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Please read the “important notices” at the right. They are updated frequently.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 23 June 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Grasshopper Sparrow, Burnt lands, Tony Beck. For once, a well-named bird. The song sounds much more like an insect than a song bird. Found in overgrown grasslands, often singing from Common Juniper shrubs.

Little Gull, Deschênes, Aaron Hywarren. The long staying rarity will sometimes almost come with photo range. Almost. Rare in Canada, and far more consistently found in the eastern great lakes than Ottawa.

Northern Mockingbird, Ottawa Airport, Arlene Harrold. The Mimidae family of mimic thrushes have long mixed songs that confuse the heck out of the Merlin app. But you, a mere human, can separate them easily by sound. Catbirds rarely repeat the same sound consecutively. Thrashers liberally repeat sounds twice in a row. And Mockers go all out on sounds they like, with 3-5 or more repetitions. This mockingbird appears to be on territory and singing ardently.

Northern Harrier with prey, Cameron Harvey Rd, Alan Short. Despite its impressive size, the long wings and long tail create a very maneuverable predator. Alan says that when the male catches something he will drop it in midair to the female below him to catch and carry to the nest.

Cedar Waxwing gathering nesting material from a cattail, Nortel Marsh, Keith Wickens. #youcanatlasthat

American Redstart, Nortel Marsh, Keith Wickens. The redstart grabbed the damselfly right by Keith’s foot. If you see a bird catch and eat an insect, that’s fascinating. But if you see it fly off with the food, that’s data! It’s evidence of breeding behaviour, and #youcanatlasthat

Blue-headed Vireo, Larose Forest, Sanam Goudarzi. Many interesting birds breed here that are not easily found in the OFNC circle.

Savannah Sparrow, Rockcliffe Airport, Gregory Zbitnew. Another grassland sparrow with an insect-like song. Grasshopper and Savannah sparrows are not closely related, so is this a case of convergent evolution? Do the insect-like songs serve a purpose in open grasslands but not in a forest?

Eastern Bluebird, Fifth Line in Dunrobin, Sanam Goudarzi. That, my friends, is a bluebird of happiness singing in the rain.

Trumpeter Swan – Pair continues at Constance Creek, Ottawa.  (3) Continuing, Marais aux Grenouillettes, Gatineau.

Greater Yellowlegs –  Jun 22, Fine Estate, Ottawa.  I hate to break the news, but that’s a slightly early returning fall migrant.  Get ready for the fall shorebirds.

Curlew Sandpiper – Jun 20,  Alfred Lagoons, Prescott and Russell. Outside the OFNC circle, but a good reminder to bird Alfred, because sometimes great stuff shows up there.

Little Gull – Jun 01-22, Rapides Deschênes.

Bonaparte’s Gull – Britannia CA–Filtration Plant, Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – (2) Jun 17, Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.  Jun 19, Chemin Sauvé, Val-des-Monts, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.  Jun 18, Piste cyc. Sentier des Voyageurs, Gatineau.  (2) Jun 18,  Quartier Wychwood, Aylmer, Gatineau.

Northern Mockingbird – Jun 22-23,  Ottawa International Airport (Paul Benoit Driveway), Ottawa.   Jun 20, Buckingham (sortie 174), Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Pine Siskin – (2) Jun 23, Spruce Ridge Rd,  Ottawa.

Red Crossbill – Jun 17, Monty Drive, Ottawa.  Also on Jun 17, 9th Concession, Lanark.  Other scattered reports from Eastern Ontario, so atlassers beware!

Golden-winged Warbler –  Continues, Chemin de l’Hotel de Ville, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 16 June 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Quiet season.  Catch up on your atlasing; fall migration starts in less than a month.

Male Golden-winged Warbler, Gatineau Park, Tony Beck. This bird was seen carrying food, and is presumed to be breeding.

Ruddy Turnstone, near Champlain Bridge, Sanam Goudarzi. Was this the same bird seen the previous day on the Quebec side? Our region is so well birded that it is sometimes possible to follow reports of a specific flock or even a single bird around the area.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Rideau River, Pierre Dorais. Most active at dusk and dark, but still occasionally seen hunting in the day.

Female Brown-headed Cowbird, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Judith Gustafsson. She definitely didn’t just lay her eggs in other songbird’s’ nets, and now looks forward to a child-care free summer (she totally did, and does).

Young Male Red-winged Blackbird, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Judith Gustafsson. At first glance, a female-type, but the tell-tale epaulette feather tracks are clearly defined, and the overall color is lighter than the female.

Female Belted Kingfisher, Thomas Dolan Pkwy bridge, Alan Short. Note how small her feet are compared to the bill. This is a bird that uses its bill, both for fishing and excavating its burrow, not its feet. We know she is female as the male only has one band across the front.

Osprey, Cameron Harvey Rd, Alan Short. A better naturalist would compare it to the Kingfisher, and write something about how it fishes and builds its nest with its huge feet. But I’m just going to say – check out that attitude. I’m intimidated.

Turkey Vulture LUVS you and wants to be your friend! Or possibly it is just regulating its temperature. Birds don’t sweat, and need other mechanisms to disperse heat. Trail Road, Janet McCullough.

Turkey Vultures, Trail Road Landfill, Janet McCullough. Janet saw at least 50 sitting on the roof.

Trumpeter Swan – Pair continues at Constance Creek, Ottawa.  (3)  Jun 14, Marais aux Grenouillettes, Gatineau.  Jun 13, (near) Roger’s Pond, Ottawa.  Jun 11, Stony Swamp (Sarsaparilla Trail), Ottawa.

Snow Goose – Jun 12, Field off Huntmar Dr., near Robert Grant Ave, Ottawa.  Reported Jun 12, Carp Creek Retaining ponds, Ottawa.  Same late bird?

Ruddy Turnstone – Jun 11, River Trail at Island Park Drive, Ottawa.

Jun 10, Parc des Cèdres, Gatineau.

Semipalmated Sandpiper – Jun 13, Appleton, Lanark.  (10) Jun 11, Dilworth Rd, Ottawa.

Little Gull – Jun 01-16, Rapides Deschênes. Now officially ‘ridiculously long-staying’.

Bonaparte’s Gull – Continue in small numbers at Britannia CA–Filtration Plant, Ottawa/Baie Simard, Gatineau.  (3) on Jun 16, Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.  (2) Jun 12, Petrie Island, Ottawa.

Great Black-backed – Jun 15, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Caspian Tern –  Jun 14 Britannia Point, Ottawa.  Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.  Jun 10, Chemin de la Symphonie, Val-des-Monts, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Jun 11, Thomas Dolan (in the Carp Hills).  Jun 15, Fine Estate, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.

Golden-winged Warbler –  Jun 13-15, Chemin de l’Hotel de Ville, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 9 June 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Gull month continues with a rare Laughing Gull and a long-staying Little Gull! With a lack of habitat to concentrate them, shorebird sightings are scattered.

Rough-winged Swallow, Brewer Park, Judith Gustafsson. It’s shocking the first time you see one of these fly into a tiny pipe in the canal at high speed, and you realize they are cavity nesters.

Northern Flicker, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Judith Gustafsson. The northeastern subspecies comes by the name “Yellow-shafted” honestly, as seen in this pose.

Black Tern (and Red-winged Blackbird), Irish Lake, by Janet McCullough. Just how small is a Black Tern? Barely an inch longer than the blackbird, it has almost twice the wingspan. Mathematically speaking, that gives the tern 4 times the grace on the wing.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Greenland Rd, Alan Short. There is something weird about this beautiful raptor soaring peacefully.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Greenland Rd, Alan Short. Ah, that’s more like it. This is a more natural view, with the hawk harassed by an American Kestrel.

Osprey, Half-moon Bay, Richard Kohl. Many raptors can appear to hover, kiting in a strong wind. But the heavy Osprey has the design and strength to actually hover as it prepares to dive.

Sanderling in breeding plumage (with Dunlin), Petrie Island, by Michael Tate. Like many birds, Sanderlings are far more likely to be seen around here on the return migration, in summer and fall, instead of spring. Some of us have never seen this plumage.

Laughing Gull, Cambrian Road, by John King. Completely different-looking than the other small dark-mantled, black-headed, dark-billed gull with white eye arcs that recently visited Ottawa (Franklin’s Gull). That list shows why relying on one or two ID markers can really lead someone astray. Laughing gulls are built bigger than Franklin’s Gulls (despite weighing almost the same. The Laughing Gull’s bill is longer and droops a bit, and the tips of the primaries have less white.

Redhead – Jun 08, Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Red-necked Phalarope – Jun 03, Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Black-bellied Plover – Jun 06, Chrysler bridge and dam, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

Semipalmated Plover – Jun 09,  Flewellyn Road, Ottawa.  Jun 08, Fourth Line Rd and Callendor Rd flooded fields, Ottawa.

Red Knot –  Jun 09, Rapides Deschênes (incluant Parc), Gatineau.  Seen only in flight.

Sanderling – Jun 05, Petrie Island, Ottawa.

White-rumped Sandpiper – Jun 05-06, RN du Marais-Trépanier, Gatineau.

Least Sandpiper (2) – Jun 04, Leitrim Road West, Ottawa.

Short-billed Dowitcher (2) – Jun 06-07, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa. Jun 04-05, Dilworth Rd, Ottawa.

Little Gull – Jun 01-09, Britannia CA, Ottawa. Britannia CA–Filtration Plant/Point, Ottawa, also seen from Baie Simard, Gatineau.  This is an extremely long visit from this beautiful and rare bird, and a rare chance to study it.  The bird is immature.

Bonaparte’s Gull (as many as 12) – Jun 09, Britannia CA-Filtration Plant, Ottawa/Baie Simard, Gatineau. Acting as camouflage for the Little Gull and other vagrants, the Bonaparte’s continues. Most in non-adult plumage, so have fun spotting the Little Gull.

Laughing Gull – Jun 07, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa. Also reported from Baie Simard/Deschênes, Gatineau on the 7th.  Jun 06, Cambrian Rd W & Old Richmond Rd, Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Jun 05-06, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Franklin’s Gull – last reported here on May 29, but it’s just downriver near Hawkesbury on Jun 09, so might it return?  Keep an eye out.

Caspian Tern – Jun 04-08, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa. (2-3) Jun 07-08, Dilworth Rd, Ottawa.

Arctic Tern – Jun 06, Britannia CA-Filtration Plant/Point, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.  Jun 08, Chemin de la Symphonie, Val-des-Monts, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais. Jun 03-04, Chemin de la Lyrique, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Jun 04,  Osgoode, Ottawa.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Jun 03, Greenbelt Pathway West, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.

Northern Mockingbird – Jun 05, River Trail at Island Park Drive, Ottawa.

White-winged Crossbill (3) – Jun 04, Manotick, Ottawa.

Northern Parula – Jun 04, Britannia Yacht Club, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 2 June 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

The game this week is “which of these things is not like the others?” with the flock of small black-headed gulls over Deschênes rapids.  Check the Bonnies for vagrants. Arctic Terns were part of a very nice fallout that included Brant, White-winged Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser and shorebirds along the Ottawa river.

Male Baltimore Oriole, Mud Lake, Alan Short.

Cedar Waxwings, Mud Lake, Alan Short. Waxwings spend the winter in large gregarious flocks that break down in spring to smaller and smaller flocks until there are mostly just pairs.

Male Cape May Warbler, Mud Lake, Janet McCullough.

Male Yellow Warbler, Ottawa River Pathway (below the National Archives), Judith Gustafsson. Note the lovely red streaks that identify the male.

Red-eyed Vireo, Ottawa River Pathway (below the National Archives), Judith Gustafsson. The light has to be right to see the red eye on such a small bird.

Male Mourning Warbler, Concession Road 9, Lanark, Janet McCullough. We saw this beautiful warbler singing his rolling churry song from a relatively exposed perch in a dead conifer. He took breaks but kept returning to the same perch to sing.

Golden-winged Warbler, Concession Road 9, Lanark, Janet McCullough. We were being ever so quiet while recording the song of the Mourning warbler when we heard the buzzy Bee-Buzz-Buzz song of the Golden-winged warbler. For a few years we have walked by that stream lined with alders thinking ‘there should be a Golden-winged Warbler here.’ And finally there was.

Franklin’s Gull, Aaron Hywarren. One of two locally rare small gulls this week that appeared in the flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls at Deschênes. The Franklin’s is a western gull, identifiable at a fair distance by the prominent white eye arcs and the gray mantle, darker than that of the Bonaparte’s.

Lesser Scaup – (2) May 26-28, Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa. Jun 02, Britannia Park (pier), Ottawa.

Snow Goose –  Jun 01, Pine View Golf Course, Ottawa.  Reported May 26, Shirley’s Bay (boat launch), Ottawa.

Cackling Goose – May 29, Marais aux grenouillettes, Gatineau.

American Golden-Plover – May 30-31, Brophy Road, Ottawa.

Red-necked Phalarope – Jun 02, Britannia CA (general location), Ottawa.  Seen east of Britannia Point. Small shorebird sitting on the water.

White-rumped Sandpiper – May 28, Moodie Drive Ponds, Ottawa.  May 28-30,  RN du Marais-Trépanier, Gatineau.  May 31,  Carleton Place–Hwy 7 Storm Pond, Lanark.

White-rumped Sandpiper – May 26-30, RN du Marais-Trépanier, Gatineau.

Pectoral Sandpiper – May 26, RN du Marais-Trépanier, Gatineau.

Short-billed Dowitcher – Reported May 26-Jun 01, RN du Marais-Trépanier, Gatineau.

Whimbrel – (14) May 27, Shirley’s Bay (boat launch), Ottawa.  (26) May 30, Britannia CA (general location), Ottawa.  (2) May 31, Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.

Little Gull – Jun 01-02, Britannia CA, Ottawa. Britannia CA–Filtration Plant/Point, Ottawa, also seen from Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Franklin’s Gull – May 26-29, Britannia CA–Filtration Plant/Point, Ottawa, also seen from Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – May 30, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Caspian Tern – May 26, Britannia CA–Filtration Plant/Point, Ottawa. May 28, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Arctic Tern – May 26-27, and June 02, Britannia CA–Filtration Plant/Point, Ottawa, also seen from Baie Simard, Gatineau.  Many small flocks migrated upriver, with at least one flock as large as 12 reported.  Fewer birds on the 27.  1 on June 02.  The terns were also seen from Shirley’s Bay.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.  May 31, Chemin Sauvé, Val-des-Monts, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Yellow-throated Vireo – May 31, Jock River thru Richmond Fen, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.  May 30, Rue René-Thérien, Gatineau.

White-winged Crossbill – (15 including juveniles) May 26, Greenbelt Pathway (East/West of Conroy), Ottawa.

Louisiana Waterthrush – Continues, Parc de la Gatineau–Sentier de la Chute,  Gatineau.

Northern Parula – Jun 01, Britannia CA (general location), Ottawa.

Prothonotary Warbler – Recorded May 29, Forest Park, Prescott and Russell.


We are now in the second year of the Third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas: an ambitious five-year effort to provide data that will guide environmental policies and conservation strategies across Ontario for years to come. Participation is easy and can be as simple as noting a singing bird in your neighbourhood, or watching a bird with nesting material.  For more information, watch the introductory video on the OFNC Facebook Group,  visit  https://www.birdsontario.org/  or contact the Ottawa Regional Coordinator at Ottawa@birdsontario.org


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 26 May 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

In the calm immediately following this week’s violent storm, the birds were singing like a dawn chorus.  The dawn chorus sounds joyful and energetic to human ears, but it’s essentially a bunch of birds announcing that they are still here after the dangers of the night, and that they still hold their territories.  Then again, why shouldn’t it feel joyful to us?

Great Crested Flycatcher, Mud lake, by Alan Short.

American Redstart, Mud lake, by Alan Short. Look at those rictal bristles around the bill. What purpose do you think these modified feathers serve?

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Mud Lake, by Richard Kohl.

Baltimore Oriole, Arboretum, by Judith Gustafsson.

Great Blue Heron, Arboretum, by Judith Gustafsson. The bill isn’t just a pincher, sometimes it’s a spear.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 19 May 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

All the flycatchers have returned, and most of the breeding warblers. Common Nighthawk and Eastern Whip-poor-will are back on territory.  Yep, almost time to start thinking about fall migration.

Adult male Golden-winged warbler, Larose forest, by Janice Stewart. Janice reported that she stopped in her tracks by the buzzy song; a song that is not heard often in our region.

Spotted Sandpiper walking along the shore of the Rideau River, by Judith Gustafsson. This sandpiper is a common breeder in the OFNC Circle, nesting all along the Ottawa and Rideau rivers.

Black-crowned Night Heron, by Richard Kohl. Don’t stress a bird that looks nervous, but if you stay still, some Night Herons may approach you closely as they fixate on their hunt.

Female Harrier in hunting mode at the Cameron Harvey marsh, by Alan Short.

Mourning Warbler, Larose forest, by Janice Stewart. This hard to spot warbler gets its name from the dark hood and black breast band on the male; the dark colors implied to whomever named it. The dark hood serves a purpose; breaking up the shape of the bird in the shadowy shrubs and thick ground cover it prefers.

House Wren, Petrie Island, by Eric Leger. Learn this bird’s song and its chatter call, and it will save you a lot of time later as you play, ‘what bird is angry at me now?’

Baltimore Oriole, Brewer Park, by Judith Gustafsson. For stunning birds that nest right in our city parks, it’s hard to beat the orioles. Watching them hang upside-down and weave a hanging nest from grass is an amazing birding experience. But watch from a distance; they can be discouraged by too much attention and abandon the project.

Canada Warbler, Larose Forest, by Janice Stewart. So if this week has a theme, it’s that more people should bird Larose Forest. Support your local mosquito population!

Trumpeter Swan – Vances Side Road, Dunrobin, Ottawa.

Common Goldeneye – May 17, Almonte Lagoons, Lanark.

Redhead – Another lingerer, May 15,  Almonte Lagoons, Lanark.

Greater Scaup – In with Lesser Scaup, May 16, Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.

Snow Goose – Reports of  late Snow Goose from PN de Plaisance–Rivière des Outaouais, Papineau on May 14.  500 still around Giroux Road Ponds, Ottawa as late as May 17.

Cackling Goose  – May 14, Navan (Giroux Road Ponds), Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – (3) May 19, Rushmore Road, Ottawa.  May 19, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa

Iceland Gull – May 15, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Caspian Tern – Shirley’s Bay to Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.    May 14,PN de Plaisance–Tête de la Baie, Papineau.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.  At least 4 on Goodin this week.  A  rarer report from Burnt Lands PP, Ottawa, on May 14.

Olive-sided Flycatcher – (2) May 16, -Dolman Ridge Road, Ottawa.

Western Kingbird – May 16, Rapides Deschênes (incluant Parc), Gatineau.

Northern Mockingbird – May 14, David Bartlett Park, Ottawa.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Reported May 13, Parc Champlain, Aylmer, Gatineau.

Yellow-throated Vireo – May 18, Ch. de la Sapinière, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa. Usually singing from whichever street your compiler is not at.

Gray-cheeked Thrush  – May 18, Domaine Mackenzie-King, Gatineau.

Orchard Oriole – May 18, Green’s Creek Sewage Treatment Facility, Ottawa.  No public access, but keep an eye/ear open when birding nearby.

Evening Grosbeak – May 14, Pinhey Forest, Ottawa.

Louisiana Waterthrush – Continues, Parc de la Gatineau–Sentier de la Chute,  Gatineau.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 12 May 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Not many rarities, but a nice influx of new birds plus a few late ones, and lots of reasons to go birding.

Tree Swallows, Brewer Park, by Judith Gustafsson. If you were expecting a lesson on the birds and the uh … birds, all I’m going to say is #youcanatlasthat.

Adult male Blackburnian Warbler, Larose Forest, by Janice Stewart. Blackburnians are canopy birds with high-pitched songs that not everyone can hear. The result is far fewer great photos than this beautiful bird deserves, and the bird is almost certainly underreported.

Adult male Scarlet Tanager, NCC pathway at Island Park Drive, by Catherine Lawrence. A real forest bird, it’s only on spring migration that they are relatively to see, showing up in weird places and sticking out in bright red. When this individual next passes through Ottawa, he will be yellow and blend into the fall leaves, probably unseen.

Gray Catbird, Kars, by Bill Buchanan. Although singing Catbirds never have the same song, catbird songs share an audible quality that can be recognized with some practice. The cat-like ‘mew’ call is much easier to id.

Adult male American Redstart, Andrew Haydon Park, by Alan Short. Although Redstarts share a palette with Blackburnians, they fill different niches. Redstarts prefer shrubs and willow, especially near water, and are far more likely to be found foraging or singing at human eye level.

Brown Thrasher, Tanglewood pedestrian pathway near Woodfield Drive, by Jarrett Hather. Thrashers have returned and set up territories all over the region. If you need one for your year list, several have claimed spots around NCC Trail 10, and are singing their hearts out this week.

Trumpeter Swan – Dunrobin (Constance Creek), Ottawa.  Pair continues along Heaphy Rd., Marlborough Forest, Ottawa.  Vances Side Road, Dunrobin, Ottawa.

Tundra Swan – May 09, Almonte Lagoons, Lanark.

Northern Pintail – May 10, Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.

Common Goldeneye – (8)  May 09, Almonte Lagoons, Lanark.  Rare for the date in Lanark.

Greater White-fronted Goose – May 11, PN de Plaisance–Baie Noire (Est & Ouest), Papineau.

Ross’s Goose – (2) May 06, Navan (Giroux Road Ponds), Ottawa, with 250 Snow Geese.

Brant – A flock seen from Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa, May 12.

Dunlin – (3) May 06, Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Iceland Gull – May 06, Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa.  May 06, Second Line Rd S, Ottawa. First summer bird.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.  (9) May 06, Second Line Rd S, Ottawa (various ages, no adults).

Caspian Tern – May 12, Shirley’s Bay, Ottawa.  May 10, Marais des Laîches, Gatineau.

Black Tern – A single bird with Common terns, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa, May 10.

Red-throated Loon – May 09, Armitage Ave, Ottawa.

Black Vulture – May 06, Blue Jay Drive, Clarence-Rockland, Prescott and Russell, soaring west.  The same bird was then seen over Ottawa.

Golden Eagle – May 06,  Britannia CA (general location), Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Olive-sided Flycatcher – May 12, Britannia CA (general location), Ottawa.  Sumac field, but beware the aggressive Wild Turkeys.

Yellow-throated Vireo – Reported singing in the Baxter CA, May 10.  Ottawa.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – May 09, Kitchissippi Woods, just west of the Champlain Bridge.

Carolina Wren – Pair continues in Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa. May 06, J Henry Tweed CA, Prescott and Russell.

Louisiana Waterthrush – Continues to at least May 10, Parc de la Gatineau–Sentier de la Chute,  Gatineau.


We are now in the second year of the Third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas: an ambitious five-year effort to provide data that will guide environmental policies and conservation strategies across Ontario for years to come. Participation is easy and can be as simple as noting a singing bird in your neighbourhood, or watching a bird with nesting material.  For more information, watch the introductory video on the OFNC Facebook Group,  visit  https://www.birdsontario.org/  or contact the Ottawa Regional Coordinator at Ottawa@birdsontario.org


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 5 May 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Big story of the week was the Lark Sparrow on Twin Elm Road May 02-03.  This road produces good shorebirds, gulls, and apparently sparrows, from time to time.  A sparse handful of new warblers in small numbers.

Lark Sparrow, Twin Elm road, by Janet McCullough.

Bohemian Waxwing, Greenbelt Trail 10, Shirley’s Bay, by Tony Beck. Tony shares that a few Bohemian Waxwings have lingered into May after being fairly common at this site all winter.

White-crown Sparrow, Mud lake, by Alan Short.

Wild Turkeys, Mud Lake, by Janet McCullough. Janet looked up from the warbler she was photographing to discover turkeys on the attack. Whether it’s because people feed them, the time of year, or because Turkeys are just jerks, this flock has been chasing people this spring, and not for hand-outs. They leave bruises in some cases. I joked that they are jerks, but that is unfair anthropomorphism. These are wild animals acting on motivations we may not fathom. These are not predictable domestic animals.

Bohemian Waxwings, Carp, by Ian Somerville. Ian found these in a crab-apple tree. Cedar Waxwings breed in Ottawa every year, but as their name suggests, Bohemians wander widely until they find a promising spot to feed or breed, with no site fidelity. Hopefully they will breed here for the atlas.

Great Blue Heron, Brewer Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Sandhill Cranes all breed to some extent in our region. And they all look about the same size. But size in the field is deceptive. At 2-2.5 kg, Great Blues weigh twice as much as the egrets, and half as much as the cranes.

Eastern Towhee, Jack Pine Trail, by Richard Rowlee. Our largest breeding sparrow, and our only one with blood red eyes, Towhees are striking birds when you can manage to see one. Usually well hidden, they are more easily heard, loudly scratching through leaf litter or by calling frequently.

Eastern Towhee, Kars, by Bill Buchanan. Towhees can be notoriously hard to see, until they decide to feed under feeders, which is what happened in Bill’s yard.

Blackburnian Warbler, Mud lake, by Arlene Harrold. Very large numbers of Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers have arrived, but only a handful of others, such as this stunning male. The good news is that we have lots of warblers in our near future.

Blue-headed Vireo, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, by Arlene Harrold. Like warblers, vireo species pass through in waves, and the first wave of the season is here in the Blue-headed.

Trumpeter Swan – Pair May 02,  Vances Side Road, Dunrobin, Ottawa

Ruby-throated Hummingbird – A handful seem to have passed right over Ottawa:  May 04 Wychwood, Aylmer, Gatineau. May 04, Parc Queen, Gatineau.  May 03, Rue rémi , cantley, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  May 01, Rue de Saturne, Cantley, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Lesser Yellowlegs – 50+ at Richmond Lagoons, Ottawa,  May 05.

Iceland Gull  – May 05, Twin Elm Road, Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull  – (7) May 05, Twin Elm Road, Ottawa.  May 03, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.  May 03, Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.

Bonaparte’s Gull – (14) on Lake Deschenes May 05.

Caspian Tern – Reported May 01,  Baie McLaurin, Gatineau.

Rough-legged Hawk – May 02, Twin Elm Road Wetlands, Ottawa.   May 01, RN de Breckenridge, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – pair interacting May 04, Cowell Rd, Ottawa.  Apr 30, Chemin Cook, Gatineau.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – May 03- 04,  Imp de l’Excursion, Gatineau.

Carolina Wren – Pair continues in Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.  Apr 29, Mud Lake, Ottawa.

Marsh Wren – May 02-04, Cameron Harvey Drive, Ottawa.  May 01, NCC greenbelt P27, Ottawa.

Bohemian Waxwing  – (14)  May 05, Greenbelt Trail 10, Ottawa.   May 02, Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.  (25) Apr 29, Holbrook Rd, Montague, Lanark.

Lark Sparrow – May 02-03, Twin Elm Road Wetlands, Ottawa.

Fox Sparrow – May 03, Du Bois Ave, Ottawa.

Louisiana Waterthrush – May 04-05, Parc de la Gatineau–Sentier Lauriault and Sentier de la Chute, and Gatineau.

Cape May Warbler – May 03,Stanley Park, Ottawa

Blackburnian Warbler – May 01, Mud Lake, Ottawa,

Orange-crowned Warbler – May 04, Parc de la Gatineau–Sentier Gamelin, Gatineau.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 28 April 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

This was a big migration week.  Some species such as Yellow Warbler and Spotted Sandpiper went from rare to ubiquitous.  Lots of Palm and Pine Warblers now.  The story of the week though was the stunning flight of Broad-winged Hawk on April 25.  Many observers reported dozens of Broad-winged Hawks, and some even counted over 100.

Female Evening Grosbeak, Mer Bleue, by Aaron Hywarren. This is the long-staying grosbeak that has lingered for months. Aaron was excited to see her carrying nesting material, a sign of attempted breeding. #youcanatlasthat, or at least Aaron can, in this case.

Adult male Northern Harrier, Cameron Harvey Marsh, Alan Short.

Pine Warbler, Vincent Massey Park, by Aaron Hywarren.

Immature Bald Eagle, Shirley’s Bay, by Aaron Hywarren. Aaron says: I am including it as there have been a number of reports of Golden Eagle and this ain’t one! Instructive image though as it shows how readily folks can be fooled. The longer neck and dominant bi-coloured bill are good clues: and though not pictured here, the underside was dark with extensive white markings on the wings.

Vesper sparrow, Terry Carisse Park along Steeplehill Drive, by Gillian Mastromatteo.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Bruce Pit, by Janet McCullough. That bill is tiny, even for a tiny bird. It’s perfect for probing the nooks and crannies of rolled up leaves and bark for arthropods.

Warbler butt, Carleton Place, by Arlene Harrold. We are all looking for that perfect tack-sharp photo with the eye perfectly in focus. But that’s rarely what warblers give us. Still, this bird, like many warblers, is perfectly identifiable from this angle. Only a few local warblers have all yellow vents. Add in the black band at the base of the tail, and the white tail feathers, and this can only be one species. And hey, we didn’t even need to cheat and look at the Rufus cap. Or watch it bob its tail.

Carolina Wren, Elmhurst Park, by Sanam Goudarzi.

Ross’s Goose – Apr 14-28, Holland’s Marsh (Old HWY 7 just south of Hunt Line), Ottawa.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Apr 25, Almonte Lagoons, Lanark, Ontario

Green-winged Teal (Eurasian x American) – Apr 24, Ch. de la Sapiniere, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Trumpeter Swan – Apr24, Stonecrest Rd, Ottawa.

Solitary Sandpiper – Apr 25-27, Twin Elm Road Wetlands, Ottawa. Apr 26, Holland’s Marsh, Ottawa.

Iceland Gull – Apr 25-26, 2022 Dow’s Lake, Ottawa.  Apr 25, Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa. Adult Apr 21, Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Apr 26, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Black Vulture – Just on the edge of the OFNC circle, Apr 27, Richardson Rd, Montague, Lanark.

Golden Eagle – Apr 25 Migrating North over the Rideau and Sandy Hill, Ottawa.  Apr 23, Shirley’s Bay (Hilda Road feeders), Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Great Crested Flycatcher – Apr 28, Stony Swamp (Sarsaparilla Trail), Ottawa.  Apr 26, Ch d’Amour, Gatineau.

Carolina Wren – Pair continues in Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.

Snow Bunting – Apr 23, Bate Island, Ottawa.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak – Apr 27, Whitmore Ave, Ottawa. Apr 25, Orleans, Ottawa.

Gray Catbird – Apr 28, Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.  Apr 27, Britannia CA (general location), Ottawa. Apr 25, Almonte Lagoons, Lanark.  Apr 22, 2022 Greenbelt Trail 51, Ottawa.

Northern Mockingbird – Apr 26, Central Experimental Farm Arboretum, Ottawa.

Northern Shrike – Apr 23, Dolman Ridge Road, Ottawa.

Northern Waterthrush – Apr 26, Greenbelt Pathway (East/West of Conroy), Ottawa.

Black-throated Green Warbler – Apr 26, Chemin Younger, Lac McGregor, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 April 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Interested in Ontario’s Breeding Bird Atlas project?  

Birds are returning every day and as a result, Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas activity is ramping up again. Participation is easy and your observations will provide Canadian scientists, government officials, and conservation professionals with data that will guide environmental policies and conservation strategies across Ontario for years to come.

A number of events are planned as a part of the launch the second year of the Atlas. Find out more about the Atlas and the Ottawa Region on the OFNC Facebook page at 1900 Thursday for a live event. Or you can pop by the Bandstand at Vincent Massey park at 1100 on Sunday 24 April for a Meet and Greet. For more on the Atlas – including how to register – please visit: https://www.birdsontario.org/2022-kickoff/

Male Rusty Blackbird, Petrie Island, by Tony Beck. Tony notes this individual is almost in its full breeding plumage. However, it’s still showing some winter markings on its belly and flanks.

Double-crested Cormorant, Brewer Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Hated by some, dismissed by others, cormorants are really beautiful birds if one chooses to look closely.

Vesper Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow, Viewbank Road, by Arlene Harold. These are both birds of the agricultural lands around our region, but getting two in one shot is pretty rare.

Osprey, Thomas Dolan Parkway, by Alan Short. Ospreys are already back, paired off, and hard at work building new nests or shoring up old ones. Unlike smaller birds that may have time for two broods in a single Ottawa summer, it takes a lot of time and energy to get the huge Osprey young ready for migration before winter. For bonus points, can you id the fish? Fair warning, it’s probably a trick question.

Hermit Thrush, Clyde Woods, by Catherine Lawrence. Hermit thrushes are one of the birds that use foot quivering to stir food prey into motion, like some shorebirds.

Tree swallow, Richmond CA, by Janet McCullough. Tree Swallows live up to their names. Not only do they naturally nest in tree cavities, but they actually sit around on branches.

Ross’s Goose – Apr 14-15, Holland’s Marsh (Old HWY 7 just south of Hunt Line), Ottawa.

Greater White-fronted Goose – Apr 15, John Shaw Rd, Ottawa.

Green-winged Teal (Eurasian)  – i.e. Common Teal.  Apr 15-16, Dilworth Rd, Ottawa.

Tundra Swan – 7 on Apr 17, Sentier E Lalande, Plaisance, Papineau.  4 Apr 13-15, Marais des Laîches, Gatineau.

Trumpeter Swan – Apr 18 John Shaw Road.  Apr 18, Stonecrest Rd, Ottawa.

Common Gallinule – Apr 18, Beaver Pond Trail, Ottawa.

Sora – Apr 19, Bruce Pit, Ottawa.

Golden Eagle – Apr 15, Greenbelt Trail 10, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Apr 19, Dilworth Rd, Ottawa.

Gray Catbird – Apr 16, Sentier Lauriault, Parc de la Gatineau, Gatineau.

Cliff Swallow – Apr 19,  Deschênes, Gatineau.  Apr 16, Carlsbad Ln, Ottawa.  Big flocks of swallows are being reported at various locations, so check for vagrants. Purple Martins have returned to Andrew Hayden park, ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Pair continues in Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa (singing near Tavistock).  Hurdman Woods, Apr 20.  Apr 18, Beaver Pond Trail, Ottawa.  Kanata lakes, Apr 17.

Snow Bunting – 30 on Apr 15, Donald B. Munro Drive, Ottawa

Palm Warbler – A handful hit the region this week at:  Watt’s Creek Pathway; Chapman Mills CA; Giroux Ponds; all Ottawa.  Rapides Deschênes and Marais des Laîches, both Gatineau.  Yellow-rumped and Pine warblers are already fairly common.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 14 April 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Barnacle goose! Get out the shorebird guide, because the Greater Yellowlegs are back, and they are the leading edge of shorebirds.  What new birds will arrive on Friday’s winds?

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Britannia Conservation Area, by Tony Beck. Although our Kinglets head south for the winter, these tiny birds are tough enough to overwinter in areas that can reach -40 at night.

Female plumage Merlin, Russel, by Tony Beck. Tony says: Note that this Merlin perches on one leg while the other is retracted into its belly feathers. Feathers have excellent insulating properties. Birds sometimes hide bare parts (like feet, legs and beaks) in their feathers to help conserve body heat. They are usually fairly relaxed when they do so.

Snow Geese, Winchester, by Tony beck. Tony says: Snow Goose numbers have dramatically increased in Eastern Ontario over the past 15 years. The vast majority seen east of Ottawa are of the Greater Snow Goose population which breeds in the eastern Canadian Arctic. The first Blue morph in this population was recorded in the 1970s. They now make up about 4 to 5 % of the population. Lesser Snow Geese occur mainly west of Ontario. Blue morph is much more common in this population, sometimes making up as much as half a flock. Tony was surprised to see a flock of approximately 1200 Snow Geese where about 65 to 70 % were Blue Morphs. This suggests that these birds are of the western Lesser Snow Goose population. Judging by the variable sizes, shapes and plumage characters, he suspects some of these individuals are Greater and Lesser intergrades.

Breeding plumage adult Pied-billed Grebe, just up river (east shore) from Rideau’s Adawe Bridge, by Keith Wickens. Birds don’t just change their feathers for breeding season. The pied bill is only strongly two-colored in breeding season.

Greater Yellowlegs (with Ring-billed Gull), Appleton Sideroad & Old Almonte Road, by Arlene Harrold. Greater Yellowlegs (and Pectoral Sandpipers) are the first of the ‘real’ shorebirds to arrive in the spring. Both were reported this week.

Female Mallard, Tomas Dolan at the bridge, by Alan Short. Although not a ‘Wood Duck’, this Mallard does not allow societal expectations to constrain her behaviour.

Fox Sparrow, Loney Crescent, by Erik Pohanka. Most migrants have a short season in Ottawa as they race north to the breeding grounds, and a leisurely return in the fall. This pattern holds for the Fox Sparrow. You have only a few weeks to see them in the spring, but almost two months in the fall. It’s worth seeking them out for their sweet slurring song.

Tree Swallows, Brewer Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Despite the area still being flooded on April 9, Judith found many Tree Swallows, some already claiming some of the nest boxes along the pond, and carrying small twigs to the boxes.

Ross’s Goose – Apr 14, Holland’s Marsh (Old HWY 7 just south of Hunt Line), Ottawa.

Barnacle Goose – Apr 10-13, Seen on back and forth between Russell Road and Milton Road, Ottawa.

Greater White-fronted Goose – Apr 13, John Shaw Rd, Ottawa.  Apr 11, Holland’s Marsh, Ottawa.  Apr 11, Giroux Road Ponds, Ottawa.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Continues to Apr 12, Stanley Park, or Kingsview Park, Ottawa.

Redhead – 2 on Apr 12, Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.

Black Scoter – A single male Apr 10, Dick Bell Park, Ottawa.

White-winged Scoter  – 2 Apr 08, Lake Park, Lanark.

Tundra Swan – 4 Apr 13, Marais des Laîches, Gatineau.  2-9 birds, continued to at least Apr 12,  Cobb Lake Creek flood plain, Prescott and Russell.  3 Apr 11, Milton Road, Ottawa.

Trumpeter Swan – Continuing pairs in Marlborough Forest at Roger’s Pond, Ottawa, and at the creek on Kettles Road, Ottawa.  Pair Apr 08, March Rd, Ottawa.  Single flyover at Tunney’s pasture, Ottawa, on Apr. 08.  Apr 13, Carlisle Circle, Ottawa.

Glaucous Gull – At least two in the area with an immature Apr 11, Deschenes Rapids Lookout, Ottawa. Adult Apr 09, Moodie Drive, Ottawa.

Iceland Gull – Apr 11, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Caspian Tern – Apr 08, Rideau River-long reach, Ottawa.

Golden Eagle – Apr 10, Milton Road, Ottawa. Apr 09, Bill Mason Centre, Ottawa.  Apr 09, Frank Kenny Road at the bridge, Ottawa.  Apr 09, Lake Park, Lanark.

Red-headed Woodpecker – 3-4 birds Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Apr 10, Lauriault Trail, Chelsea, Gatineau.

Carolina Wren – Pair continues in Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa (singing near Tavistock).
American Pipit – 2 photographed Apr 08, Chemin Industriel, Gatineau.

Fox Sparrows – Suddenly everywhere, but only for the next three weeks

Yellow-rumped warbler – Not rare for the date, but an exciting sign of spring, a handful of yellow-rumps were reported this week:  Roger’s pond in Marlborough Forest, Ottawa; Armitage Ave, Ottawa; Rideau Canal at the Ottawa River;  and Mississippi Lake #7 bridge view, Lanark.


Shorebird tip – The fence at the Embrun has been moved, permitting views of two of the lagoons without trespassing.  When parking, be careful not to block the gate or the blackwater dump.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 7 April 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Most of the herons and many Tree Swallows returned this week. Still lots of great geese and waterfowl. A Pink-footed Goose and a male Tufted Duck put in brief, but well photographed, appearances.

Full adult breeding Lesser Black-backed Gull, near Kinburn, by Tony Beck. Tony says: Expanding their range from Europe, Lesser Black-backed Gulls were first recorded in Canada in 1968. They have since become fairly regular in the Ottawa area, especially during migration. When present, they’re usually seen associating with other gulls.

Adult male Common Grackle, Petrie Island, by Tony Beck. Tony says: Although Common Grackles can be highly visible in a variety of local habitats, since 1970, their numbers have declined by as much as 50%. They’re now red listed as “near threatened” with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Adult red-headed Woodpecker, Constance Bay, by Tom Devecseri. Tom watched a pair take turns excavating a nest cavity. In some areas this species prefers nesting in flooded swamps. In other areas, it seeks out oak savannah, neither of which describes Constance Bay. It would be fascinating to know what keeps them coming back year after year.

Male Pileated woodpecker, 5th Line Rd at Berry Side Rd, by Alan Short. The red moustache (or malar) identifies it as a male.

Female-type Ring-necked Duck, Mud Lake, by Sanam Goudarzi. These ducks prefer ponds but you will see them in rivers with Scaup on migration.

Double-crested Cormorant, Riverside Drive near the Bronson Bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Note the breeding tufts. Sibley says the tufts are black in southeastern birds, and get whiter to the west and north.

Juvenile Northern Harrier, Lamours east of Birchgrove, by Keith Wickens. The owl-like facial disk of the harrier serves the same purpose as it does for owls; it helps the bird hunt by sound for rodents hidden in the reeds and tall grasses.

Part of an estimated flock of 70,000 Snow Geese, Cobb’s Creek flood plain, by Janet McCullough.

Male Blue-winged Teal, Eagleson Ponds, by Gillian Mastromatteo. This is a great learning photo, as it shows the danger of not checking multiple ID points. The green in the wing is clearly visible, the blue is hidden, so if one overlooks the white crescent on the face, it would be possible to misidentify this tiny duck.

Pink-footed Goose – Apr 01, Birchgrove Rd, Sarsfield, Ottawa.

Greater White-fronted Goose – 3 Apr 06, Holland’s Marsh, Ottawa.  Apr 05, Monty Drive, Ottawa.  Apr 03, Regional Road 55, Clarence-Rockland, Prescott and Russell.

Ross’s Goose – 1-2 Apr 02-03,  Cobb Lake Creek flood plain, Prescott and Russell.

Tufted Duck – Apr 03, Chemin du fer à Cheval, Gatineau.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Apr 01, Kingsview Park, Ottawa.

Blue-winged Teal – Apr 04, Twin Elm Road Wetlands, Ottawa.  Also Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.  Sarsaparilla Trail), Ottawa. 2 on Apr 02, Emerald Meadows, Monahan Drain Ponds, Ottawa.   2 on Milton Road, Ottawa.  10  Apr 01, Sentier des Voyageurs, du parc Moussette à golf Château Cartier, Gatineau.   8 Apr 01, Carp River southeast of Carp, Ottawa.

Red-breasted Merganser – 2 Female-type Apr 06 Britannia Park (pier), Ottawa.

Tundra Swan – 3 Apr 05, De La Sapinière, Luskville, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  3 Apr 04, Baie Lafontaine, Ottawa.  10 Apr 03, Birchgrove Rd (then flew to Milton Rd), Ottawa.  34 Apr 02, only 3 the next day, Cobb Lake Creek flood plain, Prescott and Russell. 5 on Apr 02, Dilworth Rd, Ottawa.

Trumpeter Swan – 2 continue on Kettles Road, Ottawa.  2 Apr 01, Shirley’s Bay (Hilda Road feeders), Ottawa.

Glaucous Gull – Apr 06, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Black-crowned Night-Heron – Apr 06,  Britannia CA, Ottawa.  Apr 04, Emerald Meadows x Eagleson storm water ponds, Ottawa.  5 Apr 03, Lemieux Island, Ottawa.

American Bittern – Apr 04, Monty Drive, Ottawa.

Golden Eagle  – Apr 06, Dobson Lane, Ottawa.  Apr 03, Old Perth Road, Mississippi Mills, Lanark.  Apr 03,  Dilworth Rd, Ottawa.  Apr 02, Cobb Lake Creek flood plain, Prescott and Russell.  Apr 02, Birchgrove Road, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Shilly-Shally, Gatineau Park, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Apr 03, Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa (Singing near Tavistock).

Eastern Towhee – Apr 02, Rue de la Baie, Val-des-Monts, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.


eBird Tip:  When a heard-only bird comes up as rare in eBird, instead of saying ‘identified by Merlin,’ export the Merlin audio recording to eBird.  While Merlin is good, it is not perfect, so consider the options it provides as ‘helpful suggestions.’


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 31 March 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Snow Geese, Mud lake, by Alan Short. Usually you have to leave the city proper and travel the backroads to see the Snow Geese during the annual migration, but if you spend enough time in the field, eventually really cool birds come to your patch, which is how Alan caught them at Mud Lake.

Swans in flight, Barnsdale, by Janet McCullough. Swans are usually not too hard to identify if you can see their bills, or their relative sizes. But flying in a single species flock in the distance? Better to just enjoy the sight, and resign yourself to ‘swan sp.’ in eBird – unless you can hear them, and then you are back in the ID game.

Female Pileated Woodpecker, Thomas Dolan Parkway, by Alan Short. This was a brand new pole, chemically treated, and unlikely to host food. So why do Woodpeckers attack new poles so often? So much has been written on this topic! One all encompassing theory is that the poles provide excellent vantage points for territorial defense, and while banging away, territorial birds sometimes hear hollows. Pileateds love the sound of hollow wood, for magnifying their drumming, as a – misleading in this case – potential source of food, and as a potential cavity for roosting. My favourite theory, that the poles carry vibrations from power lines, which the birds assume means insects, is easily debunked. The birds attack before the power lines are strung up.

Hooded Mergansers, Brewers Park, by Judith Gustafsson.

Greater White-fronted Goose  – 3 Mar 31 Thomas A Dolan Pky, Ottawa.  Mar 30 Armitage Ave , Ottawa.  2 on Mar 27, John Shaw Rd, Ottawa.  Mar 26, Pilon Road, Clarence Creek, Prescott and Russell.  Dilworth Rd, Ottawa.

Ross’s Goose – Mar 31, Milton Rd, Ottawa.  Mar 29, Birchgove Rd, Sarsfield, Ottawa.  In a flock with hundreds of Snow Geese and Canada Geese.  Mar 27, Pilon Rd,  Prescott and Russell.  As many as 5, Mar 27,  Cobb Lake Creek flood plain, Prescott and Russell.

Blue-winged Teal – Mar 31, Twin Elm Road Wetlands, Ottawa.  Emerald Meadows x Eagleson storm water ponds, Ottawa (Hope Side Road end).  Mar 29, Station d’épuration, Gatineau.  Mar 27,Milton Road, Ottawa.

Gadwall – A pair Mar 26, Milton Rd, Ottawa.

Long-tailed Duck – Continuing female, Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Northern Shoveler – Mar 31, Twin Elm Road Wetlands, Ottawa.

Redhead – 2 on Mar 25, Britannia CA–Filtration Plant/Point, Ottawa.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Mar 28, Adàwe Crossing, Ottawa.  Ranging further South along the river this week.

Tundra Swan – 11-16 birds continued to at least Mar 31 on Milton Road, Ottawa.  7 on Mar 28, Fourth Line Rd and Callendor Rd flooded fields, Ottawa.  5 on Mar 27, Pilon Rd, Prescott and Russell.  Mar 26, Cobb River Floodplain, Prescott and Russell.

Trumpeter Swan – 2 Mar 30, Kettles Road, Ottawa.  2 Mar 25, Fine Estate, Ottawa

Red-breasted Merganser – Mar 29, Hurdman Bridge, Ottawa.

Horned Grebe – Mar 27, Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Golden Eagle – Mar 27,  Rollin Rd, Prescott and Russell.  Mar 26, Dunrobin (Carp Hills), as well as  John Shaw Rd, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker –  4 Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Huron, and Shilly-Shally, Gatineau Park, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Mar 31, Athlone Avenue, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – 2 Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.

Savannah Sparrow – Mar 30, John Shaw Rd, Ottawa


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 24 March 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Open water and flooded fields brought a massive influx of water birds.

Greater White-fronted Geese, John Shaw Road floodplain, Kinburn, by Aaron Hywarren. If you take the time to safely scan the huge flocks of geese in the flooded farm fields, you will eventually find rare geese, wild swans, and the less common dabbling ducks. Best viewed with a scope.

Adult male Wild Turkey, Britannia Conservation Area, by Tony Beck. All those wild shapes and colors serve an evolutionary purpose, but as soft tissue they don’t fossilize well. If birds are just dinosaurs, how many dinosaurs sported such finery? Try reimagining the T-rex with bright blue and red wattles.

Mating Peregrine Falcons, the CRA building roost site, Ottawa, by Jordan Milko. Peregrines are cliff nesters, and many have adapted to breeding on tall buildings. See history of Peregrines in Ottawa

Killdeer, Barrhaven, by Richard Kohl. The first shorebirds to return to the region each year are the non-shore shorebirds: Killdeer, American Woodcock, and Wilson Snipe. Not relying on a shore for gathering food frees them to start displaying before the river opens up.

Adult male Ring-necked Duck, Chapman Mills Conservation Area, by Keith Wickens. They dive for aquatic seeds, tubers, and invertebrates.

Merlin, Vance’s Side Road, by Arlene Harrold. Merlins are small-bird hunting specialists, and according to Birds of the World, tend to specialize in one or two of the most common species in an area.

Common Grackle, Brewer Park, by Judith Gustafsson. All the regular breeding blackbird species are back in the region, at least in small numbers.

Adult male Common Merganser, at Carleton Lodge, by Alan Short.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Male all week to Mar 24, Adàwe Crossing, Ottawa.

Northern Shoveler – A pair Mar 19, Eagleson storm water ponds, Ottawa.

Gadwall – 3 on Mar 20, Milton Rd, Ottawa. One on Mar 21 off Long Island Drive Park, Manotick, Ottawa.

Greater Scaup – A male Mar 18, Britannia Yacht Club, Ottawa.

Blue-winged Teal – 6 on Mar 24, Carp River southeast of Carp, Ottawa.

Long-tailed Duck – Female, Mar 24, Britannia Yacht Club, Ottawa.

Greater White-fronted Goose – 3-5 reported Mar 23-24,  John Shaw Rd floodplain, near Grant side Rd, Ottawa.

Tundra Swan – 16 East of Milton road, Ottawa, Mar 24.  2 at Petrie Island, Ottawa, on Mar 22.  2 on Mar 20-21, Frank Kenny Road at the bridge South of McFadden, Ottawa.  2 on Wall Rd, Ottawa, Mar 19.

Trumpeter Swan – 2 on Mar 23, Carp River southeast of Carp, Ottawa.

Horned Grebe – Mar 23, Parc Moussette, Gatineau.  Mar 24, Carp River southeast of Carp, Ottawa.

Pied-billed Grebe – Reported Mar 17-18 at the base of the Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Sandhill Crane  – 2 on Mar 20, over Marais aux grenouillettes, Gatineau.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Continues at Parc Moussette, Gatineau.

Double-crested Cormorant  –  Mar 24, Britannia CA, and Stanley Park, Ottawa.  Mar 22, Billings Bridge, Ottawa.  Arboretum, Ottawa (by the locks).  Mar 21, Lemieux Island, Ottawa.

Golden Eagle – Several reports on Mar 20:  Spring St, Mississippi Mills, Lanark; Milton Rd, Ottawa; and, Osgoode Trail, Ottawa.

Belted Kingfisher – Mar 24, Chapman Mills CA, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker –  Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Huron shelter, Gatineau Park, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Carolina Wren – Mar 24, Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.  Check the feeder on the West side of Tavistock.

Hermit Thrush – Britannia CA, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 17 March 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

The first “pent!” of a displaying American Woodcock reported on the evening of the 17th.  More and more spring birds, and suddenly lots of singing birds!  The first wildly optimistic flycatcher arrived (an Eastern Phoebe).  With interesting South winds over Thursday night, who knows what else will show up?

Female Hooded Merganser, Billings bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Most ducks’ hips and feet are poorly adapted to walking on land, but are beautifully evolved for speed in or under water.

Red-tailed hawk, March Valley Rd at Terry Fox, by Allan Short. One of a pair that Allan saw.

American Robin, Cassels Street (Britannia CA), by Nina Stavlund. Unlike most species of songbird, the Robin has benefited from human transformation of North America. Their main summer foods are earthworms (invasive, brought over by European Settlers), and in winter fruit (think of all those crab-apple trees people landscape with).

Eastern Bluebird, SW Ottawa, by Janet McCullough. This is another species that can overwinter in Ottawa, but like robins, their numbers start increasing locally around this time of year.

Male Horned Lark, Navan, by Keith Wickens. Females are paler and lack the black eye patch of the males. But a pale bird isn’t necessarily a female. Some of the subspecies are much paler than others.

Purple Finch, female and male, SW Ottawa, by Arlene Harrold. A close look shows they share the same brown plumage pattern, with much of the white replaced by raspberry in the male.

Mallard x American Black Duck, Billings Bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Ever wonder about the x and / in eBird? Choose Mallard/American Black Duck if you are not sure which species you saw. Choose Mallard x American Black Duck if you are sure you are looking at a hybrid. At first glance this could almost be a run-of-the-mill female Mallard, but Judith spotted the uniform dark olive bill of a Black Duck. The Mallard above her shows the typical female black splotch on an orange bill.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – A photogenic male all week at Strathcona Park, Ottawa.

Cackling Goose  – Two, Mar 15, Martin/St. Paul St. lookout, Almonte, Lanark.

Tundra Swan – Mar 15, Martin/St. Paul St lookout, or along Spring St. Almonte, Lanark.

Trumpeter Swan – Mar 16, Dunrobin (Constance Creek), Ottawa.

Pied-billed Grebe – Reported Mar 17 at the base of the Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Mar 15,  Parc Moussette, Gatineau.

Golden Eagle  – A second year bird on Mar 17, Greenland Road Hawkwatch, Ottawa.  An adult on the 16th in Dunrobin, in the Constance Lake area, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker –  At least 3 adults and an immature reported this week from Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – At the usual spots in Gatineau Park – Huron and  Shilly-Shally, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Black-backed Woodpecker – Last reported Mar 12, Constance Bay, Ottawa.  No reason to think it left.

Hermit Thrush –  Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Eastern Bluebird – 2 on Mar 17, McBean St, (in Richmond) Ottawa.  4 at the Greenland Road Hawkwatch, Ottawa.

Hoary Redpoll – Common Redpolls linger around the circle, so of course a few Hoary Redpolls are mixed in.  Reports this week from:   3 on Monty Drive, Ottawa;  1 at Lac Meech, LesCollines-de-l’Outaouais;  1 on Rue des Chardonnerets, Gatineau; and, 1 in Richmond, Ottawa.

Eastern Phoebe – Mar 17, Bowrin Rd, (in Richmond) Ottawa.

White-crowned Sparrow – Mar 14, Fine Estate, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 10 March 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Woo!  The real birds of spring have arrived:  Ring-billed Gulls returned this week! Spring waterfowl and Red-winged Blackbirds are showing up, but lots of winter finches are still around.  Not one but two Black-backed Woodpeckers!

Adult breeding Ring-billed Gulls, near Andrew Haydon Park, by Tony Beck. True signs of spring in Ottawa, unlike Robins–many which successfully overwintered here–these gulls leave us every winter.

Adult Bald Eagle, Breckenridge, QC, by Tony Beck.

Canada Goose, Britannia Conservation Area, by Tony Beck. Love ’em or hate ’em, Canada Geese are another sure sign of spring. Bonus points if you can identify the bird reflected in the goose’s eye.

Wood Ducks, Britannia Conservation Area, by Tony Beck. Sure, he’s handsome and attentive now, but when the chicks show up? He’s long gone. In species where the young are born able to move and feed themselves (precocial), the female is usually the only caregiver.

Hermit Thrush, Britannia Conservation Area, by Alan Short. Alan observed an American Robin guarding one of the holes in the ice where the minnows congregate. The robin chased off its fellow thrush, but others have reported that the thrush sometimes succeeds in snatching fish too.

Small fish, Britannia Conservation Area, by Alan Short. The thousands of minnows, catfish, and other small fish trapped in the very shallow water are compelled to the rare openings in the ice, presumably by low oxygen levels. This has been a surprising winter food source for a flock of robins, a Hermit thrush, and the local Mink. Zoom in on this photo, and the density of fish is amazing!

Horned Lark, Giroux Road area, by Keith Wickens. Surprisingly, Horned Larks are year-round in Ottawa, with some local breeders, although their population peaks in Feb-Mar as many birds pass through on the way to the breeding grounds.

Snow Bunting, Giroux Road area, by Keith Wickens. On the other hand, Snow Buntings are just here from Oct-April.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Mar 06, Carleton Place, Riverside Park, Lanark.  Rideau Tennis Club, Ottawa, Mar 10.

Gadwall – 4 at Britannia CA on Mar 09, Ottawa, ON.  Also on Mar 09, Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Tundra Swan – Mar 05, Martin/St. Paul St lookout, Almonte, Lanark.

Trumpeter Swan – A flyover Mar 09,  Fine Estate, Ottawa.

Turkey Vulture – All over Ottawa:  Mar 09, Lismer Crescent to Beaverpond, and over Carleton University. Mar 08, Barnsdale Rd. at Prince of Wales Dr. NW corner.  Mar 06, Nicholas Street.  Mar 04, George Etienne Cartier Pkwy.  Shirley Avenue.  In Lanark on Mar 05, over Highway 7 in Perth.

Red-headed Woodpecker –  Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Mar 08,  Parc de la Gatineau at the Huron shelter feeder, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Mar 05, Groves Road, Prescott and Russell.

Black-backed Woodpecker  – The continuing male Mar 05, Torbolton Forest, Ottawa.  A female in Stony Swamp on the Sarsaparilla Trail, Ottawa, on Mar 05.

Northern Flicker – Mar 07, Walter Baker, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa. Last reported at the corner of Elmhurst and Forest.

Hermit Thrush –  Mar 04, Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Winter finches – moving out.  Still lots of Red Crossbills and Pine Grosbeaks.

White-winged Crossbill – A big flock of 25-30 on Mar 05, Boileau Road, Prescott and Russell.  A pair on the Sarsaparilla Trail, Ottawa, on Mar 05.

Red Crossbill – Small numbers remain in Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais:  Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais, in the Parc de la Gatineau, on Sentier P15, and on Ch. Eardley Masham.  Also at Lac McGregor.

Evening Grosbeak – Small numbers in Parc de la Gatineau at Relais Renaud, Relais Healey, and Relais Herridge, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  A flock of 13 in Crystal Beach Ottawa on Mar 09.  A lone bird at the Mer Bleue Bog, Ottawa, on Mar 06.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 3 March 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

American Black Duck, Britannia, by Tony Beck. Tony says: This image reveals the dark speculum without white borders, and the overall dark colour contrasting with the white wing linings.

Bonded pair of Mallards, Britannia, by Tony Beck. Tony says: It’s early March, and several local Mallards have paired off, some intimately engaged in courtship. The white in the speculum

Black-capped Chickadee, Shirley’s Bay, by Tony Beck. Locally chickadees form the heart of mixed winter flocks. The membership of the flocks may change as the flock crosses territories. For example, as the flock crosses from one nuthatch pair’s territory into another, the first pair may drop out of the flock, and the second pair may join the flock for a while. o an external observer the flock looks the same.

Female House Finch, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, by Judith Gustafsson. We have enjoyed a lot more stripy finches than usual in the last two weeks. The large bill and lack of obvious supercilium identifies this as a House Finch.

Pine Grosbeak, Navan, by Keith Wickens. Another Good year for Pine Grosbeaks in our region. Look for crabapple trees with lots of fruit, and eventually these beauties will show up. They blend in surprisingly well despite the pink and yellow, forgoing the quick jittery movements of so many song birds, so time spent learning their quiet calls is time well spent.

Female Cardinal, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, by Alan Short. Like female Purple Finches, female Cardinals sing, and like the finches, they also tend to sing from cover, unlike the male, whose color and choice of song perch is designed to stand out.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Carleton Place, Riverside Park, Lanark.  Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Tundra Swan – Martin/St. Paul St lookout, Almonte, Lanark.

Northern Harrier – Adult male at Greenbank Pond (just south of the Jock river), Ottawa.  Adult male at the Trail Road landfill, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker –  Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Feb 27, Parc de la Gatineau, Relais Shilly-Shallly, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker –  Overwintering on Chickasaw Crescent, Ottawa.

Northern Flicker – Feb 26, Richmond Centennial Golf Course, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush – Britannia CA, Ottawa, easiest to find around open water, such as the outflow from Mud Lake.

Still too many winter finch reports to count.  Just the rarer ones:

Bohemian Waxwings – Flocks around the area of Shirleys Bay, Greenbelt Pathway West, and Nortel Marsh, Ottawa.  Parc de la Gatineau, Lac Pink, Gatineau.  Mont-Luc, Gatineau.  As many as 60 on the Sentier des voyageurs, Gatineau.

White-winged Crossbill – Feb 26, Boileau Road, Prescott and Russell.  Parc de la Gatineau, Ch. Eardley Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Upper Dwyer Hill Rd, Ottawa.  Greenbelt Trail 10, Ottawa.

Red Crossbill – Parc de la Gatineau, Ch. Eardley Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais, CA-QC

Pine Siskin – Numbers have dropped since the beginning of March, but still all over.  Check flocks for the elusive green morph, reported this week from Monty Dr, Ottawa on Feb 26, and Rue de Saint-Malo, Gatineau, on Mar 01.

Evening Grosbeak – zero reports so far in March.

White-crowned Sparrow – Adult Feb 28, Central Experimental Farm (manure piles at Morningside and Ash lane), Ottawa.


eBird Tip: Now that you’ve memorized all the bird-banding codes from playing BRDL, did you know you can search in eBird using those same codes?  Works in the app and the web site.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 24 February 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Just in time for the Great Backyard Bird Count, Pine Siskins went from common in the countryside to ubiquitous even in the suburbs. Many linger, dragging small numbers of Redpolls with them to suburban feeders.

Female Pine Grosbeak, Cloverdale, by Tony Beck. Observed on the Winchester bird count held last Sunday. Tony reports that most were observed feeding on, or near, crabapple.

From left to right, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, and female Purple Finch, Metcalfe, by Erik Pohanka. Erik had 6 species of finches at his feeders on February 24th, but getting more than three into a single frame was impossible.

Red-tailed Hawk with vole, Navan, by Keith Wickens. Red-tailed hawks are big birds, so it may surprise some to learn that their main prey are small rodents such as voles and mice. How do raptors know which fields have the most prey? After all, voles spend most of the winter under the snow cover in tunnels. Rodents leave trails of urine as they travel. The urine fluoresces in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, which the raptors can see. So what looks like a pristine snowy field to us looks very different to a hungry raptor; it’s a menu showing where, how frequently, and how recently the food moved around.

Red-tailed Hawk with Red Squirrel, near the Central Experimental Farm, by Alan Short. Statistically, squirrels are a tiny part of the diet of Red-tailed Hawks (at least in Eastern North America), so Alan was lucky to capture this event. And while these hawks rely on small rodents, they take a variety of prey including rats, cottontails, and even some birds.

Red-tailed Hawk with Red Squirrel, near the Central Experimental Farm, by Floralove Katz, who caught the same hawk & squirrel drama on video. Video is an excellent way to study bird behavior. It catches the moments between the great Instagram shots, when lots of interesting things are going on.

Tundra Swan – Continued to at least Feb 24, Martin/St. Paul St lookout, Almonte, Lanark.

Northern Harrier – Female over Janka Pvt (Stittsville) Ottawa.  A male at Greenbank Pond (just south of the Jock river, Ottawa.

Golden Eagle – Feb 21 (3) and 24 (1) on Ch Thérien, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Red-headed Woodpecker – At least 3, Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Feb 20, Trail 1, Chelsea, , Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Feb 18,  Ch du Colonel-Martin, Chelsea, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Feb 20, Gregoire Road, Prescott and Russell.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Feb 21, Larkhaven Crescent (Orleans), Ottawa.  Feb 20, Chickasaw Crescent, Ottawa.

Northern Flicker – Feb 22, Lac leamy park, Gatineau.  Feb 20 Harkness Avenue, Ottawa.  Feb. 22 Richmond CA.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush –  Britannia CA, Ottawa,  often by the outflow from Mud Lake.

White-crowned Sparrow – Mostly first year birds, but a continuing adult reported from the Central Experimental Farm (manure piles at Morningside and Ash lane).  Feb 19, Boul. Hurtubise, Gatineau. Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa, Feb 23.

Brown-headed Cowbird – 3 females reported on Feb 21, Popham St, Ottawa.

Red-winged Blackbird – 1 tough male overwintered on River Rd, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 17 February 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Cedar Waxwing, Britannia, by Tony Beck. Our resident waxwing, cedars are confined to North and Central America, unlike Bohemian Waxwings, which are found not just in North America north of Mexico, but also Asia and Europe.

American Robin, Britannia, by Tony Beck. Honestly, before looking at this photo, I didn’t know robins’ eyes are brown. In most field guides, they are just black. Spending time noticing the details of confiding birds like the Robin can really pay off later when a rare bird shows up.

Blue Jays, Shirley’s Bay Feeders, by Al Short. How do you know when a Blue Jay is up to no good? When they are silent. Or when they are loud. Like all corvids, Jays are smart and adaptable. They make an amazing variety of sounds, and use those sounds to good effect, scaring other species away from food with hawk calls, communicating among themselves, distracting predators, etc. But a silent Jay is almost certainly up to no good, and it probably involves another bird’s nest.

Adult male Hairy Woodpecker, Shirley’s Bay Feeders, by Al Short. An unusally good view of the bristle feathers at the base of the beak. These are protective feathers, presumably to help protect the eye from flying wood chips.

Non-breeding Lapland Longspur (and Horned lark in the foreground), Castor Road, by Janet McCullough. Note the similar way the plummage of both species allows them to blend into the ground and stubble.

Non-breeding male Lapland Longspur, Castor Road, by Janet McCullough. Here we see more color on the nape and above the eye, but still subtle compared to the breeding plummage which is coming as soon as next month. Despite the extra color, the bird still blends into the environment.

Snow Buntings, Castor Road, by Janet McCullough. As an excellent exercise for eBirders, guess the size of the flock, and then count to see how close you were. Another third of the flock is out of frame.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Feb 15, Centennial Park, Carleton Place, Lanark.  Parc Brébeuf, Gatineau.

Tundra Swan – Continued to at least Feb 16, Martin/St. Paul St lookout, Almonte, Lanark.

Trumpeter Swan – 11 on Feb 14, River Walk Trail, Carleton Place, Lanark.

Northern Harrier –  Feb 17, McBean Street, Ottawa, over the soccer field.  Continuing male on Cope Drive, Ottawa.  Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa, and surrounding area.

Golden Eagle – Feb 13, High Lonesome Nature Reserve, Lanark, eating roadkill on the way to the reserve.

Belted Kingfisher – Feb 13, Ste-Cécile de Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais, at the bridge into the park.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Black-backed Woodpecker – Continued to at least Feb 11, Torbolton Forest, Ottawa.  No reason to think it isn’t still there, tapping away softly somewhere in the forest.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush –  Britannia CA, Ottawa,  often by the outflow from Mud Lake.

Evening Grosbeaks – A single bird at Mer Bleue Bog, Ottawa, at least until Feb 14.  Gatineau Park:  11 at Relais Renaud Feb 15, and 15 on sentirer 52 on the 12th.  Chemin McCrank, La Pêche, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Red Crossbill – Chemin Eardley Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Gatineau Park on sentier 53, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Crazy Horse trail, Ottawa.

White-winged Crossbill –  Feb 11 Kerwin Road Trail, Ottawa.   Feb 15 Sentier Gamelin, Parc de la Gatineau, Gatineau.  Feb 14 Chemin Simmons, Gatineau.

Hoary Redpoll – A few reports of single birds among flocks of Common Redpolls:  Feb 14 Ste-Cécile de Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Feb 13 Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa, in a flock of 75 Commons.  Feb 11 Chemin de la Rivière Blanche, Papineau.

White-crowned Sparrow – Feb 13, Trim Rd near McFadden Rd, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 10 February 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

White-winged Crossbills, females, adult males and one immature male, Chemin d’Eardley, by Tony Beck. Chemin d’Eardley seems to get the winter finches every year, even when they are scarce elsewhere in the OFNC circle. The circle is 50 km in radius, centred on the Peace Tower.

Adult female Northern Cardinal, Fletchers Wildlife Garden, by Alan Short. The vibrant orange bill makes it easy to tell the adult females from the juveniles.

Female Evening Grosbeak – Mer Bleue feeders, by Catherine Lawrence. The small flock in the area seems to have dwindled to a single individual.

Tundra Swan, Almonte, by Gregory Zbitnew. This photo nicely shows the id points from Sibley: The top border of the bill is rounded (not pointy), the yellow (orange in this light) in the lores, and visible curve at the gape. It’s rare to get this close to a wild swan in our area. Tundras are significantly smaller than Trumpeters, but that is less helpful with a lone bird.

Northern Shrike, Steeple Hill Road north of Fallowfield, by Arlene Harrold. Arlene watched the shrike fly into the burdock to retrieve some cached prey.

Red Crossbill pair, Chemin du Lac des Loup, by Tony Beck. Red crossbills can be told from White-winged by the absence of white in the wings, and their very different songs.

Adult male Brown-headed Cowbird, Metcalfe, by Erik Pohanka. Love or hate them for their unusual breeding strategy, they are fascinating. The male ‘song’ is short and not very song-like. The female chatter/bubbling call could be from a different species. And the young, raised by other species, have an unusual verbal trigger. They act like they belong to the adult birds that raise them, until they hear the male song at just the right age, and they suddenly fly off and join a flock of cowbirds. I’m not saying it’s exactly like a good choir kid who hears rock for the first time, and suddenly leaves home to join a band. But it’s exactly like that.

Bonus pic: Black Vulture, Saint-André-Avellin, by Janet McCullough. A bit outside the OFNC circle, but no one ever submits vulture photos. The strong sharp hooked bill, and the featherless head, are adaptations to feed on (and in) large carrion items. Apparently they work equally well in garbage bins.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Feb 07, Riverside Park, Carleton Place, Lanark.  Feb 10, Remic Rapids Lookout, Ottawa.

Tundra Swan – Feb 09, Martin/St. Paul St lookout, Almonte, Lanark.

Northern Harrier – Adult male beautifully photographed Feb 08, Iber Rd storm pond, Ottawa.  Feb 10 along Eagleson Road at Brophy, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Feb 08, Relais Shilly-Shallly,  Parc de la Gatineau, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Feb 07, Sixth Line x Berry Side Road, Ottawa.

Northern Flicker – Feb 09, Trail South side of Jock River, Richmond, Ottawa.

Black-backed Woodpecker – Feb 10, Torbolton Forest, Ottawa.  North of the original location.

Horned Lark – Numbers are increasing (as expected for this early migrant).

Carolina Wren – Feb 06, Abingdon Drive, Ottawa.  Gold Crescent, Russell, Prescott and Russell.

Hermit Thrush – The continuing Hermit Thrush at Britannia Ridge, Ottawa, has been observed catching the same minnows the robins have been feasting on. The second bird at the outflow also continues.

Winter finch status:

Pine Grosbeaks – Everywhere!

Evening Grosbeaks – A single bird Feb 4, Goodin Street, and another at the Mer Bleue Bog, Ottawa, at least until Feb 8.  Better odds north of the river with nice flocks in Gatineau Park at Relais Renaud, Relais Healey, and Relais Shilly-Shallly, and a flock of 36 on Chemin McCrank, La Pêche, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Red Crossbill – Chemin Eardley Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Gatineau Park at P9 and also on sentier 53, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Chimo street, Gatineau.  A single bird on the 4th at Dolman Ridge Road, Ottawa.

White-winged Crossbill –  12 on Feb 08, Chemin McCrank, La Pêche, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Feb 4, Kerwin Road trail, Ottawa.  Feb 09, Morewood Bog, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

Hoary Redpoll – A single bird reported on Chemin Terry-Fox, Gatineau, on Feb 06, and a continuing bird on Monty Dr., Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Pine Siskin – Many reports of small numbers.White-crowned Sparrow – Continues at the Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa.  Check the manure pile.  Another couple of birds in Richmond in different locations.
Brown-headed Cowbird – 2 males and a female Feb 07, Mandor Crescent, Metcalfe, Ottawa.Red-winged Blackbird – Feb 06, Manotick, Ottawa.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 3 February 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Female House Sparrow, Queensway Terrace South Ridgeview, by Alan Short. This bird is situated in one of its preferred habitants in suburbia, a cedar hedge. Often loud flocks can be heard but not seen in such hedges. Other times it seems all the birds want to sit in the sun and the flock is revealed to be even larger than it sounded.

Dark-eyed Junco, Queensway Terrace South Ridgeview, by Alan Short.

Immature Cooper’s Hawk, Queensway Terrace South Ridgeview, by Alan Short. If your feeders draw in Mourning Doves, eventually they will draw in a Cooper’s Hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk, Cambrian Road W (near Trail Road Landfill, by Janet McCullough. Red-Tailed Hawks have a huge variety of plumages, and this is one of the lightest birds around.

Wood Duck – Jan 28, Du Golf Road, Clarence-Rockland, Prescott and Russell.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Feb 01, Centennial Park, Carleton Place, Lanark.

Tundra Swan – Feb 03, Martin/St. Paul St lookout, Almonte, Lanark.

Gray Partridge – 8 on Jan 31 near Robert Grant at Cope, Ottawa.

Northern Harrier – Jan 31, Cope drive pond, Ottawa.  Jan 31, Greenbank Pond, Ottawa.

Northern Goshawk – Jan 28, Chemin Steele, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Feb 01, Sixth Line x Berry Side Road, Ottawa.  Feb 01, Queen’s Park, Gatineau.  Jan 30, Relais Huron,  Parc de la Gatineau, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Jan 28,  Reveler, Prescott and Russell.

Black-backed Woodpecker – Jan 31, Torbolton Forest, Ottawa.

Northern Flicker – Feb 02,  Shirley Avenue, Ottawa.  Feb 01, Bankfield Road, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Jan 31, Gold Crescent, Russell, Prescott and Russell.

Hermit Thrush – Feb 01, Britannia Ridge, Ottawa.  Feb 02,  Rainbow Crescent, Ottawa.

Eastern Bluebird – Feb 02, Jock Trail, Richmond, Ottawa.  Feb 01, McLinton Road, Ottawa.  Jan 28,  Scottwood Grove, Dunrobin, Ottawa.

Evening Grosbeaks –  Jan 28 Dewberry Trail Parking Feeder, Mer Bleue Bog Trail, Ottawa.

Red Crossbill – Jan 29 Ch. Eardley Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Feb 01, Wolf Grove Road, Lanark.

White-winged Crossbill – Jan 29 Ch. Eardley Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

White-crowned Sparrow – Reported Feb 02, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa.  Check the manure pile under the canopy.

Common Grackle  – Feb 01, South Island Park Dr, Manotick, Ottawa


Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas

We are now in the second year of the third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas: an ambitious five-year effort to provide data that will guide environmental policies and conservation strategies across Ontario for years to come. Participation is easy and can be as simple as just importing your eBird checklists into the Atlas.

Though the majority of our birds breed in the late spring and summer, there are a few species that are already well into their breeding season including Great Horned Owls and Eastern Screech Owls. Observers encountering these species at this time of year – even if they are simply in suitable habitat — are invited to report their sightings to the Atlas.

As well, both Red Crossbill and White-winged Crossbills may be found in Eastern Ontario.  They are nomadic and search for large crops of cones.  All sightings of these species – regardless of season — are also welcome in the Atlas.

For more information visit  https://www.birdsontario.org/  or contact the Ottawa Regional Coordinator at Ottawa@birdsontario.org


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 27 January 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Winter finches!

American Robin, Rifle Road at Shirley’s Bay, by Nina Stavlund. The unusually heavy fruit crop this year appears to have enticed more robins than usual to overwinter. Nina found this individual in a mixed flock of 200 Robins and 200 Bohemian Waxwings, all feasting on the fruit of invasive buckthorn.

European Starling, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, by Judith Gustafsson. These beautiful and adaptable birds would probably be more popular with birders if they didn’t displace native cavity-nesters, and they might be more popular with the people who feed birds if they weren’t so effective at taking over and emptying feeders. Success and beauty don’t always lead to popularity.

White-throated Sparrow, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, by Judith Gustafsson. Puffed up with head pulled in to preserve heat, the usually bold white throat field mark is very hard to see here.

Pine Grosbeak, Dunrobin, by Aaron Hywarren.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Dunrobin, by Aaron Hywarren. We’ve seen an increase in reports of this species, especially the last few winters. But Aaron points out that we still do not have any confirmed breeding evidence anywhere in Region 24 yet in this Atlas, so there is a real opportunity for birders to contribute to science.

Adult male Pine Grosbeak, Dunrobin, by Aaron Hywarren. Almost absent this winter, they may have arrived in mass this week, with lots of reports in eBird and photos popping up on social media.

Evening Grosbeak, Bellamy Mills Rd near Blakeney, by Arlene Harrold. This is another bird that has been rare in the region this winter, but there were several reports this week. Depending on the age of your field guide you may find these two species listed as grosbeaks or more recently as finches. DNA analysis moves much faster than naming committees.

Bohemian Waxwings, Berry Side Road, by Arlene Harrold. Waxwings are nomadic rather than territorial, and often feed in large flocks.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – Jan 26, Centennial Park, Carleton Place, Lanark.

Belted Kingfisher – Jan 27,  Sawmill Creek near Walkley Rd, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Jan 27, Sixth Line x Berry Side Road, Ottawa.

Northern Flicker – Jan 25, Richmond, Ottawa.  Jan 24, Quigley Hill Rd near Montreal Rd, Ottawa.   Jan 22, Metcalfe, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush – Jan 26, Britannia Ridge, Ottawa.

Eastern Bluebird – Jan 26,  Greenland Rd, Ottawa.  Eleven males on Jan 22,  David Kennedy Dr, Ottawa.

Gray Catbird – Laderoute Ave, Ottawa, Jan 26.

Northern Mockingbird – Jan 26, Hunt Club at Bridle Path Dr, Ottawa.  Jan 25 at the Airport, Ottawa.

Evening Grosbeaks – Ch. Shouldice, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Monty Drive, Constance Bay, Ottawa.  Dewberry Trail Parking Feeder, and Mer Bleue Bog Trail, Ottawa.

Pine Grosbeaks – From almost none to too many reports to list, especially in Gatineau.  Several flocks at different locations in Dunrobin and elsewhere on the Ontario side.

Pine Siskins – Ch. Eardley Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Parc Bourgeau, and Parc Gérald-Millar, both in Gatineau.  Monty Drive, Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red Crossbill – Ch. Eardley Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Common Grackle – Jan 26 Manotick, Ottawa.  Jan 25,  Shirley Avenue, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 20 January 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Northern Mockingbird, Bank and Hunt Club, by Jim Robertson. Jim caught the bird pulling berries from a Hicks Yew. Not sure how the bird deals with the poisonous seeds – whether it avoids eating the seeds, or passes them without absorbing the poison. Both techniques are used by different species.

Male Red-wing Blackbird, Metcalfe, by Sharon Smith. Even with a safe supply of seed, why stick around for the tough weather? This male is hoping to score prime breeding territory by staying put. But his ability to defend that territory will depend on how healthy he is after winter. The risk/reward calculation is complicated, yet birds navigate it on instinct.

Common Grackle, Metcalfe, by Rick Collins. Primarily ground feeders, grackles are flexible enough to exploit feeders. It’s easy to forget how truly beautiful these birds are.

Carolina Wren, Elmhurst Park, by Sanam Goudarzi. Note the ‘crisp white supercilium’ (eyebrow). Sigh. Wrens have no respect for field guides.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, South of Metcalfe, by Tony Beck. What’s a bird that specializes on sap and sticky insects doing in our area in this weather?

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Beacon Hill, by Gregory Zbitnew. Greg provides the answer to the previous question. Like many species, Sapsuckers can switch to a fruit diet in the winter.

Male Purple Finch, Metcalfe, by Erik Pohanka. Finally, a bird that belongs in the region in winter. Is a singing all gray Purple Finch an immature male or a female? It’s a trick question. A bird singing from an exposed perch near the top of a tree is probably an immature male. But the females sing 1-2 minute warbles from their hidden nests.

Red-breasted Merganser – Rideau River between Hurdman Bridge and Adàwe Crossing, Ottawa.

Barrow’s Goldeneye – A male at Britannia CA, and another on the Rideau River between Hurdman Bridge and Adàwe Crossing, Ottawa.

Northern Harrier –  An adult male at Cope Drive pond, Ottawa, Jan 16.

Belted Kingfisher – Jan 20,  Johannes Street (Metcalfe), Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – At least 3 adults and one immature continue in Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Northern Flicker – Jan 16, Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Jan 20,  Eldon Craig Park trail (Metcalfe), Ottawa.  Jan 19, Beacon Hill North (continuing on corner of Kaymar and Delong), Ottawa.  Jan 16, Marionville Rd, North Dundas, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

Black-backed Woodpecker – Dec 28-Jan 17 at least, Torbolton Forest, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Continues in Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.   Photographed on a public feeder on Tavistock Road.

Winter Wren – Britannia CA, near the ridge, and near the outflow from the lake, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush – Jan 20  Britannia CA (around the outflow pipes where the wren was reported), Ottawa.  Jan 15, Copeland Rd, Ottawa.   Jan 15, Main St, (Stittsville), Ottawa.

Eastern Bluebird – Jan 18, Jan 15, Sentier des Voyageurs, du parc Moussette à golf Château Cartier, Gatineau.   Jan 14, Chemin Queen’s Park, Gatineau.

Brown Thrasher – Continued to at least Jan 15 at a feeder in Alcove, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Gray Catbird – Laderoute Ave, Ottawa, Jan 20. Jan 20, Featherston Greenspace, Ottawa.

Northern Mockingbird –  Jan 16, Bank and Hunt Club Rd, Ottawa.

Hoary Redpoll – Jan 14, Chemin Steele, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Jan 15  Chemin Eardley Masham, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Red-winged Blackbird – Jan 19, Shirley Avenue, Ottawa.   Jan 20 Manotick.

Common Grackle – Jan 20 Manotick, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 13 January 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Female Dark-eyed Junco, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, by Sanam Goudarzi. This vibrant brown bird really pops out right now, when most of our juncos are gray and white males. It had Derek reaching for the field guides to check out other subspecies, but it turns out to be the locally expected subspecies, Slate-colored. Just not very, you know, “slate”-coloured. More brownstone.

Abieticola Red-tailed Hawk, near Carlsbad Springs, by Aaron Hywarren. Have you noticed how sometimes a Red-tailed Hawk makes the eBird rare report, and sometimes it doesn’t? The expected subspecies in the region is borealis, but Aaron shot this photo of the less understood and not-quite fully defined or agreed on abieticola subspecies.

American Black Duck, Mud Lake, by Janet McCullough. Without a field guide, can you tell if this is a male or female duck? There is an important clue in the mallards. If you nail this field mark, it can really help with trickier cases such as hybrids and intersex birds.

Adult male Common Goldeneyes, Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Judith caught some aggression among the males at the park. This photo is scarier if you consider that beak is used to crush mussels.

Red-breasted Merganser – Rideau River between Hurdman Bridge and Adàwe Crossing, Ottawa.

Canvasback – Two birds until Jan 08, Baie Fraser, Gatineau.

Gray Partridge – At least one bird survives of the Hazeldean Road flock, and was seen a couple of times this week.

Belted Kingfisher – Jan 08, Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Jan 10, Parc National de Plaisance, Baie Noire (Est & Ouest), Papineau.   Jan 09, Parc de la Gatineau (Relais Huron), Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Northern Flicker – Jan 13 Baxter CA, Ottawa.   Jan 12,  Rosefire Dr, Ottawa.

Northern Harrier  – An adult male at Cope Drive pond, Ottawa.  A juvenile at Greenbank Pond, Ottawa.

Golden Eagle  – Two Jan 10, Ramsay Concession Rd. 7, Lanark.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Jan 13, Beacon Hill North (continuing on corner of Kaymar and Delong), Ottawa.   Jan 10,  Parc de la Gatineau (Relais Huron), Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais

Black-backed Woodpecker – Dec 28-Jan 09, Torbolton Forest, Ottawa.  I wonder if anyone managed to tick the 8 species of woodpecker available in the circle on a single day during that period?

Carolina Wren –  Jan 10, Heritage Park, Ottawa.

Winter Wren – Britannia CA, near the outflow from the lake, Ottawa.  Watts Creek Pathway, Ottawa.  Old Quarry Trail, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush – Jan 10 Britannia CA (around the base of the ridge near open water), Ottawa.  Jan 12 Pinecrest Creek south of the Queensway.

Eastern Bluebird  –   Continuing at  Greenland Road.   A flock of 8 males at Scotch Pine Grove, Ottawa.   Sixth Line Rd, Ottawa.

Brown Thrasher – Continues in Alcove, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Gray Catbird – Laderoute Ave, Ottawa, at least until Jan 10.

Red Crossbill – Jan 09, Wolf Grove Road, Lanark.

Swamp Sparrow – Jan 13, Nortel Marsh, Ottawa.

White-crowned Sparrow –  Jan 11, Smith road near Milton Road, Ottawa.

Orange-crowned Warbler – Well-photographed at a suet feeder on Jan 09, Rue Paul Gauguin, Gatineau.  This is an especially interesting bird, because it is the lutescens or west coast subspecies, making for a very rare record.   It pays to double-check the little yellow birds, and document the surprising ones.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 6 January 2022

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

The celebrity Black-backed Woodpecker continues at Constance Bay.  A pair of Canvasback and many, many, late birds for the winter listers.

Merlin – Ottawa, by Lorraine Elworthy. It’s common knowledge that corvids and some other species such as chickadees do a lot of food caching. Merlins cache as well. Research shows that Merlins do not remember the exact locations they leave food, but set up regular routes for caching and retrieval. Also Merlins eat birds, so their caches look like they were left by serial killers. One of these facts comes from Cornell. One does not.

Lapland Longspur – Ivey Acres Road, by Arlene Harrold. Photo bomb by Horned Lark. Longspurs, Snow Buntings, and Horned Larks share arctic habitant in summer, and share winter habitant from Ottawa and south into much of the states.

Snow Buntings – Panmure Road, by Janet McCullough. That black and white doesn’t seem like great camouflage when the birds are displayed on a wire.

Snow Buntings – Panmure Road, by Janet McCullough. On the other hand, when feeding that camouflage is amazing.

Adult Male Common Goldeneye – Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Judith watched this drake riding the rapids in that pose. Frequently observing the same birds will help you notice when a bird is showing unusual activity, although it may not explain why.

Female Goldeneye – Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Here is a challenge: Which, if any, of these last two female ducks is a female Barrows?

Female Goldeneye – Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson.

Wood Duck – Dec 31, Armitage Ave, Ottawa.

Northern Pintail – Dec 31, Iber Rd storm pond, Ottawa.

Green-winged Teal -Jan 01,  Etang Grimes, Gatineau.

Canvasback – A pair to Jan 06, visible from Baie Fraser, Gatineau, or the west end of cassels Street, Ottawa.

Lesser Scaup  – The lone male continues in the Rapides Deschênes.

Red-breasted Merganser – Dec 30, Rideau River Eastern Pathway north of Hurdman Bridge, Ottawa.

Double-crested Cormorant – Jan 04, Adàwe Crossing, Ottawa.  Two on Jan 05 in the Rapides Deschênes.

Black-crowned Night-Heron – Juvenile continued to at least Jan 03,  Etang Grimes, Gatineau.

Northern Harrier – Dec 31, Prince of Wales Drive at Fourth Line Road, Ottawa.   Jan 05, Cope Dr, Ottawa.  Adult male, Jan 06, Janka Pvt, Ottawa

Belted Kingfisher –  Jan 05, Morris Island Conservation Area, Ottawa, at the pond on the railroad trail before first yellow trail entrance.

Red-headed Woodpecker – At least 4 individuals continue.  Check along Len Purcell between Whistler and Bayview.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Jan 02, Relais Shilly-Shallly, Parc de la Gatineau, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Jan 03,  Torbolton Ridge Road, Ottawa.  Jan 03, Baxter CA, Ottawa.   Jan 03, Parc national de Plaisance, Baie Noire (Est & Ouest), Papineau.

Northern Flicker – Jan 01, Osgoode Trail, Ottawa.  Jan 02, March Valley Road, Ottawa.

Black-backed Woodpecker – Dec 28-Jan 06, Torbolton Forest, Ottawa.  Between trail 1 and the dirt extension of Whistler. Listen for the soft taps.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Rivermill Cres, and Pentland Cres, all Ottawa.

Winter Wren – Britannia CA, near the outflow from the lake, Ottawa.  A second near the ridge. A pair on the Greenbelt Pathway West, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush – Jan 06 Britannia CA (around the base of the ridge near open water, Ottawa.  Jan 05 Parc du Lac-Leamy, Gatineau.

Swainson’s Thrush – Well photographed Jan 05, Parc du Lac-Leamy, Gatineau.

Eastern Bluebird  –  Dec 31, Chemin Crégheur, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  In Ottawa:  A pair Jan 05, Berry Side Rd.  Small flocks Jan 01 on the Osgoode Trail.  Jan 03, Fifth Line Road west of Berry.  Jan 04 on the Cumberland Ridge Trail, Ottawa.  In Lanark on Ramsay Concession Road 1 and Ramsay Concession 5A Quarry trail, and other locations outside the OFNC circle.

Brown Thrasher – Jan 06, Bel Air fields, Ottawa.

Gray Catbird – Laderoute Ave, Ottawa, at least until Jan 02.

White-winged Crossbill – Jan 03,  Larose Forest–Bertrand Road, Prescott and Russell.

Swamp Sparrow – Jan 01, Nortel Marsh, Ottawa.

Brown-headed Cowbird – Jan 01, Torbolton Ridge Rd, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 30 December 2021

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Many previously overlooked seasonally rare birds reported in the flurry of Christmas Bird Counts this week.  More to come next week as the CBCs wrap up?

Male Black-backed Woodpecker, Torbolton Forest, by Tony Beck. Count the number of, and positions of, the toes. One of the toes on each foot can be held forward or backward, as show in this photo.

Adult male Redhead, Pakenham, by Tony Beck. This is the first time a Redhead has been recorded in the Arnprior Christmas Bird Count.

Female Red-breasted Merganser, Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Female breeding plumage, but the eye is brown not red, hinting at a first year bird.

Adult male Barrow’s Goldeneye, Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Note how different the bill is from the merganser above, despite both birds being divers feeding in the same habitant.

Pine Siskin, Marlborough Forest, by Erik Pohanka. All the winter finches are around, just in small numbers so far this winter.

Female plumage Merlin, Blakeney, by Tony Beck. One of 5 found on the Arnprior Christmas Bird Count.

Wood Duck – Female Dec 30, Armitage Ave, Ottawa.

Northern Pintail – Male Dec 30, Iber Road storm pond, Ottawa.

Green-winged Teal – Dec 29, Rideau River Eastern Pathway north of Hurdman Bridge, Ottawa.  Dec 28,  Etang Grimes, Gatineau.

Black Scoter – Female Dec 26, Rideau Tennis Club, Ottawa.

Redhead – Dec 26, Pakenham, South of bridge; east of Co. Rd 29, Lanark.

Red-breasted Merganser – Dec 26-30, Rideau River Eastern Pathway north of Hurdman Bridge, Ottawa.

Virginia Rail – Dec 23-24, Nortel Marsh, Ottawa

Northern Harrier – Dec 26, Janka Private, (Stittsville), Ottawa.

Red-shouldered Hawk – Dec 29, Trim Road near McFadden, Ottawa.

Northern Harrier – Dec 28, Innes Rd, Ottawa.

Belted Kingfisher – Dec 28, Aridus Cres, Ottawa.  Dec 30, Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Dec 27, Mackey west of Malakoff, Ottawa.  Dec 29, River Rd, Ottawa.  Dec 28, 2021 Chemin Queen’s Park, Gatineau.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Possibly 2 adults and an immature continue at Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Black-backed Woodpecker – Dec 28-30, Torbolton Forest, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Dec 24, Rivermill Cres, Ottawa.

Winter Wren – Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Marsh Wren – Dec 27, Nortel Marsh, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush – Dec 30 Britannia CA (around the ridge), Ottawa.  Dec 24 Parc du Lac-Leamy, Gatineau.

Brown Thrasher – Dec 29, Alcove, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Gray Catbird – Laderoute Ave, Ottawa, at least until Dec 30.   Dec 28 Balena Park, Ottawa.

Swamp Sparrow – Dec 24-29, Nortel Marsh, Ottawa.

White-crowned Sparrow  – A pair, Dec 29,  Richmond, Ottawa.  Dec 27, Huntmar Drive, Ottawa.  Dec 30, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa.

Common Grackle – 28, Constance Lake Rd, Ottawa.  Woodkilton Road, Ottawa.

Brown-headed Cowbird – Dec 28, Torbolton Ridge Road, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 23 December 2021

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Christmas Bird Count season has started up, and they are finding shrikes everywhere (too many to list).  Other winter birds are more scattered.

Adult male Barrow’s Goldeneye – Rideau River, Strathcona Park/Rideau Sports Centre – by Tony Beck. Tony says: While Barrow’s Goldeneye is rare in Ontario, Ottawa consistently attracts a few each year. Every winter, we’re lucky to have at least one Barrow’s Goldeneye somewhere in the Ottawa area.

Adult male Common Goldeneye – Rideau River, Billings Bridge – by Judith Gustafsson. A couple of Common Goldeneye for comparison to the Barrow’s. The difference in the cheek patch is very noticeable.

First winter Ring-billed Gull – Britannia Conservation Area – by Tony Beck. Tony says: Ring-billed Gulls might be abundant throughout most of the year. However, in winter they are uncommon to rare. Although we still have a few gulls in our region, the majority have left. Currently, the most common gull is Herring. If winter becomes harsh for extended periods, they will likely leave.

Red Shouldered x Red-tailed Hawk Hybrid – West Ottawa – by Joshua McCullough. This photo was taken Dec 09, but the bird was reported again on Dec 21. Sometimes a bird just doesn’t fit the images in the field guides. When that happens, try for lots of photos. The right shot can really help when consulting the experts.

Snow Buntings – Ramsayville Road – by Tony Beck. Tony says: Part of a flock (1000+) feeding on various seeds in a fallow field – many Snow Buntings, and a few other hardy species, arrived here with the recent snow cover.

Wood Duck – Dec 17, Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Northern Pintail – 34 on Dec 17,  Constance Bay Rd, Ottawa.

Virginia Rail – A real surprise at Nortel Marsh, Ottawa, Dec 23.

Purple Sandpiper – Dec 18, Britannia Park (pier), Ottawa.Glaucous Gull –  Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa.

Double-crested Cormorant – Dec 18, Bren-Maur Rd, Ottawa.

Great Blue Heron –  Dec 19, Musée canadien de la nature, Gatineau.

Northern Harrier – Dec 23, Janka Pvt, (Stittsville), Ottawa.  Dec 18, Perth Wildlife Reserve, Lanark.  Also one on Dec 19th on Conroy Road at Davidson, Ottawa.

Red-shouldered x Red-tailed Hawk  – For the hawk lovers, not the listers.  Hanging around for a while, most recently reported from Algonquin College on Dec 21.Red-bellied Woodpecker – Dec 22, Manotick, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – At least 2 continue, Constance Bay, Ottawa:  Len Purcell Dr, Ritchie Ave, etc.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Dec 19,  Sentier du corridor Champlain, Gatineau.

Carolina Wren – The pair at Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa, continues.  Dec 19,  Rivermill Cres, Ottawa.

Winter Wren – Dec 18, Britannia CA, Ottawa, just east of the filtration plant.

Hermit Thrush – Begonia Ave, Polanyi Rd, and Britannia CA (around the ridge), Ottawa.  Parc du Lac-Leamy, Gatineau, and Sentier du Ruisseau-de-la-Brasserie, Gatineau.

Eastern Bluebird – 9 on Dec 22, Osgoode Trail.   Also seen on McCaffrey Trail, on the Jock trail, and onGaletta Side Rd, all Ottawa.   A pair at the Perth Wildlife Reserve, Lanark

Gray Catbird – Hanging tough off Laderoute Ave, Ottawa, at least until Dec 23.   Dec 22 Balena Park, Ottawa.  Another in the Hurdman Woods near the 417.

Evening Grosbeaks – At least one lingered at the Mer Bleue Bog feeder, Ottawa, until Dec 18.

White-winged Crossbill – A flyover on Dec 21 along the Kerwin Rd Trail, Ottawa.

Red Crossbill – Single birds counted on CBCs, one in Stony Swamp on the 18th (on NCC 27 near post D), and another near Mer Bleue.

Chipping Sparrow – Dec 21, Viewbank Rd, Ottawa.

Red-winged Blackbird – Dec 23, Manotick, Ottawa. A flock of 25 at the Tim Hortons on Perth Street Ottawa on Dec 18.

Common Grackle  – 70 flocking with the Red-winged Blackbirds at the same Tim Hortons.

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Dec 19, Parc Brébeuf, Gatineau.  A second individual nearby on the Sentier des Voyageurs near the Pont Champlain.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 16 December 2021

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Immature Bald Eagle being mobbed by a Common Raven, Gatineau Park near Masham, by Tony Beck. Tony says: Like many species, Ravens often harass eagles and other predators. With the success of both Bald Eagles and Common Ravens, this behaviour has become a relatively common sight in local Canadian Shield habitats. Note the dark belly and pale wing linings of this eagle. This highly variable plumage character usually suggests juvenile plumage. However, note that this individual has a pale crown and pale eye with a bill that’s advancing from dark to light. This indicates the bird is between 2 and 3 years of age.

Adult Great Black-backed Bulls, Billings Bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Week after week, Judith finds beautiful birds in the heart of the city. You don’t need to go to the country to find nature to photograph.

Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gull, Billings Bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Great Black-backed are only 4 inches longer than Herring Gulls (on average), but a full 50% heavier. Herring Gulls are the most common local gull by mid-December. When mixed in with Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls look like big bruisers. But standing next to the largest gull in the world, their legs and bill seem lightweight in comparison.

Adult Cedar Waxwing, Vance’s Side Road, by Arlene Harold. Unlike Bohemian Waxwings, Cedar Waxwings are restricted to North and Central America. Don’t feel bad if you cannot tell them apart instantly. It took early North American naturalists decades of detailed drawings and descriptions to convince European ornithologists that they really are two different species. With a good look, the rufous undertail coverts of the Bohemian become obvious. But with a poor view, the overall bright yellow of the Cedar vs the more somber gray impression of the Bohemian is helpful.

Northern Shrike, Mountainview Road, by Arlene Harold. Never common in the region, they are at peak population here in Dec-Jan, and with many local sightings, now is the time to look for them.

Northern Pintail – 2 at the Iber Road storm pond, Ottawa.  14 on Dec 15 at Armitage Ave (Dunrobin), Ottawa.  A single bird Dec 12, Etang Grimes, Gatineau

Wood Duck – A pair Dec 13, Sawmill Creek at Goth Avenue Ottawa.

Brant – 17 very late birds reported on Dec 13, Chapman Mills CA, Ottawa.

Cackling Goose – Dec 15, (Giroux Road Ponds), Ottawa.  Dec 16, fields on way into Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Black-crowned Night-Heron – Dec 10, Etang Grimes, Gatineau.

Glaucous Gull –   Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Dec 11 Manotick, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Tufted Titmouse – A pair!  Dec 10, Reveler CA, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

Winter Wren – Britannia CA, Dec 10 at the turtle bridge,  Dec 14 at the drainage creek, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush – Dec 10, Continue at Britannia CA, Ottawa, and Dec 11-12 Parc du Lac-Leamy, Gatineau.

Eastern Bluebird – 5 Dec 15, McCaffrey Trail, Ottawa.

Gray Catbird – Laderoute Ave, Ottawa.

Evening Grosbeaks – Back at the Mer Bleue Bog feeder, Ottawa.

Savannah Sparrow – Dec 12, Innes, Gloucester, Ottawa.

Red-winged Blackbird – Dec 11, Cumberland Village, Ottawa.  Reported Dec 10, Manotick, Ottawa.

Common Grackle – Reported Dec 09, Nepean Creek, Ottawa.

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Dec 15, Parc Brébeuf, Gatineau.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 9 December 2021

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, Mechanicsville, by Tanya Brunet. Juvenile accipiters can be tough to ID, but by December, it’s pretty much just the Cooper’s Hawks who remain here. Their larger size retains heat better. And much of their prey overwinter here as well: starlings, Mourning Doves and Rock Doves. Those huge talons and thick legs are a nice ID feature. In comparison, sharpies take smaller prey and so have smaller weapons.

Northern Shrike, Metcalfe, by Erik Pohanka. The birds of fall have given over to the birds of winter. Zoom in and check out the sharp tip on the beak of this predator. Where Cooper’s Hawks subdue their prey with their talons, shrikes use their beaks. There are lots of shrikes around now, so double check any large grayish song birds.

Great Black-backed Gull, Billings Bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Another sign of winter is the disappearance of most of the small gulls, leaving only big gulls such as the Great Black-backed, Glaucous, Iceland, and Herring gulls. Although a generalist, that huge bill is a weapon, and this monster is very capable of killing prey as large as a duck.

Adult male Common Merganser, Billings Bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Ever notice how rare the males seem around here in the summer? Once the females are brooding, the males take off for secluded locations to molt their flight feathers. So while the females can be year-round residents, the males are seasonal.

Taiga Merlin – female plumage – Shirley’s Bay, Tony Beck. Once a rare bird in the Ottawa area, Merlins are now somewhat uncommon, yet regular throughout the year. Since the mid-90s it’s been observed virtually every winter in our region. Look for them hunting in your neighbourhood, especially where there are active bird feeding stations.

Ruddy Duck  – Continues Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Northern Pintail – Single birds at Britannia CA, and the Iber Road storm pond, Ottawa.  This small patch of water can have huge numbers of ducks in winter.  A whole flock of Pintails on Dec 6 at Armitage Ave (Dunrobin), Ottawa.

Brant – One bird, Nov 21-Dec 05, Rideau Canoe Club/Mooney’s Bay Park, Ottawa.

Glaucous Gull – Dec 08,  Britannia CA (general location), Ottawa.   Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa.

Red-throated Loon  – Continues Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Manotick, Ottawa.

Say’s Phoebe – The very tough Say’s Phoebe returned to the Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa, for a one-day repeat performance on Dec 04.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Dec 03,  Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.

Winter Wren – Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Hermit Thrush – Continue on Dec 09 at Britannia CA, Ottawa, and Parc du Lac-Leamy, Gatineau.  Dec 04, Sentier du Ruisseau-de-la-Brasserie, Gatineau.

Red-winged Blackbird – Dec 05, Akins at Shea, Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 2 December 2021

by Derek Dunnett at sightings@ofnc.ca

First year Herring Gull, Billings Bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Judith found this bird standing on a rock in the Rideau River. It would dip its all black beak in the water now and then and preen. Otherwise it stood quietly among many Mallards and Ring-billed Gulls.

Adult male Common Goldeneye, Strathcona Park, by Eric Leger. Eric caught this male and his huge orange feet coming in for a landing. We rarely see the feet of diving ducks, but not surprisingly, they are built to propel the bird quickly underwater. It’s also easy to see how this species earned its name.

Common Goldeneyes, Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Judith found the male goldeneyes performing their impressive head-throw-kick display, hoping to impress a female.  They manage to throw their heads all the way back to their rumps. The males also make a very un-quacklike call as they perform. It’s very much worthwhile to seek them out between Strathcona Park and Billings Bridge on a quiet winter morning just for the calls. 

Have a local photo you want to share with the birding community? Send your photo to sightings@ofnc.ca.  Weekly photos are chosen for a random combination of seasonality, rarity, demonstration of behaviour or id features, beauty, composition, how recently this species has been featured, and whim.  Mostly whim. Please include date, location, and photographer’s name.  Ideally photos should be at most 1200 pixels long on the longest edge.


Ruddy Duck  – Continues Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Northern Shoveler – Nov 26, Dow’s lake, Ottawa.

Wood Duck –  A female hanging tough at Dow’s Lake to Dec 02, Ottawa.  Another or the same bird, Nov 30, Billings Bridge, Ottawa.

Northern Pintail – Dec 01, Giroux Road Ponds, Ottawa.

Greater White-fronted Goose – Two continued to Nov 28, Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Brant – One bird, Nov 21-Dec2, Rideau Canoe Club/Mooney’s Bay Park, Ottawa.

Cackling Goose – Dec 01, PN de Plaisance–Tête de la Baie, Papineau.  Nov 29, Sentier des Voyageurs, Gatineau, and all over Ottawa.

American Coot – Dec 02, Mooney’s Bay Park, Ottawa.

Sandhill Crane – A flock of 250!  Nov 27-28, Lalonde Road, Clarence Creek, Prescott and Russell.

Glaucous Gull – Nov 20-30, Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa.

Red-throated Loon – Instead of the usual single birds, at least 120 migrated through on Nov 26, seen from both sides of the river at Shirleys Bay.

Golden Eagle – Nov 27, Remic Rapids, Ottawa.  Dec 01, Giroux Road Ponds, Ottawa.Northern Goshawk – Nov 28, Quarry concession 5A, Lanark.

Red-headed Woodpecker  – Continues at Constance Bay (Goodin St), Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Baie Noire, Papineau.

Northern Shrike – Dec 01, Rifle Road near Carling, Ottawa.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Nov 27, Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Winter Wren – Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Marsh Wren – Nov 30, Almonte Lagoons, Lanark.

Hermit Thrush – To Dec 01, Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Eastern Bluebird –  Concession Roads 5A, 7B, and 9, Lanark.  Woodkilton Rd, Ottawa.  Osgoode Trail, Ottawa.

Song Sparrow – Nov 30,  Almonte Lagoons, Lanark.

Common Grackle – Nov 28, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Ottawa.

Yellow-rumped Warbler –  Nov 29, Forêt Chantegrive, Gatineau.


Earlier reports from 2021

Sightings from 2020