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Unique Birds on the Carden Alvar

Bird watchers and seasoned birders joined us at the Nature Centre on a recent Sunday morning to observe and learn about the rare and endangered bird species that make the Carden Alvar their home.

The nature centre is located near the westerly boundary of the Carden Alvar, but we decided to visit the heart of the Alvar where birds like the Loggerhead Shrike, the Eastern Bluebird, Bobolinks and Savannah Sparrows dwell. The area is a dream come true for birders with close to 250 species that have been observed and documented on the Alvar.

Alvar's are globally rare, unique ecosystems. They are rich with rare and threatened wildlife, including birds, mammals, butterflies, dragonflies and Alvar wildflowers. The Alvar is a harsh place to survive from flooding in the early spring to extreme, hot temperatures and drought during the summer months.

We headed out and our first stop was on the 5th Side Road, one kilometer west of the Centre. Bob had spotted a male and female Bobolink and a Savannah Sparrow in the farmers' field. The status of Bobolinks is "Threatened". The Ontario government website https://www.ontario.ca/page/bobolink goes into detail about the status and the recovery strategy for this unique bird.

The next stop was the Cameron Ranch, now located within the boundaries of Carden Alvar Provincial Park, established in 2014.

We had hoped to see a Loggerhead Shrike. This bird's status is "Endangered" https://www.ontario.ca/page/loggerhead-shrike.

Bob explained these birds impale their prey on the thorns of Hawthorn Trees and barbed wire fencing. They do not have long talons to be able to kill their prey. Unfortunately, we didn't see this bird in the wild but 2 American Bitterns were spotted flying overhead. It was an unusual sighting as they are normally solitary birds.

We then drove to Bluebird Ranch and Sedge Wren Marsh located on Wylie Road. There we saw Eastern Meadowlarks, numerous Tree Swallows, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow Warbler, Wilson's Snipe,

Below: Wilson's Snipe; Photo Credit: Bob Bowles

Chipping Sparrows, Common Grackles and Eastern Bluebirds. Bluebird boxes have been installed and numbered along Wylie Road as part of the recovery program for Bluebirds.

Below: Eastern Bluebird - Male -- Photo Credit: Bob Bowles

The Tree Swallows compete for these boxes with the Bluebirds, so many of them are occupied by the Tree Swallows. Another beautiful bird with deep-blue iridescent backs and white below.

Below: Tree Swallow -- Photo Credit: Jayne Peacock

We heard many other birds but were not able to capture them with our scopes and binoculars.

This website http://www.ofo.ca/site/page/view/articles.cardenalvar offers a wealth of information about birding and the Carden Alvar area.

Bob also pointed out numerous flora unique to the Carden Alvar like Prairie Smoke, Balsam Ragwort, Lady Slipper and much, much more. Our next workshop, Carden Alvar Flora Tour will be on Sunday, June 12th at 10:00 AM. For more information please visit our website https://www.robertlbowlesnaturecentre.com/programs We hope you will join us for this fun and informative event.

Photo below: From Bird Watchers to Seasoned Birders -- Photo Credit: Jayne Peacock

 

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