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Check the Birds Committee's location guide, complete with species to watch for and directions for getting to the best birding spots in the Ottawa region.

Code of conduct
Due to increasing and widespread concerns regarding disturbance of wildlife and property, the OFNC's Birds Committee no longer reports owl sightings on the Internet. We will continue to encourage the reporting of owls to sightings@ofnc.ca for the purpose of maintaining local records. Please refer to the OFNC Code of Conduct.

Important notices

ACCESS TO THE SHIRLEY’S BAY CAUSEWAY

Our Birds Committee has obtained permission for OFNC members to use the causeway, which was closed recently because of safety concerns. However, you MUST call the Range Control Office (613-991-5740) before you arrive. You must give your name and state that you are an OFNC member. DND has been provided with a list of OFNC members who have requested access and they will check your name against it. You must also call again when you have left the area. OFNC members access the property entirely at their own risk.

Please note: An updated list will be sent to DND only on a periodic basis, for example, when there is a large enough number of new members or current members requesting access for the first time to warrant an update.

RICHMOND CONSERVATION AREA: The conservation area and paths in the conservation area in the Village of Richmond are part of an active construction zone and are closed to the public until the area is considered safe for the public to access. The closed area is bounded by Eagleson Road to the east, McBean to the west, the Jock River to the north, and portions of Ottawa Street to the south. This includes the Richmond Conservation Area.

Please note: The copyright for all photos on this web site belongs to the photographer. The OFNC reserves the right to use these photos in other parts of the web site. To contribute photos or report bird sightings, please email sightings@ofnc.ca

Please also note: The OFNC's Birds Committee no longer reports owl sightings on the Internet. We will continue to encourage the reporting of owls to sightings@ofnc.ca for the purpose of maintaining local records.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 12 October 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Ruby-crowned Kinglet, photographed by Eric Leger in his backyard near Beechwood Cemetery


The find of the week was a very late WHIMBREL flying by Andrew Haydon Park on the 8th. The next best was the first HUDSONIAN GODWIT of the year, at the Carp River Reclamation area on the 10th for a few hours, and a single sighting on the 11th.

Generally pleasant and even unseasonably warm weather prevailed early in the week, but it has turned much cooler with winds from the north. There has been a big change in the bird population, more WATERFOWL and a general decline and a much different mix of the PASSERINES. The warmer weather likely was a factor in the number of lingering PASSERINES.

WATERBIRD numbers continue to build up steadily in major spots like Shirley’s Bay and Plaisance, but nothing terribly out of the ordinary has been seen. Interesting was the first of the season, 200 BRANT at Andrew Haydon park on the 7th.

A tiny bit of SHOREBIRD habitat was at Shirley’s Bay, but the best spot was the Carp River Reclamation area, with 8 species on the 10th including SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and the rarity noted above.

Some lingering TERNS were of interest. 2 CASPIAN TERNS were at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 5th, and there was one at Andrew Haydon a few days later. COMMON TERNS have been lingering off Britannia Point until the 10th.

The first of the fall HAWK watch took place on Greenland Road on the 11th, and they were rewarded with a GOLDEN EAGLE. Early ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was also there, as well as 2 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS. An early ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was also in the Frank Kenny area on the 10th.

There were a number of late sightings:

  • COMMON GALLINULE at the Richmond Conservation area on the 12th.
  • EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE at Petrie island on the 5th.
  • A WOOD THRUSH was at the Rockcliffe Airport on the 7th. Another was at Shirley’s bay on the 8th.
  • A MARSH WREN was at the Bruce Pit on the 9th.
  • A BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER was at Britannia on the 7th.
  • A ROSE BREASTED GROSBEAK was in Richmond on the 10th.
  • A BROWN TRHASHER was in the Westboro area on the 10th.

SPARROW numbers were high early in the week, but numbers seem to have dropped considerably. The first AMERICAN TREE SPARROW of the season was on the Osgoode Link Trail on the 6th with 6 other species of SPARROW. Probably the last NELSON’S SPARROW of the year was at Constance Bay on the 5th. 2 LAPLAND LONGSPUR, the first of the season, were at the Carp River Reclamation area on the 6th.


Red-breasted Merganser, photographed by Keith Wickens at Plaisance.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 5 October 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

The find of the week was a juvenile SABINE’S GULL, found on a birding outing at Shirley’s Bay on the morning of the 29th. Unfortunately, it proved to be a flash in the pan, and 20 minutes later it was gone for good. The PARASITIC JAEGER was last seen on the 3rd. The first 2 EURASIAN WIGEONS of the year were found at Baie Noire on the 3rd, in the same spot they have occurred for years, and will likely be around for a while. The only drawback is that a 5 Km round-trip walk is required to see them.

Somewhat cooler weather prevailed this week, but it is still well above seasonal. It was dry except for the 4th, and river levels have dropped a bit. Generally the weather conditions were excellent for lingering birds and movement of PASSERINES but WATERBIRDS are just starting to build up.

The 29-30th saw a bit of WATERBIRD activity. There was some noticeable movement of flocks of SCOTERS. SURF and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were in the west, and the first BLACK SCOTERS of the year were seen from the boat launch at the west end of Massey Lane in the east, along with some SURF SCOTERS, both on the 30th. On the 4th, there were considerable numbers of WATERFOWL at Shirley’s Bay, mostly hundreds of SCAUP, RING-NECKED DUCKS and GREEN-WINGED TEAL. The peak there is undoubtedly some weeks away. Baie Noire had about 300 AMERICAN WIGEON, but rather small numbers of other species. SNOW GEESE are being seen in a number of spots, but in very small numbers.

GULL numbers are building up a bit, with up to 15 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS at the Moodie Drive ponds. A CASPIAN TERN there on the 5th was rather late.

Mostly just the regular SHOREBIRDS have been seen, and there are no places with very many. On the 5th, 17 birds of 7 species were at the Carp River Reclamation area, including the first DUNLIN of the season. One exception was 27 GOLDEN PLOVERS at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 5th. On the 4th, slightly lower water levels meant, finally, a few SHOREBIRDS were at Shirley’s Bay, but so far they are just some common ones.

13 species of warbler have been seen since October 1st, but generally fewer than 5 species per trip are now being seen now. One notable rather late sighting was a MOURNING WARBLER at the Fletcher wildlife garden on the 4th.

Some other interesting late sightings include:

  • EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE at Petrie Island as late as the 5th
  • INDIGO BUNTINGS in Carp and at the Giroux Road Ponds on the 1st
  • BOBOLINK at Shirley’s bay on the 29th

This week was quite notable for a huge movement of SPARROWS. The most sought after were NELSON’S SPARROWS, which were seen at the mouth of Constance Creek as late as the 1st. In the woods and fields, dozens to more than a hundred SPARROWS, mostly WHITE-THROATED, WHITE-CROWNED and SONG SPARROWS, have been seen on longer trips.

Finally, a single RED CROSSBILL was seen on the Eardley Masham Road on the 4th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 28 September 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Prothonotary Warbler photographed by Nina Stavlund in Britannia


It was the best birding week in Ottawa for some time. The highlight was a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, found in Britannia the morning of 24th, then refound that evening and again the next day, leaving dozens of birders well chuffed. Reminiscent of the situation in 2015, the adult PARASITIC JAEGER has been long-staying, and was still present as of the 28th, spending its time between Andrew Haydon Park and Britannia pier. A LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was quite cooperative in a storm outlet on Strandherd Road on the 23-24th.

Extremely warm summer-like weather continued until the 27th, with the hottest day of the year on the 25th. While it may have been a factor in the appearance of the rarity noted above, generally it has only kept the next wave of birds from arriving from the north, and has maintained the supply of biting insects well beyond the norm. The winds finally shifted on the 28th, but there are too few sightings yet to determine how much change there has been.


Long-billed Dowitcher photographed by Michelle Martin on Strandherd Road


16 species of DUCKS were seen this week, but no significant concentrations have been noted yet.

A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 23rd, and there have been a few sightings of CACKLING GEESE among the CANADA GEESE, now in numbers up to several thousand.

SHOREBIRDS continue to be in poor supply. LESSER YELLOWLEGS is by far the most common one around now. Desperate for a place to land, they are showing up in obscure small habitats like on Strandherd Road. Other places like the Carp River and Embrun still have a few birds but only common stuff. The Ottawa River shore is not yet exposed enough to be useful. AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER has had a few sightings, 2 being at the Moodie Drive Ponds and the Giroux Road ponds.

3 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were on Steele Line on the 24th, and a movement of RAPTORS was noted on the 28th at Petrie Island, with 40 TURKEY VULTURES and 4 BALD EAGLES. A late RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was on the Trans Canada Trail near Abbot St. on the 22nd.

1 BARN SWALLOW was at Andrew Haydon Park on the 23rd, and 3 TREE SWALLOWS were at Dick Bell park on the 24th : these may well be the last of the season. EASTERN PHOEBES are still around in numbers, and EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES have had a few scattered reports, but it seems that the other FLYCATCHERS are gone.

22 species of WARBLER were sighted this week, and 3 of the summer regulars have probably left. Still, 5-10 WARBLERS per trip are being seen, with ORANGE-CROWNED being seen regularly but still infrequently. Sightings of the formerly common YELLOW WARBLER and OVENBIRD are now rare in their nesting grounds.

Another sure sign of fall is the annual flocking, as some species leave their nesting grounds and start to form huge flocks. 1500 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were in Russell on the 25th, along with 2000 EUROPEAN STARLINGS.

Quite a number of PASSERINES have their populations on the seasonal rise, some of the most noticeable being both species of KINGLETS, WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and AMERICAN PIPIT. An INDIGO BUNTING in Carp on the 27th is getting late, and there are still a few late sightings of BOBOLINK, which seem to be lingering a bit later this year.

Of the 12 species of SPARROW seen this week, a few were scarce sightings:

  • A FOX SPARROW in Kanata on the 27th (early)
  • 3 EASTERN TOWHEE on the Ottawa Carleton trailway on the 24th (late)
  • CLAY-COLOURED SPARROW at Hornet’s Nest trail (late).
  • NELSON’S SPARROW: small numbers are being see regularly at the mouth of Constance Creek.

Finally, 6 EVENING GROSBEAKS were in Gatineau on rue Caron on the 22nd, and there have been a couple of sightings of PINE SISKIN.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 September 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

This news flash is just in: a PARASITIC JAEGER at Andrew Haydon Park/ Ottawa Beach on the 21st. The other highlight of the week was 2 BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS, the first being in Britannia on the 16th and the second in the Richmond area on the 19th. Neither was found again, and it is too early to know if this is a coincidence or a sign of something. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, seen in Maple Hill Park on the 18th, was also a good find.

The week was entirely sunny and warm, and while birders enjoyed the weather, it was not particularly good for migration. Birds just trickled in with no significant influx. Likewise, with no significant influx of WATERFOWL, and a noticeable decline of PASSERINES like WARBLERS, there was a bit less variety this week.

Among the WATERBIRDS, 240 SNOW GEESE were reported in Gatineau on the 18th, early for such a large flock. There were a fewer somewhat earlier birds, such as HORNED GREBE at Constance Bay on the 17th, and 10 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS there on the 20th. A CACKLING GOOSE at the Eagleson Storm water ponds on the 17th and a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE in LUSKVILLE on the 20th were the first of the season for these species.

A STILT SANDPIPER was an unexpected addition to an otherwise bland collection of SHOREBIRDS at a storm outlet on Strandherd on the 19-20th. 3 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS were briefly at Peterson’s turf farm on Snake Island road on the 16th. As last week, generally the supply for SHOREBIRDS remains poor, with a few at Embrun and the Carp River and almost none at Almonte.

A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK at Parc du Lac Beauchamp on the 20th was getting a bit late.

A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was in Chelsea on the 17th. 200 AMERICAN PIPITS were on some bare fields on Frank Kenny on the 17th, a sure sign of the advancing season. Others were scattered here and there.

Both SWAINSON’S and GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH have been audible night migrants, but there has been no major flyover yet.

5 species of VIREOS and 22 species of WARBLERS were seen this week; a few hours in the better areas are still producing over 10 species of WARBLERS.

Some summer bird sightings are getting a bit late. An EASTERN TOWHEE was on Jack Pine trail on the 17th, and another 2 were reported in Kanata on the 15th. An INDIGO BUNTING was at the Cope Drive Ponds on the 20th, and CLAY-COLOURED SPARROW was with 7 other species of SPARROW in the fields off Robert Grant.

Finally, the first NELSON’S SPARROW was at the mouth of Constance Creek on the 17th, but it was not relocated. It is hoped that this is not the last!


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 14 September 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

The highlight of the week was a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, seen in Britannia on the 12th. Also, while the bird itself is not rare, the first sighting reported from an airplane was of a BALD EAGLE in Luskville (at 2000 feet) on the 2nd.

It was mostly a sunny week with above average temperatures, more summer-like than most of the summer, although ironically it was not particularly good for migration. Mostly there was a decent variety with birds continuing to trickle through.

Among the WATERBIRDS, CANADA GEESE are becoming more conspicuous, with small skeins of 10-100 being seemingly everywhere. Among the hundreds of CANADAS, single SNOW GOOSE was on Greenbank north of Hunt Club. Other species are becoming a little more common. The first recent report from Plaisance (Baie Noire) on the 10th was of 100 AMERICAN WIGEON, 75 RING-NECKED DUCKS and smaller numbers of others. This area will be excellent in a few weeks. A RED-NECKED GREBE was at Britannia on the 8th.

8 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER in a field on Frank Kenny north of Giroux on the 12th and 7 were on Snake Island Road on the 9th, but none stuck around. Embrun and the Carp River Reclamation area continue to have a few shorebirds, but nothing worth chasing. Almonte had virtually none, but BAIRD’S SANDPIPER and 2 SANDERLING were at Constance Bay on the 8th.

An early ICELAND GULL was at the Trail Road landfill on the 8th. SANDHILL CRANES are starting to congregate on Smith near Milton Road.

A GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH was on Trail 10 near Shirley’s bay on the 13th.

The first of the season, 2 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS were seen on an OFO field trip on the 10th. 10+ WARBLERS can be seen on better trips in places like Britannia.

5 CLAY-COLOURED SPARROWS were at the "Sparrow fields" of Robert Grant in Goulbourn on the 12th. Finally, the first RUSTY BLACKBIRDS (7) were in Plaisance on the 13th and 3 were at Britannia on the same day.

Thanks to everyone who contributed bird observations. We encourage everyone to report their bird sightings on eBird for the benefit of the entire birding community. Good birding.


Common Nighthawk, photographed by Michelle Martin in Britannia.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 7 September 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Yellow bellied flycatcher photographed by Eric Leger in Vanier.


The highlight of the week was a TUFTED TITMOUSE reported at the Arboretum on the 5th. Aside from the continuing RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, as late as the 5th, there has not been anything particularly rare seen in the area.

The week was rather cool and cloudy with some wet days. The remnants of hurricane Harvey on the 3rd gave promise of good things, but in the end it was just a wet fizzle. The 3rd was also the day of the Ottawa-Gatineau Seedathon which tallied 115 species, not that bad considering the mediocre weather conditions. There have been some decent days for migrating PASSERINES, which continue to stream through, including some early sightings. Unfortunately, next week will likely see the last sightings of the year for a number of species, as fall inexorably approaches.

A few early SNOW GEESE sightings were of interest, including one at Giroux Road as late as the 4th. A few somewhat early sightings of both species of SCAUP at a few places including the Moodie Drive Ponds. These ponds also had REDHEAD.

The supply of SHOREBIRDS at Embrun is deteriorating due to shrinking habitat. However, the Carp River Reclamation area has some developing good habitat, and some of the better species found this week have been BAIRD’S, STILT and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, as well as a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER. Almonte still has only a handful of common species. A tour of the sod farms south of the city on the 5th was quite bleak, with only a single field yielding 25 KILLDEER, or 26 including the one snatched by a rampaging PEREGRINE FALCON.

The LEAST BITTERN was seen in Carp as late as the 2nd, and there was one in Kanata on the same day. One was at Baie Mclaurin on the 1st. A late BLACK TERN was at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 5th.

A few COMMON NIGHTHAWKS are still passing through. An OLIVE-SIDED flycatcher was on Calypso Road on the 3rd, and one was at the Old Quarry Trail on the 6th. The most recent sightings of YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS were from Vanier and Britannia, both on the 6th.

SWALLOWS, mostly TREE SWALLOWS, were still present in the hundreds in Embrun on the 3rd.

A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was in Plaisance on the 2nd.

4 species of VIREO were present this week, as were 22 species of WARBLER, with 19 of them on the 3rd. The population has shifted this week with PALM WARBLERS becoming increasingly common.

An early WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was at the Rockcliffe Airport on the 6th. 5 PINE SISKINS were in Baie Simard on the 6th, with a few sightings of RED CROSSBILL in the northern reaches of the area.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 31 August 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Black and white warbler photographed at Britannia by Keith Wickens


The highlight of the week was a WHIMBREL seen and heard briefly at the Carp River Reclamation area. Also of interest at Embrun were continuing RED-NECKED PHALAROPES (2 on the 30th) and WILSON’S PHALAROPE (as late as the 29th).

The week was dry with mostly seasonal temperatures. However, there are signs of fall with some cool mornings and the 31st was especially bad, being a very dreary cool day with low cloud. Like last week, there was a good variety of PASSERINES, and a very poor selection of SHOREBIRDS. Some of the insectivore numbers have risen as they pass through, and these numbers will be plummeting very soon.

The first SNOW GOOSE of the season was near Richmond on the 31st, but the numbers of other WATERBIRDS has been relatively constant.

Embrun continues to be useful for SHOREBIRDS, with the BAIRD’S SANDPIPER present on the 27th, and a modest variety other species in addition to the rarities noted above. The Carp River had a few species this week, and a few of the storm water basins had a few, but nothing else of note. However, the Ottawa River continues to be devoid of habitat.


Least Bittern photographed by Howard Morrison in Carp


The LEAST BITTERN was seen in Carp as late as the 27th.

There have been some decent sized flocks of COMMON NIGHTHAWKS all over the region, travelling south. There are scattered sightings of YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, and 2 recent sightings of OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, one at Ferme Moore on the 30th, and another near the Dewberry Trail parking lot on the 31st.

The first GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH of the season was heard in Britannia at night on the 29th, while a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was on Dolman Ridge Road on the 30th.

4 species of VIREOS were seen this week, and 23 species of WARBLER, with a particularly good single trip to Britannia on the 27th yielding 20 species.

Lastly, RED CROSSBILLS were still near Lac McGregor on the 29th, and 3 were in Carp on the 30th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 24 August 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Wilson's Warbler photographed at Britannia by Nina Stavlund


The highlight of the week was a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER seen in the Baie Simard area on the 19th. Also of interest, at Embrun, were continuing RED-NECKED PHALAROPES (as late as the 20th), WILSON’S PHALAROPE (23rd ), STILT SANDPIPER (20th and 23rd) and BAIRD’S SANDPIPER (23rd).

The week was marked by damp conditions and seasonal temperatures. Migration of PASSERINES was in full swing this week, but mostly expected birds were seen. Migrant traps like Britannia have become choice areas to bird, but SHOREBIRD habitat continues to be poor. While we don’t want to say this too loudly, the next week is pretty much the last week of summer from a birding perspective. Soon after that, many species will quickly vacate the region.

A few early WATERBIRDS added some birding variety. At Embrun, there was RING-NECKED DUCKS, LESSER SCAUP and COMMON GOLDENEYE. There were GREATER SCAUP and RED-NCEKD GREBE at Dick Bell Park on the 22nd. COMMON GOLDENEYE was at Britannia on the 19th. BUFFLEHEAD at Casselman on the 20th. A HORNED GREBE was in Russell on the 21st. There were also 4 REDHEAD at the Moodie Drive Ponds.


Turkey Vulture photographed by Eric Leger at Richelieu Park in Vanier


Embrun is far and away the best spot for SHOREBIRDS in the region. Despite a rather restricted area of habitat, 13 species have been seen at various times this week. The mix varies, and there are at most about 30 birds at any given time. Other areas are more or less worthless, which includes Almonte and Casselman. The Carp River flood plain has become rather unproductive. The water purification plant at Masson has a handful of SHOREBIRDS, and this area is only mentioned because it is the only area in Quebec that has anything at all.

A LEAST BITTERN continues off Rivington in Carp.

The week was marked by scattered (and brief) reports of sought-after migrants like YELLOW-BELLIED and OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS, and more common ones like PHILADELPHIA VIREO. An early RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was at Britannia.

A good variety of WARBLERS has been seen. There were 10 species of warbler at the Moore farm in Gatineau on the 23rd, and a single trip’s tally gave 16 species in Britannia on the 21st.

Finally, RED CROSSBILLS were seen near Carp and again near Lac McGregor.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 17 August 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Common Gallinule photographed at the Embrun lagoon by Sai Wai Ip


There were two minor highlights this week. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was seen in Carp this week, but unfortunately not seen again. On the 13th there were 2 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES at Embrun and 1 at St. Albert.

There was some good news for birding this week. The Shirley’s Bay causeway is now accessible for birders, but there are new access rules. Please see the note at the end of this report for details.

It was a relatively dry week in the region, but SHOREBIRDS are in poor supply everywhere. PASSERINE variety has noticeably increased but there has been little but the expected birds.

Of the WATERBIRDS, there has been nothing to write home about except for a HORNED GREBE at Embrun on the 14th and a REDHEAD at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 12th.

Unfortunately, as of the 17th, there were NO mudflats at Shirley’s Bay and NO SHOREBIRDS. A slight rise in the Ottawa River has eliminated even the tiny emerging mudflats of last week. However, a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER was in the area on the 13th before the water levels rose. Aside from what was noted above, Casselman, Embrun and St. Albert had only a small number of common species this week. The same was true for the Carp River.

Up to 3 or 4 LEAST BITTERNS are still being seen regularly off Rivington in Carp.

There has definitely been a movement from the north. A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was in Richmond on the 13th, and an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was in Britannia on the 10th. COMMON NIGHTHAWKS and gathering flocks of SWALLOWS are becoming a little more conspicuous.


Canada Warbler photographed at Mud Lake by Nina Stavlund


PASSERINES are becoming a little more conspicuous too in the “hot” areas like Britannia and Trail 10 near Shirley’s Bay. PHILADELPHIA VIREOS have been seen a few times this week, and BLUE-HEADED VIREOS are fairly regular.

WARBLERS have been of interest this week. We are now in the season where any of the 25 regulars can be seen almost anywhere. This last week, 23 species have been seen and an additional one is probably around. A GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER in Aylmer on the 11th was of interest. WILSON’S WARBLER and BLACKPOLL WARBLER were some of the non-breeders seen.

Finally, 5 RED CROSSBILLS were near Lac McGregor on the 16th.

Note regarding access to the Shirley’s Bay Causeway:
The causeway is DND property and was closed because it was considered unsafe, but the OFNC is again allowed to access it but now entirely at our own risk. The OFNC's agreement absolves DND of any and all liability if you are injured or killed on the property.

DND has also amended our access procedure. You must call Range Control (613-991-5740) for permission, state that you are an OFNC member and give your name. DND will be provided with the OFNC's membership list and they will check, so you need to keep your membership up to date. Finally, you must call again when you have left the area.

DND would also like to be informed if you see anyone on the property who should not be there, such as boats in the bay or people fishing on the causeway. They are trespassing and DND will deal with the situation.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 10 August 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Song Sparrow photographed near Britannia by Shawn Middleton


There were no real highlights this week, although there was a lowlight. Access to the Shirley’s Bay causeway is gone pending repair of damage due to the spring’s flood. This is a real disappointment given that this is the best area in Ottawa for SHOREBIRDS and WATERBIRDS.

The only consolation to this bad news is that it has been a dry week so water levels on the Ottawa River have dropped, which is starting to expose some shoreline, so that there are other places to look. Other than that, there have just been a few more signs of migration, and nothing worth chasing.

A LESSER SCAUP was at Embrun, along with a good variety of other common DUCKS and a family of AMERICAN COOT.

Here is the latest SHOREBIRD update:

Embrun: 40 birds of 10 species were seen on the 5th, in the usual limited habitat. A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was the least common species seen.

Andrew Haydon Park: A modest amount of habitat is showing, with small numbers of common species. The rest of the Ottawa River has only habitat on the extreme edges of the river.

Almonte: Very limited habitat and only common species.

Carp River Floodplain: An area in Carp seen from Rivington, and a more extensive area near Terry Fox and Richardson have some good habitat and a modest number of birds, but so far only common species have been seen.

Petrie Island: Some habitat is getting exposed near the edge of the marsh west of the causeway, but only KILLDEER and YELLOWLEGS have been seen recently.

Up to 4 LEAST BITTERN have been seen regularly in Carp on the Carp River.

Britannia, along with other migrant traps, are starting to perk up a bit. This week, some trips there have had up to 8 species of WARBLER, including BAY-BREASTED WARBLER. The last bit of news is of a CAROLINA WREN singing on Fisher Avenue on the 8th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 3 August 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

There was actually a highlight this week, which is a bit of a novelty. An immature LITTLE GULL was seen in the Deschênes rapids on the 29-30th, although looks were fleeting on the 30th and it has not been seen since.

Other than that, dullness continues in the region, and not much searching is going on. It has been a mercifully dry week with some warm weather, but the Ottawa River remains high. It still needs to go down 30-40 centimeters.

Embrun has had a few birds, but not a lot. On the 2nd, there were 17 birds of 4 species, and 30 of 4 species on the 29th. There were 10 birds of 5 species on the Carp River Flood plain. All of these were common species.

CASPIAN TERN numbers are building up as the season progresses. There have been up to 8 at Deschênes this week, along with up to 5 BONAPARTE’S GULLS. A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL has been at Deschênes and Moodie Drive this week.

A LEAST BITTERN was in Russell on the 30th.

A SEDGE WREN was heard at night on the 28th in Constance Bay.

A few YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS are showing up outside their nesting areas, which is definitely a “sign”. A TENNESSEE WARBLER was in Stony Swamp on the 1st.

There are still CLAY COLOURED and GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS at Burnt Lands Provincial Park, and on the 31st there was a flyover of 3 RED CROSSBILLS at Burnt lands PP on the 31st. With the great cone crop this year, we are hoping for more of this species later this year.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 27 July 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

There were two minor highlights this week. A breeding-plumaged LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was on the Diamondview flood plain on the 21st, but not relocated. A RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was at Embrun on the 23rd.

There are continuing signs of migration, but mostly it is quiet adult birds and lots of young of the nesting birds that are being seen, often in confusing plumages.

The main factor affecting birding is that the Ottawa River remains high. Heavy rain on the 24th brought July rainfall a few millimeters shy of the record, dashing any immediate hopes of habitat on the Ottawa. Flooded fields and inland ponds are the only real options for finding shorebirds for now.

A COMMON GOLDENEYE at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 24th was the only WATERBIRD news of the week.

A SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER was heard flying over Barrhaven at night on the 25th, but the following is the status of some known and more usual SHOREBIRD areas:

  • Almonte: 4 shorebirds of 2 species on the 25th.
  • Embrun: 11 birds of 6 species on the 26th.
  • Russell: 1 SPOTTED SANDPIPER on the 26th.
  • Petrie: SEMIPALMATED PLOVER on the 25th. Any shorebirds are likely to be found on the east beach before the crowds (if any) arrive for beach activities.
  • Carp River flood plain: 45 birds of 6 species on the 26th.

Other notable sightings include:

  • A LEAST BITTERN IN Carp on the 26th.
  • Up to 5 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS at the Moodie Drive Ponds.
  • 1 CASPIAN TERN at Petrie Island on the 27th, and 2 at Plaisance on the 23rd.
  • 2 (adult) SANDHILL CRANES on Smith Road on the 22nd.
  • 8 GRAY PARTRIDGES in Russell on the 25th, and 2 in Marathon on the 22nd.
  • A (silent) RED-HEADED WOODPECKER in Constance bay on the 25th.
  • 2 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS in Larose forest on the 26th.
  • TENNESSEE WARBLER in Britannia on the 26th.
  • NORTHERN PARULA on Thomas Dolan on the 25th.
  • PINE SISKIN at Innis Point on the 22nd.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 20 July 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Eastern Kingbird feeding fledgling at Kinburn. Photo by Nina Stavlund


Weather was generally seasonal, and so was the birding. However, there are early indications of fall migration and post-breeding dispersal. This is most noticeable among the SHOREBIRDS, with a few sightings of some numbers and variety.

Among the WATERBIRDS, the only sightings were of the common nesting species.

SHOREBIRD variety and number have increased considerably. There have been no reports from Shirley’s bay. While water levels on the Ottawa River have dropped a bit, perhaps another 30 cm drop should give us some real habitat. Flooded fields are currently the best bet for SHOREBIRDS. 2 such spots have been productive:

  • Up to 7 SANDERLING on John Shaw Road as late as the 19th. Also there were some larger numbers of LESSER YELLOWLEGS and other SHOREBIRDS.
  • 65 birds of 6 species at the Diamondview Flood plain on the 19th, including 6 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. Note that these birds are distant and need good viewing conditions.

Some other spots have been:

  • 4 species of SHOREBIRD including SEMIPALMATED PLOVER on the 13th at the Moodie Drive ponds.
  • 35 birds of 6 species were at Embrun on the 17th, including 2 Sanderling.
  • 1 adult SANDERLING was at Petrie Island on the 17th.

A few other sightings of note include:

  • CASPIAN TERN at Plaisance on the 15th.
  • LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Moodie Drive Ponds as late as the 18th.
  • LEAST BITTERN at Constance Creek on the 15th.
  • YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO at the Reveler Recreational trails as late as the 16th.

Other than that, there are still lots of the regular nesters around, the numbers augmented by the often vocal young begging for food.

Thanks to everyone who contributed bird observations. We encourage everyone to report their bird sightings on eBird for the benefit of the entire birding community.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 13 July 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Weather was generally seasonal, and so was the birding, which remained somewhat dull.

Among the WATERBIRDS, only the common/ regular nesters are around.

River levels on the Ottawa River are still too high for shorebirds, not that there are many around now, aside from the occasional LESSER YELLOWLEGS.

Some sightings of less common/ more local species include:

  • LESSER and GREATER BLACK-BACKED GULLS at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 8th.
  • YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO continues on Thomas Dolan.
  • SEDGE WREN in a grassy area east of Champlain street-an area that has not reported them recently. It has also been at the Nortel marsh on the 9th.
  • CASPIAN TERNS and BONAPARTE'S GULLS have been at Shirley's Bay.
  • LEAST BITTERN at Baie McLaurin on the 11th.

As last week, birders’ best bet is going to larger tracts of woods/ fields, especially north of Ottawa/ Gatineau.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 6 July 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Black-crowned Night Heron, photographed by Trudy Lothian at Mud Lake.


There were no real highlights this week.

Weather, especially on the weekend, was quite sodden until the 3rd, and as a result and combined with the holiday, there were not many birders out. The birding itself was as dull as dishwater. Young birds are becoming more apparent, and song volume has begun to diminish.

Among the WATERBIRDS, a BUFFLEHEAD at Shirley’s bay on the 2nd was interesting, as was a lingering SNOW GOOSE on North Russell Road on the 3rd. Inland ponds such as at Embrun hosted local nesters like AMERICAN WIGEON and NORTHERN SHOVELER, along with an AMERICAN COOT.

High water levels have done nothing for early SHOREBIRD returnees, although there was a LESSER YELLOWLEGS in Russel on the 3rd.


Young Robin, photographed by Trudy Lothian in Britannia village.


Some sightings of less common/ more local species include:

  • UPLAND SANDPIPER on the 4th on Fallowfield near Conley.
  • GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET and MOURNING WARBLER on the 4th at Pine Grove Trail.
  • 2 CASPIAN TERNS at Britannia on the 2nd.
  • WINTER WREN at Stony Swamp on the 4th.
  • BLUE-HEADED VIREO, WINTER WREN and EASTERN TOWHEE at the South March Highlands Conservation Forest on the 3rd.
  • YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO in Richmond on the 6th.

Larger tracts of woods/ fields are giving 40-50 species per outing, which seems the best bet for birding now.

Thanks to everyone who contributed bird observations. We encourage everyone to report their bird sightings on eBird for the benefit of the entire birding community. Good birding.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 29 June 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

The highlight of the week was a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, seen on Craig Henry on the 25th but not refound.

Weather has been cloudy, mostly cool and damp, having had more of an effect of reducing enthusiasm among birders than on the bird population. Birding has been generally dull. The only bright spot is that we are probably at the nadir of seasonal migration now, which means that things can only get better. Believe it or not there could well be a few (very few) arrivals/ dispersals by next week.

Among the WATERBIRDS, LESSER SCAUP was seen on the Ottawa River on the 23rd, a BUFFLEHEAD at Shirley’s bay on the 25th, and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER there on the 28th.

Some good news is that the marsh habitat at the end of Champlain Street has recovered to the extent that multiple SORA and VIRGINIA RAILS were calling. Likely this would be similar for other extensive marshes along the Ottawa River. A number of MARSH WRENS were seen this week at the Shirley's Bay Marsh.

Some notable sightings were:

  • LEAST BITTERN at Baie McLaurin on the 24th, and 2 at Constance Creek also on the 24th.
  • There was a late continuing LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Moodie Drive ponds until the 24th.
  • There have been a number of YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO sightings, in addition to the one on Thomas Dolan: one in Chelsea on the 26th, one in Carp on the 27th, and one at Shirley’s Bay on the 28th.
  • 3 RED CROSSBILLS near Lac McGregor on the 26th.
  • EVENING GROSBEAKS at the western edge of Larose Forest.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 22 June 2017


Red Crossbills, photographed by Amy Lawes near Lac McGregor.


The highlight of the week was 2 WHITE PELICANS, west of Aylmer on the 16th, and seen flying over both Aylmer and Rockcliffe on the 17th, headed east. They have not been refound. Late news is of a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER found on the 13th in the South March Conservation Forest, and also not refound.

Aside from that, summer doldrums persist in Ottawa, and not so many birders are out. Weather has been more or less seasonal, although at this time of year this may not matter. The best bet at this time of year is to visit the great swathes of forest north and west of Ottawa. The Greenbelt lands are also quite good. Another option is to explore the underbirded areas like agricultural lands south and east of Ottawa, and hope for a rarity.

A few lingerers continue: BRANT at the Moodie drive ponds until the 19th, and a LESSER SCAUP at Shirley’s Bay earlier in the week and at Stony Swamp on the 20th. A report from the Shirley’s Bay causeway is not encouraging for the future. The part to the first island is damaged and very narrow in spots. Water levels are still high and the marsh is not well developed. Stay tuned for further developments.


Clay-colored Sparrow, photographed by Paul Matthews at Burnt lands Provincial Park.


Some notable sightings were:

  • There was a late LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Moodie Drive ponds until the 19th, as well as a GREATER BLACK-BACKED GULL.
  • CASPIAN TERN is seen regularly on the Ottawa River west, but numbers have not built up yet.
  • LEAST BITTERN is still at Constance Creek as of the 18th.
  • A YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO continues to be vocal and visible on the Thomas Dolan Parkway.
  • A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was on Montée Silver Creek on the 17th
  • A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was at the Mer Bleue Bog on the 17th
  • SEDGE WREN continues at the nortel marsh at least until the 20th
  • A NORTHERN PARULA was on Ridge Road near Anderson on the 17th. These more southern occurrences in the summer may be a sign of a range expansion
  • For those who don’t want to travel to Burnt Lands PP, 3 CLAY-COLOURED SPARROWS were at the north end of High Road on the 22nd.

In what is, we hope, not just a coincidence but a sign of some movement, there were 7 RED CROSSBILLS on Chemin Sauve near Lac McGregor on the 16th and 19th, and 4 of the same in the Pine Grove Forest east of Conroy on the 22nd.


Eastern Towhee, photographed by Richard Waters near the Thomas Dolan Parkway.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 15 June 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Yellow-throated Vireo photographed near Breckenridge by Tony Beck.


The highlight of the week was a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO near Breckenridge on the 9th, but not refound. Another interesting bird was a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD WAS on Montée Saint-Amour in Gatineau on the 13th.

The migration party is pretty much over for the season. Weather was consistently dry, sunny and warm, with 2 hot days. This is quite a novelty for the region, but with summer has come the summer doldrums. The woods, water bodies and fields are chock full of nesting birds; birders should head to the larger areas of undisturbed habitat for best results, but very little other than the expected birds are around.

Of the WATERBIRDS, the only things interesting have been a few lingerers. 2 LESSER SCAUP have been at Shirley’s Bay until the 11th, and one was at Andrew Haydon on the 15th. A late BRANT was at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 15th.

The marsh habitat on the Ottawa River east of the city is still recovering from the ravages of the flood last month, and the numbers of marsh birds like RAILS and MARSH WREN are only a fraction of normal.

ARCTIC TERN was seen on and off at Britannia point until the 12th, and there are scattered sightings of CASPIAN TERNS. BONAPARTE’S GULLS were seen at Britannia Point, and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was at the Moodie Drive Ponds until the 10th.

A GRAY PARTRIDGE was near Marchurst Road on the 9th.

This continues to be a really good year for CUCKOOS. A YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO has been seen regularly on Thomas Dolan near Stonecrest, and both species of CUCKOO were at the Champlain lookout on the 13th.


Yellow-billed Cuckoo, photographed by Martha Burchat on the Thomas Dolan Parkway.

One bit of good news is that SEDGE WRENS have returned to the marsh near Corkstown and Moodie.

BAY BREASTED WARBLER (probably a very late migrant) and PHILADELPHIA VIREO were in Gatineau Park-Sentiers des Loups on the 11th.

Burnt Lands Provincial Park continues to be excellent for grassland birds such as UPLAND SANDPIPER, GRASSHOPPER and CLAY-COLOURED SPARROWS. A late WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was in Qualicum Park on the 8th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 8 June 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Killdeer photographed at Petrie Island by Keith Wickens.


4 significant rarities highlighted the week. The most significant was an adult male BLUE GROSBEAK, a regional first, seen at a feeder near March Road and Dunrobin Road on the 3rd-4th. While not positively seen since, it may well be in the area as the habitat is suitable. On the 4th, a WESTERN GREBE was seen above the Deschênes Rapids. An adult FRANKLIN’S GULL was in the Britannia area from the 3-5th, and was seen in Kanata on the 7th. These last 2 were seen by many. Finally, a CONNECTICUT WARBLER was seen in the Mer Bleue area on the 5th, but was not relocated. While just outside the region, a CATTLE EGRET in South Mountain on the 7th was of interest.

The weather was bad to appalling (on the 6th), but it may well have been a factor in the many rarities seen. An abrupt change for the better caused summer to return on the 7th. Migration is now over. Between now and August, only stragglers can be expected to arrive, and as always the hope is that there are some rarities among them.

A few late WATERBIRDS were of note this week. 80 BRANT were at Shirley’s Bay on the 5th. A WHITE-WINGED SCOTER was at Innis Point on the 4th, and a SURF SCOTER was above the Deschenes Rapids on the 4th, COMMON GOLDENEYE was in the area on the 3rd, and 2 LESSER SCAUP were at Shirley’s bay as recently as the 8th. Finally among the waterbirds, 2 AMERICAN COOTS were at Embrun on the 5th, and one was at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 5-6th.

2 RUDDY TURNSTONES were at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 3rd, and a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER there on the 5th, but otherwise there were just a few lingering DUNLIN and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS.

ARCTIC TERNS were a disappointment this year. 2 were seen briefly at Britannia on the 3rd, but fortunately there was one at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 6-7th. A late LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was somewhat regular here as well.

A late YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was on Blais Road on the 7th.

The only thing notable in the PASSERINE department was a SEDGE WREN seen on Torbolton Ridge Road on the 2nd, but not since. Otherwise, birders are just enjoying the many nesting species during this nesting prime time. The best areas are large tracts of unbroken forest with water. Larose forest is excellent with 16 nesting species of WARBLERS including the scarce CAPE MAY WARBLER on Bertrand Road. Gatineau Park (north and west), and the Lac la Blanche area are as good or better.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 1 June 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Willet photographed in Embrun by Mark Gawn.


2 rarities highlighted the week, as migration winds down. On the 27th, a WILLET (western) was at Embrun most of the day, and was seen by many. This was the first local sighting since 2009. On the 31st, a WHITE PELICAN flew over Britannia Woods, headed west. This was the first local sighting in a number of years. Unfortunately this bird was not relocated.

PASSERINE migration is probably about 99% complete. SHOREBIRD migration is peaking or will be in a few days. Weather conditions were somewhat rainy and unsettled, but not sufficientlybad to produce any fallout so far.

WATERBIRDS have pretty much reached their summer levels. A few WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS passed through, but the rivers and inland ponds/ lagoons have few birds aside from the nesters.

SHOREBIRDS provided the greatest interest this week, with 4 new for the year including the rarity. Embrun had a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE on the 27-28th, and 2 WILSON’S PHALAROPE were at the Greenbank Road flooded field on the 27th. Up to 9 RUDDY TURNSTONE were at Shirley’s Bay on the 1st. Despite this, few SHOREBIRDS of any kind were around. There is very little suitable shore habitat anywhere, and while there were plenty of flooded fields, there is no place to concentrate them. The Moodie Drive ponds have had a few SHOREBIRDS, including BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, but as of the 31st there was nothing there. An AMERICAN COOT was at the réserve naturelle du Marais-Trépanier on the 27th.


Red-necked Phalarope photographed by Michelle Martin at Embrun.


LESSER BACK-BACKED GULL was seen occasionally at the Moodie Drive Ponds. The long-awaiting ARCTIC TERN arrived at Constance Creek on the 31st, but so far just a single one for a few minutes.

There have been a number of sightings of YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. This appears to a really good year for them as well as BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. 4 of the latter were seen/ heard on the Osgoode Link Trail near the airport. Some good news is that the RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (1 for sure) is back at Constance Bay.

There have been a few scattered sightings of OLIVE-SIDE FLYCATCHER, most recently at Lac McGregor on the 31st. There were a few more sightings of YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER- Rockcliffe Airport on the 26th and Hurdman Woods on the 31st.

The first and so far only SEDGE WREN sighting has been in the Richmond Fen on the 27th.

Of WARBLERS, there was a late sighting of ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER in Britannia on the 25th, but mostly we are now in nesting season.


Dunlin photographed at Petrie Island by Keith Wickens.


Earlier sightings available on request ofnc@ofnc.ca

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