Mississippi Vallery Field Naturalists
Submitted: 30 May 2004
Fascinating Gray Jay Presentation At MVFN Gala
Everything you ever want to know and then some, about the gray jay (A.K.A. Whiskey jack) of Algonquin Park fame, was the feature of a presentation by renowned Algonquin Park researcher Dan Strickland, at the MVFN fundraising Gala on Saturday evening, May 29.Held at the Carleton Place Canoe Club, the large crowd in attendance was fascinated with the detail of the topic presented . In addition to a wide variety of activities Dan Strickland was responsible for in the development of the modern Algonquin Park, he still found time to conduct thirty-five years of studies on this impossibly impish feathered character of the deep boreal forests.
As part of Dan Strickland’s studies, he spent time in China, Siberia and Scandinavia researching similar jays of the same family. A hallmark achievement was finding the first ever nesting of the Szechwan jay in a remote spruce forest in China. Three main themes of all of Dan’s jay species studied centred around seeking answers to three puzzling points about the bird.
One point was why the gray jay always started nesting in early February in the midst of winter, another was the actions of one dominant male juvenile bird which always chased his siblings away from their parents and the third aspect was the relationship between the gray jay and spruce forests. Dan concluded his presentation by showing compelling evidence that the spruce forests of the world are shrinking, due to logging and possible global warming. And, with the shrinking of the spruce habitat for the gray jay, the bird’s populations are also shrinking.
The speaker was introduced by host Jim Bendell, who outlined to the audience some of Dan Strickland’s many outstanding achievements over the years spent in Algonquin Park, including the development of the logging museum and the new visitor centre. MVFN member Rod Bhar thanked the speaker and presented him with an honourarium and a gift basket of local products.
The other important part of the Gala evening was the holding of a silent auction to raise funds for MVFN’s Environmental Education Projects Programme (EEPP). Newly elected MVFN President Michael MacPherson welcomed the members and guests to the event and MC Cliff Bennett conducted the auction and other proceedings. Mississippi Mills resident Joyce Clinton was the winner of the evening’s 50/50 draw and five door prizes were awarded. The auction yielded $3000 for the club’s programmes. MVFN wishes to thank the over ninety commercial and private donors for their contributions of items for the auctin and door prizes.
Other than the canoeing programme, this event concludes MVFN activities for the summer. Watch for announcements on the new fall and winter programmes and check out the MVFN website at www.mvfn.ca for more information.