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Birds

WoodpeckerPinery's rare habitats provide shelter and space for 319 different species of birds, 124 of which have nested in the park.   You can watch the magnificent migration of thousands of Tundra Swans in March or watch Warblers pass through in May and June.  Observe Red-throated Loons off the beach in the fall, or walk the trails in summer looking for a brilliant Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole or Cerulean Warbler.  In the winter, Red-tailed Hawks and Tufted Titmice are common sights at the Visitor Centre feeders.

For those wishing to learn more about the birds of Pinery Provincial Park, The Friends of Pinery have produced a Checklist and Seasonal Status of the Birds of Pinery Provincial Park. This publication may be purchased at the Savanna Shores Nature Gift Shop located in the Visitor Centre.

For those people visiting the Park in the summer months, we invite you to join a Park Naturalist for a bird walk or an evening program on birds ­ part of the programming in our well-known Summer Interpretive Program.

swans2.jpg (10741 bytes)Many special events discuss the lives of our avian inhabitants.  The most popular include:

Return of the Swans Festival
Pinery Migration Weekend
Hallowe'en Owl Prowl
Christmas Bird Count

11k jpg - Viewing Tundra Swans during the Return of the SwansTimes and locations of the these events can be checked through the Special Events Calendar.

School and youth groups may wish to learn more about Pinery's birds by booking a program, or joining us for a Bird Hike. These programs can be booked through our Group Education Program.

Anyone interested in conducting research about the birds in the park is encouraged to contact our research coordinator.

 

Tundra Swans

From Chesapeake Bay in Maryland to the high Canadian Arctic, Tundra Swans accumulate enough air-miles each year to cash in the points and buy an airplane! These beautiful snow white creatures make the 6000 km round trip journey each year beginning in early March and arriving in the Arctic by the beginning of May. Wondering why Tundra Swans migrate and what attracts them to the fields near Pinery for an mid-migration visit?

Tundra Swans are attracted to the long summer Arctic days. During summer in the Arctic, plant growth is abundant and insect activity is high. Both plants and insects are favorite foods of the swans. Nesting takes place on the Arctic islands. Nests consist of a mound of moss and grass 30-60 cm high and 60-90 cm wide. Four or five eggs are laid in late May and hatch in a little over a month. The newborn tundra swans will sport a dusk gray colour and don't receive their full white plumage until the second summer. The chicks fly by 11 weeks of age when they must be ready for the late September voyage back to Chesapeake Bay.

3k jpg - Tundra Swans flying overheadA flock of adult Tundra Swans flying overhead is truly a spectacular sight. Even though they are the smallest swan in Canada, a full grown Tundra Swan boasts a wing span between 180-210 cm.They measure between 120-148 cm in length and weigh approximately 5.5-8.2 kg. They have been known to live for 15-20 years in captivity but will survive only half this time in the wild. Often mistaken for the larger Trumpeter Swan, the Tundra Swan can be distinguished by it's mellow high pitched hoo-ho-hoo call, which is somewhat similar to that of the Canada Goose. The Tundra Swan is also a much smaller bird than the Trumpeter Swan and adults have a small, yellow dot below the eye which can help to distinguish between swan species.

Tundra Swans fly in a V-shaped wedge in family groups of 6 or 7. Their flight speeds can reach up to 80 km/h and altitudes range from 450 m during the day to 3000 m at night. The express route from Chesapeake Bay to Pinery takes about 24 hours. It is the first stop on the 3000 km journey to the Arctic which will take 3 months to complete. The swans arrive at Pinery in early March and will stay anywhere from 3 to 14 days depending on the weather, food supply and flooding. As many as 10 000 swans can be seen at one time if the conditions are favorable.

swans4.jpg (9606 bytes)Tundra Swans have been returning to the fields behind the Lambton County Heritage Museum, year after year. These fields, once the "Old Thedford Bog", now provide the swans with a staging area. Staging areas supply the swans with food and a place to rest on their journey North. Crop residues and flooded fields are ideal conditions to keep the swans in the Grand Bend area for weeks. In previous years Tundra Swans have been seen as early as February 16 and have still been spotted as late as mid April.

Beautifully versed in song and flight, the Tundra Swans are a sight not to be missed.  Return of the Swans is an annual event hosted by Pinery Provincial Park and The Lambton Heritage Museum. If you were hibernating this year and the swans caught you napping, not to worry, they've promised to return again next year!

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