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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.

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.

ACCESS TO THE SHIRLEY’S BAY CAUSEWAY. The OFNC has a signed agreement with DND and PWGS that gives OFNC members limited access to this important birding area. You must call the Range Control Office (613-991-5740) before entering DND property, and you will be informed how far down the causeway you may go. For your safety, please respect their instructions, as the shooting patterns vary from day to day.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 27 April 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Ruby-crowned Kinglet photographed by Trudy Lothian at Mud Lake.


The highlight of the week and perhaps the year so far, was an adult plumaged LAUGHING GULL, seen on the 22nd on Cambrian just east of the Jock River. This rare GULL has not been seen in Ottawa for many years. Fortunately, it was there all afternoon and was seen by many.

Weather was mostly seasonal with a very warm day on the 27th. While there was a steady trickle of birds all week, unfavorable winds until the 27th and the earliness of the season meant that there was not a huge push of migrants as of press time. 11 new birds were seen this week.

WATERBIRDS were in good supply this week. On the 21st, 17,000 SNOW GEESE were in the Milton/ Frank Kenny area along with 5 ROSS’S GEESE and 2 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE. While it is only fair to say that none of these were there seen on the 22nd, both these species were found south of there on the 23rd, and there are still large flocks of SNOW GEESE moving around eastern Ontario. 10,000 were at Winchester on the 24th along with a ROSS’S GOOSE. 22 species of DUCK were seen in the region this week. Some of the inland ponds have been useful. There were 3 LONG-TAILED DUCKS at the Giroux pond on the 22nd, and a somewhat premature trip to Embrun on the 26th found 13 species of DUCK including a LONG-TAILED DUCK. The Moodie Drive pond was rather quiet on the 25-26th. Somewhat surprisingly, the HARLEQUIN DUCK is still on the Rideau River north of the Tennis Club as of the 26th. Along the Ottawa River, 8 species of DUCK were at Plaisance on the 24th. There have been rather few reports from the west, and only the ordinary stuff.


Osprey photographed by Emily Lyon at Fitzroy Harbour.


At the wet area near Antrim, a surprisingly early, and now apparently injured AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was there on the 27th. An UPLAND SANDPIPER was there on the 26th, while DUNLIN and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS were there as late as the 22nd. Mostly SHOREBIRD activity has been marked by large numbers of GREATER YELLOWLEGS with a smaller number of LESSER YELLOWLEGS.

A SORA was in the Mer Bleue area on the 24th, 2 COMMON GALLINULE were le Marais-Trépanier in Gatineau on the 26th. A pair of GRAY PARTRIDGE was near Dunning and Magladry on the 22nd, and an early EASTERN WHIPPOORWILL was in a woodlot in Orleans on the 27th.

The last SWALLOWS have arrived. PURPLE MARTINS have been at the Nepean Yacht Club as of the 23rd.

HOUSE WREN arrived at Shirley’s bay on the 22nd, and WARBLING VIREO was in the Limbour area of Gatineau on the 27th.

The 4th WARBLER sighting of the year was a very early one but unfortunately also a very late one. A TENNESSEE WARBLER was found dead downtown on the 24th. A live NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH at Pine Grove Trail on the 27th was the 5th of the year.

Finally, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was in Gatineau on the 20th.


Four Ross's Geese at the Bear Brook flooded area along Frank Kenny Road. Photo by Tony Beck.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 20 April 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Brown Thrasher singing at Conroy Pit. Photo by Eric Leger.


The highlight of the week was a ROSS’S GOOSE near Antrim, there along with a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE. Oddly, both were somewhat gettable for several hours on the 18th, and the ROSS’S GOOSE has been in the same area until the 20th. Also quite good was a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, seen in the Greenboro area on the 20th. Quite bad was the first sighting of DEER TICK, source unknown. BIRDERS BEWARE!

More generally, it was a good birding week, with vegetation greening up and near seasonal temperatures. 11 new species have arrived this week, with something new arriving every day, and the volume of birds of all types is going way up. The Ottawa River is also going way up, flooding the access to Petrie Island and the Shirley’s Bay causeway.

Among the WATERBIRDS, as usual hundreds are congregating at Shirley’s Bay, although most can only be seen distantly from the boat launch. As usual, these are mostly LESSER SCAUP. Early WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were seen a few times on the Ottawa River, with one sighting of 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Shirley’s bay on the 17th. REDHEAD have been regular at the Giroux and Moodie Drive Ponds all week. HORNED and RED-NECKED GREBES were at Shirley’s Bay on the 20th, with 3 COMMON LOONS.

Marshes and flooded fields are now becoming interesting. The first VIRGINIA RAIL was at Constance Creek on the 15th. The flooded field near Antrim which had the above GEESE has also had PECTORAL SANDPIPER sometimes since the 15th, and on the 20th there was an early DUNLIN there. On the 16th, the first UPLAND SANDPIPER was southeast of Luskville. PECTORAL SANDPIPER has also been at the Richmond Conservation Area. The first LESSER YELLOWLEGS was at Twin Elm and Cambrian on the 16th.

A BONAPARTE’S GULL was at Shirley’s Bay on the 17th.

Several hundred TREE SWALLOWS were swirling over the waters of Shirley’s Bay, and other river areas, a common occurrence during the cool days of early spring. The first BANK SWALLOWS were seen there and at the Richmond Conservation area on the 19th. Other SWALLOWS are still only being seen in rather small numbers.

The first BLUE-HEADED VIREO was in Aylmer on the 19th. Generally, many of the last week’s passerine arrivals have become common. RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS and DARK-EYED JUNCOS are some species which seem to be everywhere this week. However, generally the variety and numbers are normal.

Among the finches, PURPLE FINCH appears to have arrived in numbers. EASTERN TOWHEE arrived back on the Carp Ridge on the 16th, and it has also been seen at the Richmond Conservation area on the 19th. For those looking for this local species, VESPER SPARROW has been fairly gettable on Vance’s Sideroad just west of Dunrobin Road.

Finally, late SNOW BUNTING and LAPLAND LONGSPUR were southeast of Carp on the 15th.

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 13 April 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Fox Sparrow photographed by Keith Wickens in his backyard in Orleans.


Specific highlights this week were a ROSS’S GOOSE on the 9th on Frank Kenny, and several sightings of CANVASBACK, the most recent being on the 10th from Britannia Pier. 4 TUNDRA SWANS were on Milton Road as late as the 13th, and 12 were in North Gower as late as the 13th.

A more general highlight was that this week, spring was bustin’ out all over (with apologies to Oscar Hammerstein). There was a significant influx of birds, and a host of seasonal firsts including a number of very early ones. This week we had about 17 arrivals, and new ones are arriving daily.


Ring-necked Duck photographed by Keith Wickens in the flooded fields southeast of Navan.


Generally above seasonal temperatures prevailed, and on the 9th we had the warmest day since October. As so often happens in Ottawa, we could get frostbite on one day and heatstroke the next. Shirley’s Bay (outer bay) was open by the 11th, and inland ponds are partly to mostly melted. Insect life is appearing and snow is generally gone except for small amounts in the sheltered areas, so arriving passerines can find food.

WATERBIRD variety and quantity has shot up. One thing missing, however, is that the monstrous flocks of SNOW GEESE have not yet been seen. Flooding near Bourget peaked probably about the 8th, but so far the largest flock was a relatively paltry 10-15,000 there on the 13th. BLUE-WINGED TEAL arrived on Milton Road on the 9th, with NORTHERN PINTAIL by the 100s there the 8th-9th. For those who fancy such things, there was a GREEN-WINGED TEAL (intergrade with Eurasian form) there on the 9th. Flooding has subsided quite a bit since then and there are fewer ducks. The now open Moodie Drive pond had quite a good variety of DUCKS on the 12th including up to 2 REDHEAD as late as the 13th. COMMON LOON arrived on the Ottawa River on the 10th, and a HORNED GREBE was in Deschênes on the 12th.


Dark-eyed Junco photographed by Emily Lyon near Fitzroy Harbour.


GREAT EGRETS arrived on the 8th in Kanata and may easily be seen at their colony on Conroy Island in the Deschênes Rapids. BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS were also seen on the 8th in Britannia. BROAD-WINGED HAWK arrived this week and there have been multiple reports. GREATER YELLOWLEGS was at the Britannia Pier on the 11th. On the 12th there were 6 species of GULL at the Trail Road Landfill, including GLAUCOUS and ICELAND.

3 more species of SWALLOWS arrived this week. NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW was in Carleton Place on the 11th, and on the same day a very early CLIFF SWALLOW was at Britannia. BARN SWALLOW has been seen in multiple spots since the 10th when one was seen in Gatineau Park.


American Kestrel photographed by Keith Wickens.


The first WARBLERS arrived this week, with much rejoicing. PINE WARBLER was in multiple spots starting with 8th, PALM WARBLER was near Chelsea on the 10th, and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was in Aylmer on the 10th. Only 22 WARBLER species have yet to arrive!

New arrivals in the SPARROW department are FIELD, VESPER, and SAVANNAH. Finally, other Firsts of the season are RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and WINTER WREN, both now being seen in multiple locations, and the most recent one, BROWN THRASHER, seen in Kanata on the 13th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 6 April 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

After 4 weeks delay, there was finally some bird action and some real highlights. 2 TUNDRA SWANS were on Milton Road from the 2nd-3rd, and 4 were in the Carp area on the 2nd-5th.

Winter did give what we hope was the last kick at Ottawa, another snowstorm on the 31st. However, mostly temperatures were near seasonal and with heavy rain a number of days, most of the remaining snow melted and brought flooding to Bearbrook Creek and some other places. There was a major influx of WATERBIRDS, mostly GEESE, but there was no flooding in Bourget as of April 2. While there were a few seasonal firsts, it looks like we will have to wait until next week for the monstrous wave of birds.

TRUMPETER SWANS were near Richmond from the 2nd-3rd, and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were sometimes at Carp from the 30th to the 2nd, but often not. Near Ottawa, flooded Bearbrook Creek had up to 2000 SNOW GEESE and 10000 CANADA GEESE, but only a few dozen NORTHERN PINTAIL and a few other DUCKS. Inland ponds have yet to melt, and much of the Ottawa River is still frozen over. So generally there are just small numbers of migrant DUCKS in the expanding areas of water.

A number of GOLDEN EAGLES were seen in different locations on the 3rd, including one flying over Parliament Hill, perhaps returning from voting in a byelection.

The following were the first of the year:

  • DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT on the 31st downtown.
  • NORTHERN SHOVELER on the 5th in the Kinburn area.
  • WILSON’S SNIPE on the 1st on Rifle Rd.
  • OSPREY on the 30th near Manotick.
  • TREE SWALLOW on the 2nd in a few spots.
  • EASTERN MEADOWLARK in Gatineau and Carp on the 2nd.

GRAY PARTRIDGE are still in the Robert Grant/ Cope Drive area on the 4th. SANDHILL CRANES are back at their usual spot south of Smith Road. A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK appears to have set up territory in the Greenland Road area. CAROLINA WREN was in Richmond this week, and the one in Carlington persists. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER persists in Gatineau. A few other local/ less common species have also settled into most of their breeding grounds, such as AMERICAN WOODCOCK and EASTERN BLUEBIRD.

A number of species have become quite common in the last week, and probably will not be reported here again until they become scarce again late this year. This includes such birds as:

  • SONG SPARROW
  • TURKEY VULTURE
  • GREAT BLUE HERON, and
  • KILLDEER

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 30 March 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Male Wood Duck photographed by Emily Lyon at Fitzroy Harbour.


For the fourth week in a row, there were no real highlights. There have been a surprising number of first-of-the-year (FOY) arrivals, but in general the signs of spring have been rather subdued.

Winter slapped Ottawa around early in the week, with a surprise heavy snowfall on the 24th, and freezing rain on the 26th. Temperatures struggled to reach seasonal level, and unfortunately things will get worse before they get better.

2 REDHEAD in Carleton Place on the 29th were at least a new arrival for the year. They were there along with the TRUMPETER SWANS. 90 SNOW GEESE were in Richmond this week, likely scouts for the army in the southeast. Anyone who still needs HARLEQUIN DUCK and BARROW’S GOLDENEYE can still find them near the Rideau Tennis Club, but they likely will not be around much longer. A BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was in Carleton Place this way, not their usual spot. GREATER and LESSER SCAUP were at Deschenes on the 28th.


Bohemian Waxwings photographed by Brian Mortimer in Carleton Heights.


A few species have become a little more widespread, but are far from common. Among them are:

  • GREAT BLUE HERON,
  • NORTHERN HARRIER,
  • TURKEY VULTURE,
  • EASTERN BLUEBIRD, and
  • SONG SPARROW

The following were FOY:

  • AMERICAN WOODCOCK on Rifle Road on the 29th.
  • KILLDEER in Bell’s Corners and Cambrian Road on the 29th.
  • EASTERN PHOEBE in Constance Bay on the 29th, and
  • SANDHILL CRANE in Dunrobin on the 28th.

A TUFTED TITMOUSE was seen at a feeder in Manotick a few days this week.

Finally, a HERMIT THRUSH in Parc des Portageurs in Gatineau on the 26th. It is hard to know if it overwintered or is an early migrant. A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was in the Eagleson/ Akins area on the 26th.

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.


Hooded Mergansers photographed by Emily Lyon at Fitzroy Harbour.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 23 March 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

For the third week in a row, there were no real highlights. Temperatures improved considerably, but remained below to slightly above seasonal with another cold snap on the 22nd. As a result, spring migration has made minimal progress. As last week, nothing has pushed up, and we have been looking at the same mix of residents, lingerers, and very early migrants as in the previous few weeks.

2 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were in Almonte on the 22nd, but moved to Carleton Place on the 23rd. They would be easy to miss among thousands of CANADA GEESE spread out along the river. 2 TRUMPETER SWANS were in Carleton place on the 21st.

6 species of GULLS were in the region this week, including a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL on the 21st at the Moodie Drive Quarry. Numbers were not large, though. A GREAT BLUE HERON on Hope Side Road on the 19th was the first sighting in weeks, obviously because of the generally frozen conditions.

A GOLDEN EAGLE was seen from the Gatineau Escarpment on the 19th, but Greenland Road is now the best spot for HAWKS. The first RED-SHOULDERED HAWK of the year was there on the 19th, and GOLDEN EAGLES were seen a few times this week with NORTHERN GOSHAWK and other more common species. A TURKEY VULTURE was in Kanata South on the 19th, but these are still not around in any numbers.

1 GRAY PARTRIDGE was in the Cope Drive area on the 20th. The TUFTED TITMOUSE is still near Quyon as of the 19th. A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was on Giroux Road on the 18th, but not relocated the next day.

Finally, there have been a few scattered sightings of PINE SISKIN, but only a single one of EVENING GROSBEAKS in the Northwest.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 16 March 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Merlin photographed by Keith Wickens near Green's Creek.


For the second week in a row, there were no highlights. The false spring of 3 weeks ago is now a distant memory. Unseasonable cold much of the week, and snow on the 14-15th, has made shared misery our only consolation. Real spring is at least a week away.

The general situation is that there is really nothing new, the very hardiest arrivals like RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS have remained with many driven to feeders, and WATERBIRDS have retreated a bit.

Still, WATERBIRDS have not been a complete washout. There was a CACKLING GOOSE at the Jock River by Eagleson on the 14th, and 2 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE in Almonte. SNOW GEESE are lurking not far southeast of Ottawa with a few to a few thousand occasionally checking things out to the north. 2 TRUMPETER SWANS were in Pakenham on the 13th. HARLEQUIN DUCK and BARROW’S GOLDENEYE are still on the Rideau River between Strathcona Park and Hurdman.

3 GOLDEN EAGLES were in Pakenham on the 13th, and a TURKEY VULTURE was in Richmond on the 12th. 2 GRAY PARTRIDGE were on Cope drive on the 12th, and the CAROLINA WREN was still in Carlington as of the 14th. 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were in Kanata North on the 9th, and the TUFTED TITMOUSE continues near Quyon.

Notable among the FINCHES was a RED CROSSBILL in Bell’s Corners on the 13th, but otherwise there were just a few scattered sightings of PINE SISKIN and EVENING GROSBEAK.

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 9 March 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Cooper's Hawk photographed by Eric Leger in Richelieu Park, Vanier.


There were no real highlights this week. The weather was unseasonably cold most of the week, putting a screeching halt to the early migration, but fortunately the snowpack did not enlarge. A very sunny and mild day on the 8th did result in some raptor migration. Unfortunately more cold is predicted for the next few days, so spring is at least a week away still.

The general rise in the Rideau River was accompanied by some expansion of the amount of open water. As a result it appears that some of the winter’s lingering DUCKS may have skedaddled or are at least temporarily missing in action. The HARLEQUIN DUCK at any rate has moved downstream to Strathcona Park as late as the 9th. One exception to the general migration halt was a PIED-BILLED GREBE in Almonte as late as the 8th. A CACKLING GOOSE was among the CANADA GEESE in Barnsdale on the 8th. 2 TRUMPETER SWANS were in Carleton Place as late as the 4th.


Cedar Waxwing photographed by Eric Leger near Richelieu Park, Vanier.


In general this is now the season for RAPTOR movement. Strong sunshine and south winds on the 8th made it a good day for RAPTORS on Greenland Road. The highlight were 2 GOLDEN EAGLES. The Gatineau Escarpment is a hotspot, the latest sightings on the 4th were of 4 of this species. NORTHERN GOSHAWK was seen this week in Orleans, Dunrobin and Packenham.

GRAY PARTRIDGE continue in the Cope Drive area; 5 were seen on the 5th. An early YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER continues in Fitzroy Harbour as of the 5th.

The TUFTED TITMOUSE was still on Lac des Loups Road as of the 3rd, with EASTERN BLUEBIRD on Bleeks Road on the 4th. Missed in the report last week was a RUSTY BLACKBIRD in Richmond on the 2nd.

Finally, scattered sightings of FINCHES continue, most sightings being in the northwest part of the region. 50 EVENING GROSBEAK were in Rupert, with 17 in north of Wakefield. Small numbers of PINE SISKIN were in Wakefield and Gatineau, and a single PINE GROSBEAK was in Gatineau Park north of Chelsea on the 6th.



Cackling Goose with Canada Geese photographed by Adolf Dendall on Barnsdale Road.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 2 March 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Gyrfalcon photographed on Macarton Road by Giovanni Pari, who says, "an amazing sight! And what powerful flight when it took off from the post."


There was a major highlight this week. The Gray Morph GYRFALCON near Carleton Place was refound on the 23rd on Appleton Sideroad, and was seen by many as late as the 25th. Possibly the same bird was seen on Rushmore Road on the 26-27th.

The unusual mild spell, including a rare February thunderstorm, has caused some considerable movement of early migrants, perhaps the earliest significant migration in decades. There have been so many firsts of the season, many of them weeks earlier than usual, that birders have had too much to chase, a welcome change from the lackluster winter doldrums. Most noticeable have been GEESE, RING-BILLED GULLS and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, which are almost everywhere now. COMMON GRACKLES have also arrived but not in such large numbers. Some of these early birds may be in trouble now, since temperatures went below normal on the 2nd, with very cold temperatures expected for a few days.

As a matter of interest, the Ottawa region 50K 2016-17 winter list ended at 127 species, with the year to date at 104.

WATERBIRDS have been in the news with many early arrivals. Open water has expanded everywhere, and the small creeks and ditches are full as of the 1st. SNOW GEESE arrived en masse in Eastern Ontario, with many sightings all over the region, with flocks of up to 600 birds being sighted. Most of the action, however, was in the southeast. CANADA GEESE flocks of several thousand have been seen as well. Adding spice, 2 WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were seen briefly on Eagleson/ Stonecrest on the 26th, and 3 CACKLING GEESE were at the frozen Moodie Drive Pond on the 28th. All but the CANADA GEESE may well be our earliest sightings.

2 TRUMPETER SWANS were seen a number of times in Carleton Place, as late as the 28th. Their head-bobbing behaviour likely indicates that they are a couple.


Northern Shrike photographed by Louis Brodeur, who says it, "has been very present at Plaisance along the road to Grande Presqu'Île for the last two weekends."


Quite a few early DUCKS were about. In Carleton Place, RUDDY DUCK and 2 continuing RING-NECKED DUCKS were notable. Almonte had GADWALL and GREEN-WINGED TEAL, while Deschênes had GADWALL, GREATER and LESSER SCAUP. HOODED MERGANSERS were seen in a number of spots, and the RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was back at Hurdman along with the continuing HARLEQUIN DUCK.

The first TURKEY VULTURES were at Lac Ste. Marie on the 26th and near Chesterville on the 25th. The first GREAT BLUE HERON was near Innes/ Frank Kenny on the 25th. A GOLDEN EAGLE was seen on Chemin Therien on the 27th.

A THAYER’S GULL was at the Trail Road Landfill on the 27thand a BELTED KINGFISHER was at Eagleson/ Stonecrest as late as the 26th.

PASSERINES were not that out of the ordinary this week, with most of the previously reported lingerers still around. In Carleton Place, the CHIPPING SPARROW was seen again on the 2nd, at a feeder on Lac des Loups Road, The TUFTED TITMOUSE continues, and has been joined by a FOX SPARROW. An EASTERN BLUEBIRD was in Richmond on the 28th, and a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was in Carp on the 27th.



Peregrine Falcon photographed by Sai Wi Ip near the intersection of Eagleson and Atkins Roads in Kanata.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 23 February 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Oregon Junco (probable female) taken near Poltimore, Quebec on Friday afternoon by Tony Beck.


There were 2 highlights this week: 4 TRUMPETER SWANS in Carleton Place on the 18th, and 2 on the 21st. A GRAY JAY was seen from time to time at a feeder near Quyon on the 16-21st. A little outside the area, and possibly a first for Lanark County, a TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE was seen near Smith’s Falls on the 18th to at least the 21st.

Meanwhile, the topsy-turvy winter weather has given us a major week-long thaw with sun and rain, and on the 23rd our warmest temperature since mid-November. This has caused causing considerable melting, and a few early migrants, like the RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD at Trail Road on the 20th. Area birders are cautioned that spring has NOT arrived.

Among the waterbirds, a RING-NECKED DUCK was seen in Carleton Place, undoubtedly a recent arrival from a little farther south. Other than that, all the lingerers/ specialities were seen-WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road, and the HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman, which is becoming more colourful by the week.


Northern Horned Lark photographed by Tony Beck on agricultural fields east of Ottawa.


5 species of GULL were reported, highlights being ICELAND GULL at Parc Mousette on the 19th and GLAUCOUS GULL at the Trail Road Landfill.

A few less common RAPTORS were seen: GOLDEN EAGLE at Val des Monts on the 18th, a NORTHERN GOSHAWK at Lac Ramsay on the 19th and near Luskville on the 21st, and an AMERICAN KESTREL in Kanata on the 19th. A few probably early migrant NORTHERN HARRIERS have been cruising the agricultural fields.

A BELTED KINGFISHER was at Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham on the 19th, and up to 9 GRAY PARTRIDGE are irregular in the neighbourhood near Robert Grant/ Bobolink/ Cope.

A HERMIT THRUSH was in Val Tétreau on the 17th, and another was in Manotick on the 18th. 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were on Klondike Road in Kanata on the 18-19th and near Richmond on the 21st.

2 CHIPPING SPARROWS continue in Carleton Place as of the 23rd. For those interested in different populations, a DARK-EYED JUNCO (OREGON) was seen in Poltimore. 4 COMMON GRACKLES were in Fitzroy Harbour on the 17-18th, with another and a possible migrant in Russell on the 23rd. Finally, 2 PINE GROSBEAK were in Kanata on the 17th.


Winter male Snow Bunting photographed by Tony Beck on agricultural fields east of Ottawa.


NOTE: A number of people have written in to the sightings line, wondering about apparently early AMERICAN ROBINS and also concerned about their food supply. Firstly, these birds are not early but have never left. The first migrants will be in a few weeks. AMERICAN ROBINS are now fairly common in the winter, this year having the most ever. Secondly, AMERICAN ROBINS are almost entirely consumers of over-wintering fruit in the winter and there is little we can do to help with their food supply. However, they are a fairly hardy bird and can easily travel to find the abundant fruit crops in the region, so there is no real cause for concern.

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 16 February 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Black-capped Chickadee photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Keith Wickens, who writes: "Nice shot but ho-hum subject: chickadee with safflower seed in its mouth. The next I took I found interesting - chickadee with safflower seed in its claws holding it steady against the branch to eat."


After a number of weeks without, Ottawa finally had a birding highlight. On the 11th a GYRFALCON was seen on Appleton Side Road, but rather predictably it was not seen again. Also, a GRAY JAY was reported in Gatineau on the 13th but not since.

While temperatures were seasonal to above seasonal, steady and often heavy snowfall, with about 60 cm added in the last week, was a strong disincentive for birders to get out. So there are rather fewer reports and not so many birds to see either. Still, over 60 species have been seen in the region in the last week. Although the days are getting noticeably longer, unfortunately it only means that we can see the snow and clouds longer.

Some of the lingering waterfowl have either disappeared or are not being searched for. However, WOOD DUCK continues at Billings Bridge, while HARLEQUIN DUCK and BARROW’S GOLDENEYE are still regular at Hurdman. BUFFLEHEAD are still regular off Bate Island.

9 GRAY PARTRIDGE continued near Cope and Robert Grant on the 14-15th, and a GOLDEN EAGLE was on Appleton Side Road on the 15th.


Brown Creeper photographed by Connie Denyes at Pine Grove Trail


A HERMIT THRUSH in Elmvale Acres on the 12th was the first recent sighting of this species, while a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD is still coming to a feeder in Orleans. Other continuing sightings include the CHIPPING SPARROW in Carleton place on the 12th, and up to 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS are still making chance appearances in Kanata, most recently on the 16th.

WINTER FINCHES are mostly in the northern forests, with still not many sightings. 4 PINE SISKIN were north of Wakefield on the 12th, while 2 were in Richmond on the 14th. 80 EVENING GROSBEAKS were coming to a private feeder north of Wakefield. There were 18 PINE GROSBEAKS near Masham on the 10th. 2 COMMON REDPOLL were in Gatineau on the 14th and 1 was in Constance Bay on the 11th. There was a PURPLE FINCH in Constance Bay on the 11th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 9 February 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


Dark-eyed Junco photographed by Tony Beck at Mud Lake


Ottawa remains in the heart of the winter doldrums, once again with static birding conditions and no highlights.

Weather was typical for mid-winter, generally seasonal with some wild temperature swings and a lot of cloudy days with light precipitation.

Previously reported lingering WATERBIRDS continue: HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman, WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at BillingS Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL at Iber Road.

2 GOLDEN EAGLES were on Steele Line on the 5th and NORTHERN GOSHAWK was in Russell on the 5th.

9 GRAY PATRIDGE were near Cope and Robert Grant on the 7th, the first sighting in a few weeks.


Female Northern Cardinal photographed by Tony Beck at Mud Lake


EASTERN BLUEBIRD was near Luskville on the 6th and there were 2 in Kanata on the 9th. Flocks of up to several hundred BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are in many places, with a sprinkling of CEDAR WAXWINGS among them. The TUFTED TITMOUSE was last seen at Fitzroy on the 2nd.

Up to 2 CHIPPING SPARROWS were in Carleton Place as late as the 8th.

A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was in Plaisance on the 4th, and a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (female) was at a feeder in Orleans as late as the 3rd.

Finally, among the FINCHES, EVENING GROSBEAK was in Larose Forest on the 4th, a PINE SISKIN was in Richmond on the 7th and 2 PURPLE FINCH were there on the 6th. A flock of over 50 REDPOLLS was at Mer Bleue on the 2nd.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 2 February 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


White-throated Sparrow photographed by Ann Lambert at McLarens Landing


By and large, birding conditions were rather static this week, and there were no real highlights.

Weather was considerably colder but temperatures were still near normal. There was a lot of cloud and light precipitation but no major accumulation.

The extended spell of milder weather has resulted in an expansion of the area of open water in the rivers. These situations in winter sometimes cause an influx of waterfowl or gulls from the Great Lakes, and may have been a factor in the appearance of a LONG-TAILED DUCK on the 28th in the Deschênes Rapids. Otherwise the uncommon overwintering ducks continued this week again: HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman, BUFFLEHEAD at Bate Island, WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road. Joining them, a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, rare at this time year, is still making occasional appearances on the Rideau River from Hurdman to Carleton University.

Other notable sightings this week included:

  • An adult GOLDEN EAGLE was seen from Steele Line Road west of Westbrook on the 2nd
  • A BELTED KINGFISHER was in Chapman Mills on the 29th
  • Multiple sightings of both NORTHERN FLICKER and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continue in the region
  • Up to 4 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were on Berry Side Road on the 28th; up to 3 are in the Luskville area, most recently seen on the 1st
  • TUFTED TITMOUSE is still being seen in Quyon and Fitzroy Harbour
  • CAROLINA WREN is still semi-regular in the Carlington area and Carleton Place
  • Up to 2 CHIPPING SPARROWS continue at a feeder in Carleton Place as late as the 28th
  • 2 PURPLE FINCH were in Breckenridge on the 29th and in Richmond on the same day
  • 2 PINE GROSBEAK were in Gatineau on the 26th
  • 14 PINE SISKIN were at the north end of Torbolton Ridge Road on the 30th

SPECIAL NOTE

In the last few weeks there has been a modest influx of GREAT GRAY OWLS into Eastern Ontario and Southern Quebec. These birds are moving south due to a food shortage and are almost certainly under severe stress. One was found starved to death in a residential area. There is another report of an owl being vigorously harassed by groups of people. Should you encounter a GREAT GRAY OWL, you are strongly urged to follow the birders’ Code of Conduct and minimize disturbing it. These birds are easily flushed; being disturbed is energy intensive and hampers their search for food.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 26 January 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


Chipping Sparrows photographed by Michael Jacques in Carleton Place


There were 2 highlights this week. 2 TRUMPETER SWANS were in Carleton Place on the 22nd, and 3 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were on MacLaren’s Sideroad on the 21st. However, by and large, there was very little change from the previous week.

Weather this week generally had above seasonal temperatures, and not much precipitation, so it was fairly easy on the remaining birds and for birders looking for them.

The uncommon overwintering DUCKS continued this week again-HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman, BUFFLEHEAD at Bate Island, WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road. Joining them, a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, rare at this time year, has made occasional appearances on the Rideau River from Hurdman to Carleton University.

Other notable sightings this week included:

  • 2 GOLDEN EAGLES were seen from Steele Line Road on the 26th
  • 9 GRAY PARTRIDGE were in the Cope Drive area on the 21st
  • Multiple sightings of both NORTHERN FLICKER and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continue in the region
  • 4 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS are sometimes seen in the Morgan’s Grant area of Kanata, most recently on the 23rd
  • TUFTED TITMOUSE is still being seen in Quyon and Fitzroy Harbour
  • CAROLINA WREN is still semi-regular in the Carlington area and Carleton Place
  • Up to 2 CHIPPING SPARROWS continue at a feeder in Carleton Place as late as the 24th
  • A FOX SPARROW continues at a feeder in the Meadowlands Drive area as of the 26th
  • A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was in Aylmer on the 21st
  • A PURPLE FINCH was in Constance Bay on the 24th
  • 2 PINE GROSBEAK were in Carp on the 20th

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 19 January 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


American Robin photographed by Eric Leger in Gatineau Park


As was the case last week, there were no real highlights. One item of interest is that a second TUFTED TITMOUSE has appeared in the region, this one at a feeder in the Fitzroy Harbour area. Meanwhile, the other one continues in the Quyon area.

Weather was relatively dry and mild most of the week with a bit of melting, a pleasant break from the constant snow of past weeks. Conditions were relatively static, birdwise, which is no big surprise at this time of the year.

The uncommon overwintering DUCKS continued this week again-HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman (2 were present at one point), WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road. Joining them, a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, rare at this time year, has made occasional appearances at Hurdman.

There were still 4 species of GULL at the Trail Road landfill on the 13th, but in very small numbers.


Northern Goshawk photographed by Lise Leduc south of Sarsfield on 14 January 2017


Among the less common raptors, a NORTHERN GOSHAWK was south of Sarsfield on the 14th, and an AMERICAN KESTREL was in Antrim and in Masson-Angers. GOLDEN EAGLE is making irregular appearances in the Steele Line/ Eardley-Masham Road area.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are still reliable in Gatineau and Fallowfield.

4 GRAY PARTRIDGE were in the area around Cope Drive/ Robert Grant on the 17th, and 9 on the 18th, the first time seen in this area in some months.

A GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET was at Hurdman, and 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS are making regular appearances in the 5th Line/ 6th Line /Berry Sideroad area, but are moving around quite a bit. 2 of the same species are also making regular appearances in the Luskville area. A WINTER WREN was in the Dunrobin area on the 15th, and the CAROLINA WREN is singing regularly but briefly in the Carlington area.

A WHITE-CROWNED SPARRROW was in the Luskville area as late as the 17th, while a CHIPPING SPARROW has reappeared at a feeder in Carleton Place. A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was in a flock of 100 SNOW BUNTINGS on Giroux Road on the 17th.

Winter FINCHES remain few and far between. Small numbers of PINE GROSBEAK are being seen in the Steele Line/ Eardley-Masham Road area, and an EVENING GROSBEAK was seen there on the 14th. COMMON REDPOLL was at the Conroy Pit on the 17th, and PURPLE FINCH was at Richmond on the 18th, but generally sightings of winter FINCHES remain quite limited.



Male Northern Pintail among a flock of Mallards photographed by Sami Zeitouni at a pond on Iber Road near Abbott.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 12 January 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


Carolina Wren photographed by Anne Marie Todkill in her backyard in Alta Vista


There were no real highlights this week, but there was a late report of 4 BOREAL CHICKADEE on the 2nd on Trail 3 off Camp Fortune Road.

Birding conditions were relatively static, and so was the bird population. The resident birds resided, and the lingering birds lingered. As is normal in January, great swathes of field and forest were bereft of birds, with pockets of activity at feeders and in the open water. The weather was a mix of freezes, thaws, snow, rain, freezing rain and sun, every type of winter weather all in the same week.


One of four Eastern Bluebirds photographed by Tony Beck at Berry Side Road on 7 January


The uncommon overwintering DUCKS continued this week-HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman (another was at the Champlain Bridge on the 7th), WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road. GULLS have diminished considerably, but there was still a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Trail Road Landfill on the 7th. The other lingering flowing-water-dependent bird, BELTED KINGFISHER, was on the Jock River at Greenbank on the 8th and on the 6th in Gatineau Park.

GRAY PARTRIDGE were their elusive selves, mostly buried in snow and cornstalks, and were last seen in the Eagleson-Rushmore area on the 6th, but were near Carp on the 8th and in the Russell area on the 7th.


Common Mergansers (female at left, male at right) photographed near Hurdman by Keith Wickens


There have been a number of spots for fairly reliable RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER-Gatineau, Fallowfield, and March Valley Road. GOLDEN EAGLES were seen from time to time on Steele Line Road and the vicinity. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was seen near Magladry/ Canaan north of Larose Forest.

4 EASTERN BLUEBIRD were on Berry Side Road on the 7th, and 3 near Luskville on the 12th. CAROLINA WREN is fairly regular in Carlington and Carleton Place, and a TUFTED TITMOUSE continues near Quyon as late as the 12th.


Bald Eagle photographed by Eric Leger at Strathcona Park


A FOX SPARROW is still regular in the Meadowlands area as late as the 8th, and finally, 5 PINE GROSBEAK were near Lac Philippe on the 10th, and 2 were in the Steele Line area on the 8th.

NOTE: There have been a number of recent sightings of AMERICAN ROBIN, which has surprised some people. AMERICAN ROBIN is now a regular winter resident in modest numbers, and is not a sign of spring. The numbers of over-wintering AMERICAN ROBINS has been rising steadily for several decades, with this year being the most ever. While the reasons are undoubtedly complex, the increasing number of bushes and trees with over-wintering fruit is undoubtedly a factor. This is a fairly hardy bird and can handle our winters provided there is sufficient fruit available.



Ottawa and area bird sightings to 5 January 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


Carolina Wren photographed in Carleton Place by Tony Beck


There was a GRAY JAY, an increasingly scarce bird in the region, on the Forêt Larose Christmas Bird count on the 2nd but the bird has not been relocated. Otherwise the highlight of the week was 2 different THAYER’S GULL, seen briefly a few times at the Trail Road Landfill on the 31st-5th. There was a late sighting from the Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on the 27th, a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, quite rare in the winter, coming to a feeder.

Temperatures were again above seasonal most of the week, but like last week birders were hampered on 31st by heavy snow and on the 3rd-4th by more freezing rain and snow. However, there was a lot of birder activity especially on the 1st as everyone started their year list afresh. As of press time, about 75 species have been seen in the region so far this year, and there are probably about another 10 that are here and have not yet been seen.


Common Goldeneye eating a mollusk, photographed by Keith Wickens at Hurdman Bridge.


The Dunrobin-Breckenridge CBC on the 3rd, produced a few interesting sightings, most notable of which was a TURKEY VULTURE on Baird’s Sideroad in Fitzroy Township, and 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS on 5th Line Road.

The HARLEQUIN DUCK continues in the fast water under and near the Hurdman Bridge. The BARROW’S GOLDENEYE is usually present there but sometimes it appears to move temporarily to near Bate Island where it joins a second one. Up to 10 BUFFLEHEAD are there too. Other lingering waterfowl are as follows:

  • An AMERICAN WIGEON and up to 2 WOOD DUCKS at Billings Bridge.
  • A NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road and 2 at Breckenridge on the 3rd.
  • A RED-BREASTED MERGANSER at Bate Island as late as the 2nd.


Belted Kingfisher photographed near Greenbank and Cambrian Roads by Tony Beck


GRAY PARTRIDGE remain irregular in the Eagleson-Rushmore area as recently as the 5th. A BELTED KINGFISHER was at a stormwater pond near Greenbank and Cambrian on the 5th.

Trail Road Landfill and area have had up to 6 species of GULLS. A single LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL is with small numbers of both ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULL. GULLS may be on the frozen Moodie Drive Pond and hard to identify, or they may be flying over the landfill site and glimpses are close but fleeting.

GOLDEN EAGLE in the Steele Line area on the 1st and 2 on the 5th, NORTHERN GOSHAWK in Larose forest on the 2nd and Steele Line on the 5th, and somewhat late NORTHERN HARRIERS near Shirley’s Bay and Richmond were notable among the RAPTORS. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have been regular in Fallowfield village and Gatineau.

A TUFTED TITMOUSE is still regular near QUYON, as is the CAROLINA WREN in Carlington. A HERMIT THRUSH was in Merivale Gardens on the 1st.

Last, a COMMON GRACKLE was at Baie Noire on the 2nd and a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was on Rushmore Road on the 2nd, and 7 PINE GROSBEAK were on Iber Road on the 4th.


Earlier sightings available on request ofnc@ofnc.ca

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