The Sounds of Pukaskwa through Song Meters
While exploring Pukaskwa on foot, late spring and early summer hikers will be surrounded by the sounds of nature, particularly in the morning. From mid-May until early July, a chorus of white-throated sparrows, black-throated green warblers, ovenbirds, and many other bird species can be heard. These natural symphonies not only sound amazing, but can also provide a lot of information about the state of the forest. Songbirds are diverse, play an important role in the food chain, and are sensitive to changing environmental conditions. Keeping track of them can be helpful in assessing the overall health of Pukaskwa’s ecosystem.
To monitor forest birds, park staff set Song Meters throughout the park from spring until mid-summer. A Song Meter is a pre-programmed device that records sounds digitally. Song Meters are set to record daily at peak bird activity times (sunrise and sunset) throughout the breeding season. In the fall Song Meters are picked up, recordings are downloaded and interpreted to produce a list of species. Changes in the bird community over time can be used to detect changes in Pukaskwa’s forests. Since 2009, 47 different bird species have been recorded in Pukaskwa, including Canada warbler and Eastern Wood Pewee – both of which are species at risk.
A Song Meter deployed in the forest near White Gravel River © Parks Canada
Blackburnian warbler © Michael Butler
Ovenbird © Michael Butler