The pictures and links on this page take the visitor round a recommended route in the Morgan Arboretum that will maximize your chances of seeing some good birds. Needless to say, reference to the arboretum trail map will show you that there are many other options and trails, but we believe that this one will make a very good introduction and take you to some of the "birdier" places within the site. This trail should take you between an hour and three hours depending on the birds you stop for.
First, the layout of the trail is marked in red on the satellite image below - for the virtual trail we walked it in a clockwise direction, starting and finishing at the Conservation Centre car park. the yellow trail on the image is an alternative, and somewhat longer, route which takes in denser forested areas.
Park your car at the Conservation Centre and don't forget your binoculars and camera. Make sure to check out the trees around the car park, in particular the birches near the cars and a small clump of conifers just beyond the building, for birds. To the south is a large open area between this car park and the arboretum office building that may hold grassland species - and always look up for Hawks and Ravens.
... then face north and head down the 'Sliding Hill' (named after a common children's activity in winter) into the field and trees below the steep slope. The trees down there should be checked for songbirds, warblers etc and, in winter, even the odd owl holed up in a dense conifer for the day.
Looking north you will find a reasonably well defined trail
In a few hundred meters you will come to a quarry on the left of the trail. in the spring this holds a vernal pool worth checking for passing waterfowl. The trees around are worth pausing to check at any time of the year.
Shortly after that, you come out at Blossom Corner. This area has been planted with a number of specimen trees that bear heavy crops of fruit in the fall and, in spring, gorgeous blossom. Because of this, and a seed feeder maintained by Bird Protection Quebec, it is a prime site to sit (there are benches) and wait for birds to get active. Around the area are older and taller stands of assorted forest trees, including many maples.
On the western side of Blossom Corner are some dense stands of cedar etc behind which skulking species such as Thrushes are often to be observed.
There is a good road ahead, take the western fork past these trees ...
... and come out beside the Chalet Pruche.
Take the path to the west of the chalet down the slope towards the Sugar Shack
In front of the Sugar Shack is a pile of old wood that is a haven for insects and therefore an attraction for insectivorous birds. For example, House and Winter Wrens can often be found hopping in and out of the crannies in the log pile, especially in spring and towards the end of the summer. Pause for a while and wait.
Now keep walking - with the Sugar Shack on your left, you will see a clearly defined 'ride' ahead of you with a signboard/map ... don't be tempted, you don't want that but go to the left behind the shack and into the forest.
In spring and early summer, the forest around here is alive with the song of birds and you stand a good chance of racking up your warbler count. In about 200 feet the trail turns north again through a wooded ride with views of a wide open field (the Bobolink Field) beyond. Check the larches to the right for owls - you never know, you might be lucky. They certainly live in there and are reported most seasons.
As you come to the field you will find yourself once again on the roadway, turn left and follow it around the curve to the west of the Bobolink Field.
On the left of the trail after the junction with Centre Road from the west there is an open clearing leading to the Black Walnut collection and near the entry to which is the star tree of the arboretum (the author came for England originally) which is a cracked and time-worn Cricket-bat Willow Tree. Interesting as a tree it also has numerous bird attracting holes and crevices.
You could branch off here and follow a long and winding forest trail past the walnuts ... back in there you might be lucky enough to find big birds nesting such as this red-tailed Hawk:
... but for today continue along the main road north for a short way to the entrance, on your right, to Pullin's Pasture. No longer a pasture, it is now filled with an eclectic mixture of mature and shrubby trees that are simply paradise for small birds. If there is one place in the arboretum that you stand a good chance of "good" birds such as Warblers and Sparrows, this is it. Both in migration and in the nesting season, there is always something of interest in here.
Once inside the pasture, follow the well defined trail clockwise. Go slowly and stealthily. In the autumn listen out and then look for flocks of heavy footed White-crowned Sparrows fossicking in the leaf litter.
As you exit from the Pullin's Pasture area you will find yourself on a slightly wider trail running north/south. Turn right (south) and follow it through the tunnel it makes amongst mature trees. To your right you will see the Bobolink Field and to the left an open hay field that is technically not within the arboretum but is nevertheless worth a stop and a check - the entrance is well marked.
This field in winter has been the place of sighting vast flocks of cedar and Boreal waxwings and at any time through summer may be where you can spot raptors. The trees and shrubs around the margins are always worth checking for species such as Common Yellowthroat and Indigo Bunting. Bobolinks are not infrequently nesting to the northern end. A vernal pool near the entrance attracts ducks in spring.
Now continue south. as you join centre road turn to your right for a short pause and check out the Bobolink Field - not just for Bobolinks but for other grassland species - in summer look for dragonflies, butterflies and so on ... and don't forget the flowers.
Continuing south ... a dense cedar hedge to the right and the trees behind are fine bird trees and flycatchers can be seen here darting out after food on mosquito-filled days.
There is another open field to the left that is worth checking ... the tall old dead tree on the far side (see below) is a favorite high-summer vantage point for a hunting Merlin after dragonflies.
After this you will find yourself back at Blossom Corner. This time stay on the main road winding up a slight gradient to the left and check the maple stands for Woodpeckers and Sapsuckers.
Finally, you will find yourself back at the car park. take a rest on the handily provided benches and tally up your list for the day.
WE HOPE YOU HAD A GOOD DAY'S BIRDING IN THE FOREST - COME BACK AGAIN.