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Winter Birding


You really can tell when you’re an avid birder and nature enthusiast when you spend hours and hours outdoors in freezing temperatures appreciating and photographing wildlife. Winter gives us an opportunity to observe some of our common year-round residents like Chickadees, Bluejays and Cardinals in a different setting. A bit of snow in the image adds to the overall composition of a photograph as can be seen in the image above of the Blue Jay.

The changing seasons also bring new species that we don’t normally see in other seasons. This American Tree Sparrow perched on the leafless branch of a Dogwood shrub with the blurred reddish background of other Dogwoods is one example.

American Tree Sparrow

Some common birds of summer completely change their plumage in winter. The male American Goldfinch with its bright yellow colouring with black head and wings stands out in summer. In winter it moults into a drab brownish colouring.

Winter is a time when a trip to Algonquin Park can produce excellent opportunities to photograph some boreal species. In Algonquin, you have a good chance of seeing a Canada Jay. Like Chickadees, Canada Jays are always on the lookout for food from park visitors and will often land in your out-stretched hand to beg for food which they will store for later use.

Canada Jay

Several members of the finch family are regular winter residents of Algonquin. These include Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls, Red Crossbills and White-winged Crossbills.

Evening Grosbeaks will often show up far south of their normal range and can often been seen at feeders in Caledon.

Evening Grosbeak

The Pine Grosbeak is the largest of the northern finches. Although they will also venture from their normal range when their food supply is scarce in the north, they’re not as common as the Evening Grosbeak.

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Siskins are one of the smaller species of finch. They are another boreal species that will often be found in Caledon. I sometimes see them in my back yard.

Pine Siskin

Common Redpolls are small finches of the Arctic Tundra and Boreal Forest that frequently show up in Southern Ontario especially when there is a food shortage in their normal range. 

Common Redpoll

Crossbills are medium sized finches. There are two species of Crossbill found in Algonquin Park – the Red Crossbill and White-winged Crossbill. Crossbills have an odd shaped specialized bill that help them extract seeds from tightly closed cones that other birds can’t open. Seeds that fall to the ground become a food source for other birds.

Note: If you are interested in purchasing any of Gary’s photography you will find his contact information on the right sidebar.

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