Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, Region 24 (Ottawa)
Region 24 (Ottawa) Report for 2004
by Christine Hanrahan
It is reassuring to note that Region 24 is in great shape as we enter the fifth and final year of the project. Most of the squares are well covered with 39 reporting over 100 species, and a further 24 reporting between 90 and 99 species. Many squares have met or far exceeded the criterion of a minimum 30 species with confirmed breeding. Plans for 2005 will focus on completing the squares still needing some work, increasing our point count data and targeting nocturnal and crepuscular species.
A big Thank You to all the volunteers who worked so hard in 2004 to make our region a success.
Atlassing Results – 2004
Breeding evidence has now been found for one hundred and eighty-three (183) species, with confirmed breeding for one hundred and fifty-seven (157) species (Table 1).
Completion criteria: 90 species per square west of Ottawa, 80 species east of the city, with 30 species confirmed breeding per square. Partial squares to match or come close to figures set by the last atlas (see Table 2).
- 76 squares completed
- 10 squares need more work
Common Goldeneye was recorded on 18UR90, as a possible breeder. This is the first breeding record for our region. Another report of nesting Common Goldeneye in VR71 came in too late to check out this year, but the observation will be followed up in 2005. During the last atlas only one of the 6 eastern regions reported the species (Region 26, Pembroke). This time around, every region is showing records for Common Goldeneye, with a total of 19 squares in 6 regions reporting. This is another cavity nesting duck, typically found during breeding season on small ponds or lakes. Keep your eyes open during nesting season for this species in 2005, particularly if your square encompasses small ponds in wooded areas.
Brewster’s Warbler, a hybrid between Golden-winged Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler, was recorded with fledged young on VR12. Because hybrids can give the song of either parent, the atlas decided that song alone was not an accurate enough indicator to name the species unless the bird was also seen, hence the designation on the data card of “Blue/Golden-winged Warbler.” Not surprisingly, neither Golden-winged or Blue-winged Warblers are common in our region, with only 6 squares reporting Golden-winged Warbler, none reporting Blue-Winged Warbler, and 3 recording “Golden/Blue-winged species.”
Palm Warbler, is a species with specific habitat conditions. As noted in the last atlas (1987) “the critical habitat components seem to be openings with sphagnum moss and shrub cover adjacent to spruce or tamarack.” This type of habitat is scarce in eastern Ontario, but both Mer Bleue and Alfred Bog supply appropriate habitat. Little surprise then, that if the species was going to breed it would do so in either or both of these places. In our region, a family of fledged young was recorded in the Mer Bleue Bog (VR62), while in Region 23 two squares, both encompassing the Alfred Bog, also reported Palm Warbler. During the last atlas, this species was recorded as a ‘probable’ breeder in Mer Bleue. The 2004 record constitutes an important and exciting find!
More News Cape May Warbler: One of the more interesting examples of a range extension is that of the Cape May Warbler. During the first atlas the closest this species came was the Pembroke region. Despite considerable suitable habitat, there were no records for our region, and the species was generally considered to be a more northerly breeder. Things have changed notably since then, and we now have 16 squares reporting Cape May Warbler, two with confirmed breeding evidence. Records come from both east and west of the region, with 3 separate pairs located in Larose Forest near Bourget.
Bay-breasted Warbler is another species showing a marginal increase in the number of squares this atlas (3 compared to 1). The slight increase is apparent in adjoining regions where this species is also slightly more common than last time.
Sandhill Crane reports increased significantly in 2004. Two confirmed breeding records come from UR57 (Westmeath) and VR62, Mer Bleue where they have bred for for the 2nd year. In addition, 7 other squares reported this species as either possible or probable breeders.
Other species showing increases: Not surprisingly, the trends made apparent in the first year of this atlas (2001) have carried on. Wild Turkeys, Turkey Vultures, Merlins, Northern Cardinals and House Finches continue to be reported on a significant proportion of squares compared to last atlas. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is another species which, interestingly, has spread into the more agricultural areas of the region, occupying some of the scattered small woodlots. A comparison of the species maps for the last atlas and the present one show a very large white hole in the middle of the region where no sapsuckers were recorded between 1981-1986. Data thus far shows them present on 82 out of 86 squares.
Declining species: In the fall of 2004, Denis Lepage of Bird Studies Canada, compared species found on the first atlas with the species found, to that date, on the second. He drew up a quick chart of the top 20 declines (and the top 20 increases). While no interpretation was offered for this preliminary data, his results are interesting and support declines that we have noted in our region, including: Common Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, Bank Swallow, Blue-winged Teal, Red-headed Woodpecker and Purple Martin.
More News and Views from 2004
During 2004 we needed help with point counts, owling, confirmations, responsibility for covering relinquished squares, assisting other atlassers, and helping out with the 5 Perth squares. Offers of help were forthcoming from many wonderful volunteers who said, in essence, “tell me where you want me to go and I’ll go”! These outstanding efforts mean we have achieved many of our goals, leaving us the luxury of focusing efforts on specific areas in 2005. Kudos to those who went that extra mile and to all who participated in 2004.
‘Owl Square Bashes’ were held each weekend in April. Unfortunately, despite often good weather conditions, owls were in short supply.
Forward to 2005
With our very last chance to look for atlas data, we are suggesting a different approach for this final year. While we encourage atlassers to continue working in their squares, particularly if the confirmation rate is less than the minimum 30 species, or the total is less than our criteria (see above), we’d also like atlassers to treat Region 24 as if it was one big square. More eyes and ears equal more data and that can only add to the common good of our region and the atlas as a whole. We also urge other birders to help out in the last year. There is still much that can be done. In particular, we want to focus on specific groups of birds, as below, and on point counts.
Point Counts are crucial for providing data on abundance levels for species which in turn helps us understand bird populations. Point counts are a simple and fun way to gather this abundance data. If you haven’t yet done any in your square, please consider doing so. We are also looking for volunteers willing to go into squares and complete point counts where the atlasser has indicated a need for assistance. Region 24 is required to complete point counts on at least 50%, or 43 of our 86 squares, with a minimum of 25 point counts in a square. However, those squares having less than 5% land mass are considered complete with fewer point counts. To date, 36 squares have completed the required number of point counts. A further 25 have completed some point counts, and of those,14 need fewer than10 additional point counts to be considered complete. As can be seen, we are almost there. If you would like to focus attention on this aspect of atlassing in 2005, we’d be delighted. Table 2 displays the number of point counts completed per square.
Nocturnal and Crepuscular Birds
As we did last year, efforts will again concentrate on owls and crepuscular species such as Whip-poor-wills, Common Nighthawks, and American Woodcocks. Owls, as many of you now know, have been relatively scarce, especially when compared with the first atlas. We really need to determine whether this is a true reflection of the status of owls, particularly in our region, a reflection of lack of effort, or just sheer bad luck on our part the nights we go owling!
Helping Out in Other Regions
In 2004 we assumed responsibility for 5 squares from Region 25, Perth (18UQ68, 18UQ69, 18UQ87, 18UQ88, and 18UQ99). All have received good coverage thanks to those stalwart volunteers who offered to take on responsibility for the squares.
However, some of the adjacent regions still need help. This is an excellent opportunity for you to explore new and exciting territory where the habitat in many cases, is quite different from what one is used to around Ottawa. One of the volunteers who atlassed in Region 25 said “At last! Birds!!” Mind you, he’d been atlassing primarily in the ‘cornbelt’. Nonetheless, his point is well taken. The richness of regions west of us can be astonishing and correspondingly satisfying to atlas. If you are interested, please contact me in early spring.
Final Atlas Meeting with Mike and Nicole
The final meeting of the atlas project with Mike Cadman and Nicole Kopysh, will take place at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on Saturday, April 2nd, 2005. Watch the local online atlas pages for more details closer to the time.
If You Want to get Involved
We still need you! Help out by joining us in looking for owls, participating in point counts, focussing on finding confirmed breeding evidence, or going out on a one-time only birding trip (we’ll let you know the areas we need covered and the best time to go and supply you with as much information as you want or need).
More Information can be obtained by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and by checking the local atlas web pages on the OFNC site www.ofnc.ca/birding/bbatlas.html and the main atlas web site: www.birdsontario.org. The toll-free atlas number is 1-866-900-7100.
Atlas Volunteers 2003
As always we are supremely grateful to the volunteers who devoted so much time and energy to the atlas again in 2004: Ken Allison, Tim Allison, Ruth Allison, Ted Baldwin, Ron Bedford, Gord Belyea, Cliff Bennett, Lynda Bennett, Marg Benson, Ludmilla Borshevsky, David Britton, Richard Brouillet, Peter Browne, Gerhard Bruins, Emily Burton, Janet Castle, Dale Crook, Ron Curtis,, Erica Dunn, Peter Fuller, Anne-Marie Fyfe, Marcel Gahbauer, Colin Gaskell, Jessica Gawn, Mark Gawn, Stephen Gawn, Carol and Alan German, Jim Gillick, Al Graham, Marc Gravel, Christine Hanrahan, Mark Hovorka, Roy John, Paul Jones, Michael Kahn, Anthony Keith, Rick Killeen, Maryanne Koot, Bernie Ladouceur, Sandy Lang, Marc Latremouille, Rob Lee, Dick Mabee, MacNamara Field Naturalists, Paul and Michelle Martin, Bev McBride, Joy and Ralph McGiffin, Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, Dave Moore, Mick Panesar, Bev Peterkin, Eric Ridgen, Jack Romanow, Cameron Sangster, Paul Schoening, , Arnie Simpson, Dan and Chris Simpson, Langis Sirois, Dave Smythe, Daniel St. Hilaire, Blair Stevens, Austin Taverner, Eve Ticknor, Sloane Watters, Laurie L. Wood, Kim Zbitnew, Eleanor Zurbrigg
Table 1: Region 24 Ottawa: Cumulative Results (2001-2004)
Species in bold are new for 2004. Numbers in the table represent number of squares.
Table 2: Species totals and confirmations per square
Squares and point counts in boldface are considered complete.