Species of the Week: The North American Beaver

Photo by Adam Kalab

For our #SpeciesOfTheWeek this time around, we turn to Canada’s national symbol, the North American Beaver (Castor canadensis). As the largest rodent in Canada, these semi-aquatic herbivores are easily identified. A beaver’s most notable feature is its large, flat, paddle-like tail. It helps to propel them while swimming, but can also be used as an alarm call, making a loud clap when slapped against the surface of the water. Additionally, they have webbed hind feet to help them swim, and unwebbed front paws that are extremely dexterous. As you likely know, beavers are known for chewing down trees and building dams. This is in part because their teeth grow continuously throughout their entire lives, so they must chew on trees to keep their teeth from getting too long. Beavers have also recently been recognized as keystone species because their dams actively change ecosystems and create habitats for many other species. Here at Murphys Point, beavers can commonly be seen in the pond on the Lally loop hiking trail, as well as other bodies of water. Have you ever noticed one of their dams here at the park?

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Fundraiser Barbeque

Join us at the Main Beach on Friday & Saturday for our fundraiser barbeque. There will be discovery stations with activities and free cake at 1pm on Canada Day!

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Species of the Week: The Common Loon

Photo by Adam Kalab

#SpeciesOfTheWeek is back with an iconic Ontario species. Known for its majestic plumage and unique, mournful call, the Common Loon (Gavia immer) is seen on lakes throughout Ontario. Adult loons are long-bodied, large-billed, and have a distinctive checkerboard striped collar. With a low profile in the water, loons are indicators of good water quality because they require clear water to hunt their prey. Loons are very adept at diving and swimming underwater, mainly hunting fish and small crustaceans. Loons are extremely maneuverable under the water, using their large powerful webbed feet to propel them along. However, they struggle to walk on land because their legs are further back on their bodies than other birds. They prefer lakes with coves and inlets which can shelter their nests from predators. The lake needs to be large enough for takeoff, as loons require at least 25 meters of flapping their wings before they get airborne. Loons prefer coastal waters for overwintering, though some are known to overwinter on Lake Michigan. Unsurprisingly, loons are a common sight on Loon Lake, which is home to a breeding pair. Have you heard their calls in the campground?

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