Spring Break Montreal Phenology

As someone entering the field of forestry, the most apparent tree species throughout my time in Quebec was the Maple. Vermont also is composed mainly of Maples, but mostly in the form of indigenous Red and Sugar species. In my Phenology spot of Quebec, it was compromised almost entirely of Silver and Norway Maple species, both of which are invasives sequestering local sugar maple species. This is a sad state of today, as the Red Maple is the regions tree icon, and is found on the Canadian flag due to the extensive natural history Canadians have with Maple Sugaring.

Although almost all birds fly south for the winter from Canadian regions, one bird I did encounter in my phenology spot of Montreal was the Gray Jay, or Perisoreus Canadensis. I was able to identify it because of it’s distinct call, but I wasn’t able to find sight of it. After some research on the topic of this species of bird, I found that they are indeed quite distinct in how they approach wintering in the dark cold of such a northern region. To do this, they store extra food supplies from the summer months in the ground, and with a developed sense of memory, they are able to find the piles again come winter, like a species of squirrel would do. This is an interestingly developed ability for a bird to have, as they posses one of the smallest sized brains of any mammal proportionally.

Although I was able to hear the call of one Gray Jay, unfortunately the forest floor was not as occupied with indigenous animals. This demonstrates the low suitability of the region of Quebec for most organisms during winter months. Not only this, but many mammal species around this area survive the cold weather by hibernating under the warm cover of their den. Even if not technically hibernating, local species like the Arctic Fox, or Vulpes lagopus, will limit movements to within a few miles of their den, and sleep through most of the long winter. This makes it especially hard to spot any nearby wildlife, despite enhanced tracking capabilities because of snow cover.

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