sun rise due east and set due west. For the next six months, we can enjoy days that are longer than nights.




Nov 302017

I thought you might be interested in loon observations which were recorded on Jack’s Lake during the 2017 season.  The results are based on  four lake-wide surveys as well as numerous other random observations. A total of 37 volunteers participated in the 2017 program.  Jack’s Lake Association volunteers have participated in the Canada Lakes Loon Survey since its inception in 1982. Despite high water levels during the nesting period, we believe that 5-6 loon pairs nested successfully and produced a total of 8 young-of-the-year.  As of a week ago, several large juveniles were still present on the lake. Click here to read the full report.  Steve Kerr

Common loon chick-sept-20-2016-carl-welbourne

Nesting loon on Otonabee River – May 31, 2016 – Jacob Rodenburg