Nature, science, and good company

Pukaskwa National Park

By Candace Deschamps

Not only is the natural world visually stunning, but its birds sing the most beautiful songs for us all to hear. Pukaskwa National Park has been recording bird songs to help ensure these areas remain vibrant, healthy, and well preserved for future generations.

The forests, waterways, marshes, and beaches all have so many interesting things to show us, if we pay close attention. Birds, big and small, have unique vocalizations. Some stay all year round, some just fly through while migrating, and others come to breed but spend winters in warmer climates! Last year Pukaskwa continued efforts to collect point count recordings of breeding bird songs to contribute to the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas. It is our privilege as stewards of the land to bear witness to nature’s sacred treasures, and to share our experiences so others may become aware of and recognize the area’s tremendous value. People from all over the world come to national parks to escape into the wilderness. For those who have a strong passion, becoming a volunteer can be the icing on the cake.

In 2022, the Pukaskwa National Park Resource Conservation team was happy to take an eager volunteer on treks into the backcountry to collect data on songbirds at various points throughout different habitats. In July, Park Ecologist Chris Robinson and volunteer Ted Schintz explored the Coastal Hiking Trail around Willow River, conducting bird song point counts along the way. Their 3-day adventure into the wilderness was a huge success! The two camped at Willow River and spent early mornings bushwhacking up to half a kilometer off trail to collect data. Being up before the sun, they got to hear and feel the vitality of the boreal forest’s dawn chorus as it comes alive each day with the song of warblers and thrushes. On this particular occasion, handheld recorders were used to capture 5-minute recordings in various habitats located in a 10 x 10 kilometer square. By collecting this data, we can see how bird populations are changing within the park compared to the rest of the province, including non-protected areas. Birds are useful as an indirect measure of forest health because of their strong links to the structural and functional components of the forest and responses to changing forest conditions.

The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas project relies heavily on the enthusiasm and birding experience of volunteers. In more remote areas of the province, such as Pukaskwa, there are fewer volunteers, and trained field staff often work to fill in the data gaps. If you’re interested in volunteering opportunities at Pukaskwa, please email us at


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