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Why must visitors stay on the paths? 

So many humans are drawn to this special place that we’re in danger of trampling it.  Hundreds of human footfalls compact the vulnerable soil and leaf litter, crushing precious mycelia, the vital web of life in a forest floor.  Photographers spreading out off the trails to take pictures of a baby owl high in a white pine in 2020 crushed the small remnant patch of starflowers, a rare spring ephemeral this far south in Ontario.  Alerted via social media, dozens of viewers a day regularly hound roosting saw-whet owls trying to sleep in the meadow—so much so that we’ve considered closing the meadow during owl migration. Children swinging on a thick, ancient bittersweet vine a few decades ago broke it, and those bright orange berries haven’t been seen in the reserve ever since.

Please stick to the paths and urge others to do so as well.


Why is birdsong playback forbidden in the Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve?

Arriving hungry and often exhausted, migrating birds desperately need sanctuaries like Thickson’s Woods to rest up and feed in before continuing on their way, given the massive destruction of natural habitat all along their route.  Thickson’s Woods has been saved essentially for the benefit of wildlife, and it’s a privilege for us humans to be able to watch them as they feed.  Visitors must respect their needs instead of hassling them with taped songs.


Why can’t visitors collect flowers, mushrooms, ferns or other plants from the nature reserve?

If everyone did, there would be little left.  Recently a woman leaving the meadow with an armful of red-osier dogwood branches insisted someone had told her they were free for the taking, even though signs posted at the entrance state no foraging is allowed.  Experts surveying rare fungi species in the woods report signs of mushrooms being harvested illegally. The wealth of biodiversity in the Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve is already threatened by pollution and invasive non-native species. Touch nothing!  Stay on the paths!


Why aren't dogs allowed in the nature reserve?

Hermit thrushes, wood thrushes and ovenbirds are just a few of the many birds that feed on the forest floor, scratching among the leaves and pine needles. Male woodcock display in clearings in the meadow, impressing females that nest nearby. Mallards and gadwall conceal their clutch of precious eggs in the grasses there, where baby cottontails hide. Both milk snakes and garter snakes sun themselves on the paths and ridges. They all need peace and protection.