Pinery Provincial Park is a great place to visit any time of the year, and Winter is the season when you can get closest to a few of the bird species that make their home there.
We always bring along bird-seed to Pinery when we go in the Winter, because there are a number of birds that will come very close when presented with a nutritious food supply. Some (Black-capped chickadees and White-breasted nuthatches) can be induced fairly quickly to landing on your hand and feeding from it. This year, we were a bit early in the season and most of the birds except a few brave chickadees were too wary to feed from our hands. Despite this, we were able to feed many birds by leaving out a pile of seeds on the railing on our site (we were staying in one of the yurts they have there). If you’re planning to do this yourself, remember to not leave the birdseed out overnight. During the day, you will attract small foraging songbirds but at night, you’ll most likely be feeding raccoons, who can devastate snapping turtle populations in the park, if they overpopulate themselves.
The first birds we attracted to our food supply were the bold chickadees, ever-eager to exploit any opportunity available.
Next came the nuthatches, with their impressive ‘talons’ which they use to grip bark as they scale down tree-trunks to pry out insect food.
Tufted titmice were quite abundant as well. I’ve never been able to feed one from my hand, but they were quite content to fling seeds about in the pile, picking out the ones they desired.
The final visitor to our railing was a downy woodpecker. Downys are the smallest woodpeckers in Canada, at approximately 15-17 cm (Backhouse, 2005). Still jabbing as though he were piercing bark, the woodpecker walked awkwardly along the railing. It truly appeared strange to be perched and moving horizontally, as they are so superbly adapted for their vertical orientation on tree trunks.
Although only a few landed on our hands to pick at seeds, we were pleased to see these little birds foraging nearby, bringing cheer to the wintry woods of Pinery Provincial Park.
Backhouse, Frances. Woodpeckers of North America. 2005.