Wow! What an amazing month we’ve just had! Our annual Festival of Flight was a huge success. The Visitor Centre was bursting at the seams on most days and during the two weeks of the Festival we had over 6,000 people through our doors! We had many awesome sightings during the migration as well, with a Kirtland’s, a Brewster’s and some very reliable Prothonotary Warbler’s being the highlights. A huge thank you to everyone who came out and reported their sightings and made this festival so enjoyable! We would also like to thank Reuven Martin (our bird hike leader extraordinaire) who took over 250 people on bird hikes and gave them an unforgettable experience! And last but not least we would like to thank the Friends of Rondeau who sponsored this event and kept the coffee flowing and the soup hot for all of our hungry birders.

We will miss our birding friends (humans and birds alike), but look forward to next year when the spring migration brings you back again!

Kirtland's Warbler photo by: Chris and Chris Applegate
Kirtland’s Warbler
photo by: Chris and Chris Applegate

During the month of May there was one question that was asked almost on a daily basis…and it wasn’t about identifying a tricky warbler, it was about a weird “flower” seen along various trails in the park. At first we were stumped, until we went out and looked at this odd flower for ourselves and realized that it wasn’t a flower at all, but a small sapling opening its leaves.  It was a Shagbark Hickory tree, and yes, it did look like a large, red flower.

shagbark pic
Shagbark Hickory photo by: Gary Fowless

Shagbark Hickories are quite adaptable and can be found growing in many soil types, from sand to clay, from wet to dry. In Rondeau, you can see Shagbark Hickories growing on the higher ground within our swampy forests. Look for medium-sized trees with the characteristic grey, shaggy bark that curls away from the trunk in large pieces. In the spring, it is the inner bud scales which expand into showy, red bracts that look like the petals on a flower.  Hickory nuts are a main food source for squirrels and chipmunks that have no problem breaking through the tough shell with their sharp incisors. Some species of woodpecker have also mastered this skill. Throughout history, humans have enjoyed the nuts as well. Native Americans mixed pounded hickory nuts with boiling water to make a sweet, creamy liquid known to some tribes as pocohicoria (it is believed that the name hickory comes from that root).   Early pioneers found the trees equally useful and left only the hickory trees as they cleared the surrounding forests.                                                               Tulip Tree Trail is a great place to look for both young and old Shagbark Hickories.

With warmer weather on the way, the Visitor Centre staff are busily preparing for the busy summer months. In June the Visitor Centre will be open every Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00am – 4:00pm.

We hope to see you all out to our June programs and once school’s out on June 25th we will start into our full summer program schedule – stay tuned!

AS - June 2015

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Memberships Available
Become a friend of Rondeau today...