Bird Feed

5.Dec.2010 by Susan Dunklee

This weekend we traveled to Forêt Montmorency (north of Quebec City) to find some snow.  They have plenty of snow here, with more falling as I write, and when the groomer decides to get out on the trails, the skiing is great.

The ski lodge and trail system is owned by Université Laval and doubles as an ecology research station.  There are posters all over the walls depicting everything from forest fire regeneration to tree identification using winter buds to common wildlife.  Unfortunately there are all in French so I can only understand the basics of what they say.  Lauren promises to translate for me if I’m dying to read any in particular.

The forest here has a much different feel than Craftsbury.  We are at the very southern edge of the Boreal Forest, a continuous belt of forest crossing the width of the continent and covering 60% of Canada.  Most of the trees are evergreens, spruce and fir especially, and they grow so thick that it is hard to imagine bushwhacking.   There is a good reason many of the early explorers traveled by water.  I’m not sure if all of the boreal forest looks so dense.   Left to its natural course, it would burn and regenerate through forest fire, but I suspect the section we are in has been logged and grown back thicker.

We’ve been enjoying the wildlife.  The first day here, we found almost a kilometer of classic tracks destroyed giant moose tracks.  Yesterday I almost skied over a grouse chilling in the middle of the trail.  Closer to the lodge, there is a resident fox that steals leftovers from the cafeteria and a variety of birds looking for handouts at the birdfeeder.  Dylan, Pat and Hannah decided to try feeding the birds and had gray jays, chickadees, nuthatches, and grosbeaks all land on their hands.

Dylan and a gray jay

Dylan and a gray jay

Before we left for Quebec, we celebrated Hannah’s birthday.  My favorite part of the day was returning home to find Ethan’s present for her sitting in the garage with a bloodied birthday card in its mouth.   Apparently he walked into the house and announced that he went for a walk in the woods (with his shotgun) and found her a birthday present.  “It has feathers,” is about all he said.

Han's birthday present

Han's birthday dinner