Nest and Bird Webcams (from Ontario and further away)

It's spring.

You want to get out and enjoy the warm weather.

You have plans for the weekend but have to wait a full week until you feel like you can break free!  Did you know that viewing and listening to nature can have almost as much of a health (and sanity!) benefit as actually being outdoors? (Link to "Why Nature is Good For Us")

So if it's impossible to get outdoors this week, or you are stuck inside due to bad weather I thought I would provide you with a couple of great webcams, which are lovely (and sometimes sadly tragic - be forewarned!) to watch and experience.  This works especially well if you are set up with two computer screens and you can just have this playing on one of them.  I've been watching the Barred Owl camera myself (after my friend told me how much she was enjoying it) and I must say even listening to the sounds of the woods has me in a good mood!

So here are some options, near and far:

Local Peregrine Falcon

The Ottawa Field Naturalist Club's Peregrine Falcon web cam: these falcons have been nesting in downtown Ottawa for many years.  I remember when I worked at Tower C in Place de Ville and my director's office was straight across from the nest - every week or so we'd see the falcon in the air hunting.  There's also a great Falcon Watch blog that provides updates on local birds.

Local Osprey

Innis Point Bird Observatory, out in the west end of Ottawa, also has a nest cam up so that people can view their Osprey nest online. This is a very up close camera (running on solar power) which gives great detail of the bird and young.  The ambient sounds of Innis Point are a bonus.

Canadian Birds Including Grey Jay

Ellis Bird Farm in Alberta has some exciting nest cams including a Grey Jay this year.  They also show some great screenshots of the parents building the nest and the newly laid eggs.  As of April 13th the babies haven't hatched yet.  Ellis Bird Farm is a working farm but also a non-profit conservation organization focused on Mountain Bluebirds, Tree Swallows and other cavity-nesting birds.

Red-tail Hawks, Ithica Pond Birds and Ontario Birds

Cornell Lab of Ornithology has some other great webcams including Red-tail Hawks in Ithica New York, a Pond Cam in Sapsucker Woods (Ithica) - oh those Red-winged Blackbird calls and an Ontario FeederWatch cam.  So if you don't have enough room for a bird feeder in your own backyard (or you don't have a backyard) this one is for you!  And each webcam has its own twitter feed so you never miss any of the action.

Barred Owl

Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Web Cam from Zionsville, Indiana.  The president and CEO of WBU has this owl box in his backyard.  Again, I love hearing the sounds of various bird calls in the woods and seeing the owlets when the parent is off finding food.  It's also interesting to see how many others are watching with you - when I checked it out there were almost 500 people watching at the same time!


Bella the Hummingbird is a small Allen's Hummingbird that sets up a nest in someone's ficus tree annually in La Verne, (Southern) California.  This nest cam is from someone's personal property - which is lovely that it is shared! The live stream is sometimes on the nectar feeder and sometimes on the nest.  Check out "her" You Tube channel and you can also find more information including the Annual Clutch Log on the website.

Enjoy your nature viewing 
and let me know if you have any favourites yourself!

-- Above Image - Screengrab of Cornell Lab Barred Owl Nest Cam Video --

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Bucket list for Urban Nature Lovers in Ottawa (for tourists and locals)

There have been some great bucket lists created about what to do in Ottawa, whether you are a visitor or a resident.  They list fun cool places, annual events and amazing experiences.  It's fun to consult them every now and again to get ideas of what interesting Ottawa thing to check out next.

Now that I'm looking for that urban nature experience when I'm visiting other cities, I thought I would make a list for those coming to Ottawa in case they are urban nature lovers also and want to see a different side to the city!  Especially as this year is the #Ottawa2017 celebrations for Canada's 150th!  It's going to be a big one for tourists!

So if you are wondering where there are some great nature spots in downtown Ottawa or where a great place to see an Ottawa sunset is (because yes! Ottawa is a "sunset capital"!) or possibly great places to be up close to wildlife for both winter and summer connections - you've come to the right place!

This post has been put together to give you a quick list of favourite urban nature spots in Canada's Capital with some suggestions on when the best time of year to visit them is!

As typical with this blog, I haven't listed the big ones like Rideau Falls, Dow's Lake, Jacques Cartier Park, Vincent Massey Park, Hog's Back Falls, Andrew Haydon Park, Mud Lake, Lac Deschênes, Kanata March Highlands, Mer Bleue or the popular Greenbelt Trails (such as Jack Pine Trail, Lime Kiln Trail) or anything in Gatineau Park!

These are already listed in Tourist Guides and get lots of visitors, so what I'd like to do are highlight some smaller and yet still lovely urban nature experiences in the Capital.

What I'm hoping to do is offer suggestions for some more off the beaten path urban nature experiences in Ottawa that might not be on your radar and/or unique opportunities for experiencing and learning about nature in the city.  These may not be big incredible more well-known natural sites but if you like urban nature check these local, cool and awesome nature experiences out.

The Wild. Here. Urban Nature Bucket List for Ottawa

-- Remic Rapids in Winter --

Any Time

Champlain Oaks - these 100+ year old Burr Oaks within an older suburb are an amazing sight!

Balancing Rocks at Remic Rapids by John Ceprano on the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway (except spring when flooding) are a must see but don't get too close!

Largest biofilter living wall in North America (indoors) is here in Ottawa at the University of Ottawa campus.  Enough said.

Any urban Conifer Tree Plantation (shown above in photo) - is a unique treat during any season and Ottawa has three plantations: on Hunt Club Road (near Paul Benoit Driveway), near Woodroffe and Slack and behind the Nepean Sportsplex on the walking trails.  There is also the (less urban) Pine Grove in the south eastern part of the Greenbelt.

Princess Louise Falls in Orleans is lovely to see any time of the year.  There are great trails above and beside and below the falls so you can see it from different aspects.  You can access by St Joseph Boulevard or Princess Louise Drive.  (This was one of our winter outings.)

-- Spring Cherry Blooms --


Spring Blooms in the Dominion Arboretum - whether you like magnolias, lilacs or other spring tree blooms, the Arborteum has you covered!  I just had to list this one even though it's well know, as the experience of spring is one not to be missed here!  Look for some lesser known blooms like the horse chestnut which look like impressive tropical flowers.

Cherry/Crabapple Trees at Lincoln Fields - this small orchard in the west end by the transitway offers a unique tree blossom experience outside the better known Dominion Arboretum. There seems to be some debate on the type of small orchard but it offers beautiful photo opportunity in May and an enjoyable evening stroll through lovely pink hues!

Brewar Park (off Bronson Avenue) - It's worth a visit to walk around this pond in early spring to hear the calls of frogs mating and enjoy the return of local birds.  (Especially now that it has been restored by the RVCA - plus check out this video of wildlife using the new culvert that connects the pond to the Rideau River)

Jane's Walk in Ottawa - This event is a great opportunity to get outdoors and check out a new location.  Take a look at their list of walks offered by various volunteers and you will likely find some nature-themed excursions!

-- Macoun Marsh in Summer - Photo by Viliam Glazduri --

Warm Season

Fletcher Wildlife Garden is a lovely space to tour offering natural spaces including an urban pollinator meadow, a woodlot and a pond and small ravine.  In the warmer season you will find many birds, frogs and other wildlife. They even had a beaver overwinter one year!

Doors Open Ottawa - Another great opportunity to see less seen locations and sights - I've been able to visit the green roof on Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa, the Wildbird Care Centre and visited the incredible grounds of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat.

Macoun Marsh in Beechwood Cemetery is a wonderful place to visit. Over 1400 species of flora and fauna have been found here over the years by the students of St. Laurent Academy.

Along with Dominion Arboretum, both Beechwood Cemetery and the Governor General's estate Rideau Hall offer labels and tags to help visitors identify trees.  These may be well-known tourist spots but the educational opportunity is not to be missed!

-- The Rockeries in Summer --

The Rockeries (off of Acacia Avenue with path to Hillsdale) offer a romantic setting with old stone columns and a cherub fountain and a multitude of spring flowers but it is equally lovely in summer and fall.  You'll find many birds here in the early hours.

Pinhey Sand Dune - this is Ottawa's only natural inland sand dune complex and is an incredibly unique ecosystem that supports rare flora and fauna.  There are even tours offered by the Biodiversity Conservancy (link above) and the Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Project (Pinhey Sand Dune is listed as #25 on their list.)

Billings Bridge (Bank Street & Riverside) - I read somewhere once, that this was the most biodiverse area of Rideau River in the city, but sadly I can't find the stat anymore.  If it is true, I'm guessing it's due to the bends and different depths but also due to the more natural areas around Brewar Park and Vincent Massey Park.  You can access this area from both sides of the river and by water (you can rent a SUP here).  Look for many different types of birds including waders, divers, dippers, etc.

-- Historic Tram Stops on Rockcliffe Parkway --


Learn about banding of Purple Martin young.  This is such a wonderful experience for all ages.  The Purple Martin colony is located at the Nepean Sailing Club (Carling Avenue) and the banding is done by Innis Point Bird Observatory volunteers in late June early July.  Donations appreciated!

Take an outdoor swim at "The Pond" in Rockcliffe (open from 7 am to 2 pm daily) or along the Ottawa Outaouais River at one of the many beaches (I particularly like the Val Tetreau beach on the Gatineau side)

A cycle or walk along the Rockcliffe Parkway between Rideau Hall and the Rockcliffe Boathouse offers great views of the Ottawa Outaouais River and access to Rockcliffe Park with its beautiful pavilion. Visitors should note the unique historic tram stop shelters along the Parkway also.

View hundreds of Chimney Swifts enter their Roost at Dominican University College at sundown daily - Nature Canada some times holds Swift Night events.

-- Fall Evening at Hampton Park - Photo by Viliam Glazduri --


Biology Butterfly Exhibit at Carleton University - this is a free event held annually in the two greenhouses at the Biology building. Expect long lines.  Donations appreciated!

Hampton Park is a lovely park at the end of Island Park Drive (as it meets the Queensway) which has some enjoyable winding paths (some are steep!) that are lit with lamp posts at night.  Beautiful in the autumn with crisp, colourful leaves including some veteran Beech and moody on foggy evenings.

Chapman Mills Conservation Area is a sweet spot to visit during the warmer months but I find it especially interesting in the fall when water levels have dropped and the leaves are in full colour.  It has a 1.5 km trail that includes boardwalks that get you right in the middle of the action.  Keep an eye for wildlife including turtles and a variety of birds.

-- Ottawa's Tropical Greenhouse --


Vanier Sugar Bush is the only urban sugar bush in North America and a short drive from downtown. It's such a fun place to visit when the sap is running, with more than one thousand maple trees and be sure to visit during the Maple Festival.

Ottawa's Winter Crow Roost is a cool experience if you are there around sundown as the flock is gathering.  The location seems to have moved a bit over the last year but you can still find them in patches of woodlot both north and south of the Ottawa Hospital on Smythe Road (Balena, Coronation, Pleasant Park, Valour).

Central Experimental Farm - Tropical Greenhouse - while it is open all year, I wanted to list it here for the colder months as it is a welcome respite in winter!

- Photography Links for Viliam Glazduri: (Instagram, Flickr, 500 px) Contributor to Wild. Here. -

I'm coming up a bit short right now for Fall and Winter activities but I promise you I'll find some more before that season comes.  I'm wondering where your favourite place to experience the fall colours in the city is (other than the Arboretum!)

If you are a tourist coming up for #Ottawa2017 what outdoor experiences are you looking for?  Do you want to get out on the water or find a quiet spot for a picnic by a dock or in a nice grassy park?  Let us know what you want urban nature experiences you are seeking.  And for those in Ottawa:

Tell me what is on YOUR BUCKET LIST for outdoor nature experiences in the city!

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Good-bye to Winter

When I first thought of this post a couple of weeks ago, I had just thought of using some photos from my last winter outing and then possibly one last snowshoe excursion also because a friend and I went to this lovely spot (and found some neat graffiti) but as I was downloading my photos I saw others that I wanted to share.  What was great was seeing all the times I did get out and have a bit of time to enjoy the season.  I hope you were able to also!  It's been a busy winter and I haven't been able to give as much time as I wanted to, to this blog.  I hoping that I can dedicate more time in the upcoming months.  Thanks so much for all your understanding and support and here's to the change of seasons!!

A sunny bright February Walk

The day after a big snowstorm

A winter walk to a local waterfall

Beauty in frozen ice

and a surprise sighting on the way home!

A Winter Full Moon Snowshoe 

Although it was so bright we didn't need moon light!

And drinks afterwards - amazing view of lake!

Last X-C Ski of the Season

A snowshoe adventure

 Beautiful sunlight and shadows on snow

 One last winter morning photo op

What was the best part of winter for you?  

Did you get out and find some new locations and discover some incredible scenery, wildlife and or spots?  

Definitely share your best winter experiences below!

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Restored San Francisco Area Marshland (Guest Post)

Wind Sculpture Trio, Photo by Eva Barrows

This week we are in for such a treat as Wild. Here. readers get to be transported to the warm and sunny San Francisco area thanks to an amazing collaborator: Eva Barrows.  The blue sky photos alone are wonderful to take in!  She is a talented writer and enthusiastic adventurer and traveler and shares her explorations on her blog (Eva Barrows Blog) writing about many different things including scenic areas, historic buildings and other various adventures.  

Today she is sharing with us an outing she took to Seal Point Park south of the city including a sound clip (her brilliant idea!) that really helps immerse the reader in this article.  Here's what she said about the recording: I recorded some awesome sound of me crunching around on the walking path trying to get close to some noisy birds because they have a real unique sound. I captured the birds as well as jet engines (the park is under the flight path for SFO (San Francisco International Airport)) and road traffic noise to illustrate the "urban nature" of the area.  So come along with Eva to Seal Point!

Restored San Francisco Area Marshland Reclaimed by Nature and Residents 

Seal Point Park, situated on and around a lush green hill, rises above the surrounding San Francisco Bay marshland. The park is nestled between marsh-front business parks, residential neighborhoods and industrial businesses in San Mateo California. Seal Point is located twenty miles south of the heart of San Francisco on the densely populated San Francisco Peninsula. San Mateo is home to over 100,000 people who work locally or commute to high-tech jobs in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Hardworking residents find opportunities to break away from the office to experience tranquility along with a dose of physical activity at Seal Point.

Foot Path Up Seal Point Hill, Photo by Eva Barrows

Seal Point Park wasn’t always a beautiful recreation area. It began life as marshland that was then transformed into a city garbage dump. A lone hill just at the water’s edge didn’t match the rest of the landscape making me suspicious of the park’s origin. A little research found that the area had been City of San Mateo East Third Avenue Landfill until 1987. Work to create the park as it is today started back in 2002. The organization SaveThe Bay brought awareness and activism to the Bay Area population to stop polluting the Bay and move the area’s many trash dumps away from the water.

Golden Flower Sculpture with San Mateo and Noisy Birds, Photo by Eva Barrows

Upon entering the park, visitors have a choice to park at the base of the hill or take the lone road continuing straight to the top of Seal Point. I went on up. The road cut through tall green grass and flowered bushes. The big blue sky with bright sun shone down. The land plateaued at the top of the hill. A 360 degree view of the entire mid-section of the San Francisco Bay was before me. Airplanes flew in and out of the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), container ships passed under the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the cities of the East Bay gleamed across the way and all of San Mateo stretched out behind me.

View of San Francisco, Photo by Eva Barrows 

The moment I opened the car door the excited chirping of hundreds of small black birds engulfed me. Birds sang high pitched repeating staccato “tick tick.” While other birds took up a song of garbled vibrations that sounded like a digital watch tone. Adding to the natural chorus were cricket zings, frog croaks and duck quacks. Sounds of urban action, decelerating jet engines of airplanes preparing to land, clanking heavy duty utility trucks and other street traffic racing by the shoreline were overpowered by Seal Point’s birds.

  Audio Recording: Chorus of Birds Against Urban Noise

The park’s permanent art installation “Wind Walk” is a series of sculpture that plays with wind currents coming off the bay or encourages visitors to supply a little wind of their own. I walked between two large metal cupped bowls and experienced a sudden hush. No more noisy birds! The sound of my shoes against crunchy sand filled the space. I said, “who” and “whoooo” came back at me.

Cupped Bowls Sound Sculpture, Photo by Eva Barrows

I tried another sculpture, this one was a bundle of tall pipes with mouth pieces. I offered a “whooo” into the mouth piece and out came a tuba like bass sound from the top. Many beautiful decorative wind sculptures are placed throughout the park. The one right at the top of the hill is a giant golden flower shaped to circulate wind.

Wind Tubas, Photo by Eva Barrows

Excited dogs bound from their vans and off pickup truck tailgates at the dog park portion of Seal Point. Happy dogs splashed around at the garden-hose after a satisfying play in the park while dogs on their way into the park pulled with anticipation at their leashes. Dog parents throw balls and hand out treats to the well behaved. The dog park is situated between high tension power lines with electric transmission towers placed at intervals through the park and beyond. The same noisy birds as before hide out in the towers and fill the air with chirping.

Dog Park Under Power Lines, Photo by Eva Barrows

Seal Point Park is on the Bay Trail, a continuous trail that will run 500 miles with 350 miles currently completed around the circumference of the San Francisco Bay. A pedestrian bridge links the Seal Point section of trail to the next park in the network.

Bay Trail Pedestrian Bridge, Photo by Eva Barrows

The trail is protected from motor vehicle traffic, encouraging people to get out and be active. Recreation seekers were out in force on the scenic stretch of trail running, skateboarding and bike riding. The gray bay water calmly lapped at the rocky shore and offered some cooling breeze. A gravel stairway, connecting to the trail, leads to the top of the green hill. Grass sprouts all over the stairway as nature asserts itself over the reclaimed landfill.

Stairway Claimed by Nature, Photo by Eva Barrows

Seal Point Park has made an amazing transformation over the years. The area went from smelly garbage dump to popular recreation area. The views of the Bay are incomparable and now secured for the public to enjoy. The park provides a sense of wonder and exploration that makes for happy dogs and even happier birds.

Tree Wind Sculpture, Photo by Eva Barrows

Guest Blogger Eva Barrows lives in California in the San Francisco Bay region. She is a freelance and fiction writer with a comedic bent. Eva blogs about local places, people, and events on her writer website She founded Imitation Fruit Literary Journal, in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since. Follow her on Twitter: @evabarrows
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Introducing 52 Weeks of Nearby Nature with Wild. Here.

I've started hearing Gulls and Red-winged Blackbirds and the days are getting longer.  While the leaves are not yet on the trees, leaf buds are getting fuller and pretty soon, I'm sure we'll be hearing Spring Peepers.

I find sometimes that this early spring season can sometimes be difficult to get out in.  It's hard to know what trails are still snow-covered, icy, wet or muddy.  This week, I found myself following a desire path made by dog walkers through the snow and I kept falling through, with the snow being so soft.  But on social media I see that some of the city bike trails are cleared and completely dry.

I guess I'll have to find some southern-facing trails along the lakes and rivers!  I might even take a stroll or two through our national cemetery as the roads there are hardly used and if they are used, it's by slow moving vehicles.  And I know that these roads will be cleared of snow and I won't have to worry too much about mud or ice.  I still remember the first time I found out that people used these types of memorial spaces for jogging and then I followed suit!  Why not?  Quiet paths, many of which are shaded with large trees and no fumes or dust like you'd getting jogging along the roadside.  Brilliant!

The next couple of months are very active ones for wildlife!  

Get some ideas from our Three Places to get up Close and Personal to Wildlife post - the bottom of the post covers what to look out for and where to look in the early spring for wildlife!

Today I'm launching a new series on social media called 
52 Weeks of Nearby Nature.  

There will be a weekly prompt on Instagram to help you think about and connect with the nature that is just outside your doorstep.  The Wild. Here. (as opposed to the Wild out "there" - outside the city.)

Come and join me on social media and let's share our urban nature findings!

Post your photos on either Twitter or Instagram with the 52 Weeks hashtags below and participate in this Wild. Here. experience with others in our urban nature community.  Show us what you find - interesting fauna, beautiful flora, outdoor experiences and amazing scenery... share a small snippet of your weekly dose of nature.  Although it's a photo project, it won't specifically be about getting that great photo or practicing to get the best shot.  The focus for the weekly prompt and photo sharing will be to help all of us to take a bit of time considering what nature means to us and how it fits into our urban lives.  It might even help create touchstones and new routines that will help connect you to nature in a fuller and more frequent way.  And with a gallery full of weekly nature adventures, the inspiration to get out in nature will be right there at our fingertips!

You can join at any time - jump on in and start any week that you want during the year!

And thanks for all your patience as this is the first offering I'm creating on social media - it's going to be fun!

Hashtags: #52WksofNearbyNature #52WksNN #nearbynature #wildhere

- Photo above by Viliam Glazduri (InstagramFlickr500 pxContributor to Wild. Here. -
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Great Ways to Meet People for X-C skiing

Here's a quick list of how to meet other x-c skiers.  While it's specifically for Ottawa, it may give you some ideas for other cities.

1. Ottawa Outdoor Club
They have events at Mooney's Bay and also meet at Sandy Hill CC to go x-c skiing in Gatineau

2. Ottawa Ramblers
They meet downtown Ottawa to do some x-c skiing in Gatineau.  The outings indicate the experience level recommended.

3. RA Ski Club
They meet at RA Centre to do x-c skiing in the Gatineaus and sometimes the Greenbelt.

4. Ottawa Meet-Up Group
I've seen some specifically for x-c skiing in the past but there are also outdoor activity groups.

5. Reddit thread
I've seen threads of other Ottawa locals looking for skiing partners.  The last one was for women aged mid-20's to mid-30s.

6. Ottawa Section of the Alpine Club of Canada
They meet at Parkdale and Emmerson to do some night x-c skiing in Gatineau.

7. Winter Orienteering
Some of this is done on x-c skis and they have some events in the city including the Winter Solstice Charity Challenge at Lincoln Fields and some orienteering on the Canal.

Do you have any other ideas?  Are there apps available now?

Wild. Here. Urban Cross-Country Skiing Series 2017

PART ONE - Four Places to Cross-Country Ski in the City
PART TWO - Cross-Country Ski Basics and Local Rental Locations
PART THREE - How to Find Other Cross-Country Skiers
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The dark feathered irruption of Centretown - what's going on?

It seems that this winter many Centretown, Vanier, New Edinburgh residents and possibly more (Overbrook? Hintonburg?) are seeing incredible amounts of crows descending into tree tops at sunset to roost for the night.  It's been an incredibly sight and has really lit up the twitterverse and instagramland with many wondering what is going on.  It may not be a true "irruption" but it definitely is unusual.
Irruption (ĭ-rŭp′-sh(ə)n): ecological term for a sudden increase in an animal population (link)
~ Crows starting to gather at Pleasant Park Autumn 2015 ~

Crows roost in flocks every winter for safety and warmth.  They will travel many kilometers away during the day visiting various locations looking for food.  You may notice that there will still be a group of them during the day but not large flocks.  These smaller groups are many times families - as  the "teenaged" crows stick close to parents for up to five years, helping to raise younger siblings.  But these daily family units will always return each winter's night to the communal roost.  

In Ottawa the large roost was in the Alta Vista area for years.  In 2011 there was an editorial about this roost and the efforts to dissuade the crows from staying each night.  The roost included patches of woodlot both north and south of the Ottawa Hospital on Smythe Road (Balena, Coronation, Pleasant Park, Valour) and while some residents were obviously irked, others appreciated their nightly crow neighbours.

~ See the small line of crows going east? Vincent Massey Park 2014 ~

Whenever I was driving north on Riverside around sundown in the cold winter months, I would see a constant stream of black birds flying northeast towards the roost - at first in singles in small numbers but the stream of birds would get busier as it got closer to twilight.  We went to see that roost a couple of years ago in Pleasant Park and it was incredible to see them all settling in for the night.  I also heard recently that they gathered in the Hurdman area by the river.

But this winter they seem to have moved further north.  One of the reasons could be all the construction on Riverside disturbing the roost in Hurdman woods.  Possibly the busier shopping area with lighting at night could have disturbed the ones in Coronation?  I've been meaning to go to their old roosts this winter to see what else could be disturbing them or perhaps it's an over crowding of them - was this a boom year for crows?

I came upon a small group of them this month at the north end of the Aviation Parkway.  They were moving east towards the Rockcliffe redevelopment (Wateridge Village) and north along the river. I've never seen them in those numbers in this area before.  This year is definitely different.  Some may think that it is the ease of sharing information socially which has made it feel like an influx.  But many times the online discussion is starting with: I've never seen anything like this before!  Large groups are being reported along Ogilvie, in Vanier and in Centretown.  What's making them move north?

Every spring these roosts will disperse and disappear as crows choose their own preferred location to raise their young.  This unusual phenomenon happens only in the colder, darker months.

Let us know if you've seen them in your area!


Cornell Lab of Ornithology
National Wildlife Federation
Crows Taking Over Ottawa
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The Fun of Urban Cross Country Skiing in Ottawa - Part Two

Are you thinking about skiing for the first time or are you just a beginner looking for a nice flat place to practice?  Ottawa offers some great opportunities right within the city.  Perhaps you are a tourist here for the Ottawa 2017 celebrations or looking for some urban fun for Canada's 150th and looking for that Canadian Winter Experience?

Let's get you started for some winterland fun.


Cross-country skiing is different from downhill and even snowshoeing as you are exerting lots of energy.  You'll find that you want to dress in layers so that you can take off a layer as you warm up during skiing.  You actually should dress so that you feel just a bit cold when you first get out.  Don't worry, with the blood pumping when you start on your skis, you won't feel that way for long.

The best type of ski pants are thin as you don't want alot of bulk when you are moving.  You'll find many people wearing tight skiing pants that are wind proof on the front (sometimes used as winter jogging pants also).  Add a long underwear underneath and these two layers should be good for days that are just below zero but not too far down into the teens.

Keep your core warm.  Have on at least three layers here.  You may find a fleece vest is a good layer to have also so as not to bulk up your arms too much.

And if you have them bring streamlined (athletic) sunglasses (not goggles) and a fanny pack if you want to carry anything (water, hot packs, keys, phone).  Backpack straps may be annoying.

If you don't have your own set of skis then you can rent them from a few places in the city.


From Fresh Air at the Sir John A. MacDonald Winter Trail 
Location (West): In Champlain Bridge Parking Lot (see map below
Fresh Air Website: Phone 613-729-3002 
Rental Hours: 10 am to 4 pm (weekends) 
Parking: Off of Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway in Champlain Bridge Parking Lot 

Cost: $15 for half day of skiing

Mountain Equipment Co-op 
Location (West): 366 Richmond Road 

Store Hours available on MEC Ottawa website 
Phone 613-729-2700 
Parking: parking at store, including EV Plug-In 
Cost: $20 for classic ski equipment rental for the day 
*Please note that Trailhead no longer does rentals

Mooney's Bay  Ski Centre 
Location (Central - South): 2960 Riverside Drive at Terry Fox Athletic Facility 
City of Ottawa website with phone number and further information 
Facility Hours: 9 am to 9 pm (weekdays) 9 am to 5 pm (weekends) - From Jan to mid-March (weather permitting) 

Parking: available on site
Call for information about rentals: 613-298-3775 
* Please note that there is a $3.25 fee/per person for using groomed trails

Centre de Plein Air du Lac Leamy 
Location (Central - Quebec Side): 100, rue Atawe (ancien chemin du Lac-Leamy), voisin du Réno-Dépôt 
Municipality Website (en Francais): Rental building is underneath Saint Eloi Cafe Bistro 
Winter Hours: 9 am to 7 pm  (last rental is at 4 pm) 
Parking: parking available off of Atawe Street 
Cost: $16 for three hours of skiing

SECOND thing to consider is LOCATION

Are you looking for groomed trails in the city?  As my last cross-country skiing post indicated there are a couple of great options that aren't too far from downtown including the Sir John A MacDonald Winter Trail (16 kilometers long) and Mooney's Bay Ski Centre which offers 5 km of groomed trails for the cost of $3.25 (or take out a pass at the Ottawa Public Library).  Lac Leamy (website link), just over on the Quebec side offers some great options from beginner to intermediate.

  • Sentier du Lac-Leamy (le tour du lac) : 2,5 km de niveau facile
  • Sentier du Ruisseau-Leamy (en direction du Relais plein air du parc de la Gatineau) : 7,2 km de niveau intermédiaire
  • Sentier des Voyageurs (en direction du parc Jacques-Cartier) : 5,9 km de niveau facile

Read all about the Best Urban Places to Cross Country Ski in Ottawa here!

Or why not consider breaking your own trail?  Again there are some great ideas listed in the last Ottawa urban country skiing post.  Really just about anywhere there is a recreational trail or large green space you can break your own trail.  And you may be surprised and find that someone else had the same idea and has broken a trail for you!

and THIRD get ready for THE DAY! 

Cross country skiing is really fun just after it snows.  It's typically milder and you can break new trails.  Also if you fall, there's new soft snow to act as a cushion.

Check trail conditions before you even get out of bed.  The Ottawa Cross-Country Ski Website provides reports on x-c skiing conditions both in town and outside the city.   So if you are going to Mooney's Bay, somewhere in the Greenbelt or on the SJAM trail - Ottawa's passionate skiing community can help you out!

Check the wind speed on local weather channels.  This can have a big impact on your outing especially if you are skiing along the river.

Some extras you may want to pack: bring a snack and water if you are going for an extended period, include some hot packs if conditions are questionable and you are concerned about getting cold and pack a warm drink in a thermos if you are driving to the location.  You can leave this in the car and enjoy at the end of the outing.

Don't forget to get out of wet clothes quickly afterwards or try and have a change of shirts if you are stopping in for a drink - snack afterwards.

And if you are not ready to go on your own - check out Part Three of the Wild. Here. Urban Cross Country Skiing Series - how to find other cross-country skiers.

Wild. Here. Urban Cross-Country Skiing Series 2017

PART ONE - Four Places to Cross-Country Ski in the City
PART TWO - Cross-Country Ski Basics and Local Rental Locations
PART THREE - How to Find Other Cross-Country Skiers

Read more »