Volume 4, Number 1 - February 15, 1999




We can't complain. The first part of January saw lots of snow and cold, -30C Jan 2, but recently temperatures have been around normal with several warm sunny days. Heavy rain in early February reduced the snow banks and roof loads and above zero daytime highs makes it feel like spring is not far away, in fact a few chipmunks were out.


This winter Muskoka feeders are hosting good numbers of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, PURPLE FINCHES, and BLUE JAYS. TREE SPARROWS were plentiful earlier but are starting to dwindle. The best feeder bird so far was the CAROLINA WREN that visited at Tassie's and Johnson's feeder in Bracebridge near Santa's Village Rd and Brofoco Dr. It was around for 2 weeks, last seen Jan 6. This species is rare this far north but often wanders in winter and has been seen in Muskoka about every 5 years.

There is still lots of open water on the rivers but wintering ducks are scarce. A few ducks are on the river at Port Carling, 2 HOODED MERGANSERS, several COMMON MERGANSERS, and GOLDENEYES were at the end of Bailey St Jan 26.

An immature Eagle was seen flying near Windermere on Jan 4 and another possibly the same bird was sitting beside Rostrevor Rd on Jan 11. Bald or Golden? This sometimes is a problem because both dark heads and can have white markings underneath that look similar.

The only northern owl this winter was a BOREAL found dead beside Muskoka Rd north of Huntsville on Jan 8, likely clipped by a car as it swooped into a nearby yard with a feeder.

Two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were flying north at Golden Beach Rd west of Bracebridge on Feb 8, one was still in the area on the 10th sitting on the top of an old maple behind the golf course east side of South Monk Dr. Are they moving north or south?

WILD TURKEYS are blocking traffic on Sparrow Lake Route D, Camicks farm has been supplying about 16 of them with corn and occasionally they wander across the road. This is the second winter that they have been around the farm which is on the other side of the woods from Levays.

GRAY JAYS are regulars at Lacroix's feeder at 1447 Peterson Rd east of Bracebridge, best time is 9:00 AM, they prefer peanut butter on toast. They are also coming to a feeder on Purbrook Rd. and there was a rare report of GRAY JAYS west of Highway 11, a lone bird at Taylors before Christmas on Muskoka Rd 4 near the McNabb subdivision.

There are lots of freshly debarked trees around indicating feeding activity of BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS although HAIRYs have been know to do the same. Two male BLACK-BACKS were at Dorset on Jan 26 pecking diagonal series of holes on white pines, not typical feeding behaviour or their favorite tree.

A few NORTHERN SHRIKES have been seen, not unexpected when large flocks of finches are around. One raided Grandfield's feeders in Port Sydney Jan 7, missed two GOLDFINCHES then pinned a third against the glass at the window feeder, couldn't get a grip and lost it to.

The mild weather and lots of berries has kept a few AMERICAN ROBINS in our area, recent sightings were one in Windermere Jan 31 and Feb 3, and another at Bruce Lake in early Feb. Barry Mackay lamented that the robins preferred the rotten apples on his neighbors tree to all the expensive fresh fruit he offered at his feeder. Anybody had luck feeding a Robin?

A flock of up to 200 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was in Huntsville before Christmas but they moved on after stripping most of the berries and crab apples in town. Other sightings were at Glen Orchard and Bracebridge, the last reported in Muskoka was near Kilworthy on Jan 28 where 30 fed on maple buds for 10 minutes in Levay's backyard.

SNOW BUNTINGS, at least 60, were sitting shoulder to shoulder on a hydro wire beside Ziska Rd Feb 13.

EVENING GROSBEAKS are hard to find again this year but have been reported from Port Sydney, Uffington, Wahta, and Germania. A leucistic (very pale) individual was at Smith's feeder in Uffington. The first PINE SISKINS were sighted at the Sinclair's feeder near Uffington on Jan 30 and a few WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS are now moving south with several reports east of Hwy 11. They are reported to be thick as flies in Algonquin but a closer location to see them is on 118E Vankoughnet to Carnarvon where both species have been picking grit on the highway lately.

Wondering where all the GROSBEAKS are? The GREAT BACKYARD BIRDCOUNT will be held Feb 19 to 22, the results should tell us where all the feeder species are wintering this year. For directions on how to participate go to http://birdsource.cornell.edu/


Spring Bear Hunt Cancelled It's about time! Even some veteran hunters agree there is no sport in shooting baited bears, even worse some have cubs that will starve. It is unethical to say the least. Running down malnourished spring bears with dogs isn't any better. The outfitters and hunting organizations are launching a major campaign to get it back. If you want to support the legislation go to the Environmental Bill of Rights homepage to read the legistation and get the address of the contact person, in this case John Snobelon.
Select Environmental Registry then Environmental Registry Postings. Search for EBR registry number RB9E6001. All comments will be considered as part of the decision-making by the Ministry if they:
(a) are submitted in writing;
(b) reference the EBR Registry number; and
(c) are received by the Contact person within the specified comment period. Hurry the deadline is February 20.

Algonquin Wolves in Trouble!
John and Mary Theberge were the speakers at the October meeting of the Muskoka Field Naturalists and shared their knowledge gained from 11 years of study using the latest scientific techniques such as radio tracking and DNA analysis.

The big problem for Algonquin's wolves is the high winter mortality rate caused by hunting and trapping of wolves that follow deer migrating out of the park. Snares, legal in northern Ontario, are the favored trapping method. The resulting social disruption of wolf packs is leaving them open to the invasion of coyote genes and eventual extinction of their subspecies.

The Algonquin's wolves may be more significant than previously thought, they may be a reminent population of a species of wolf that formally populated all of eastern North America. DNA analysis shows that they are more closely related to the Red Wolf of the southern states than the Timber Wolf of the north. The Red Wolf is now extinct in the wild except for a recent reintroduction project. Someday Algonquin wolves and Red Wolves may be reclassified as one species, Canis lycaon, the Eastern Timber Wolf!

To find out more get the Theberge's new book "Wolf Country" published by McClelland and Stewart. Support a no hunting zone for wolves in the Round Lake area adjacent to the park.


In case you haven't heard well know Ontario naturalist Jim Wilson from Dorset, formally from Windsor, is very ill and has been in Huntsville District Hospital for several weeks, visitation restricted. The hospital address is 350 Muskoka Rd 3 N, Huntsville, Ontario P1H 1H7.


Gleason and Cronquist's Manual of Vascular Plants now has an illustrated companion. You can buy both for $150 US or just the companion for $125. Call (718)817-8721 for info. Not cheap but not out of line, the classic New Briton and Brown Illustrated Flora was over $200 when it went out of print 20 years ago.


Map turtle in the Moon River
Dinny Nimo's daughter, Heather Passmore, sighted a MAP TURTLE this fall while canoeing on the Moon River near Bala. She sent the following report:
On Sunday Oct 11 at about 12 noon. The weather was warm and sunny with a clear sky. My friend, Doug Tate, and I were paddling west on the river. The turtle was on the south side of Kathleen Island in the Moon River. This is the section of the Moon closest to the Bala Falls. The turtle was basking on the west face of a medium sized boulder, close to the shore. We drifted by quietly (as we didn't want to startle it down into the water after getting warm in the sun) and admired it with binoculars. It was a male, as it had a thick tail and was about 5 inches in length. We eliminated the possibility it was a painted turtle by the grey carapace with a keel down the dorsal line. Its head had the yellow markings as well.

Stink Pot Turtle
Audrey Tournay reported received a Stink Pot turtle that found on the ice on Georgian Bay early in January 99. Perhaps the mischief of an Otter?

Water Snake Update
You may recall the story last fall of a Toronto pet store that turned over 3 illegally captured and very pregnant Northern Water Snakes to the Metro Zoo. Jan McDonnell sends this update: The man from the Metro Toronto Zoo who has been keeping the baby snakes since their birth gave them to a person interested in herpetology in Barrie. Meanwhile, by a strange coincidence, the man in Barrie received another 21 baby water snakes from a pet store in Barrie who had bought them as "captive bred" corn snakes. All the snakes (76 babies and 3 adults) were released Sep. 27 in Georgian Bay Islands National Park at a site known by park warden Michel Villeneuve as a water snake hibernaculum.


The Toronto Entomologists' Association earlier this year had 175 reprints made of Walker's Odonata of Canada and Alaska. The quality was excellent and all were sold so they have ordered an additional 25 copies which are now for sale for $196. This 3 volume classic technical reference manual set is not for everyone but if your serious about learning dragonflies it's a must, email nmg.vanderpoorten@sympatico.ca for info.


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It's confirmed, the Peterson Field Guide to Moths by Covell is out of print and has been cut from the series, it won't be reprinted. The Canadian supplier is already out of stock. Bad news, our only field guide to moths is history.


EAGLE sp,4/1/99,,Immature Bald or Golden flying over Florence Is. in Lake Rosseau at Windermere, Robert Goltz

BALD EAGLE, 11/12/99, immature sitting on a dead limb at 2302 Windermere Rd near Rostrevor Rd. Tail all black with no hint of bars or lighter colors. A little bit of light color on the upper back. Front not visible, Jon Grandfield.

RED-TAILED HAWK, 13/1/99,,Found dead beside Rowanwood Rd south of Huntsville, Ted Hoddy

ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK,8/2/99,, 2 light phase seen at 12:45 PM beside Hwy 118W at Golden Beach Rd.,Eleanor Wellman.

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK,12/1/99,,In Whites yard near Utterson, Wendy White

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK,4/1/99,, Flew by Tassies feeder Bracebridge, Eleanor Wellman.

NORTHERN GOSHAWK, 7/1/99,,Immature at Kilworthy, Frank and Jane Levay.

BOREAL OWL, 8/1/99,, Found dead on top of a snow bank at 105 Muskoka Rd. S Huntsville, Kevin Munroe - Robin Tapley.

WILD TURKEY, 12/2/99,, 15f and 1m coming to a Camicks farm for corn on Sparrow Lake Route D, Dave & Bonnie Camick.

BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER, 26/1/99,,2 males on White Pines at 1230 Dwight Beach Rd., Robin Tapley.

GRAY JAY, 17/01/99,, 3 at a feeder 1447 Peterson Rd near Uffington, Dan Burton.

CAROLINA WREN, 03/01/99,6/01/99, At Tassie's feeder 135 Santa's Village Rd. Also at Woods feeder on Brofoco Dr before Christmas., Leslie Tassie - John Woods

NORTHERN SHRIKE, 7/1/99,, Chased 3 different Goldfinches at Grandfields window feeder in Port Sydney. All escaped, Jon Grandfield.

WAXWINGS, 1/1/99,,flock feeding on berries at McCreas on Breezy Point Rd. Walkers Point. May have been Bohemian, Doug Smith

BOHEMIAN WAXWING,4/01/99,, 8 feeding on apples Glen Orchard, Jack Jennings

BOHEMIAN WAXWING, 26/1/99,,30 eating maple buds near Kilworthy, Frank & Jane Levay.

CEDAR WAXWINGS, 4/1/99, 8 Lorne St Gravenhurst, Dan Burton

AMERICAN ROBIN, 2/01/99, 6 feeding on Mulberry at Mactier, Wing & A Prayer

AMERICAN ROBIN, 1/1/99,, 4 robins feeding on berries at McCreas on Breezy Point Rd. Walkers Point, Doug Smith

AMERICAN ROBIN, 31/1/99,3/2/99,Windermere,S.Goltz - Jon Grandfield.

EVENING GROSBEAK, 11/1/99,, 9 at Grandfields feeder in Port Sydney. Their first this winter, Jon Grandfield.

WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, 11/1/99,, 9:30 AM 1pr Feeding on cones in a fir tree beside the Peterson RD east of Bracebridge, Doug Smith

WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, 17/1/99,, Several flying and two on the road along Peterson RD east of Bracebridge, Dan Burton.

PINE SISKIN, 30/01/99,, 2 at the Sinclair's feeder near Uffington, Al Sinclair.


Last Weeks Nature News
Gravenhurst-Bracebridge 97 CBC Report
Orillia 97 CBC Report
Gravenhurst-Bracebridge CBC 90s results
Muskoka Bird Checklist
Muskoka Butterfly List
Muskoka 1996 Year List
Varied Thrush Photo
How to Identify Owls in Distress
Al's Muskoka 97 List
Barred Owl Picture

From: the Sinclair Residence

Located in the beautiful backwoods of Muskoka

Near Uffington, Ontario, Canada

Telephone: (705) 645-2848


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