waterfront site

Site fidelity: a phenomenon found in animals and in ourselves

Today’s post comes from Jazmin Gall, a Discovery Student at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.

Have you been lucky enough to find your favorite park in Ontario?

What about your favourite campsite?

That one specific site that you return to every summer, your own personal home away from home.

If so, you are one of the many frequenters of our parks that practice site fidelity.

We don’t blame you… it’s natural!

Site fidelity is a phenomenon that is most often observed in animals, like salmon and many bird species.

These animals return to the exact same area year after year.

eagle in nest
Bald Eagles return to the same nest every year

As park staff, we are starting to see this same trend in campers more and more.

What attracts us to our favourite sites is very similar to what attracts animals to their favourite nesting, breeding, and resting grounds.

staff holding ice cream

Things like proximity to resources is very important to all of us. For animals, it may be proximity to food sources and shelter. For us, it may be proximity to comfort stations, water taps, and the park store for an afternoon ice cream.

It’s not life or death

With more visitors than ever coming to explore Ontario Parks, you may have noticed that it has started to become harder to book those favourite campsites.

campsite near beach
Lake Superior Provincial Park

This can be a trying experience when someone books your site before you can!

Thankfully, as humans, we don’t depend on these sites in the same ways that our animal friends do. For us, it’s our preference; for them, it’s their survival.

Variety is the spice of life

This summer, if you are experiencing the tinges of site fidelity and the frustrations that busier parks can bring with it, try out a new park!

two people sitting on chairs looking out at water
Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park

Ontario Parks has a total of 340 provincial parks, 113 being operating parks and 222 being non-operating parks (to learn the difference between the two and about other parks terms, click here).

With all of these options spreading across the province, there’s certainly something and somewhere for everyone to enjoy!

Understandably, there can be hesitancy in branching out and trying a new park. No one likes change.

tent on waterfront site
Rushing River Provincial Park

It’s likely that salmon and birds don’t appreciate it either, when their natal streams and favourite nesting sites are occupied by others. Or worse, when those sites are gone and they are forced to find new spaces to inhabit.

But for us, this can be an opportunity to start new traditions!

Travelling to a new park once a year can be fun and exciting, and a great way to see all that Ontario has to offer.

family on campsite

Broaden your horizons this summer and adopt a more nomadic approach to camping.

You never know where or what you’ll discover!

Find your new favourite spot with our park locator!