Birding when the thermometer reads a frigid zero degrees may seem a little extreme, but on a brilliant sunny day in Algonquin Provincial Park it is the norm! This wonderful wilderness with it towering spruce and pines, outlining large expanses of flat snow covered lakes, makes this one of winter’s most beautiful birding locations.
There were never great numbers of any species this morning but we did have a nice variety of winter finches. Pine Grosbeaks were probably the most numerous bird, with a few seen at various points all along Highway 60, the only road through the park. A small number of Evening Grosbeaks fed alongside Blue Jays and Pine Grosbeaks at the visitor center feeders. The Gray Jays, as always, were as confiding as ever feeding out of our hands as was a Red-breasted Nuthatch and the fearless Black-capped Chickadees. Our walks along the Spruce Bog Trail and Opeongo Road produced a couple of White-winged Crossbills, Common Redpolls and three Boreal Chickadees.
Working our way eastwards towards Quebec we came across several groups of Wild Turkeys and a massive flock of Snow Buntings. We could not really end the day without seeing an owl, so we decided to try for a Great Gray. Once again it was late in the day by the time we reached our destination. We walked through the woods, following a trail of footprints to a meadow. It took many scans and changes of vantage points before we found a majestic Great Gray blending in perfectly with the color of the trunks and branches of a deciduous tree. There is so much good habitat for the owls that it makes you wonder how many are actually in less accessible locations? I would say many.