The Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary

Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Goose

After leaving Point Pelee National Park we drove over to the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary which is famed for the large numbers of Canada Geese that stop over here in migration. My mother has wanted to see the sanctuary for a while now, so we made the short drive to Kingsville to check it out. There is a large field on the south side of the road which contained a good-sized pond, but we only saw a single pair of ducks (likely mallards) on the water. Although this field used to attract thousands of geese during migration, numbers have decreased in recent years. As a result, the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Foundation is in the process of creating a new 10-acre wetland/pond.

After scanning the field we went into the sanctuary on the north side of the road. There are several pens containing Wild Turkeys, peafowl, and Ring-necked Pheasants, all housed within a large fenced-in area where several injured Canada Geese with broken bones protruding from their wings wander freely. After a moment of hesitation, I scooped up a cup of barley at the gate just in case I needed to bribe and/or distract any aggressive geese and let myself in.

A large pond dominates the sanctuary, and we found several geese and two ducks on the water. At first I took both ducks to be mallards; on closer inspection I realized that the female was a Northern Pintail.

Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary

Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary

A male Ring-necked Pheasant and an unusual goose were also present within the yard. However, Tom Hince’s book “A Birder’s Guide to Point Pelee” warns that most of the waterfowl here are captive or are at least semi-domesticated, so I didn’t count any of these species for our trip. I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of the Ring-necked Pheasant after not being able to see the one at Hillman.

Ring-necked Pheasant

Ring-necked Pheasant

The pheasant approached the cage containing a male and female Ring-necked Pheasant and – I swear! – began to taunt the captive male.

Inside and Outside

Inside and Outside

I immediately noticed that one of the geese was smaller than the Canadas, with a black bib and a larger white patch on the face. This was a species I wasn’t familiar with, but after reviewing the Jack Miner website I learned it was a Barnacle Goose that they had added to the front pond area “for visitors to see and feed”. Barnacle Geese live in the European Arctic but sometimes end up in eastern North America as vagrants; however, they are often kept in captivity, so determining the origins of such a goose can be difficult.

Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Goose

I couldn’t fathom why they have peacocks, but this male was a real beauty. The noise they made was less than enchanting.

Peacock

Male Peacock

The only non-captive bird species we saw that was of any interest was a pair of Cedar Waxwings. They were notable because they were the first ones of our trip.

After leaving Jack Miner’s we stopped by the Kopegaron Woods Conservation Area. This 19-hectare stand of forest is an oasis surrounded by farmland, making it an attractive spot for migrants. Unfortunately it was just as quiet as Pelee, with very few birds and no migrants or warblers. Kopegaron is renowned for its spring wildflowers, and I spent some time photographing them instead.

Trillium

Trillium

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Dwarf ginseng

Dwarf ginseng

I was disappointed that there were so few birds – a couple of Blue Jays, another Red-bellied Woodpecker heard but not seen, and a few grackles seemed to be the only birds in the woodlot.

Kopegaron Woods

Kopegaron Woods

My most exciting find was a Western Chorus Frog sitting in one of the vernal ponds; I heard him calling right beside the boardwalk and managed to locate him sitting next to a stick. These tiny frogs are notoriously difficult to spot, but once I found him he began calling, puffing out his throat.

Western Chorus Frog

Western Chorus Frog

I thought the woods were a very beautiful, peaceful place, and I would love to go back. Next time I go to Point Pelee I will have to make it a point to visit them!

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4 thoughts on “The Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary

  1. That’s a great shot of the Barnacle Goose, even if you can’t count it on your Life List. It’s always disappointing to find a new species in captivity, and knowing that you’ll still have to find another (wild) one before you can count it. This has happened to me with Barn Owl, Indian Peafowl, Muscovy Duck, and Northern Bobwhite.

    I was lucky enough to get out to Montreal last fall when an apparently vagrant barnacle goose was spotted in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. It’s a good candidate for a wild bird, as there was a rash of barnacle goose sightings on the eastern seaboard around the same time, including one in Massachusetts and New York. I never got as good a look at that one as you have here, but until I hear otherwise I’ve included it on my Life List.

    • Thanks Pat! Yes, the only Barn Owl I’ve seen was a captive bird at a raptor rehabilitation center. To be honest, I don’t think much of the birds I see in captivity; they are just the same as pets or zoo animals to me, and that way I don’t feel disappointed about not being able to count them.

      I didn’t hear about the Montreal goose last fall. Next time (if there is a next time when you come back to Canada!) you go chasing something good, let me know! I would love to join you.

      By the way, I’m disappointed there is no OFNC trip to Chaffey’s Locks this year. I still would like to do that too, someday!

      • The OFNC did ask me if I would be interested in leading a walk this spring. I would have liked to do the Chaffey’s Lock run, especially since I’ve had such bad luck with rain whenever I try to host an outing. You should still check it out this year – it’s not hard to get to and most of the areas I’d take you to you could get to on your own without much trouble. I can give you more detailed directions if you think you’d make a trip this year. There really is no better place to see cerulean warblers that I know of in Ontario, and yellow-throated vireo, blue-gray gnatcatcher, and red-shouldered hawk, are almost sure things. Plus, you’re not too far from Newburgh where you can find loggerhead shrike and upland sandpiper fairly easily.

        Like you said, next time (whenever that may be) you’re always welcome to come along on a bird chase. I like having the company on some of those long drives. FYI that Montreal trip was mainly a family visit, but with a barnacle goose so close (my in-laws live on Ile-des-Soeurs), it would be stupid not to go for it. My in-laws enjoy going birding with me, even though they don’t get to it as much on their own. They both got to see the bird, so it was a great experience for them, too. Now if I could just find one of several eastern screech-owls that nest on Ile-des-Soeurs for them…

  2. Pingback: Fantastic Florida! | The Pathless Wood

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