Recent bird sightings

/Recent bird sightings
Recent bird sightings 2019-03-22T08:39:30+00:00

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

NOTE: Sightings of GYRFALCON will no longer be mentioned in the weekly reports. This is to be consistent with eBird policy on this species due to its sensitivity and vulnerability.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 March 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

American Robin photographed at Britannia by Nina Stavlund.

The highlight(s) of the week were some actual signs of spring with some migration and firsts of the year (FOY).

There was a significant thaw on the 14-15th and again on the 20-21st, but the first was followed by cold, and the second looks to be followed by snow and more cold, so don’t get your hopes up. So far we have only had a trickle of the very earliest migrants, but at least the variety was significant.

FOY include the following, although for most of them there have been very few sightings.

  1. KILLDEER in Elmvale Acres on the 14th.
  2. 75 SNOW GEESE near Morewood on the 20th.
  3. 2 CACKLING GEESE near Fallowfield on the 17th.
  4. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER at Deschênes on the 20th.
  5. PIED-BILLED GREBE in Appleton and the Deschênes Rapids on the 15th.
  6. EASTERN MEADOWLARK on Brownlee Road and near Munster on the 20th.
  7. 2 ICELAND GULLS near Stittsville on the 15th.
  8. COMMON GRACKLE in Beacon Hill on the 15th.
  9. TURKEY VULTURE in Barrhaven on the 14th.
  10. 3 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS at the Greenland Road Hawkwatch on the 20th and another was near Almonte on the 20th.

Ring-billed Gull photographed at Strathcona Park by Judith Gustafsson

A few species have become fairly widespread in the last week. Most notable are the RING-BILLED GULLS, which are being seen at fast food restaurants all over the city. AMERICAN ROBINS and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS are two others being seen in many places.

CANADA GEESE are not everywhere yet in numbers, but over 1100 were seen in Appleton on the 20th.  LONG-TAILED DUCK at Deschênes on the 15th and the (female) BARROW’S GOLDENEYE still at Britannia as of the 20th were somewhat noteworthy.  The RED-NECKED GREBE is still in Appleton as of the 20th.

The Greenland Road Hawkwatch is up and running. On the 15th there was not much but on the 19th there was a GOLDEN EAGLE.  The 20th was good too, but we need more sunny days with winds from the south!

Other notable sightings included:

  1. A CAROLINA WREN was in Cumberland on the 17th.
  2. Now 4 GRAY PARTRIDGE were on Hazeldean Road on the 20th.
  3. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was in the Kitchissippi woods on the 21st, and one in Munster on the 19th.
  4. BELTED KINGFISHER was on Maritime Way on the 20th.
  5. RED CROSSBILL was at Ferme Moore on the 16th.
  6. A HOARY REDPOLL was in Bridlewood on the 18th , at Lac Meech on the 16th, and on Hilda Road on the 19th.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 14 March 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

American Crow photographed at Billings Bridge by Judith Gustafsson

The highlight of the week was 2 (!) BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS, which were seen briefly north of the Dewberry Trail on the 9th, but were not relocated despite a lot of searching.  5 GRAY PARTRIDGE were last seen on Hazeldean Road on the 9th.

Snow and below seasonal temperatures until a small break on the 14th kept Ottawa in winter conditions. Unfortunately the mild spell will be short-lived, and the emergence of real spring conditions will likely be delayed for yet another week. The arrival of RING-BILLED GULLS at their colony at Britannia were a small sign of spring, but they are not yet widespread. A GLAUCOUS GULL was at the Trail Road landfill on the 13th.

A RED-NECKED GREBE was at Appleton on the 13-14th.  Up to 5 LESSER SCAUP were in Carleton Place, and a BARROW’S GOLDENEYE there until the 12th. A Female BARROW’S GOLDENEYE at Britannia most of the week. Other WATERBIRDS were not notable.

Female Barrow’s Goldeneye. Taken at Britannia by Deborah Mosher.

A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was near Richmond on the 9th, and a GOLDEN EAGLE was near at Carleton Place on the 14th.

A NORTHERN FLICKER was in Manotick on the 13th. The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues in the Kitchissippi woods as late as the 12th.  One was in the Dunrobin area on the 9th.

A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD near Richmond on the 10th must surely be a scout for the hoped for coming flood.

A CAROLINA WREN continues at a feeder in Cumberland as of the 14th.

A HOARY REDPOLL was at the Hilda Road feeders on the 9th. COMMON REDPOLLS and EVENING GROSBEAKS are present in numbers on Belvedere Road west of Hammond, with scattered sightings elsewhere. A PINE GROSBEAK continues at the Conroy Pit.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 7 March 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Sharp-shinned Hawk photographed by Dale Poulter in Barrhaven

GRAY PARTRIDGE, now 5, were last seen on the 5th near Hazeldean Road southwest of the Carp River.   A TUFTED TITMOUSE was near a feeder south of Rockland on the 28th, but there have been no further reports of this bird.

Weather has been dry but unusually cold for the season. Thus Ottawa continues under the yoke of winter and the situation is not forecast to change for at least a week.

If anyone is still looking for them while they linger, NORTHERN PINTAIL, WOOD DUCKS and HOODED MERGANSER were at Billings Bridge on the 3rd.  BARROW’S GOLDENEYE is still being seen off Bate Island.

A GREAT BLUE HERON was seen near Almonte on the 28th.   A NORTHERN HARRIER at Petrie Island on the 3rd probably was a migrant, so this is another feeble sign of spring.

A RED BELLIED WOODPECKER was near Winchester on the 3rd. A NORTHERN FLICKER was flying over the 416 near Manotick on the 7th, and another was at the Trail Road Landfill on the 3rd.

40 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were near Lac Leamy on the 3rd. The CAROLINA WREN was last seen on the 1st in Navan.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was on Brownlee Road on the 6th.

Horned Lark photographed on Giroux Road by Keith Wickens.

2 HOARY REDPOLLS were among 350 COMMON REDPOLLS at a feeder near Meech Lake-perhaps the largest concentration of the season.  A HOARY REDPOLL was at the Dewberry Trail feeder on the 3rd, and another was at the Hilda road feeders a few times, last on the 6th.

PINE and EVENING GROSBEAKS continue to thin out, but both were at the Conroy Pit. They are still regular in spots in the northern forests, and 17 EVENING GROBEAKS were at the end of Mer Bleue Road.

American Black Duck photographed at Billings Bridge by Judith Gustafsson


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 28 February 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Common Redpoll photographed at the Hilda Road feeders by Trudy Lothian

The 6 GRAY PARTRIDGE were last seen on the 27th near Hazeldean Road southwest of the Carp River.

Aside from that, birding continues to be about as slow as it gets and there have been few reports this week. Although relatively dry most of the week, there was freezing rain and high winds on the 24th, and it has turned cold with the coldest temperatures of the month on the 27th.  Forecasts show no sign of spring at least for the next week.

An adult male BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was in Carleton Place on the 23rd, and a first winter male of the same species was near the Champlain Bridge on the 23rd as well.

Some lingering WATERBIRDS may still be of interest:

  1. 4 HOODED MERGANSERS were at Val des Monts on the 27th, and one was at Billings Bridge on the 26th.
  2. 2 WOOD DUCKS were still at Billings Bridge on the 26th, should anyone still be looking.
  3. A NORTHERN PINTAIL was at Billings Bridge on the 23rd.

A BELTED KINGFISHER was on Maritime Way on the 24th, after an absence of more than a month.

White-throated Sparrow photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Keith Wickens

A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was in Alta Vista on the 25th. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, scarce this winter, was at the Gatineau Airport on the 27th.  A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was in Masson on the 23rd.

NORTHERN SHRIKE is not regular anywhere, but it does show up every week or so at the Dewberry trail feeder.

EVENING GROSBEAKS have disappeared from many spots, but some dependable ones continue at a few feeders: up to 25 at Relais Healey in Gatineau Park, and about 40 at a feeder near Hammond. This feeder is hosting about 70 COMMON REDPOLLS, but the only recent sighting of HOARY REDPOLL was in Orleans on the 25th. Finally, a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was coming to a feeder in Russell on the 26th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 February 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

6 GRAY PARTRIDGE were still being see from time to time on Hazeldean Road on the 15-18th. Although just outside the 50K, an unusual winter bird -a VESPER SPARROW- was at a feeder west of Chesterville.

Gray Partridge photographed on Hazeldean Road by Keith Wickens

Aside from that, there was very little around, birdwise.  Weather at least was dry and sometimes sunny until the 21st.  Amid the general dullness, a RING-BILLED GULL at the Baseline Transitway Station on the 15th may have been a small but true sign of spring. In 1-2 weeks we can hope for some more substantial signs.

A few interesting DUCKS continue to linger:

  1. A GADWALL on Pinecrest Creek on the 16th.
  2. NORTHERN PINTAIL and WOOD DUCK at Billings Bridge on the 20th.

Cooper’s Hawk photographed at Britannia by Eric Leger

The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at Hilda Road as late as the 16th, and there was one in Gatineau and in the woods west of the Champlain Bridge.

A GOLDEN EAGLE was near Luskville on the 17th.

CAROLINA WRENS continued at feeders in Navan, Cumberland and Kanata this week.

BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. This species as well as a few CEDAR WAXWINGS are regular at Hilda Road.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was in the Rushmore-Aikins Road area on the 17-18th.

A HOARY REDPOLL was in the Iris/ Pinecrest area on the 20th, and a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL was in Gatineau park (sentier de la sucrerie) on the 17th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 14 February 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Northern Goshawk photographed on Belvedere Road by Bree Tudker

The highlight this week was probably 6 GRAY PARTRIDGE seen on Robert Grant AND Abbot on the 11th and on Hazeldean Road on the 12th, but they are quite elusive.

Generally birding was very slow, and the major snow blast on the 12-13th did not help one iota. Some of the long-lingering species may have perished, although somewhat surprising the GREAT BLUE HERON on Maritime Way was seen again on the 13th after an absence of nearly 2 weeks.

Leucistic Mallard photographed at Britannia by Deborah Mosher

Most of the lingering DUCKS are still lingering. The latest reports are as follows:

  1. RING-NECKED DUCK and LESSER SCAUP in Carleton place on the 9-11th.
  2. LONG-TAILED DUCK seen from Britannia on the 10th.
  3. 2 WOOD DUCKS still at Billings Bridge,
  4. NORTHERN PINTAIL at Billings Bridge on the 14th.
  5. A GADWALL on Pinecrest creek on the 14th.
  6. An AMERICAN WIGEON at Britannia on the 8th
  7. BARROWS GOLDENEYE seen from Bate Island on the 9th.

The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues at Hilda Road as of the 14th, as is the NORTHERN FLICKER at Chapman Mills on the 12th.

3 GOLDEN EAGLES were on the Eardley Masham Road on the 10th.   2 NORTHERN GOSHAWKS were on Belvedere Road on the 11th, and one was still thereon the 12th.

There are flocks of up to 50 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS widely scattered in the area. The most reliable spot has been the area around the Hilda road feeders. A single CEDAR WAXWING was there on the 11th.

A CAROLINA WREN continues to make periodic visits to a feeder in Navan.

House Sparrow photographed by Judith Gustafsson

Although you would never know it from the landscape, there are only 2 weeks left in the birding winter. For those who are still looking for WINTER FINCHES, There are small to modest groups of COMMON REDPOLLS all over, with single HOARY REDPOLLS among them. The Hilda Road feeder has recently been the best public place to find HOARY REDPOLL.  EVENING GROSBEAKS are scattered here and there, with a few larger flocks outside the city. The Dewberry Trail feeder has about 5-10. PINE GROSBEAKS have scattered reports. The Fletcher Wildlife Garden/ Arboretum is still hosting about 10.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 7 February 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

House Finch photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Judith Gustafsson.

The highlight of last week, the LAZULI BUNTING that had been coming to a private feeder in the Iris/ Pinecrest area, was seen again on the 3rd-4th  after being absent for several days, but it has not been reported since. Aside from this, there was an unusual, possibly our first, February sighting of a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, seen flying near Britannia on the 4th.

Weather on the weekend was poor for birding, and we added the usual cold, and freezing rain on the 4th and 7th. Generally things have been dead outside the feeders and the rivers.  However, at least there have been some interesting birds coming to feeders and on the water.

BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was at Parc Brébeuf on the 6th and near Strathcona Park on the 3rd.  The latest sightings of the lingering DUCKS were:

  1. LONG-TAILED DUCK in the Deschênes rapids on the 5th.
  2. NORTHERN PINTAIL in Britannia on the 5th.
  3. GADWALL at Pinecrest Creek on the 2nd.
  4. 2 WOOD DUCKS at Billings Bridge on the 6th.
  5. AMERICAN WIGEON at Britannia on the 7th.

Northern Pintail photographed at Britannia by Deborah Mosher.

The GREAT BLUE HERON was last seen on Maritime Way on the 1st. The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues near Hilda Road as of the 7th.  A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was in the northwestern portion of Larose Forest on the 3rd, but unfortunately well-in on a ski only trail.

2 GRAY PARTRIDGE were on Sarsfield Road on the 3rd-4th.  CAROLINA WRENS were at feeders in Navan and Orleans on the 3rd.

Other continuing birds included:

  1. ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK at the Dewberry Trail feeder as of the 3rd.
  2. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD in Kanata on the 3rd.
  3. BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD in Russell on the 4th.

A PURPLE FINCH was in Orleans on the 2nd, one of few reports lately.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 31 January 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca 

Male Downy Woodpecker. photographed by Keith Wickens at Britannia.

A sensational, although late, discovery was of a LAZULI BUNTING that had been coming to a private feeder in the Iris/Pinecrest area. This appears to be the first Canadian winter record, and the second Ottawa record of this species, and is one of the rare instances where southern Ontario birders are forced to come north. It had been seen by the homeowner most recently on about the 21st.  It was subsequently seen by hordes of birders, on and near the feeder, unfortunately for mostly very brief intervals, on the 29-30th.  It was not seen on the 31st, despite intense efforts.  The feeders can only be seen from NCC land, and please respect the privacy of the homeowners in your visits to the area as this land backs onto a residential area.

Yet another week with the coldest day of the year (although not exceptional by Ottawa standards) and more snow made birding challenging this week, but it was probably not much worse for most of the birds. Open waters areas continue to shrink, especially near Hurdman.

Mostly the usual lingering DUCKS were present this week:

  1. HOODED MERGANSER and 2 WOOD DUCKS at Billings Bridge.
  2. GADWALL and AMERICAN WIGEON at Britannia.
  3. GADWALL and NORTHERN PINTAIL on Pinecrest creek south of Iris.
  4. LESSER SCAUP at Carleton Place on the 30th.
  5. The first recent sighting of LONG-TAILED DUCK was off Britannia Point on the 31st.

A surprise addition to the winter avifauna was a WILSON’S SNIPE in the Plateau region of Gatineau on the 27th.

2 GOLDEN EAGLES were near Almonte on the 26th, and an AMERICAN KESTREL was in Bridlewood on the 25th.

Mostly the other birds of interest have been previously reported lingering ones.

  1. The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is still on Hilda Road as of the 30th. .
  2. The GREAT BLUE HERON is still on Maritime way as of the 28th.
  3. The ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK is continuing on Dolman Ridge Road as of the 30th.

Not reported previously or not recently were:

  1. A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER in Russell on the 29th.
  2. A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD in Kanata on the 27th.
  3. A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD in the Munster area on the 27th.

WINTER FINCHES continue to be somewhat sparse. A flock of 50-75 COMMON REDPOLLS were in Kanata this week. HOARY REDPOLL was last seen on the 28th in Constance Bay. 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS were on LOCKHEAD ROAD along with 200 SNOW BUNTINGS.

American Wigeon and Gadwall with Mallards at Britannia. Photo by Deborah Mosher


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 24 January 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

The star of the winter, a GYRFALCON, has been seen regularly off Britannia point eating MALLARDS on the ice, most recently on the 21st.

Northern Goshawk in a backyard just outside Sarsfield, photographed through a window by Lise Leduc

Unfortunately there have also been sightings of people walking onto the ice to approach this bird. We urge anyone contemplating doing this to refrain.  This is a very dangerous practice as the ice can be unpredictably thin due to the turbulent water nearby. It is also a violation of the birding code of conduct and will almost certainly cause the bird to flush, meaning that others may miss seeing it.

The weather was brutal this week, very cold and snowy except for one day with freezing rain. Sightings have been fewer as the weather has hampered people getting out, and has made it tough for all the birds, let alone the lingering ones. It is surprising that anything is still around!

A few of the lingering DUCKS are still here. Somewhat surprising is that the GADWALL showed up at Britannia on the 22nd after a long absence. At Billings Bridge there were 2 WOOD DUCKS, an AMERICAN WIGEON and a HOODED MERGANSER on the 23rd.  A LESSER SCAUP was in Carleton Place on the 23rd.

The GREAT BLUE HERON was still on Maritime way on the 23rd, despite horrid conditions. A few days earlier it was seen eating a goldfish, so some food is available, slim pickings though it may be. The BELTED KINGFISHER was last seen there on the 19th.

The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER still at the Hilda Road feeders on the 22nd, and one was also at the Reveler Recreational Trails on the 22nd.  A NORTHERN FLICKER continues near Chapman Mills as of the 24th.

Very few ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS are around. One was west of Masson on the 22nd, and one was on West Hunt Club on the 19th.   A NORTHERN GOSHAWK, uncommon as always, was on Magladry Road on the 20th.

The ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was still at the Dolman Ridge feeders on the 22nd.

A very large flock of 1000 SNOW BUNTINGS was east of Russell on the 17th. A HOARY REDPOLL was at the Hilda road feeders on the 22nd, and another was at Trail Road on the 19th along with a continuing FIELD SPARROW.

Gadwall photographed at Britannia by Deborah Mosher


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 17 January 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Snow Bunting photographed on Giroux Road by Keith Wickens

The highlight of the week was a GYRFALCON see irregularly near Britannia, most recently on the 16th. Based on photographs, there are in fact 2 of this species around. With many DUCKS to eat, it may very well stick around.

Weather was relatively dry but quite cold with the coldest of the season on the 17th. Birder activity was relatively low, and there has been little change from last week.

The latest sightings of lingering DUCKS have been:

  1. NORTHERN PINTAIL at the Iber Road Storm outlet on the 15th.
  2. AMERICAN WIGEON at Britannia on the 16th.
  3. LESSER SCAUP at Britannia on the 13th.
  4. WOOD DUCK at Billings Bridge on the 15th.

Common Goldeneye photographed at Strathcona Park by Judith Gustafsson

Several RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are around but usually require a bit of searchings. One continues at Hilda Road/ Shirley’s Bay as of the 17th, another n the Kitchissippi Woods as late as the 13th and one at the Reveler Trail feeders on the 11th.  A NORTHERN FLICKER was at Chapman Mills on the 15th.

A GOLDEN EAGLE attacked a WILD TURKEY on Vance’s Sideroad on the 13th, and one was seen from the Eardley Masham road on the 12th (but not on the 16th). A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was east of Sarsfield on the 10th.

Among the lingering birds:

  • A FIELD SPARROW continues at Trail Road on the 12th.
  • The ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK continues at Dewberry trail as late as the 17th.
  • The RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was seen again in Old Ottawa South on the 14th after a long absence.
  • A WINTER WREN was at Britannia on the 12th.
  • A CAROLINA WREN was at Britannia on the 15th and in Russell on the 10th.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was on Akins Road on the 12th.  Generally the WINTER FINCH populations seem to be thinning. Notable was a HOARY REDPOLL on Vance’s Sideroad on the 13th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 10 January 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Wood Ducks photographed at Billings Bridge by Judith Gustafsson

There were two highlights this week. A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was found at the Mer Bleue on the 4th, and 5 GRAY PARTRIDGE near Fernbank and Robert Grant on the 3rd. Unfortunately, neither species has been relocated.

Interesting out-of-season species sightings continue, the latest being a late confirmation of a FIELD SPARROW on Trail Road on the 2nd to at least the 6th. 2 other highlights were the ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK continuing at Dewberry Trail until at least the 10th, and a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET continuing in old Ottawa South until at least the 8th.

Weather again was relatively dry with a mix of thaws and very but not exceptionally cold conditions, not greatly hampering birding. Next week looks like a more prolonged period of cold.  Our regional year-to-date list is now close to 80, with at least 10 others likely somewhere in the region.

The latest sightings of the scarcer lingering DUCKS are as follows:

  • LESSER SCAUP at Britannia on the 10th.
  • RING-NECKED DUCK at Britannia as late as the 6th.
  • LONG-TAILED DUCK at Britannia on the 6th.
  • RING-NECKED DUCK at Britannia on the 7th.
  • NORTHERN PINTAIL at Billings Bridge on the 8th.
  • AMERICAN WIGEON at Britannia on the 6th.
  • GADWALL at Billings Bridge on the 4th.
  • WOOD DUCK at Billings Bridge on the 8th.

Up to 5 GREAT BLUE HERONS continue to linger: Masson on the 4th, Marais-Trépanier on the 5th, up to 2 in Kanata as late as the 8th, and one in Stittsville on the 10th.

2 GOLDEN EAGLES on the Eardley-Masham Road on the 5th and a NORTHERN GOSHAWK at Mer Bleue on the 4th were the notables among the raptors.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER near the Champlain Bridge on the 9-10th, and one continues on Hilda road as of the 8th.   A NORTHERN FLICKER was at Chapman Mills on the 8th, and the one at Trail Road continues as of the 5th.

A BELTED KINGFISHER at Hurdman on the 8th was new for the year.

50+ BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were in the Shirley’s Bay area, and nearly 70 were in the Masson area, but they have generally been scattered. A CAROLINA WREN was in Russell on the 10th.

3 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS WERE near Richmond on the 7th. A HOARY REDPOLL was on Chemin Steele on the 3rd and in Carlington on the 8th. Finally, a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was on Akins Road as late as the 9th with up to 150 SNOW BUNTINGS.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 3 January 2019

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

White breasted Nuthatch. photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Judith Gustafsson.

There were many out-of-season species sightings this week, although nothing that would not be expected later in the year.  Exceptional was a LINCOLN’S SPARROW on Trail Road on the 2nd-3rd, possibly our first January record.  The ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK continues at the Dewberry trail as of the 2nd.

There were at least 4 Christmas Bird Counts this week:

  1. Carleton Place on the 27th. Notable was a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, with high counts for WILD TURKEY, BARRED OWL, PILEATED WOODPECKER, and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH.
  2. Richmond on the 28th. Notable was a flock of 12 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS on Goodstown road.
  3. Dunrobin-Breckenridge on the 29th.
  4. Forêt Larose on the 2nd.   Notable was a FOX SPARROW in Casselman and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW east of Limoges.

Weather was more or less seasonal. Snow cover, however, remains very low especially outside of the urban areas. There was quite a bit of birding activity as the New Year kicked off, and as of the 2nd, close to 70 species have been seen for 2019.

There seem to an unusually large variety of lingering DUCKS. Here is the current status:

  • LESSER SCAUP, RING-NECKED DUCK and LONG-TAILED DUCK are in the Deschênes Rapids, sometimes seen from Britannia, other times from the Quebec shore.
  • RED-BREASTED MERGANSER has been seen from time to time on the Rideau River between Strathcona Park and Billings Bridge.
  • 2 WOOD DUCKS have been consistent at Billings Bridge.
  • NORTHERN PINTAIL has been seen on Iber Road and on Pinecrest Creek. This species as well as AMERICAN WIGEON is seen both at Britannia and Billings Bridge.
  • A male GADWALL showed up at Britannia on the 3rd.

A GREAT BLUE HERON was near a storm pond on Maritime Way in Kanata on the 3rd and at Marais Trepanier in Gatineau on the 31st.

GULLS are restricted to 3 species around the Trail Road landfill, and there are only a few dozen.

A NORTHERN FLICKER has been at Trail Road, and the RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER has been regular at and near the Hilda Road feeders.

Common Raven photographed by Gregory Zbitnew at the Dewberry Trail

NORTHERN SHRIKES have been seen in many places, but never for more than a few hours at a time. A CAROLINA WREN was at a feeder in Cumberland on the 30th, and a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was at a private feeder in old Ottawa South on the 3rd. A BOREAL CHICKADEE was in Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham on the 28th.

A RED CROSSBILL was in the Carp area on the 1st.  A flock of 300+ COMMON REDPOLLS is frequenting an extensive area of weeds on the north side of Trail Road, and a single HOARY REDPOLL is sometimes seen among them. The same area has had the LINCOLN’S SPARROW. Look for this bird among the 30+ DARK-EYED JUNCOS, AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS and a SONG SPARROW.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 27 December 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Dark-eyed Junco photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Judith Gustafsson

The highlight of the week was a GYRFALCON which was hanging around the Britannia area for a few hours on the 25th.  The ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK also continues at the Dewberry trail as of the 27th.

Weather was generally dry with some mild and cold days. Birder activity was somewhat low this week, although the Arnprior-Packenham Bird Count (CBC) on the 26th did get a lot of people out that day. There were 52 species reported. A GYRFALCON was new to the count and there were record highs for HAIRY and PILEATED WOODPECKERS.

If anyone is still interested in participating on a bird count, there will be one in Richmond on the 28th and in Dunrobin-Breckenridge on the 29th.

Red-bellied Woodpecker photographed at the Hilda Road feeders by Norbert Hache

Among the usual DUCKS, a RING-NECKED DUCK and sometimes a LONG-TAILED DUCK have been off Britannia Point. 2 WOOD DUCKS and sometimes a NORTHERN PINTAIL are at Billings Bridge. An AMERICAN WIGEON seems to alternate between there and Britannia, or maybe there are 2.  A COMMON LOON was at Britannia point on the 24th.

A GREAT BLUE HERON was at the Terry Fox business park on the 21st, and near 417 and Walkley on the 22nd.  4 species of GULL at were at the Trail Road Landfill on the 23rd, as was a NORTHERN FLICKER.  A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues near Shirley’s Bay as late as the 26th.

A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was near Cantley on the 22nd. 2 GOLDEN EAGLES were seen from rue Therien near Luskville on the 23rd.

House Finch photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Judith Gustafsson

EVENING GROSBEAKS seem to be most consistently at the Dewberry trail feeders (now up to 50), while PINE GROSBEAKS are scattered everywhere in small numbers, as are (fewer) PINE SISKINS.  Single HOARY REDPOLLS were seen in large flocks of COMMON REDPOLLS in Luskville on the 23rd and at the Trail Road Landfill on the 25th.

In other sightings:

  1. A CAROLINA WREN was in Bridlewood on the 24th
  2. A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was in Richmond in the 24th
  3. A COMMON GRACKLE was in Cantley on the 22nd
  4. A SWAMP SPARROW was in the Marlborough Forest on the 20th.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 20 December 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Rose-breasted Grosbeak photographed by Norbert Hache at the Dewberry Trail

The highlight of the week was the 100th Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on the 16th. The best birds of the count were a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER in the Britannia sector and a female ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK found near the Dewberry Trail in the Gloucester sector. This latter bird was still there on the 19th, and was actually first found in the area on the 10th.

Weather was not a hindrance to birding this week, and conditions were ideal on the 16th, with mild and calm conditions, plus little snow cover to hamper movement.  Preliminary results gave an above average species count of 75. WATERBIRDS had a low showing although there were record numbers of BUFFLEHEAD.  There were also record numbers of COMMON RAVEN, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH and BELTED KINGFISHER. Every one of the 8 “WINTER FINCHES” were seen but some were in very low numbers.

American Wigeon photographed by Judith Gustafsson at Billings Bridge

There has been little change to the ice cover on the rivers, so that there is still plenty of room for the few remaining WATERBIRDS, although variety remains good at 14 species.  Less common were RING-NECKED DUCK, LESSER SCAUP, LONG-TAILED DUCK and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER on the Ottawa, with RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL (Billings Bridge on the 16th, and Chapman Mills on the 19th), and WOOD DUCK on the Rideau.   CANADA GEESE were sparse on the CBC but there were 1400 at Chapman Mills on the 19th.

Other highlights of the week included:

  • GREAT BLUE HERONS in Barrhaven on the 14th, Aylmer on the 16th, and Kanata on the 19th.
  • 3 BELTED KINGFISHERS in the Ottawa sector on the 16th. :
  • RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS in Chelsea on the 16th, Shirley’s bay on the 17th and near the Champlain Bridge on the 19th.
  • 13 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS in Richmond on the 19th.
  • WINTER WRENS in Britannia and Aylmer on the 16th.
  • Single RED CROSSBILLS at Green’s Creek on the 16th and in Alta Vista on the 18th.
  • A RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET in Old Ottawa South on the 17th.
  • A SWAMP SPARROW near the Rideau Tennis Club on the 16th.
  • A HERMIT THRUSH in Aylmer on the 16th.
  • A GOLDEN EAGLE on Chemin Steele on the 15th.

Evening Grosbeak photographed by Norbert Hache at the Dewberry Trail

Finally, up to 30 EVENING GROSBEAKS were hanging around the Dewberry trail feeders most of the week.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 13 December 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Gyrfalcon photographed at Ambleside Drive by Tony Beck

There were 2 highlights this week. A CANADA JAY was seen in the Russell area on the 13th.  A gray morph GYRFALCON was seen flying around an apartment on Ambleside on the 10th, but was not subsequently seen.

Otherwise it was mostly a very quiet week, both for the birds and for the weather.  Weather conditions look promising for the 100th Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird count on the 16th, so if you haven’t signed up now it is not too late to participate, even if all you do is report what you see at your feeder.

Common Goldeneyes photographed at Hurdman’s Bridge by Keith Wickens

The rivers continue to freeze, but like last week there is more water than birds. The Pinecrest Creek corridor had an interesting lot: GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL and WOOD DUCK on the 9th.  Meanwhile the AMERICAN WIGEON continues at Britannia as well as 2 WOOD DUCKS at Billings Bridge.  Other lingerers in the remaining open water include:

  • A SNOW GOOSE was at Strathcona Park on the 8th.
  • A COMMON LOON was on Lac McGregor on the 8th.
  • A LONG-TAILED DUCK was in the Deschênes Rapids on the 8th.
  • RED-NECKED GREBE and LESSER SCAUP were at Baie Simard on the 8th.
  • GREAT BLUE HERON was at the Cope drive Ponds on the 10th.
  • A BELTED KINGFISHER was in Gatineau Park at Vallée Meech, on the 10th.

Sharp-shinned Hawk photographed at Britannia by Norbert Hache

Among the land birds, notable were:

  • A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues at Masson as of the 10th and at the Hilda Road feeders on the 9th.
  • A GOLDEN EAGLE was in Quyon on the 10th.
  • A (likely) continuing SWAMP SPARROW was in the Arboretum near Dow’s Lake as of the 11th.
  • A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was seen near Dunrobin on the 12th.
  • A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD has been coming regularly to a feeder in Kanata.

Finally, WINTER FINCH numbers have dropped significantly in the last few weeks, although most of the species are still around. Notable were 2 RED CROSSBILLS at the Arboretum on the 9th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 6 December 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Dark eyed Junco photographed by Judith Gustafsson at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden

Overall weather was more or less normal, and a bit of a thaw dropped the snow cover to average depths and expanded the open water somewhat.

Many birders have started their “winter list,” and over 70 species have been seen in the region since December 1st, some of them seasonally rare but none exceptional.

Despite the significant expanse of open water on both rivers, they are rather empty of birds.  Of the 12 species seen this week, to the 4 common and 2 uncommon regular DUCKS, we add 2 WOOD DUCKS at Billings Bridge, an AMERICAN WIGEON at Britannia, a NORTHERN PINTAIL at Emerald Meadows, 3 HOODED MERGANSERS at Chapman Mills, 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS at Constance Bay on the 5th, and a LONG-TAILED DUCK east of the Champlain bridge on the 5th.

A COMMON LOON was at the Madawaska Head Pond on the 1st, and one was at Constance Bay on the 5th. A PIED BILLED GREBE continues near HURDMAN on the 3rd.  A few GREAT BLUE HERONS are still hanging around in such places as ditches, the latest being on the 5th on Shea Road.

Small numbers of GLAUCOUS and ICELAND GULLS may be seen near the Trail Road landfill when dumping is near the road.  Meanwhile RING-BILLED GULLS, everyone’s favorite, have been reduced to small numbers here and there.  A DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT was on Lake Madawaska just inside the 50K region.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at Shirley’s Bay on the 1st and at Masson as late as the 3rd. A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was near at Val-des-Monts on the 4th.  A GOLDEN EAGLE was near Luskville on the 1st, likely one of a handful that will over-winter in that area.

White-throated Sparrow photographed by Judith Gustafsson at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden

The Fletcher Wildlife Garden has been a bit quieter lately, but a HERMIT THRUSH was there on the 5th. Both species of WAXWINGS have been in that area as well as a NORTHERN SHRIKE as recently as the 30th.  The last sighting of NORTHERN SHRIKE was on Giroux Road on the 4th. Both WINTER (2) and CAROLINA WRENS were at Britannia on the 1st.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was at Akins/ Eagleson on the 1st.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD is now rare, with one at the Trail Road landfill on the 1st.

There are scattered sightings of HOARY REDPOLL among flocks of up to several 100 COMMON REDPOLLS.  PURPLE FINCH has had few recent sightings, the latest being at Green’s creek on the 2nd.  A RED CROSSBILL was at the Champlain St. marsh on the 4th.  50 PINE SISKIN were near Hurdman on the 4th, but mostly there are very few scattered sightings. Up to 60 EVENING GROSBEAKS have been seen in the Larose Forest with nearly as many near Vars, but mostly there are only a modest number of scattered sightings over the region.

Barrow’s Goldeneye photographed at Hurdman Bridge by Norbert Hache


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 29 November 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Common Goldeneye photographed by Judith Gustafsson at Strathcona Park

After the coldest November temperatures in decades, conditions moderated, but the damage has been done and we are now into winter birding with restricted good habitat and bird supply. The weather has dampened the enthusiasm of local birders and reports are much fewer. However, there are good pockets of birds and a number of interesting lingering species, some easier to re-find than others.

200 SNOW GEESE were in Russell on the 25th.  There were 14 species of duck seen this week. NORTHERN PINTAIL at Chapman’s Mills, AMERICAN WIGEON at Britannia, LONG-TAILED DUCK on the Ottawa River, and BARROW’S GOLDENEYE on the Rideau near Hurdman were the less common ones. Of other WATERBIRDS, a PIED-BILLED GREBE was on the Rideau between Hurdman and Strathcona Park most of the week.

The northern forests are now very quiet, but this is still a good time for birds like the NORTHERN GOSHAWK in Gatineau Park (south) on the 24th.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at Shirley’s Bay (Hilda Road) and Remic Rapids this week.

A GREATER YELLOWLEGS at Constance bay on the 26th was a surprise considering the cold temperatures and lack of unfrozen water.

Some interesting lingerers this week included:

  • FOX SPARROW continues at Fletcher and at feeders in Bridlewood and Richmond.
  • EASTERN BLUEBIRD still at Fletcher as of the 29th
  • ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER east of Wakefield on the 25th.
  • YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER near the Kitchissippi lookout on the 29th.
  • HERMIT THRUSH at Parc du Lac-Beauchamp on the 24th.
  • SWAMP SPARROW at Riverain park on the 23rd.
  • WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in Gatineau on the 28th.
  • WINTER WREN at a downtown backyard on the 28th.
  • CHIPPING SPARROW in Barrhaven on the 23rd.

Some larger isolated flocks of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are hanging about, the one at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden being a little more consistent than the others. PINE GROSBEAKS are still there in numbers.

EVENING GROSBEAKS have been a little harder to find and not so consistently in one spot.  There are a few hanging about the Fletcher Wildlife Garden and vicinity as well as the Mer Bleue.

Female Hooded Merganser photographed at Strathcona Park by Judith Gustafsson


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 22 November 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Eastern Bluebird photographed at the FWG by Fan Song

There were a few highlights this week. A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was seen on the Eardley-Masham Road near the southern entrance to Gatineau Park on the 18th. On the 19th, a TUFTED TITMOUSE was seen in a backyard in the Connaught Park area of Ottawa.  Neither bird has been seen since.  For those who want a drive outside the area, a LARK SPARROW, scarce in Ontario, has been coming to a feeder in Eganville.

Generally though it has been tough slogging, birdwise, and horrible weather may have had lot to do with this state of affairs. Heavy snow has completely covered all but the most sheltered areas, and along with the cold will make it a challenge for any lingering birds.  The rivers are starting to freeze up, concentrating the fewer WATERBIRDS remaining.  On the other hand, feeders are more active so they may be spots to watch.

A BRANT was at Andrew Haydon Park (now closed for the winter) on the 15th.  Although 16 species of DUCK were seen this week, the numbers are way down. The best bet is fast flowing sections of the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers.

Surprisingly, a GREATER YELLOWLEGS was at the Giroux Road ponds on the 16th.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at Hilda Road on the 15th and at Remic Rapids on the 20th.  A late TURKEY VULTURE was near Almonte on the 17th.  10 GRAY PARTRIDGE were in the Golulbourn area on the 18th.

Amidst the general decline of SONGBIRDS, most of the unusual ones are coming to feeders.  The exception was 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS on Wall Road on the 21st.

Northern Shrike photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Fan Song

The Fletcher Wildlife Garden remains active. A NORTHERN SHRIKE has been bringing terror to other SONGBIRDS.  Birds still lingering included CHIPPING SPARROW (until the 17th), RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, EASTERN BLUEBIRD, FOX SPARROW and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW.   There have been a few other scattered reports of both FOX and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS at feeders here and there.

Fox Sparrow photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Keith Wickens

Other notable birds were:

  • A BROWN THRASHER in Valée Meach on the 16th
  • A SWAINSON’S THRUSH was seen on the 17th at an apartment near Algonquin College
  • A CAROLINA WREN at Britannia on the 19th
  •   A CHIPPING SPARROW in Russell on the 22nd

Among the WINTER FINCHES, notable were a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL on Dolman Ridge Road on the 21st, and a HOARY REDPOLL among the COMMON REDPOLLS at Fletcher Wildlife Garden as late as the 19th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 15 November 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Pine Grosbeak photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Fan Song

There were no real highlights this week. However, the first HOARY REDPOLLS of the season were seen near Constance Bay on the 10 and 12th and at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on the 12th.  Another was in Kanata on the 15th.

With the snow and cold this week, it is shaping up to be our earliest start to winter in some years, and next week looks as bad or worse. Ponds are frozen to partly frozen, although rivers are still wide open. So the scope of birding has mostly narrowed to the winter and river birds.

Up to 35000 SNOW GEESE were at Embrun on the 10th, and there was a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE at Embrun on the 12th, and a single BRANT at Andrew Haydon Park as late as the 14th.  22 species of DUCK were seen this week, but numbers are on the decline and the most common is now COMMON GOLDENEYE.  A BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was at Hurdman on the 12th. PIED-BILLED GREBES were at the Champlain St. Marsh on the 9th and at Shirley’s Bay on the 13th.

A GREATER YELLOWLEGS (flyover) was at Shirley’s Bay on the 10th, and a DUNLIN was at Embrun on the 11th.  With the bad weather forecast, these might be the last SHOREBIRDS in a while.

There are still numbers of SANDHILL CRANES in the Navan-Trim Road area. A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was at Emerald Meadows on the 11th, and a late AMERICAN BITTERN near Almonte on the 14th is likely going to be in big trouble very soon.

2 TURKEY VULTURES were near Luskville on the 11th, and a GOLDEN EAGLE was near Val des Monts on the 10th.

A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was at a private residence in Gatineau on the 13th. The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was still at Shirley’s bay as of the 10th and another was in Kanata on the 11th.

Some other late birds were:

  • An EASTERN BLUEBIRD near Luskville on the 11th.
  • A HERMIT THRUSH in Gatineau Park on the 15th.
  • A CAROLINA WREN continuing at lac McGregor on the 10th.
  • A WINTER WREN at Britannia on the 10th.
  • Up to 2 SWAMP SPARROWS near Dow’s Lake as late as the 9th.
  • A COMMON GRACKLE at a feeder in Constance Bay as late as the 13th.
  • A RUSTY BLACKBIRD at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 8th.
  • A BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER at Britannia on the 9th.

Last but not least, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden (FWG) and the adjoining Arboretum were a bit of a hot spot for lingering fall birds this week. In the last week EASTERN BLUEBIRD, FOX SPARROW, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET were seen.

Evening Grosbeak photographed at the FWG by Fan Song

Even more interesting is that both PINE GROSBEAKS and EVENING GROSBEAKS are regularly (but certainly not always) showing well there, most often near the canal at the southern part of the Arboretum and the northern part of the FWG, and often quite photogenic. While we don’t know if they will stick around or pass through, there is no shortage of food available among all the exotic plantings.

If you can’t get there, don’t despair. This has been the best season for both species in years, and there have been dozens of sightings of both species over the last few weeks. So keep on looking for the GROSBEAKS in any area with over-wintering fruit or seeds, and listening for their calls, whenever the bad weather comes along (with apologies to Al Jolson (April Showers)).

Male Pine Grosbeak photographed at the FWG by Sami Zeitouni


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 8 November 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Eastern Phoebe photographed by Vincent Fyson at the Giroux Road ponds

The bird of the week was a KING EIDER, probably a second winter male, seen from the Boat launch at Shirley’s Bay. It gave distant but clear views most of the afternoon of the 4th.  Meanwhile, last week’s star, the WHITE-EYED VIREO, continued at the north end of Champlain St. in Orleans until the morning of the 4th, and then again on the 6th and 7th. In third place was the first PURPLE SANDPIPER of the year, seen at Britannia Pier on the 3rd, but not relocated.

The weather was mostly cool, windy and rainy with a few sunny days-not enough to have a dramatic effect on birding. That may come with snow and cold temperatures predicted for next week, which will likely start to freeze the ponds and marshes.  For now we just had a steady decline in numbers of species across the board, with the exception of DUCKS and GULLS.

25 species of DUCK were seen this week, perhaps our highest diversity of the year, but at most a few hundred were seen at any given location. Shirley’s Bay to Andrew Haydon Park still has excellent variety. BARROW’S GOLDENEYE continues at Hurdman as of the 7th, while the CANVASBACK continues at Moodie Drive as of the 7th.   A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was at Emerald Meadows on the 1st, and an AMERICAN COOT was at Shirley’s Bay on the 8th.

8 RED-THROATED LOONS were off Britannia Pier on the 6th, with scattered reports elsewhere. A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON was at Emerald Meadows on the 3rd.

Dunlin (top) and Semipalmated Plover at the Giroux Road Ponds. Photo by Trudy Lothian

Virtually all the SHOREBIRDS are getting scarce. Only 1-3 birds of any kind are seen in any spot. A SEMIPLAMATED PLOVER was at Shirley’s Bay on the 3rd, and another at the Giroux ponds on the 4-5th were unusually late. This latter spot had DUNLIN on the 4th, and PECTORAL SANDPIPER on the 3rd. Shirley’s bay had a late SPOTTED SANDPIPER ON THE 3rd, a WILSON’S SNIPE was near Luskville on the 6th, and a KILLDEER was in the St. Laurent area on the 4th.

A late OSPREY was at Baie Mcaurin on the 4th, while GOLDEN EAGLES were seen in Orleans on the 4th and over the Giroux ponds on the 5th.

The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was still at Shirley’s bay on the 8th.

Some other interesting lingering birds were:

  • A GRAY CATBIRD at Shirley’s Bay (Lois Lane) on the 6th
  • An EASTERN PHOEBE at the Giroux Road ponds on the 7th
  • An EASTERN MEADOWLARK at Remic Rapids on the 6th
  • A NORTHERN PARULA in Almonte on the 4th
  • A PALM WARBLER at Britannia Park on the 4th
  • YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERD at Ferme Moore on the 3rd, Britannia Park on the 4th and Britannia Ridge on the 7th
  • A HERMIT THRUSH at Britannia on the 7th

There were some further developments in the WINTER FINCHES.  EVENING GROSBEAK has been seen in multiple spots all over the region. There have been fewer sightings of PINE GROSBEAK and RED CROSSBILL and nothing dependable, but good spots have been Pine Grove and Stony Swamp in the greenbelt.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 1 November 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

White-eyed Vireo photographed by Michelle Martin at the Champlain Street Marsh

The bird of the week was a WHITE-EYED VIREO, seen near the end of Champlain street in Orleans, on the 30-31 October.  This is the first sighting of this species since 2014, and while it has often been difficult to find and see, it has been in the same general area since the first sighting. The second best bird(s) were, unfortunately, 5(!) BOREAL CHICKADEES striking windows this week, downtown and Kanata.  Fortunately at least one is recuperating, and this is a bird to watch for as there is a movement.

Mostly cloudy and unseasonably cool weather prevailed this week, with the first snow on the ground Sunday and Monday. Many days were quite poor for birding, but at least the 1st saw a reprieve from rain and howling winds. WATERBIRDS are still doing fine, but most other species except for the winter ones are in short supply.

Sightings of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE this week were at Giroux, Moodie Drive, and Emerald Meadows.

The first CANVASBACK of the season has been in the Moodie Drive ponds from the 28-31st. since the 28th. A few 100 birds of 9 species of DUCK were there on the 28th including RUDDY DUCK. Generally the DUCK supply is good but there are no major concentrations: about 300 DUCKS were at Shirley’s Bay on the 29th.   The usual spots like Andrew Haydon Park are still good, and another good spot has been at the widening of the Mississippi River east of Carleton Place: about 300 birds of 8 species were there on the 1st, as well as an AMERICAN COOT. The Giroux Road ponds have been fairly decent too. Regionally, 23 species of DUCK have been seen this week.

There have been regular sightings of RED-THROATED LOON on the Ottawa River from the Champlain Bridge to Constance Bay, the most recent one on the 1st at Andrew Haydon Park.

Red-tailed Hawk photographed by Keith Wickens on 10th Line Road

11 species of SHOREBIRD have been seen this week. There are no concentrations anywhere, but small numbers have been seen consistently at the Giroux Road Ponds, Dow’s Lake, Chapman Mills and Emerald Meadows. Somewhat late have been AMERICAN WOODCOCK on the 25th near Carp, and SPOTTED SANDPIPER at Shirley’s Bay on the 29th.

GULL numbers are picking up for the season. On the 29th 6 species were at the Moodie Drive Ponds, including GLAUCOUS and ICELAND.

A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was at Shirley’s bay on the 26th, and 10 GRAY PARTRIDGE were near Cope Drive on the 28th. The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues at Shirley’s Bay as of the 29th.   NORTHERN SHRIKES have moved into the region in small numbers.

8 SPECIES OF sparrow have been seen this week, the scarcest being a FIELD SPARROW at Shirley’s Bay on the 27th. A field east of the Rockcliffe Airport still has a surprising number sticking around-over 20 birds of 5 species.

We are now in the season where lingering SONGBIRDS are of interest: Some notable ones were:

  • A BLUE-HEADED VIREO in Vallée Meach on the 27th, and in Alta Vista on the 30th
  • An AMERICAN REDSTART on the Watts Creek pathway on the 26th
  • A BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER at Shirley’s Bay on the 29th
  • 2 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS at the Fletcher wildlife Garden on the 26th
  • A NASHVILLE WARBLER at the Fletcher wildlife Garden on the 26-27th
  • A PALM WARBLER at the Rockcliffe Airport on the 1st
  • A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was still at the Shirley’s Bay boat launch on the 29th

Common Redpoll photographed by Gregory Zbitnew at Rockcliffe Airport

There have been developments in the WINTER FINCHES. A RED CROSSBILL was in Almonte on the 30th.  A WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL flew over the Champlain St. Marsh on the 1st. A PINE GROSBEAK was at the Fletcher wildlife Garden on the 26th.  EVENING GROSBEAKS have now had many sightings all over the region. This appears to be the best year for them in quite some time. COMMON REDPOLLS are now so common they are now no longer worth mentioning.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 25 October 2018

Snow Goose photographed at Dow’s Lake by Judith Gustafsson

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

The bird of the week was a BOREAL CHICKADEE, seen on the 22-23rd near Bronson and Somerset of all places.  The second best bird was a HUDSONIAN GODWIT, seen on the 21-24th near the Black Rapids Lockstation.

For most the week the weather was quite poor, windy and cold with snow flurries a number of days.  There were significant changes to the local bird population, mostly disappearances, but there were a few surprisingly late birds.

Although there are plenty of DUCKS still around, and 24 species were seen regionally this week, recently the concentrations have not always been evident earlier in the month.  There were less than 100 at Shirley’s Bay on the 21st, although over 700 on the 20th.  A EURASIAN WIGEON was at Baie Noire on the 21st, where there were 275 birds of 6 species.

A RED-THROATED LOON was near Constance Bay on the 21st.

A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was at the Giroux Road Ponds on the 22nd and 25th, and at the Richmond CA on the 23rd. A ROSSES GOOSE was near Carp on the 18th, which makes 6 species of GOOSE seen in the region this week.

SHOREBIRDS have put in their best showing for some time, with 14 species seen in the region this week. Most significantly, the exposed flats along the Rideau Canal, as well as on the Rideau River (at least between Black Rapids and Chapman Mills CA) have resulted in large numbers of SHOREBIRDS.   PECTORAL SANDPIPERS are the most common, with numbers as high as 162 at Chapman Mills CA on the 22nd, possibly the largest ever regional count.  2 BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS were seen near Black Rapids on the 23rd, a SOLITARY SANDPIPER was at the Crysler Dam on the 24th, and 4 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS were near Constance Bay on the 18th.

Surf Scoter photographed at Shirley’s Bay by Keith Wickens

The winds during the week were good for HAWK movement.  A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was flying over the west end on the 23rd. A GOLDEN EAGLE was flying over the west end on the 21st, and another at the Giroux Road Ponds on the 22nd. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was near Manotick on the 23rd. There have been a few sightings of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK as this species arrives for the winter.

Red-breasted Nuthatch photographed at Britannia by Deborah Mosher

A GREEN HERON was at Britannia on the 19th, and the RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues at Shirley’s bay as of the 21st.

There were developments with the WINTER FINCHES. The big news was that COMMON REDPOLLS arrived and have suddenly been seen everywhere in the region in small flocks. EVENING GROSBEAKS are at feeders in a number of locations including Larose forest, as well as a few flyovers.  PINE SISKINS are being seen in only scattered locations.

LAPLAND LONGSPUR was at Shirley’s Bay on the 19-20th, and there was a flock of 20 near Mountain on the 20th. SNOW BUNTINGS have arrived but are still being seen in small numbers.

A few late to somewhat late SONGBIRDS were seen:

  • BLUE-HEADED VIREO at Rockcliffe Airport on the 24th
  • GRAY CATBIRD at Shirley’s bay on the 24th
  • BROWN THRASHER at Baie Simard on the 20th

SPARROWS numbers are really thinning out, with the exception of AMERICAN TREE SPARROW, which is settling in now for the winter.

Finally, although 8 species of WARBLER have been seen, you are now lucky to even seen YELLOW-RUMPED. The oddest of the late ones has been a YELLOW-WARBLER at Britannia on the 19-20th. Others are:

  • TENNESSEE WARBLER in Gatineau on the 19th
  • MAGNOLIA WARBLER on the 23rd near Westboro
  • ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER at the Rockcliffe Airport on the 22nd
  • PALM WARBLER at Lincoln Fields on the 21st
  • NASHVILLE WARBLER at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on the 19th
  • AMERICAN REDSTART in Carleton Place on the 23rd

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 18 October 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

American Goldfinch, photographed by Judith Gustafsson at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden

A probable NORTHERN GANNET was seen at Britannia on the 12th, but unfortunately was not found again/confirmed.  However, this is the time of year when such rarities have been seen. So keep checking the Ottawa river, especially on the days with miserable weather. In more positive news, the RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was seen again at Shirley’s bay on the 13th, and has been seen often, but not always, until the 16th.  Another was at baie Noire on the 12th.

There were some pleasant days but generally it tended to cool and windy, with frost, a bit of snow and the coldest day of the season so far. So the birding was that of a typical mid-fall. That is, there were lots of DUCKS and SPARROWS are holding steady. Most of the SONGBIRDS that are left are few in number if not actually rare.

The first RED-THROATED LOON of the season was at Britannia on the 13th and one was at Shirley’s Bay on the 17th.  The main concentration of WATERBIRDS, as usual, is from Andrew Haydon Park to Shirley’s bay. Recent visits to Shirley’s Bay have observed 700-900 DUCKS of up to 17 species, but they are sometimes hard to see depending on the winds and other variables.  All 3 species of SCOTER and LONG-TAILED DUCK are fairly regular now. Both HORNED and RED-NECKED GREBES are also seen.  By contrast, the most recent visit to baie Noire on the 12th had only about 150 DUCKS of 6 species.

Hooded Merganser hen eating a bullhead at Britannia. Photo by Deborah Mosher

A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was at the Bruce Pit on the 14th.  Many small flocks of BRANT are being seen around Andrew Haydon Park. Some of them land on the lawns and ponds there and are extremely photogenic.

About 8 species of SHOREBIRDS have been seen this week, but like last week, there are not many anywhere.  There were 16 birds of 5 species at Emerald Meadows on the 18th, 3 birds of 3 species at the Bruce pit on the 18th, and 25 birds of 4 species near Marionville. The only surprise were 4 very late BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS near Wakefield on the 18th.

A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was seen at the Rockcliffe Airport on the 12th.

An EMPIDONAX FLYCATCHER was on Dolman Ridge Road on the 14th, but the specific species could not be identified.  A very late YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO was at the Richmond Conservation area on the 14th, and a late PHILADELPHIA VIREO was at Remic rapids on the 13th.

The first of the season BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS and TREE SPARROWS were seen at multiple locations this week. A somewhat late FIELD SPARROW was at Britannia on the 18th, a very late ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was at Britannia on the 16th, and a very late EASTERN TOWHEE was at Rockcliffe Airport on the 16th.

9 species of WARBLER were seen this week, but aside from YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, all the others were late and seen in very low numbers. Some of the recent sightings included:

  1. MAGNOLIA WARBLER at Britannia on the 12th,
  2. TENNESSEE WARBLER in Aylmer on the 16th, i
  3. NORTHERN PARULA at Britannia on the 16th.
  4. NASHVILLE WARBLER at Rockcliffe Airport on the 17th.
  5. ORANGE CROWNED WARBLER in Alta Vista on the 18th, at Rockcliffe Airport on the 17th, 2 were at Chapman Mills on the 14 and 18th, and one was at ferme Moore on the 14th.
  6. AMERICAN REDSTART at Rockcliffe Airport on the 15th and at Richmond Landing on the 16th.
  7. PALM WARBLER on the 16th at Rockcliffe Airport and on the 18th at the Bruce pit.
  8. BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER in Gatineau Park on the 17th.

Finally, 10 EVENING GROBEAKS were at Shirley’s Bay on the 16th, and one was in Almonte on the 13th.

Brant, photographed at Andrew Haydon Park by Gregory Zbitnew


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 11 October 2018

Ruby-crowned Kinglet photographed by Trudy Lothian.

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

The weather was an odd mix of unseasonably warm with cool and dreary, but SONGBIRDS were not fooled by hints of summer and continue to rapidly vacate the region. Meanwhile, WATERFOWL numbers continue to rise.

WATERFOWL are probably near the peak now. BRANT are moving through in some numbers, and a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was in Richmond on the 6th.  Regionally, 23 species of DUCK have been seen this week. Nearly 2000 DUCKS of 20 species were seen at Shirley’s Bay on the 5th. Numbers were similar but there were fewer species on the 15th. Among these are small numbers of all 3 species of SCOTER and REDHEAD. At Baie Noire on the 7th, there was a EURASIAN WIGEON among the over 500 AMERICAN WIGEON. All told, about 800 DUCKS of 12 species were there on the 7th.

GULLS are increasing, but still have a ways to go. An ICELAND GULL was at Britannia Point on the 5th and also on the on the 8th.  2 BONAPARTES GULLS were at Deschênes on the 10th.  A late COMMON TERN was at Baie Simard on the 5th.

There were 44 birds of 6 species of SHOREBIRD at Embrun on the 10th and 30 birds of 6 species in Winchester on the 6th.  All of these were the common ones, and aside from at those places, there are only scattered sightings of them.

We are getting into the season for hawk migration. A RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS were seen at Dick Bell park on the 5th, Baie Simard on the 6th, and at Britannia on the 8th. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was at Dick Bell park on the 5th.

A late GREEN HERON was in Stittsville on the 11th and a late TREE SWALLOW at Constance bay on the 5th.

Song Sparrow photographed by Robin Collins at Shirley’s Bay

A RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was in Constance Bay until the 7th but unfortunately it is now confirmed dead. In better news, a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at Shirley’s bay on the 8th and was seen again on the 10th.

Continued sightings of CAROLINA WREN at Lac McGregor on the 6th, and Britannia on the 7th were augmented by a new one in Navan from the 6th to at least the 8th.

Late sightings included PHILADELPHIA VIREO at Britannia on the 7the, and a VEERY there on the 8th.

WARBLER migration is now at the tail end. The vast majority are now YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, and there are fewer of them. All other species are here in very few numbers. Only 9 species were seen in the last week.  Some of the later ones included CAPE MAY WARBLER on the 7th in Almonte and BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER there on the 8th. A MAGNOLIA WARBLER was in the Glebe on the 11th and an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was at the Fletcher on the 10th.

EVENING GROSBEAKS were at Val des Monts on the 6th, and scattered sightings of PINE SISKIN continue.

Gadwall photographed by Deborah Mosher at Britannia.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 4 October 2018

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Swainson’s Thrush photographed at Britannia by Eric Leger

The highlight of the week was (possibly) our latest ever OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, seen in Britannia on the 28-1st.  Of interest but expected, were the first NELSON’S SPARROWS of the year, in their usual spot at the mouth of Constance Creek, starting the 28th. On was also present at Andrew Haydon Park West on the 2nd.

Typical fall weather prevailed, with near to below seasonal temperatures, with a fair bit of cloud and some rain.  Although the majority of summer birds have vacated the region, there are still quite a few somewhat late ones around. In addition, there have been a few early arrivals to liven things up a bit.

The first GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE of the season was at Britannia on the 28th, and 4 BRANT WERE at Andrew Haydon Park on the 30th. Numbers and variety of DUCKS at Shirley’s Bay are building up to respectable levels. There were 500 birds of 11 species there on the 1st, with RING-NECKED DUCKS and AMERICAN WIGEON being the top 2.  There have been no recent sightings from Baie Noire, but regionally 17 species were seen this week, including a REDHEAD at Britannia on the 28th and a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER at Andrew Haydon Park on the 4th.  55 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS WERE at Andrew Haydon on the 2nd, and birds seemed to be moving through that day.

Common Mergansers photographed at Strathcona Park by Judith Gustafsson

SHOREBIRDS are pretty much a bust. A few notable exceptions were a WILSON’S PHALAROPE and 14 AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER at Winchester. Embrun had 41 birds of 6 species on the 29th. 16 birds of 4 species were at Emerald Meadows on the 28th. Aside from this the sightings have been a few scattered common species or flyovers.

SANDHILL CRANES have returned to their traditional fall feeding grounds in the Navan area. There were 16 near Trim and Mc Fadden on the 28th.  Both RED-SHOULDERED and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were at Constance Bay on the 1st.  10 GRAY PARTRIDGE were on Cope Drive on the 29th.

There have been other sightings of late FLYCATCHERS:

  1. A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER in Gatineau on the 2nd.
  2. An EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE near Parkdale Ave on the 2nd and 1 in Russell on the 1st.
  3. A LEAST FLYCATCHER in the Richmond Conservation area on the 29th.
  4. 2 TREE SWALLOWS at Shirley’s Bay on the 1st.

Late RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS were in Russell and Constance Bay on the 2nd.

A CAROLINA WREN continues in Britannia on the 30th and Lac McGregor on the 1st.

Among the SONGBIRDS, SPARROWS and both species of KINGLET have risen to the abundant level at times.

19 species of WARBLER have been seen since the start of the month. Some trips have seen 8+ species, but the numbers and variety are dropping daily.  A WILSON’S WARBLER at Lac McGregor on the 1st was among the more unusual of the late ones. As always, there have been scattered sightings of ORANGE CROWNED WARBLERS: Britannia, Rockcliffe Airport and Lac Fortune among others.

There is little sign of WINTER FINCHES. An EVENING GROSBEAK was flying near the Giroux Road ponds on the 1st, and there have been a few scattered sightings of PINE SISKIN.


Earlier sightings are available on request ofnc@ofnc.ca