The mighty moose is an icon of Canada almost as popular as the Mountie and there’s no better place to spot one than in Ontario. These reclusive creatures roam many of Ontario’s northern provincial parks, like Algonquin Provincial Park only 3 hours north of Toronto. Spring is a particularly lucky time for viewing moose as they venture out of the seclusion of the woods to sample the new spring growth, but unsuspecting paddlers are often surprised by a wandering moose throughout the summer.
There are few animals that have proven as mysterious as or more misunderstood than the wolf, but there are two excellent locations in Ontario that will help you discover their true nature through “Wolf Howl” programmes.
Every Thursday, during the month of August, Algonquin Provincial Park offers regularly scheduled Wolf Howls (weather dependent). Enjoy an instructive slide show about this elusive animal and then travel by car to a place where wild wolves may answer the imitation calls demonstrated by the park naturalist.
Another spot to hear the wolves is at Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve. The 28,327 hectare private forest offers evening wolf howls every Thursday in July and August. Starting at the base camp, visitors gather at the seminar building to hear a presentation on wolves before embarking on a short hike to the wolves’ 6 hectare enclosure, where interpreters will attempt to “howl up” the resident pack.
Visitors to Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve are also encouraged to visit their Wolf Centre, which is open daily from Victoria Day to Thanksgiving weekend, and is dedicated to the study of wolves and the reserve’s resident pack.
If you want to learn more about this night time creature, go on an “Owl Prowl!” Local conservation areas (www.grca.on.ca or www.conservationhalton.on.ca) offer evening events where visitors go on a guided walk through the woods to discover more about this night wanderer. As you explore the owl’s nocturnal world, you’ll even learn to do an owl call. Listen carefully and find out if the owl’s invite you in to their secret language. Dates vary throughout the year.
Southern Ontario has been known internationally as the destination for bird watching. For years, bird enthusiasts have been travelling to Point Pelee National Park every spring and fall to witness the migration of thousands of birds. Point Pelee is located in Southern Ontario and is Canada’s southern most point reaching the 42nd parallel - the same latitude as Rome and Northern California. The southern locale is responsible for the park’s unique character and here one can see over 300 different bird species in a single day!
There are many other parks in Ontario where you can go bird watching. See how many songbirds you can spy at Rondeau or Long Point provincial parks or experience the mysterious migration of waterfowl at Presqu'ile Provincial Park and iconic Canada Geese at Jack Miners Bird Sanctuary near Kingsville.
Point Pelee National Park is equally famous for the migration of the monarch butterfly. Each year hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies head south to Mexico, making a stop at the park to the delight of curious onlookers. Traditionally, the third week of September is the peak time to see the butterflies cluster amongst the trees. When it’s time to leave it’s a spectacular sight to see this black and orange mass move across the sky as it continues its journey southward.
During the month of March, the small town of Aylmer in Southwestern Ontario is visited by tens of thousands of Tundra swans as they migrate from their summer feeding grounds on Chesapeake Bay and fly north to the Arctic to breed. Watch these graceful birds at the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area, a 137 hectare (338 acres) wildlife sanctuary with viewing stands throughout.