Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Death and Life in the Park


The first bird we saw as we drove through Algonquin Park was a Golden Eagle which flew from a tree top in front of our vehicle. It was the first time I had seen this large bird which winters in this region. Near the east entrance to the park, the visitor centre had several displays featuring taxidermic animals and birds. One showed a Golden Eagle feeding from a deer carcass while Ravens and a Bald Eagle waited their turn.


Park rangers placed a road-killed deer far out in a bog below the visitor centre and had a telescope focused on the animal. Wolves had been spotted earlier near it but there were none around when I took this picture. Three days later, wolves removed the carcass and the pack is shown on this YouTube clip.


My husband is standing on the balcony of the visitor centre looking for action around the dead deer. Winter is difficult for wild creatures and many do not survive the harsh conditions. There are few seeds and berries for the birds this year and feeders here have supported Goldfinches, Gray Jays, Pine Grosbeaks, Chickadees, various woodpeckers and a few Pine Martens. Pine Martens are particularly fond of eating Red Squirrels and there were plenty of squirrels around the feeders.


We are very used to Chickadees feeding from our hands but Red-breasted Nuthatches seldom are this tame. The birds were accustomed to humans and flew toward us before we had seeds ready for them. While we saw very few animals in the days we were there, fresh tracks criss-crossed the snow and provided evidence of life in the bogs and forests. Most of the action was taking place during the night and pre-dawn hours of the day. We stayed in a nice motel in town, but I would consider staying in one of the yurts (with electricity and floors) which are available for winter camping in the park. Perhaps I would see the animals who leave the tracks as they work to survive in the wild.


13 comments:

  1. Too bad you didn't see the critters at the bait.One animal has to die in order for another to survive.Love that Red-breasted Nuthatch.I have never seen them coming to an outstretched hand.
    Blessings,Ruth

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great park to visit. The Golden was an awesome sighting. Too bad no wolves for you on the carcass. I'd have really liked to see that. That little Nuthatch on your hand is amazing. I'd go for the yurt.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Algonguin is one park that I would love to visit. My relatives from Holland are coming this summer and that is a place they plan to visit, I may just tag along :) It looks like a great "wilderness" and informative place to check out. There seems to be more sightings of wolves this year and I think it's because of the poor winter we have had. The "prey" are able to move faster in the little snow we have making their escape easier. I would like to follow those tracks and see where they go. I'm nosy and need to know what those critters are up too. Love the nuthatch.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Ruth,

    That top photo is really exquisite. Gorgeous and powerful.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a fascinating video clip Ruth. It's amazing how much the pecking order is followed in packs.

    How cool that the nuthatch ate from your hands!

    ReplyDelete
  6. That first pic is very special -the park was worth visiting!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a nice visit you had. I love that the birds eat out of your hands. I've never experienced that - even with a chickadee.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I know nature is hard, but I confess, I'd rather not watch.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've never seen a nuthatch being hand fed. What a treat.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Neat photos! I only saw a Golden Eagle once but it was only passing through during migration.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In the winter of our chickadee encounters, a red nuthatch led the way.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks to all who took the time to comment.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's a great shot of the little bird eating from your husband's hand, as is the one of the eagles feasting on a dead deer. Here in the California foothills we often see turkey vultures feasting on dead animals (often mule deer).

    ReplyDelete