Recent bird sightings

/Recent bird sightings
Recent bird sightings 2018-02-21T23:02:03+00:00

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 February 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.

Up to 3 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS continue to be reasonably “gettable” in Constance Bay, most often seen on a trail off Ritchie or at feeders at a nearby house.   They were last seen on the 21st.

An unusual mild spell has brought some early migrants to the area, but there has been nothing dramatic yet.  Stay tuned as spring gets nearer.

A GADWALL in Carleton Place on the 21st, as was a HOODED MERGANSER in Appleton on the same day. Both these were likely enticed by the mild spell.  A BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was at the Champlain Bridge on the 17th.  For the other continuing birds, the AMERICAN WIGEON continues at Britannia as of the 19th, while the NORTHERN PINTAIL continues on Iber Road as of the 17th.  WOOD DUCKS continue at Billings Bridge as of the 18th.

Among the other interesting sightings were:

  • A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at Lac Kingsmere on the 19th
  • GOLDEN EAGLE on the Eardley-Masham Road on the 19th
  • 6 GRAY PARTRIDGE in Kanata on the 20th
  • A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in the Winchester area on the 18th
  • A COMMON GRACKLE on Russell Road south of Mer Bleue on the 20th. 2 were in Kanata on the 21st, and these may well be early migrants
  • 2 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS in Metcalfe on the 18th
  • 4 LAPLAND LONGSPURS near Morewood on the 18th

There continue to be scattered reports of RED CROSSBILL, mostly in the northern areas, while there are a quite a few more of PINE SISKIN, a number of them flying over the city. 5 PINE GROSBEAKS were seen on a trail east of the Champlain Bridge on the 15th.  1 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL was in Constance Bay on the 19th, while 3 were on the Eardley-Masham Road on the 17th.

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 15 February 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Pair of Mallards in Britannia photographed by Deborah Mosher

The RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS continue in Constance Bay; the most recent sighting was the 14th.

There has been little change to either the weather or the bird population, not that much is expected at this time of year. However, and while it may hard to believe, in a few weeks we will be looking for signs of spring, although it may be quite some time afterwards that we actually see them.

The AMERICAN WIGEON continues at Britannia as of the 14th, while the NORTHERN PINTAIL continues on Iber Road as of the 14th.  WOOD DUCKS continue at Billings Bridge as of the 11th.

A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was in Russell on the 14th, and on the same day a GOLDEN EAGLE was on Steele Line.

A NORTHERN FLICKER has been at a feeder in Manotick on the 9th and 14th.

3 species of GULL-HERRING, GLAUCOUS and GREATER BLACK-BACKED-were at the Trail Road Landfill on the 12th.  This was a small influx likely result of a brief mild spell.

7 GRAY PARTRIDGE continue in Kanata on the 12th.

A NORTHERN SHRIKE was on the Thomas Dolan parkway on the 11th.

The WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW continues in Luskville as of the 13th, and there was one near Hallville on the 15th. A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was near Hallville also on the 15th.

A feeder in Gatineau continues to host SONG SAPRROW, 2 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and a COMMON GRACKLE on the 13th.

House Finch photographed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia

Among the winter finches, RED CROSSBILLS and PINE SISKINS were in the Lac la Blanche area on the 10th and 60 COMMON REDPOLLS were at Lac Philippe on the 10th. On the Eardley-Masham road, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were present on the 14th, along with the usual RED CROSSBILLS and PINE SISKINS.

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 8 February 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Black Duck – Mallard hybrid photographed by Tony Beck at Britannia.

A most unusual sighting highlighted the week. Up to 3 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS, very rare in the winter, were in Constance Bay. They were first seen on the 31st and last seen on the 6th.  Likely they will stick around all winter, but they were not always found when searched for.  A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER flew across Hwy 417 near Carp on the 8th, but this is unlikely to be relocated easily.

Typical winter weather prevailed this week. While generally it has been a quiet week, there are still a few less common birds around, as well as more typical winter birds to chase, if you have not seen them yet.

Among the WATERBIRDS, CANADA GOOSE, NORTHERN PINTAIL and WOOD DUCKS continue at Billings Bridge.

The BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was seen again as late as the 6th at Deschenes, but it has been tough to find.  This bird was seen in Parc Moussette on the 3rd along with 200 COMMON GOLDENEYE (a rather large number), HOODED MERGANSER and 2 BUFFLEHEAD.  So don’t give up if you don’t see the bird on one stretch of the river.  6 HOODED MERGANSERS were near Lac McGregor on the 5th.

Pileated Woodpecker photogarphed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia.

2 GOLDEN EAGLES are still fairly regular on the Eardley-Masham Road at the base of the escarpment.  They were last seen on the 5th.  A  GOLDEN EAGLE was near Dunrobin on the 3rd. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was on Eardley Masham road on the 3rd, and another was in Stony Swamp on the 6th.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at a feeder in Cantley on the 7th.  9 GRAY PARTRIDGE were seen on the Reveler Recreational trails near Cannamore on the 1st, while the ones in Kanata continue as of the 5th.

21 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were in Carp on the 4th.

A number of species continue to linger at feeders.  2 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and a COMMON GRACKLE continue at a feeder in Gatineau as of the 5th. A SONG SPARROW continues at a feeder in Gatineau as well. Another was on Dovercourt on the 3rd.  A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was at the Mer Blue Bog on the 2nd.  The biggest feeder surprise was a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in Luskville from the 4th to at least the 8th.

Pine Siskin photographed by Michelle Martin on the Eardley Masham Road.

WINTER FINCHES are still a bit hit-or-miss.   On the 3rd, the Eardley-Masham Road had 2 PINE GROSBEAKS, several WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS as well as the usual RED CROSSBILLS and PINE SISKINS. WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were seen there again on the 8th, but they have been less regular.  4 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were seen on the Pine Grove trail on the 7th.  RED CROSSBILLS and PINE SISKINS have been near Lac McGregor.  WINTER FINCHES are likely elsewhere in the north but very few people have been in these areas recently. 3 COMMON REDPOLLS were in Gatineau Park (Relais Healey) on the 4th, but this has been the only sighting this week.

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 1 February 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Downy Woodpecker photographed by Deborah Mosher on the ridge at Britannia

A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was seen in a backyard Aylmer on the 30th, but has not been seen since.    Otherwise it was another rather dull week in the region, although typical of the season, with nothing new and mostly typical seasonal birds around.

The weather was relatively dry with a few mild days. The snow cover is actually low for this time of year.

In old news, CANADA GOOSE, WOOD DUCK, NORTHERN PINTAIL and AMERICAN WIGEON continue to be seen in the previously mentioned spots. A RING-NECKED DUCK still in Carleton Place on the 26th.  A BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was seen from the Champlain Bridge area on the 27th.

A GOLDEN EAGLE was on the Eardley-Masham road on the 28th, 7 GRAY PARTRIDGE were still in Kanata as of the 28th, a NORTHERN FLICKER was coming to a feeder in Gatineau on the 26th. 2 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS at the Trail Road Landfill on the 28th. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was near the Giroux Road Ponds on the 31st.

Red Crossbill photographed by Tony Beck near Eardley Marsham Road

Of the WINTER FINCHES, only PINE SISKINS were in the Lac La Blanche area on the 28th. A single female EVENING GROSBEAK was in Larose Forest on the 28th. A WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL was in Gatineau Park (relais Healey) on the 27th. 1 COMMON REDPOLL was at a feeder in Gatineau on the 28th.  The Eardley Masham Road had a few RED CROSSBILLS, and modest numbers of PINE SISKINS.

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 25 January 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

It was a rather dull week in the region.  Of interest was a BARROW’S GOLDENEYE at Carleton Place as late as the 25th, and 1 was in the Deschênes Rapids on the 20th.

The weather was actually fairly pleasant for late January, although the freezing rain on the 23rd has iced up some of the bird’s food sources, and will undoubtedly make travel a little more challenging.

WATERBIRDS were of interest this week.  A new addition to the rare over-wintering DUCKS was a RING-NECKED DUCK at Britannia on the 20-21st and one in Carleton Place on the 24-25th. Meanwhile, WOOD DUCKS are consistent at Billings Bridge.  NORTHERN PINTAILS are inconsistent at Britannia, Billings Bridge and Iber road, and an AMERICAN WIGEON was also inconsistent at Britannia, Billings Bridge, and Hurdman. The LESSER SCAUP was on Iber Road as late as the 20th.

Northern Pintail photographed at Britannia by Deborah Mosher

The small covey of GRAY PARTRIDGE were still in the new housing development off Groningen in Kanata as of the 19th.

2 GOLDEN EAGLES were seen again near the south end of the Eardley Masham road.

2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS were near Carleton Place on the 21st.  Another was on Giroux Road on the 24th.

A NORTHERN FLICKER was north of Aylmer on the 25th.

A BELTED KINGFISHER was in Masham on the 24th.

The Eardley-Masham road had the usual RED CROSSBILLS, with a few flocks of PINE SISKINS and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, but not all were seen every trip.

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 18 January 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

The highlight of the week was a small covey of GRAY PARTRIDGE in a new housing development off Groningen in Kanata that were somewhat gettable on the weekend and as late as the 16th.

Gray Partridge photographed by Michael Tate in Kanata

There was more bitter cold this week followed by milder temperatures which opened up the rivers a bit, but it was pretty much the same old birds seen this week.

There was an addition to the handful of scarce over-wintering DUCKS. A LESSER SCAUP was at the storm outlet on Iber Road. A NORTHERN PINTAIL was there as of the 14th.  The WOOD DUCKS remain at Billings Bridge, and a NORTHERN PINTAIL was there on the 13th.  An AMERICAN WIGEON has been on Pinecrest Creek and at Britannia.  2 HOODED MERGANSERS were seen on the Jock River near Greenbank on the 11th. The BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was seen north of HURDMAN on the 13th. We hope that it sticks around.

A GOLDEN EAGLE was seen from Chemin Therien on the 14th.  A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was near Carp on the 16th.

White-breasted Nuthatch photographed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia

A NORTHERN SHRIKE was in the Richelieu Park-Beechwood area on the 13th, and there were scattered sightings of others in far-flung regions outside the city.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues in Luskville as of the 14th and a NORTHERN FLICKER was in Manotick on the 14th.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was in Luskville on the 14th.  1 was seen on Trail Road on the 11th, and up to 7 have been seen on Steeple Hill Crescent, but not recently.

A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD is coming to a feeder in Dunrobin, as late as the 14th, while 2 were at the Trail Road landfill on the 12th. 2 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and a COMMON GRACKLE continue at a feeder near Masson as of the 16th.  A single BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was at the trail Road landfill as late as the 17th

Northern Cardinal photographed by Tony Beck at Britannia

WINTER FINCHES continue to disappoint us. There are mostly just RED CROSSBILL and PURPLE FINCH on the Eardley-Masham Road, although 2 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were there on the 14th. There have been a number of PINE SISKINS near Lac McGregor and 1 in Sarsfield on the 17th, and a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL there on the 16th. A single EVENING GROSBEAK was in Larose Forest on the 16th.

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 11 January 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

American Wigeon photographed by Deborah Mosher by the channel in Britannia.

After a brief respite, bitter cold returned for a few more days. This was followed by milder temperatures, more snow, freezing rain, rain and a major thaw, all one can ask for in an Ottawa winter, and all in the same week. These were not ideal birding conditions by any stretch, and as last week, mostly only the regular birds were seen, but there were still a few things to chase.

The most interesting area for WATERBIRDS has been Billings Bridge, with a CANADA GOOSE, up to 2 WOOD DUCKS, up to 2 NORTHERN PINTAIL and an AMERICAN WIGEON among hundreds of MALLARDS and small numbers of BLACK DUCKS. An AMERICAN WIGEON was at Britannia and on Pinecrest Creek, and a NORTHERN PINTAIL was at Manotick on the 9th. At least some of these birds are moving around. A BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was finally located on the Rideau south of Carleton University on the 5-6th, but has not been reported since. This species has been disappointing this year due to the lack of open water on the Rideau River. A HOODED MERGANSER was near Vincent Massey Park on the 7th.

The last GULLS seen were 16 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS at Strathcona Park on the 6th.

The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was last reported in Luskville on the 5th. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was on Hamilton Road near Russell on the 8th.

24 CEDAR WAXWINGS at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on the 8th, and a WINTER WREN was at Innis Point on the 8th.

American Crow photographed on Cassels Street in Britannia by Deborah Mosher, who happened to catch him in this shot with his nictitating membrane closed.

Things are so dull that it is actually worth mentioning that a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was in Alta Vista on the 8th. A SONG SPARROW was at a feeder at Carleton University on the 10th and another was at a feeder in Gatineau on the 10th .

While usually only a single one is seen, 17 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS continue at a feeder on Steeple Hill as of the 10th. 8 of them were at the Trail Road landfill on the 10th, with 4 there on the 11th. 2 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and a COMMON GRACKLE continue at a feeder near Masson as of the 10th.

1 LAPLAND LONGSPUR was at Trail Road on the 11th, and another was on Steeple Hill on the 10th among several 100 SNOW BUNTINGS.

8 PINE SISKINS and 2 RED CROSSBILLS were on Trail 50 in Gatineau Park. The Eardley Masham Road produced only RED CROSSBILLS and PURPLE FINCHES this week.

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 4 January 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Winter Wren photographed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia.

There were no real highlights again this week, although there were a few more local Christmas Bird Counts (CBC): Dunrobin-Breckenridge on the 30th and Larose Forest on the 2nd.  Perhaps the biggest surprise, given the weather, a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was near Cope Drive on the 29th-31st, likely the same one there earlier in the month.

Bitter cold continued, frigid even by Ottawa’s low standards, with the coldest day since 2009 on the 1st, chilling the normal enthusiasm on this day.  Temperatures moderated a bit on the 3rd with some light snow.  Overall, birding has been very difficult, and mostly it is just the regular winter birds around. Still, since the start of the year, over 60 species have been seen.

Northern Shrike photographed by Eric Leger in Vanier

There are still reasonable stretches of open water on the Ottawa, but the Rideau north of Hurdman is, unusually, almost completely frozen, markedly reducing the WATERBIRD population.  Aside from a the regulars, there are a few straggling CANADA GEESE here and there, 2 WOOD DUCKS are at Billings Bridge, and an AMERICAN WIGEON has been there and at the Rideau Tennis Club.  A NORTHERN PINTAIL was on Pinecrest Creek on the 1st.

It was too cold even for GULLS.  4 species of GULL were present this week at the Trail Road landfill, but all in very small numbers.

A BELTED KINGFISHER was in Kanata on the 28th and one was in Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham on the 31st.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues at a feeder in Luskville as of the 3rd and a very late YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on the 3rd.

On the Eardley-Masham Road at the base of the escarpment, there were 2 GOLDEN EAGLES on the 1st and the 3rd

7 GRAY PARTRIDGE were near Cope Drive on the 1st.  6-7 were seen the same day on Groningen St.

A WINTER WREN was seen at both Britannia and Innis Point on the 30th. Both CEDAR WAXWINGS and AMERICAN ROBINS were at the Arboretum on the 3rd.

A CHIPPING SPARROW and WINTER WREN were seen on the Dunrobin-Breckenridge CBC.  The SAVANNAH SPARROW continued on Hanson Side Road as of the 29th.

American Robin photographed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia

2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS among 100s of SNOW BUNTINGS on Steeple Hill near Old Richmond road, as late as the 3rd.  Although outside the region, LAPLAND LONGSPURS were found in modest numbers in the agricultural areas east of Casselman.

Up to 6 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS were at a feeder on Steeple Hill as late as the 3rd. Both RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and COMMON GRACKLES were at a feeder near Masson as of the 3rd.  A COMMON GRACKLE was in Kanata South on the 29th, and another was in Galetta on the same day.

The Eardley-Masham Road continues to be the best spot in the region to locate WINTER FINCHES, and the area south of Ramsay Lake is the most reliable area.  While the numbers are low, PURPLE FINCH, PINE SISKIN, REDPOLL, RED CROSSBILL and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL have been seen this week.  There have been a few scattered sightings of EVENING GROSBEAK here and there but not on this road, oddly enough.

Just as a matter of interest, 2017 was a good year in the region, with 275 species seen and 2 new all-time records. Thanks to everyone who contributed bird observations in 2017. We encourage everyone to report their bird sightings on eBird for the benefit of the entire birding community. 

Good birding in 2018!


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 28 December 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Winter Wren photographed at Marshall Bay by Mike Runtz

There were no real highlights this week, as Ottawa fully settled into winter. There were 3 local Christmas Bird Counts, Arnprior-Pakenham on the 26th, Carleton Place on the 27th, and Richmond on the 28th, and they did produce a handful of interesting sightings which will be discussed shortly.

More snow this week was followed by bitter cold on the 27-28th, which made birding rather challenging. Mostly the week was characterized by the expected birds with a very small handful of more interesting species.

Rivers are thoroughly frozen except in the fast sections, and as a consequence only the 6 wintering species of DUCKS were seen, including 2 male BARROW’S GOLDENEYE near the Tennis Club on the Rideau River.  A BELTED KINGFISHER is continuing near Vars as of the 25th, and there is a GREAT BLUE HERON at the Emerald Meadows Storm outlet off Eagleson.

Leucistic Black-capped Chickadee photographed at Flat Rapids by Mike Runtz

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was on Hanson’s Side Road on the 26th, and the one in Luskville was still there on the 22nd.  A NORTHERN FLICKER was in Richmond on the 28th, and another one was in Barrhaven on the 27th.

A NORTHERN HARRIER near Bell’s Corner’s on the 28th was getting late.

20 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were in Almonte on the 25th, and 4 CEDAR WAXWINGS in Stony swamp on the 26th. Neither species is common this winter.  A BROWN THRASHER was near Pakenham on the 26th, and a WINTER WREN was near Galetta also on the 26th (photo above).

A SAVANNAH SPARROW was near Pakenham on the 26-28, an unusual winter visitor (photo below). Modest numbers of both SONG and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS are around.  A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was in Russell on the 26th.

A few BLACKBIRDS are still around.  A COMMON GRACKLE and 2 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were at a feeder in Masson on the 26th, and a RUSTY BLACKBIRD was near Almonte on the 28th.

Savannah Sparrow photographed near Packenham by Tony Beck

There have been a few developments on the WINTER FINCH front. However, it is too early to say if this is the start of something.  On the 26th, a single REDPOLL, PINE GROSBEAK and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL were on the Eardley-Masham road, with small numbers of PURPLE FINCHES, PINE SISKINS, and RED CROSSBILLS.  On the same day on Hanson/ Dark’s side roads near Pakenham there were a PINE GROSBEAK, EVENING GROSBEAK, a few REDPOLLS and a number of PINE SISKINS.  None of those birds seem to be sticking around. A single EVENING GROSBEAK continues at the western edge of Larose Forest.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 December 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Song Sparrow photographed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia

The highlight of the week was the annual Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on the 17th.  Unfortunately, the results were rather pitiful.  The species count of 63 was the lowest in a decade. The snow and cold of the past week were undoubtedly factors in the low showing. 

Numbers of WATERBIRDS, GULLS, and WINTER FINCHES were low. Fruit-eating bird numbers were also very low, with AMERICAN ROBINS less than 10% of last year’s record high, and the lowest in 5 years.  There were no exceptional birds, but still there were some interesting sightings:

  • Aylmer Sector: LONG-TAILED DUCK (Deschênes Rapids), RED-SHOULDERED HAWK,
  • Hull Sector: LAPLAND LONGSPUR,
  • Gatineau Sector: 2 SAVANNAH SPARROWS,
  • Britannia Sector: AMERICAN WIGEON, HERMIT THRUSH, and
  • Ottawa Sector: GRAY CATBIRD, 3 WOOD DUCKS

Snow Bunting, photographed by Perpetua Quigley off Eagleson Road

There was cold weather and snow all week, and we now have typical winter conditions, which means very little around, and little motivation as well. Rivers are mostly frozen except in the faster sections.

Only a few CANADA GEESE remain out of all the thousands of GEESE here as early as last week. 10 species of DUCK were seen this week, 99% of which were the regular winter residents. 2 WOOD DUCKS were still at Billings Bridge as of the 19th.

In the declining area of open water, 4 GREAT BLUE HERONS on the CBC were a record high, and a BELTED KINGFISHER was near Vars on the 14th-19th.

There were a few interesting sightings of RAPTORS.  A GOLDEN EAGLE was in Masson on the 15th, a NORTHERN GOSHAWK was in Russell on the 20th, and a late NORTHERN HARRIER was on Trail Road on the 17th.

Other miscellaneous sightings include:

  • RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER in Luskville on the 18th
  • GRAY CATBIRD at Britannia on the 19th
  • VESPER SPARROW at Cope Drive on the 16th
  • CHIPPING SPARROW at a feeder in Kanata on the 17th
  • SWAMP SPARROW at Lac Beauchamp on the 18th
  • LAPLAND LONGSPUR on Giroux/ Frank Kenny on the 18th and 2 on Akins on the 19th
  • A COMMON GRACKLE and A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD at a feeder in Masson on the 20th
  • 1 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD on Trail Road on the 17th  

Dark-eyed Junco, photographed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia

Finally the first EVENING GROSBEAK was at the feeders on the western edge of Larose forest on the 17th, rather late arrival for this species here.

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 14 December 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

There were no new birds this week, and, sadly, the birding community lost its pride and joy: the BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER at Britannia succumbed to our cruel winter on the 12th.

Real winter finally arrived this week. Heavy snow on the 12th has now completely covered the ground and will likely be with us until March. Cold started on the 11th and we had the coldest day of the season on the 14th. Unfortunately worse is to come, and as luck would have it, just in time for the Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count on the 17th.  Generally birding was quiet, with a few continuing lingerers among the PASSERINES, although the more sensitive of them will be in for a tough ride. However, it has not been cold enough to have a huge effect on the rivers yet, so there is just a bit less variety than last week.  

With the heavy snow, the large flocks of GEESE will not stick around much longer, but this week at least they were still around.  5 species of GEESE were present this week. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was at Ottawa Beach on the 9th and on the same day a ROSS’S GOOSE and a CACKLING GOOSE were near Winchester.  A CACKLING GOOSE was at the Cope drive Ponds on the 11th. Winchester had 8500 SNOW GEESE on the 9th, there were 5000 SNOW GEESE on Frank Kenny on the 10th, and 10,000 in Russell on the 11th.

Aside from the big two, PUDDLE DUCKS are lingering in very small numbers.  Up to 2 NORTHERN PINTAILS were at the Cope Drive Ponds as late as the 13th.  An AMERICAN WIGEON continued at Britannia on the 12th. There was a WOOD DUCK on the 11th at Andrew Haydon Park and 2 at Billings Bridge on the 14th.  16 species of DUCK were present this week, only 7 of which are regular in the winter.

Among other water-dependent birds, there was a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT at Quyon and another at Baie Simard, both on the 10th.  A BELTED KINGFISHER was at Petrie Island on the 9th, in Thurso on the 11th, and at Britannia on the 12th.   There are still a few scattered sightings of GREAT BLUE HERON.

A GOLDEN EAGLE was in Larose forest on the 10th and another was in Constance Bay on the 13th.  

There have been a few scattered sightings of NORTHERN SHRIKE, but it appears that there is a population crash of AMERICAN ROBINS as there are very few this winter compared to last winter.  

Other miscellaneous sightings include:

  • GRAY CATBIRD in Britannia on the 13th
  • HERMIT THRUSH at Britannia on the 11th
  • YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER at Britannia on the 11th
  • RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET at Baie Simard on the 9-10th and 2 at Shirley’s Bay on the 9th  
  • WINTER WREN at Britannia on the 8th
  • 3 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS at Masson on the 11th
  • 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS on Akins Road on the 13th

Finally, the WINTER FINCH story still has a poor cast of characters.  A trip to Lac la Blanche on the 9th produced only a few PINE SISKINS.  There was an injured RED CROSSBILL in Hull on the 8th, and in Almonte a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL flew over on the 13th.

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 7 December 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

European Starling photographed on Trail Road by Greg Zbitnew

There were no new birds this week, but some of the previous week’s “goodies” stuck around for a little longer.  The BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER at Britannia was last seen on the 2nd, and the YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was its usual frustrating self and was last seen at Trail road on the 2nd as well.  

Unseasonably mild conditions kept major water bodies open/ flowing, and combined with the absence of snow cover got the winter birding season off to an excellent start, with about 90 species seen since December 1st. The most surprising find was a NELSON’S SPARROW near the Best Buy in Kanata on the 4th, but not relocated.

At least 100s if not 1000s of SNOW GEESE are still around east of Ottawa, most particularly near Embrun on the 3rd.  We can expect large numbers to continue as long as there is not much snow on the ground, because these geese, despite their name, do not like snow.  A ROSS’S GOOSE continued in the west end, most recently on McKenna Casey on the 6th.   2 CACKLING GEESE were at Andrew Haydon Park on the 6th. DUCK variety and numbers continue to diminish, but there were still 18 species seen this week.

Snow Geese photographed on Sarsfield Road by Janice Stewart

There were a number of other miscellaneous interesting sightings this week:

  • BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON has been regular most of the week at a storm water pond on Cope Drive just after sunset.
  • 8 GRAY PARTRIDGE near Cope Drive on the 3rd.
  • Up to 2 BELTED KINGFISHERS at Petrie Island on the 2nd, and one was at the mouth of the Jock River on the 5th.
  • A NORTHERN FLICKER at Petrie Island on the 2nd to 3rd.  
  • A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER in Orleans on the 4th, and one in Packenham on the 7th.
  • RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET at Bay Simard on the 7th.
  • YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER continues at Britannia as of the 5th.
  • CAROLINA WREN at a feeder in Kanata on the 5th.
  • WINTER WREN in Britannia as of the 2nd.
  • GRAY CATBIRD in Britannia as late as the 2nd.

RED CROSSBILLS continue on the Eardley-Masham Road, and at the Pine Grove Trail a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL flew over on the 7th.  Unfortunately, neither species seems to be increasing in numbers or spreading. 


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 30 November 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Female warbler in snow

Black-throated Gray Warbler photographed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia

There was a real heartbreak this week: an unidentified large ALCID was at Shirley’s bay on the 24th, but was never relocated or identified.  Otherwise, the birds of the week were 2 MUTE SWANS at the Giroux Road Ponds on the 26-28th. The origin of these birds is not positively known, but most birders are considering them wild based on circumstantial evidence.   Meanwhile, 2 of the previous rarities continue. The BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER is still at Britannia as of the 29th, and the YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD continues on and off at Trail road as late as the 29th.

Despite a bit of snow, real winter has not yet arrived in Ottawa, with bare ground and reasonable temperatures still. So there still will be quite a few late-season birds to chase when birding winter starts tomorrow, with lingering SONGBIRDS and still many WATERBIRDS around.

There was still a good variety of WATERBIRDS around, although only the wintering ones were here in larger numbers. 20 species of DUCKS were seen this week, including all 3 SCOTERS on the Ottawa, and BARROW’S GOLDENEYE on the Rideau. Both species of LOON were also seen. The Mississippi River near Carleton Place has a decent variety too.  A ROSS’S GOOSE was at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 25th.

Female warbler eating an ant

Yellow-rumped Warbler photographed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia

Getting very late, a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was on Huntmar Drive on the 26th, and 2 were on Cope Drive on the 25th.  An AMERICAN COOT was at the Giroux Road ponds on the 25th, and a PURPLE SANDPIPER was on Britannia Pier on the 26th, but neither stuck around.

A dark morph GYRFALCON flew over Britannia on the 26th, and 4 GOLDEN EAGLES were on the Eardley escarpment on the 30th.

In other miscellaneous sightings:

  • A  BELTED KINGFISHER was at Petrie Island from the 27-29th
  • A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was at the Arboretum on the 26th and 28th
  • As usual, Britannia near the filtration plant is a great place for late birds:
  • A WINTER WREN was in Britannia as late as the 26th
  • A YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was in Britannia to the 29th
  • A HERMIT THRUSH was in Britannia to the 29th
  • COMMON GRACKLE on the Walkley/ Ramsayville trail on the 24th

Finally, we are still waiting for WINTER FINCHES.  There were 15 COMMON REDPOLLS at Baskin’s Beach on the 26th,  and 20 on the Eardley Masham Road on the 24th which also had 11 RED CROSSBILLS.

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 23 November 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Gray Catbird photographed by Deborah Mosher in Britannia

The bird of the year, a hatch-year ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD, had been present in Carleton Place since at least the 3rd, although the news did not become public until after press time on the 16th.  This is the first regional record, and the first “gettable” one in Ontario.  So it is no surprise that since then a myriad of birders, many from Southern Ontario, have descended on this sleepy town.  All have got looks as it showed up at a feeder every 5-20 minutes for a few seconds to a few minutes.  It was last seen on the 20th. Meanwhile, 2 KING EIDERS appeared at Andrew Haydon Park on the 17th, but they were not seen again.  The BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER was still present in Britannia as of the 19th, then disappeared until the 23rd. The YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD reappeared on Trail Road on the 18th, and was seen again on the 19th and after an absence yet again on the 23rd.   It was among many BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS and EUROPEAN STARLINGS when it was seen, but was usually not present.

The weather turned nasty on the 18th, with freezing rain and the first significant snowfall of the season, hampering birding and affecting the lingering PASSERINES.  Although the weather moderated a bit, essentially we are now in early winter mode. WATERBIRDS are declining but not that rapidly, but on land 99% of the birds present are the residents, with a few lingerers in areas that are sheltered or have more food.

WATERBIRDS declined in numbers, although there were still 22 species around this week, and the major rivers are still running freely.  A BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was north of the Hurdman Bridge on the 20th, and with any luck it will be a regular there for the rest of the winter.  Lake View Park in Carleton Place still has a good supply of WATERBIRDS including 2 REDHEAD and 2 AMERICAN COOTS.

A ROSS’S GOOSE was at the Moodie Drive ponds on and off between the 18th and the 23rd.  A little farther afield, the SNOW GEESE numbers were about 60,000 near the Laflèche Landfill, east of Casselman, on the 16th, although this is still quite a bit lower than some previous years.

A GOLDEN EAGLE flew over the Trail Road landfill on the 19th, and one was not far to the southwest on the 20th.  Another was on Wall Road on the 22nd.

All 6 of the regular GULLS were seen this week at the Trail Road Landfill/ Moodie Drive Ponds.

1 BOHEMIAN WAXWING was among 20 CEDAR WAXWINGS at the Experimental Farm.

Most of the rest of the week was mostly mundane with a few interesting/ lingering birds:

  • A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON was at the Emerald Meadows storm outlet on the 18th.
  • 2 WILSON’S SNIPE in a creek off Klondike, on the 17th.
  • A TURKEY VULTURE was near Carleton Place on the 18th.
  • A HERMIT THRUSH was at Parc du Lac-Leamy on the 21st.
  • A RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was near the Rideau Tennis Club on the 20th, and another was near Rivermead in Aylmer on the 18th and on Eardley-Masham Road on the 23rd.
  • A WINTER WREN continues in Britannia as of the 18th.
  • A GRAY CATBIRD is continuing at Britannia as late as the 20th.
  • The BROWN THRASHER continues at Britannia near the Filtration Plant, as of the 22nd.
  • While not gettable, of course, possibly our latest ever PALM WARBLER was found injured in the Findlay Creek area on the 21st and was taken to the Wild Bird Care Centre.
  • A SAVANNAH SPARROW was seen as late as the 20th on Trail road.
  • A FOX SPARROW was at Britannia on the 22nd.
  • A few late WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were present: Quyon, Trail Road, and Rockcliffe, as late as the 20th.

12 RED CROSSBILLS were on the Eardley Masham Road on the 21st, likely the same group that has been there for the last 6 weeks.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 16 November 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Northern gannet photographed by Mike Tate at Andrew Haydon Park

It was yet another excellent week in the region! There were 2 major highlights, although neither was seen by many. On the 12th, a NORTHERN GANNET flew by Constance Bay headed east and was seen by a few people before it rather unfortunately disappeared just east of Andrew Haydon Park. Also on the 12th, an (immature) YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD showed up at the Trail Road landfill and was seen again on the 13th. It may well still be around. However, it was hard to pick out as it had been travelling with up to 100 COWBIRDS, which themselves were sometimes mixed with nearly 1000 EUROPEAN STARLINGS. The whole group was quite active and often either out of sight in the landfill or out of sight in a ravine. In addition, the BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER was, amazingly, still near the Filtration Plant in Britannia as late as the 16th.

Cooper’s Hawk photographed by Anna Marie Todkill in Alta Vista

The wonderful fall had a brutal end on the 10th, with temperatures well below seasonal and some light snow. It improved a bit later in the week, but all small bodies of still water are frozen. Mud Lake at Britannia was mostly frozen as of the 12th. Creeks are still running and the rivers only have a bit of ice on the edges. Consequently, most areas have been cleared of PASSERINES, and while there are still quite a few WATERBIRDS around, they are starting to disappear and concentrate. You can expect the feeders to become more active, and the remaining birds would tend to concentrate in sheltered microclimates.

There have been a number of enquiries about SNOW GEESE in Eastern Ontario. Unfortunately, the huge numbers we often see in the fall have not been reported yet. On the 9th, there were about 20,000 near the Laflèche Landfill east of Casselman, but that is a fraction of what we have seen in previous years. There is an unconfirmed report of more there in the last few days, but in any case no significant numbers have been seen any closer to the city.

White-winged Scoter at Andrew Haydon Park photographed by Eric Leger

Among the other GEESE, there was a ROSS’S GOOSE at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 10-12th and on Akins road on the 13th. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was in Kanata on the 12th and the Moodie Drive ponds on the 14th.

The variety and numbers of DUCKS has dropped in the last week, but it is still respectable. On the 14th, there were about 400 birds of 14 species of DUCK at Shirley’s bay, the best spot of course. By far the most common one there was COMMON GOLDENEYE. In the region, 22 species of DUCK were seen this week. There was a PIED-BILLED GREBE at Shirley’s Bay on the 14th and at CARLETON PLACE on the 13th, and both locations also had some AMERICAN COOTS. Both species of LOONS and the common GREBES are still present in reasonable numbers.

There was a late BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON on Cope Drive on the 14th.

SHOREBIRDS have virtually disappeared. There was a SANDERLING at Constance Bay on the 12th, 2 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS at Embrun on the 15th, a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 13th, and 7 DUNLIN at Andrew Haydon Park on the 14th.

There have been a few scattered sightings of GOLDEN EAGLE on favourable days.

There were 7 BONAPARTE’S GULLS at Embrun on the 15th, and a number of sightings of LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, but otherwise the GULL supply was quite ordinary.

Pretty much all of the summer/ migrant PASSERINES have cleared out, and the woods and fields these days are quite quiet. There were, however, quite a few lingerers, some of them decidedly unusual. The most unusual were SWAINSON’S THRUSH at Britannia on the 11th and a NASHVILLE WARBLER, also at Britannia on the 11-16th.

Other notable late sightings include:

  • SAVANNAH SPARROW at Dick Bell Park on the 14th.
  • EASTERN PHOEBE at Constance bay on the 12th
  • BROWN THRASHER on the 11th-16th, and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET until the 16th, both at Britannia.
  • WINTER WREN at Britannia on the 12th.
  • 6 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS near Hammond on the 12th.
  • 20 COMMON GRACKLES on Milton Road on the 14th
  • FOX SPARROW in Carleton Place on the 12th and one in Stony Swamp on the 15th.
  • 2 sightings of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, one at Britannia and the other in Beltown Park.

There were 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS among the 100s of SNOW BUNTINGS on Brownlee Road on the 14th.

Finally, we are still waiting for the WINTER FINCHES. While there were RED and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS at Pine Grove trail on the 12th, these were flyovers, not present on the 11th or the 15th. 2 COMMON REDPOLLS were on Trail Road on the 13th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 9 November 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

It was another excellent week in the region. The highlight was a CAVE SWALLOW near the Almonte Sewage Lagoons on the 5th, where it showed well most of that afternoon and on the 6th as well. This is the first record for Lanark County and the first in the region since 2012.  Meanwhile, the BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER started showing well on the 3rd, east of the ridge at Britannia, and was still present as of the 9th.  This waif has now become one of region’s most photographed birds!

There was no major weather change. It was mostly cloudy and rainy until the 6th, then sunnier, with temperatures near to above average. However, all that will change by the 10th with unseasonably cold temperatures on tap, and the likely freezing of smaller bodies of water.  So be forewarned that many of the sightings mentioned this week will of mostly historical interest when this happens.

The heavy rain recently has left a number of flooded fields in the west end that have attracted some scarcer GEESE, notably ROSS’S and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE. Some recent spots have been John Shaw Road, near Brophy at Twin Elm, and Old Coach Road.

WATERBIRDS remained reasonably plentiful, although somewhat diminished in numbers. Variety was still good, with 26 species of DUCKS seen the region this week. Notable additions were the first BARROW’S GOLDENEYES of the fall/ winter, with 2 and a hybrid being seen at or near Shirley’s Bay on the 7th.  A BLUE-WINGED TEAL in Russell on the 8th was late.  Another sign of (impending) winter was the first HARLEQUIN DUCK of the season, a female  in Baie Simard on the 8th.

Long-tailed Duck photographed by Keith Wickens at Andrew Haydon Park.

Over 1000 ducks of 12 species were at Baie Noire on the 3rd, including 2 EURASIAN WIGEON. 13 PIED BILLED GREBES and 4 AMERICAN COOTS were also there on the 3rd.

A somewhat late PIED-BILLED GREBE was at the Moodie Drive Ponds, and both species of LOON are still regular on the Ottawa River.

The GREAT EGRET was last seen at Andre Haydon Park on the 3rd.

The same flooded fields were good for some late SHOREBIRDS.  Notable was the 12th concession north of Pakenham, with 5 species seen as late as the 6th. John Shaw road hosted some SHOREBIRDS as well.

A TURKEY VULTURE was in Pakenham and near Antrim on the 6th.   A GOLDEN EAGLE was in Constance Bay on the 3rd and at Pinhey’s Point on the 4th.  A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was at Britannia on the 3rd.

Generally the decent weather has been favourable for lingering PASSERINES.  Some other miscellaneous sightings of note this week included:

  • On the 5th, 1 LAPLAND LONGSPUR near Pakenham and 2 near Carp.
  • An EASTERN BLUEBIRD near Carleton Place on the 3rd and on 5th line road near Dunrobin on the 9th.
  • RUSTY BLACKBIRDS at Parc du Lac Beauchamp on the 4th.
  • FOX SPARROW in Carleton Place on the 8th.
  • 2 WINTER WRENS at Forêt Boucher on the 3rd.
  • BELTED KINGFISHER in Britannia on the 7th.
  • GRAY CATBIRD in Britannia on the 4th. WILSON’S SNIPE at Andrew Haydon park on the 4th.
  • CHIPPING SPARROW in Kanata on the 5th.
  • WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in Britannia on the 3rd.
  • YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER at the Experimental Farm Arboretum

Among the FINCHES, the first COMMON REDPOLLS of the season were in Sarsfield on the 6th.  PINE SISKIN were in Britannia on the 5th and about a dozen RED CROSSBILLS continued on Eardley-Masham Road on the 7th.

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 2 November 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

It was an excellent week in the region, at least for those lucky enough to see the rarities. A RAZORBILL, the second record for the region, was found at Constance Bay on the 31st, and presumably the same bird was found at Dick Bell Park on the 1st where it swam/ flew east and was not relocated.  This may very well have been the unidentified ALCID seen on the 30th in the same area.

Razorbill, photographed at Britannia Pier by Mike Tate

On the 2nd, a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, again only the second record for the region, was found at Britannia and was seen for a few hours. Of lesser importance but still interesting, the first PURPLE SANDPIPERS of the year were seen flying around (but not landing) at Dick Bell Park on the 31st-1st.

Black-throated Gray Warbler photographed at Britannia by Tony Beck

There were still a few mild days this week, but starting on the 30th almost continuous rain and at times very windy conditions prevailed. This was likely the reason for at least some of the rarities to have been present.  It was again an excellent week for WATERBIRDS, and thus the Ottawa River was the place to be.

Regionally, 22 species of DUCK were seen this week.  As last week, Andrew Haydon Park to Shirley’s Bay was the best spot.  The dynamic conditions on the 31st-1st led to some large flocks of SCOTERS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS and BRANT, as well as a few RED-THROATED LOONS.  For those closer to Carleton Place, Mississippi Lake has had a good selection of WATERBIRDS too.

A late GREAT EGRET was still at Andrew Haydon Park on the 2nd.

Dynamic conditions on the 31st-1st saw a few 100 DUNLIN, mostly flying around the Lac Deschenes area, with a SANDERLING at Constance Bay on the 31st.  SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER in Russell on the 1st.  An AMERICAN WOODCOCK in Dunrobin on the 31st was getting a bit late.

Some miscellaneous sightings this week:

  • 6 GOLDEN EAGLES flew over Constance Bay on the 31st.
  • A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was in the Stony Swamp area on the 27th.
  • A very late TREE SWALLOW was in the Richmond Conservation area on the 28th.
  • A CAROLINA WREN was in Kanata on the 2nd.
  • 2 LAPLAND LONGSPUR were on Rushmore Road on the 30th.
  • 3 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were at the Arboretum on the 28th.

Most SPARROWS are getting harder to find, but still at Britannia were SONG SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and a late FOX SPARROW on the 2nd.


Earlier sightings are available on request ofnc@ofnc.ca