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May 7 2022, Algonquin Park, report

The Pipits: May 7 2022, Algonquin Park, report 27 Jun 2022 12:28 PM Colleen Reilly (Administrator) A small group of Pipits made the journey up to Algonquin Park, where we met with Kyle Parkinson. Kyle is a researcher working on his PhD through University of Guelph, working in Dr. Ryan Norris’ lab.

Here Kyle shares a little more about his work:

“I am in my first year of my PhD in Dr. Ryan Norris’s lab at the University of Guelph. My research investigates how highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) affect the breeding performance and offspring development of Canada jays. I am using compound specific stable isotope analysis to identify what food the adults feed to the nestlings that has HUFA in it and I will also measure the level of a suite of fatty acids in collected from nestlings blood samples and from collected food samples. I will also conduct experiments in the field to look at how HUFA affects chick development and if the process of caching food affects the level of HUFA in the food. Since food is so important to jays during their late-winter breeding season, it is important for us to understand what food they rely on for offspring development and how they secure nutritious food in the winter.”

During our visit with Kyle, we met two Canada Jay families! One of the families consisted of the parents and I believe 3 fledglings. The other consisted of two parents and several nestlings - snug in their nest deep in a spruce tree which made decent photos impossible. The first family came straight to the roadside to visit with us, not at all shy, in fact very curious about the noise we were making and truly quite interested in whether we might have any treats for them. To see the nest however Kyle led us right into the bush, where we clambered over, under and around scrub until we reached the tree containing the nest. Both parents arrived to survey the intruders, and one came in and fed the babies!

Here is more from Kyle about Canada Jays:

“Canada jays begin caching food in the late-summer and use these resources during their late-winter breeding season. Jays begin building their nest out of cocoons, lichen, and any fibrous material they can find. They then begin to build the walls of their nest with sticks, and finally line the nest with feathers. Jays will lay up to four eggs and their incubation period lasts roughly 21 days and then the chicks stay in the nest until they fledge around 22 days later. At this point the juvenile jays will remain with their parents, being fed and learning how to cache and retrieve food, until the end of summer when the dominant juvenile will eject their siblings and remain with the parents until the subsequent breeding season. The ejected juveniles will then disperse to other vacant territories, or to a territory with adults who do not have offspring.”

This was a super fun outing, and we quite enjoyed being back in Algonquin and experiencing the early spring conditions. Thanks to Kyle for an educational and really fun walk!

To see photos from the outing go here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/BfzR9A9QqffLL4Gd7

Here is the link to the eBird trip report: https://ebird.org/tripreport/65450?welcome=true

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