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Ottawa and area bird sightings to 29 July 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

Mostly still local breeders, but an increase in returning warblers.

Adult Philadelphia Vireo, Shirley’s Bay, by Tony Beck. Almost certainly on the move. July records are rare in the OFNC circle, especially on the Ottawa side, and good quality photos like this are even rarer.

Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant, Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson. From a distance cormorants might appear plain, but up close the feathers reveal beautiful patterns and the unfeathered parts of the bird can be very colourful. The jewel-like eye is nicely offset by the surprisingly orange skin around the beak in this immature bird.

Caspian Terns, Conroy island, by Alan Short. Caspian Terns are incredibly easy to ID, compared with many other tern species. First, as this photo shows, they appear as large as Ring-billed Gulls, unlike the other much smaller terns. Second, that enormous orange dagger of a bill can be seen at great distance. Conroy Island, with its breeding colonies of cormorants, Ring-billed Gulls, and Great Egrets is a fascinating spot to observe.

Juvenile Great Blue Heron, Andrew Haydon Park, by Tony Beck. Tony says juvenile herons and egrets are widely visible right now.

Adult hen Ring-necked Pheasant, near Kars, by Tony Beck. Tony says this hen was seen with two chicks along the roadside next to a corn field. However, this bird is likely an escapee from a local game-bird collection.

Sandhill Crane – March Road, northeast of Burnt Lands, Ottawa.

Bonaparte’s Gull  – McNeely Ave., Carleton Place, Lanark.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa. At least two juveniles have fledged.

Philadelphia Vireo – A very early bird photographed at Shirley’s Bay, Ottawa (see photo above).

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryan & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa. Faraday St., Ottawa. Rue de Saint-Malo, Gatineau.

Sedge Wren – Dunrobin, near the West Carleton Secondary School, Ottawa.

Olive-sided Flycatcher – Carbine Road & Trail, Lanark.

White-winged Crossbill – A flock of 15 in Pakenham, Lanark. A smaller flock on Berry Side road, near Constance Lake, Ottawa.

Northern Parula  – Suddenly everywhere! Too many to list. Go find your own.

Tennessee Warbler – Britannia Conservation Area,  Frank Ryan & Elmhurst Parks, Greenbelt Trail 51, all Ottawa.

You can provide essential information for Canadian researchers, scientists, government officials and conservation professionals that will guide environmental policies and conservation strategies across Ontario for years to come by taking 90 seconds to share your eBird checklist with the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.

For more information visit or contact the Ottawa Regional Coordinator at

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 22 July 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

Adult female Ruddy Duck, Centrepointe Park, by Janice Stewart. A small duck, half the weight of a Mallard. It’s easy to overlook this beautiful female hanging out with Mallards. Colour and pattern almost make her look like a young Mallard, until you give her a second glance. Ruddy Ducks belong to the stiff-tailed ducks. Then it’s easy to see where the name comes from. The long tail feathers stick up straight when the bird is at rest. Since our only local stiff tail is the Ruddy Duck, they become easy to ID at great distances.

Adult male Northern Parula, Rue Gamlin, Gatineau, by Tony Beck. Examining a range map, the whole OFNC circle is part of their breeding range, but at the local level, they breed in Gatineau but not really in Ottawa. The ones showing up recently in Ottawa are probably failed breeders.

White-winged Dove, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, by Janice Stewart. Only the second record for Ottawa, this bird was spotted on a Facebook page by some local birders who were out of town when the bird appeared on Sunday. Besides the obvious white on the wing, what other markers separate this bird from our local Mourning Doves?

Juvenile American Robin, The Arboretum, by Judith Gustafsson. These bespeckled juveniles are everywhere right now. If one appears to be abandoned, resist the urge to intervene. It is almost certainly still being fed by a parent, even though they may be out of sight for long periods.

Adult male Eastern Bluebird, Heyworth, by Tony Beck. Remember the recent discussion about the yellow gape at the base of the mouth making it easy to pick out juveniles? Every bird rule is broken by some species. The yellow here on this gorgeous male is not a juvenile feature. Juvenile bluebirds are IDed by spotted breast and back, instead of the bright solid colours of this adult.

Adult Common Terns, Ottawa, by Alan Short. A tern with a fish will never be lonely. Or enjoy a moment of peace. Terns (and gulls) try to breed in mammal-free environments, and so set up shop on some very forsaken looking small islands on the Ottawa River.

Ruddy Duck  –  Continues at Centrepointe Park, Ottawa.  May require patience or moving to another vantage to see this small duck, somehow hiding in a tiny pond.

Gray Partridge  – Last reported in February, at least one ninja grouse survived the winter and popped on July 17, on Huvelmans north of Magladry, Ottawa.

White-winged Dove – Seen by many observers July 18-19, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Ottawa.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Reported near Chemin Klock and Chemin Cook, Gatineau.

Golden Eagle  – Reported Jul 18, Weedmark Road, Smiths Falls, Lanark.

Olive-sided Flycatcher –  Montague Boundary Road, Ottawa.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Reported July 20, Marais des Laîches, Gatineau.

Carolina Wren –   Frank Ryan & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa (singing east of the playground).  Rue de Saint-Malo, Gatineau.

Sedge Wren – Panmure Road,  southwest of Upper Dwyer Hill.  Multiple birds on Sturgess Road, Montague.  Blakeney Road, Pakenham, all in Lanark.

White-winged Crossbill – One continues on Ramsay Concession 5A, Mississippi Mills, Lanark.  Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Ottawa.  Another in the Carp area near the Crazy Horse Trail, Ottawa.  Larose Forest (Indian Creek Road corner), Prescott and Russell.

Rusty Blackbird  – A trio in the Lindenlea area, Ottawa.

Northern Parula  – Richmond CA, Ottawa.  Britannia CA (woods).  Greenbelt Pathway West, Ottawa.  And so the warbler migration begins.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 15 July 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

A trickle of migrating shorebirds and warblers. But lots of fledglings and parenting behaviour to enjoy.

Adult male American Redstart carrying food, Shirley Blvd., by Tony Beck. American Redstart hunts are fun to watch. They flash the spots on their tail, believed to flush their prey into moving and revealing themselves. It’s even more striking in the dark shadows where they often forage.

House Wren, Shirley Blvd., by Tony Beck. Sure this beautiful bird looks innocent But it is a home wrecker, as in it will literally wreck the nests and eggs of other birds that attempt to nest in its territory, if the parents leave the nest unprotected. It’s a fairly unusual form of securing resources for its own offspring – remove the competition.

Barn Swallow, Burnt Lands, by Alan Short. When Europeans arrived in the Americas, Barn Swallows nested in caves. Now they build their mud nests almost entirely on buildings.

Double-crested Cormorant, Billing’s Bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Many birds have far more neck vertebrae than humans do, allowing them a far greater range of motion and more curving options. That’s valuable when you have no hands.

Warbling Vireo, Mud Lake, by Alan Short. In this close-up the small hook on the tip of the bill is visible. This hook is the easiest way to separate a vireo from a warbler. The warbler and vireo families look very similar and fill similar niches in the environment, but are not closely related.

Sora, Goulbourn, by Erik Pohanka. Like most rails, Sora are easiest to hear, hard to see, and very hard to photograph. There is a common story that the rails are so named because their narrow frames can slide through the vertical rails on a fence. That makes sense, so you know it cannot be true of a bird name. According to Reedman’s book on bird names, it comes from a series of spelling changes between languages from old French for the scraping quality of some of their calls. Now that’s obscure enough for a bird name.

Redhead – Reported July 12,  from Britannia CA (general location), Ottawa.  Seen at the mouth of Pinecrest Creek.

Ruddy Duck  –  July 15, Centrepointe Park, Ottawa.

Semipalmated Plover – July 11, Strathcona Park, Ottawa.

Bonaparte’s Gull –  July 10, Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Black Tern – Not eBird rare, but hard enough to see in Ottawa in July.  Heaphy Road, Ottawa.

Yellow-throated Vireo – Rockcliffe, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren –   Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.  Mooney’s Bay Park, Ottawa.  Rue de Saint-Malo, Gatineau.

Sedge Wren – July 09,  Panmure Road,  southwest of Upper Dwyer Hill, Lanark.  July 11, Sturgess Road, Montague, Lanark.

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Dolman Ridge Road, Ottawa.

White-winged Crossbill – July 10, Ramsay Concession 5A, Mississippi Mills, Lanark.  A single female.  Might there be more?

Tennessee Warbler  – July 12, Nortel Marsh, Ottawa.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 8 July 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

Shortest report in months, but some early migrants such as a Northern Parula.  Can the fall flood be far behind?  Look for some returning shorebirds this week.

Red-winged Blackbirds, Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Judith found flocks of blackbirds feeding on the green algae on the rocks. During the breeding season their diet is mostly animal in nature. Were they picking invertebrates out of the algae? The immature bird on the left is starting to look a lot like an adult, but still has that yellow in the lower bill. It’s also in a soliciting pose. Judith saw it flapping its wings begging to be fed.

Juvenile Ring-billed Gull, Andrew Haydon Park, by Tony Beck. Tony says: Gulls are among the most difficult bird-identification challenges anywhere. Because of their similarities, it’s often easier to tell a gull’s age than which species it is. Fortunately, they like to be in the open and are relatively easy to observe. If you want to rise to the gull identification challenge, start by studying the most common local breeder – Ring-billed Gull. It takes “Ring-bills” 3 years to reach full adult plumage. Look for them now to familiarize yourself with the abundant juveniles (like the one in this photo). There will likely be adult plumages in their proximity, many in transition from breeding to winter. As the season progresses, look for subtle changes from juvenile to first winter, and adult breeders into adult winter. Almost in adult plumage, you should begin noticing small numbers of 2nd year birds among them. When Ring-billed Gulls return in spring, the adults will be in their immaculate breeding colours. Once you become familiar with the various plumages of Ring-billed Gulls, it should be much easier to notice different species.

Immature Peregrine Falcon and Eastern Kingbird, Mud Lake, by Alan Short. Is the kingbird a medium-sized flycatcher whose largest prey is a dragonfly? Yes. Is the peregrine a bird-killing machine and the fastest bird in the air? Yes. Yet Alan captured their natural relationship – the falcon made the mistake of entering the kingbird’s territory, and the kingbird is having none of it. The poor falcon is literally upside-down as it tries to escape. If you zoom in you can see the tiny red spot on the kingbird’s head. If you see that in real life, it’s time to run.

Adult molting Black-crowned Night-Heron, Andrew Haydon Park, by Tony Beck. Feathers always tell a story. Notice how this heron’s flight feathers are being replaced. The primary feathers, usually the outermost 10-11 feathers, are extremely important for flight, and so are replaced gradually rather than all at once. Here we see a gap showing a missing primary, and the next feather is shorter than the outer primaries, but longer than the feather next to it, indicating it is halfway grown.

Upland Sandpiper, Panmure Road & Upper Dwyer Road, by Arlene Harrold. If you find yourself out in the field wondering what kind of a self-respecting shorebird hangs out on a post in a field far from a shore, congratulations, you’ve found an Upland Sandpiper. Well camouflaged for their preferred breeding habitat, they can extend that neck considerably to look over the grass or snatch a bug. Sometimes all you see is a head on a thin neck peeking out of the grass.

Short-billed  Dowitcher – Reported along the Ottawa river.  Not unexpected for this time of year, but hopefully a harbinger of good things to come.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Yellow-throated Vireo – Continued until at least July 3 on Stonecrest Road (at the railway tracks), Ottawa.

Carolina Wren –   Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.  Wychwood, Gatineau.  Sentier des Voyageurs near the  Champlain bridge, Gatineau.  Recreational trail, Russell, Prescott and Russell.

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Dolman Ridge Road, Ottawa.

White-winged Crossbill – July 4, Quigley Hill Road, Ottawa.  If there is at least one White-winged Crossbills in Ottawa, and Red Crossbills just outside the OFNC circle in Lanark, are we sure there aren’t more crossbills inside the circle?

Northern Parula – July 2, singing south-east corner of the Britannia Conservation Area.

Blue-winged Warbler  – Jul 01, Ramsay Concession 5A, The Quarry, Lanark.

Tip from the local eBird reviewers: Remember that incidental counts are intended for any incomplete checklists that you submit on eBird. Travelling and stationary counts are intended to be a complete list and count of all the birds that you encounter. These complete counts are used for statistical analysis of population trends so please be sure to use incidental if you are not paying careful attention to everything around you or if you are only recording highlights.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 1 July 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

A quiet week, which is good, because–and I don’t want to panic anyone–the first Fall migrants arrived in the form of Greater Yellowlegs this week.

Yellow Warblers, Petrie Island, by Arlene Harrold. It’s not unusual for a fledgling to appear bigger than the parent. Fledglings can often be quickly identified by the fleshy yellow gape at the base of the mouth, especially obvious in species that don’t have yellow bills, and an overall fuzziness lacking in the streamlined adult on the right.

Great Crested Flycatcher, Mud Lake, by Alan Short. If you see a bird that normally quickly swallows its prey carrying around a beak full of food, it’s probably a parent collecting food for its off-spring. There is a special code for that in eBird, and using it helps researchers understand breeding patterns. Spiders are particularly important food items for young birds. Many juveniles birds get most of their energy and water requirements from caterpillars, but spiders contain an amino acid called taurine critical for brain development.

White-breasted Nuthatch fledgling, Fletcher Wildlife garden, by Judith Gustafsson. Here is a more advanced immature than the Yellow Warbler. No real gape and a noticeably mature bill shape, but the bill is yellow, not adult blue-gray and black. And It’s so fuzzy! Judith found a pair of immature nuthatches, capable of some flight, but still waiting around for the parents to bring the food.

Indigo Bunting, Schnupp Road, by Bree Tucker. A tireless singer, with a loud bouncy song that should be easy to recognize, this common brilliant blue bird can sing for hours from highly visible perches…and yet still feel impossible to find.

Downy Woodpeckers, Petrie Island, by Janet McCullough. Challenge time – Is the adult male on the right feeding an immature? Is there enough information to know the answer?

Sandhill Crane – Smith Road, Navan, Ottawa.

Least Sandpiper – Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Solitary Sandpiper – Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Greater Yellowlegs – June 30, Ile Kettle, Gatineau.  Another on the 27th off Stonecrest Road, Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Bonaparte’s Gull – June 30, Britannia Point, Ottawa.

Caspian Tern – Deschênes Rapids.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo –  Kinburn Side Road, Ottawa.  Stonecrest Road, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Lac McGregor, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  All six adults are still present at Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Stonecrest Road, Ottawa.

Yellow-throated Vireo – Stonecrest Road, Ottawa.

Sedge Wren  –  Concession Road 7B, Almonte, Lanark.   Canaan Road, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Beaver Pond Trail (Kanata), Ottawa.   Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.  Wychwood, Gatineau.

Pine Siskin – Northwoods Drive, Ottawa.

Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas tip from the best atlas region: You may be strolling along, enjoying all the birdsong in #themighty24 and even identifying some or most. You likely know that songbirds are able to perform these vocal aerobatics due to their specialized “voice box” called a syrinx: their trachea splits into separately controlled bronchial tubes. But instead of leaving those songsters as possible breeding birds based on only hearing them sing, try to catch a glimpse of that bird. You might be pleasantly surprised to see that little Chestnut-sided Warbler you are hearing is actually singing WHILE carrying food! The structure of the syrinx enables them to switch from one side to the other without taking a breath, or having to drop their food! You’ve just birded in “Atlas Mode” and as a result of your careful observation, you are able to actually CONFIRM breeding!

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 24 June 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

For the first time in months, no rarities reported, and fall migration doesn’t start for a couple of weeks. So it’s a great time to get caught up on your atlassing. Go get those local breeders!

Female Baltimore Oriole, Brewer park, by Judith Gustafsson. It might appear injured, but Judith pointed out that the bare patch of skin is a “brood patch.” Many parents sitting on eggs will lose feathers from the belly and even grow extra arteries near the skin to better transfer heat to the eggs.

Marsh Wren, Marais aux grenouillettes wildlife refuge, by Arlene Harrold. Where there is Marsh Wren, there is Least Bittern. Birders have found many great birds here recently (and historically).

Juvenile European Starlings, Mud Lake, by Alan Short. Many insects have an aquatic stage and emerge en masse in huge clouds to breed as adults. In response, many bird species exploit this bounty, but so many insects fly at once that the next generation should still survive, despite the gluttonous birds. An event like this is called an emergence. Or as the Starlings refer to it: “a buffet.”

Vesper Sparrow, near Russell, by Gregory Zbitnew. Note the chestnut patch as the only colour on this otherwise gray sparrow. For a great tactic for finding Vespers, see the eBird tip below.

Black Tern, Smith’s Fall at The Swale, by Arlene Harrold. The smallest tern in the OFNC circle, it is also probably the easiest to identify from its size, dark gray breast and flanks, and black head.

Sandhill Crane – Carp Hills, Mer Bleue Bog, Smith Road (Navan), all Ottawa.

Semipalmated Sandpiper – Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Semipalmated Plover – Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Solitary Sandpiper – Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Least Bittern – Reported from Baie McLaurin, Marais des laîches, Marais aux grenouillettes (all Gatineau), and on the Ottawa side at Champlain Street Marsh, and the Petrie Island Causeway. Rideau River south of Hunt Club. Probably much more wide-spread, but under-reported.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Hansen Road (off Upper Dwyer Hill road), Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Lac McGregor, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais. Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Olive-sided Flycatcher – June 17, Green Creek from P27 Parking lot, Ottawa.

Sedge Wren – Concession Rd 7B, Almonte, Lanark. Concession 7 north of Clayton Road, Lanark. Nortel Marsh, Ottawa. Farmers Way North, Ottawa. Chemin Cross Loop, and Chemin Pine, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Carolina Wren – Continues at Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Trend Arlington Park, and Beacon Hill North, all Ottawa. Sherbrooke Street East, Perth, Lanark.

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Continues at Mer Bleue, Ottawa.

eBird tip from the local reviewers: If you are out collecting data for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, note that there are some very under-reported species that can easily be found by tweaking your search methods. One example is Vesper Sparrow. These sparrows are actually quite common in our region and can be heard singing in fields that have been recently tilled (bare fields) or soybean fields where the plants are not yet very big. Although they will use high quality grasslands, they seem to be much more common in these recently disturbed areas.

Summer is here and a great variety of young birds are being seen – and heard – across our region.

Did you know that your observations are valuable to the Third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas? It’s a province-wide volunteer-based project to map the distribution and abundance of Ontario’s approximately 300 breeding birds. Data from the previous two Ontario Atlases have provided enormous contributions to bird and environmental conservation over the last 40 years.

For more information and to register for this important citizen science effort, please visit:


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 17 June 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

A brief window between migrations, with locally uncommon birds such as Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Yellow-throated Vireos seeming more findable this year, and a breeding plumage Red-throated Loon giving great views. Perhaps best of all, a brief overnight stay by a Western Kingbird.

Osprey, Cameron Harvey Drive, by Alan Short. Those talons look impressive, but the Osprey’s fishing gear is more sophisticated than just long sharp claws. A toe on each foot is reversible to allow it to hook prey solidly from both directions, and the pads on the bottom of the feet are barbed. Their feet are perfectly equipped to deal with struggling slippery fish.

Red-throated Loon, Carleton Place, by Aaron Hywarren. In Ottawa, the normal view of a Red-throated Loon is a distant drab speck in bad weather, and maybe if you squint real hard, showing a small upturned bill. This beautiful bird was fishing close to shore until June 16.

Pied-billed Grebe with chick, 10th Line-Mer Bleue, by Janice Stewart. The camouflage patterns of baby birds and other animals can be stunning, and often don’t make sense to humans. In this case, the white patches that seem so obvious to us also break up the profile of the head.

Common Gallinule with chicks, Ross Road Mars, by Arlene Harrold. In this scene from The Dark Crystal, the life-like puppets travel across the Unending Swamp…. Unlike grebe juveniles, rail juveniles are often black, which is excellent camouflage if you spend most of your time in the dark angular shadows of a marsh. Mmm, maybe less effective wandering around the open like this.

Great Blue Heron, Rideau River, by Judith Gustafsson. Judith found this bird 20 metres up a tree, which is not how we are used to seeing them during the day, as they hunt shallow waters. Great Blue Herons build large nests high in dead trees, preferably in swamps with lots of dead trees, so they can form a colony where most land predators cannot reach them.

Blackburnian Warbler, Larose Forest, by Derek Dunnett. This is the only orange-throated warbler that breeds in North America, so one might expect it to be easy to find. But its niche is high in the forest canopy, and the distinctive high-pitched final syllable of its song is harder and harder to hear as a birder ages. So any sighting of one brings joy.

Alder Flycatcher, Almonte, by Tony Beck. Tony says: Although this flycatcher has a substantial bill and faint eye ring, it’s always best when members of the Empidonax genus reveal their species identity with their vocalizations.

Male Eastern Towhee, Carp Ridge, by Tony Beck. If the hard-drinking Alder Flycatcher is easily identified by calls for “Free Beer!”, then the Eastern Towhee is just as easily distinguished by its drink preference: “Drink your tea!”

White-winged Scoter – Jun 11, Rockcliffe Airport Woods, Ottawa.

Common Goldeneye  – Jun 11, Rockcliffe Airport Woods, Ottawa.

Sandhill Crane – Mer Bleue bog, Ottawa.

Black-bellied Plover – June 09,  Chemin Industriel, Gatineau.  June 12, Ottawa River pathway, Ottawa.

Semipalmated Sandpiper –  June 16, Parc Brébeuf, Gatineau.

Solitary Sandpiper – June 15, Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Red-throated Loon – June 14-16,  Bridge street, Carleton Place, Lanark.

Cuckoos continue to be reported calling everywhere, even suburban city parks.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo –  Wagon Drive, Thomas A Dolan,  Fine Estate, Rockcliffe Airport Woods, all Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – The Lac McGregor bird continued until at least June 12, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais. The Constance Bay birds are attempting three nests this year, which is a lot of Red-headed Woodpeckers.

Western Kingbird –  Jun 11-12,  Britannia CA, Ottawa.

Yellow-throated Vireo  – Continues in Dunrobin (Carp Hills), on Monty drive in Constance Bay, along the Jock River through Richmond Fen, McBean Street in Richmond, and in the Rockcliffe Airport Woods, all Ottawa.

Sedge Wren  –  Concession  7 north of Clayton Road, Lanark.  Nortel Marsh, Ottawa.  Canaan Road, Sarsfield. The Canaan bird is right on the border of Ottawa and Prescott Russell.

Carolina Wren – Continues at Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.   Trend Arlington Park, Ottawa.

Northern Mockingbird – A pair reported June 12 at the Ottawa International Airport.

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Mer Bleue Bog.

Nelson’s Sparrow – Actually photographed–which is no easy feat–Jun 13-14, Baie McLaurin, Gatineau.

Tennessee Warbler – A handful of late warblers reported this week, one from Munster Road, and another from Sarsaparilla Trail, Ottawa.  One from Petrie Island, Ottawa.

eBird tip from the local reviewers: If you are atlassing, take careful note of the temperature and your impression of overall bird song. The cool mornings recently have really depressed bird song and point counts will be artificially low if they are conducted on such days.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 11 June 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

Finally a quiet week with nothing more exciting than some amazing American White Pelicans!  And this time they stuck around just long enough for many people to see them.

Wilson’s Snipe, Watts Creek, by Arlene Harrold. Look closely at the placement of the eye and how it protrudes from the skull. Does it seem like the bird might be able to see behind it’s own back? According to Cornell, it can see almost as well behind as forward. That’s a useful ability when one is both delicious and prone to spending time with their bill six inches deep in the mud.

Adult American White Pelican, Britannia Point, by Janice Stewart. In this close up you can see the black patch on the head that tells us this is an adult bird. How big is a pelican compared to other birds? One adult weighs more than 2 Great Blue herons (or more than 2000 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds).

Juvenile European Starling, Strathcona Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Although this starling has some golden highlights from the early morning sun, juveniles are easily identified by how gray they appear compared to the black adults. Juvenile feathers have less melanin, trading faster growth for less strength.

Adult Common Loon, Mississippi River, by Janet McCullough. Ever notice how water birds seem to spend an awful lot of time scratching their own butts? They use the tip of their bills to collect oil from the preen gland near the base of the tail, and then use it to keep their feathers in good condition. Most birds have this gland, but water birds seem especially obsessed, as they must constantly fight the effects of water exposure.

Adult male Wilson’s Phalarope, Bruce Pit, by John King. The subtle color of this bird during breeding season identifies it as a male.

Breeding plumage Semipalmated Sandpiper, Richmond Lagoon, by Tony Beck. If you are going to memorize one shorebird, this is the one. Knowing the length, size and shape of this specie’s bill, and noticing how the tips of the wing feathers align with the end of the tail, and just keeping a solid search image of this bird in your mind will open up the world of shorebirds. Many of the rarities are spotted by how they differ from this bird.

Adult breeding Great Egret, Andrew Haydon Park, by Tony Beck. Once locally rare, these beautiful birds now breed here annually. And once upon a time, they were rare everywhere, as they were chased towards extinction by the feather trade. Practical feathers for pillows or beds to keep humans warm? Nope, those long trailing plumes were worth a fortune as accents on fashionable people’s hats.

Redhead – June 5,  Carleton Place Drainage pond, Lanark.

American White Pelican – 3 on June 5-6, 1 on June 7.  Are these the ones that previously flew to Montreal?  Rapides Deschênes , Gatineau, but also visible from Britannia Point, Ottawa.  A single bird reported from Mississippi Mills, Lanark, on June 7.

Sandhill Crane – Locally rare but known breeders, Dolman Ridge Road, Ottawa.

American Coot – Reported June 5, The Swale, Lanark.

Black-bellied Plover – June 8-9, Parc Brébeuf, Gatineau.

Least Sandpiper –  Parc Brébeuf, Gatineau, Quebec

Semipalmated Sandpiper – Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.  Deschenes Rapids Lookout, Ottawa.

Wilson’s Phalarope – A single male, June 08, Bruce Pit, Ottawa.

Greater Yellowlegs – June 7, Richmond CA, Ottawa.

Lesser Yellowlegs – June 5, Greenbelt Pathway West, Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Caspian Tern – Britannia CA, as well as Remic Rapids Lookout, Ottawa.

Eurasian Collared  Dove –  June 3,  Cambrian Road, Ottawa.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo –  Thomas A Dolan,  Rockcliffe Airport Woods, on the Jock River downstream of the Richmond fen, all Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Chemin de la Symphonie, Val-des-Monts, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Yellow-throated Vireo  – Continues in Dunrobin (Carp Hills), and along the Jock River through Richmond Fen, Ottawa.

Sedge Wren  – 3 on June 7 at Long Bay and Burridge Road, Lanark. Another at Nortel marsh on June 10.

Carolina Wren – Continues at Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.   Britannia CA, Ottawa.  Wychwood, Gatineau.

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Locally rare, but  breeding at Mer Bleue Bog.

Nelson’s Sparrow – A surprise singer was reported on June 5, Greenbelt Pathway West, Ottawa.

Orchard Oriole  – May 26-June 4, Richmond CA, Ottawa.

Cerulean Warbler – Carbine Road & Trail, Lanark.  Just a smidge outside the OFNC circle.

eBird tip from the local reviewers: It’s the time for juvenile sparrows. These can be really tricky! Any Lincoln’s Sparrows away from Mer Bleue will require photo documentation. Check out the great birding article on separating young sparrows at
Birding article on separating young sparrows.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 3 June 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

More exciting shorebirds, a Little Gull, and a late-breaking  Eurasian Collared-dove!

Ring-billed Gull, Rideau River just below Carleton University, by Judith Gustafsson. Ever wonder what gulls eat besides fries? Opportunistic and adaptable, gulls eat a wide range of foods. Judith observed many Ring-billed Gulls diving for crayfish this week. They dove down into the water, submerged completely, and if successful, emerged from the water with prey in their beak.

Marsh Wren, Petrie Island, by Tony Beck. It’s interesting that Marsh Wrens and Red-winged Blackbirds share habitant and mating strategies. Males mate with multiple females. Is there something about the environment that rewards this strategy?

Green Heron, Ferguson Falls, by Janet McCullough.

Female Purple Finch, Cumberland, by Tony Beck.

Eastern Kingbird, Woodlawn, by Tony Beck.

Turkey Vulture, Ottawa Pathway, by Paul Stewart. This view makes it easy to see how a Turkey Vulture is often mistaken for a Wild Turkey.

Redhead –  Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Ruddy Duck – Moodie Quarry, Ottawa.

Trumpeter Swan – Four on June 02, Baie Fraser, Gatineau.

Horned Grebe – In full breeding plumage, May 29, Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Eurasian Collared-dove – Reported from the corner of Cambrian Road West and Old Richmond Road, Ottawa

Yellow-billed Cuckoo –  Thomas A Dolan,  Rockcliffe Airport Woods, and Richmond – Jock River downstream of Fen, all Ottawa.  Other birds singing YBCU songs are being recorded, for example on Dolman Ridge Road, but require visual confirmation.

Sandhill Crane – Dolman Ridge Road, Ottawa.

White-rumped Sandpiper – June 03, Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.

Red Knot – As many as 32 on June 01, Baie Simard, Gatineau.  Also seen from Britannia Point Ottawa.

Black-bellied Plover – Jun 02 Pont Champlain, Gatineau,  Moody Pond, and Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa.

Wilson’s Phalarope – May 17-June 2, Greenbelt Pathway West, Ottawa.  Viewing is more challenging due to long grass, but great June birds.

Red-necked Phalarope  – May 31, Baie Simard, Gatineau, and Britannia Point Ottawa.

Whimbrel – May 28, Greenbelt Pathway West, Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Little Gull – May 30,  Baie Simard, Gatineau.

Red-throated Loon – June 02, Grandview Road (Crystal Beach boat ramp), Ottawa.

Caspian Tern – Britannia CA, and Constance Creek, Dunrobin, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Chemin de la Symphonie, Val-des-Monts, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Yellow-throated Vireo  – Dunrobin (Carp Hills), and along the Jock River through Richmond Fen, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Continues at Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.   Wychwood, Gatineau.

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Mer Bleue Bog, Ottawa.

Orchard Oriole  – May 26-Jun 01.  A first-year male at the Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa, singing near the observation platform.

Cerulean Warbler – Murphys Point Provincial Park,  McParlan House Trail.  Outside the 50k, but a great bird.

The DND property at Shirley’s Bay is now restricted to official business only.  If this changes in the future, there will be an announcement.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 27 May 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

A big push of shorebirds and great migrants such as lots of Dunlin and Black-bellied Plovers, Blackpoll and Wilson Warblers, and a single Ruddy Turnstone.  Some other amazing birds such as Laughing Gull, Red Knot, Hudsonian Godwit, Orchard Oriole and Pelicans!   Many individuals and flocks were seen from both shores of the Ottawa River in what seemed like some great teamwork among birders.

First-year male Orchard Oriole, Richmond Conservation Area, by Gillian Mastromatteo. This brash yet handsome first summer bird looks very little like the subtle chestnut and black older male. Note how frayed the tail feathers are. Immature birds often have weaker feathers than mature birds, because of differences in molt timing in the first year, or in really young birds, because it’s more important to put the energy into fledging than building long-lasting feathers.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, High Lonesome, by Arlene Harrold. The cuckoos are back, and are frequently confused for each other, as they are heard far more often than seen, and have overlapping songs. Yet somehow we have two gorgeous cuckoo photos submitted this week. The yellow lower mandible is an obvious field mark, but the rufous in the wing shows remarkably well, even in quick wing flashes as the bird disappears in the millisecond before you press the shutter.

Black-billed Cuckoo, near North Gower, by Tony Beck. Here we see the bill is all black, and the wing is dull brown, not rufous. See the eBird tip above about reporting these species as heard-only.

Least Bittern, Dunrobin, by Aaron Hywarren. More common than it would seem from the hours it takes to actually see one. If a wetland in Ottawa has Marsh Wrens, there are probably Least Bittern too. But good luck seeing them. And they laugh unseen from the reeds, adding insult to injury.

Female Wood Duck with her 4 ducklings, Billings Bridge, by Judith Gustafsson. Unlike songbirds that spend vulnerable days or weeks in the nest, juvenile ducks are precocial, meaning the young can move around on their own almost immediately after hatching. Parents still provide some care and protection.

Arctic Tern, Britannia, by Aaron Hywarren. Unlike Common Terns which breed locally, Arctic Terns are usually only seen in Ottawa a couple of days a year as they migrate through.

Male Scarlet Tanager, Ravine Park, Orleans, by Sherry Nigro. Despite their scarlet color, the males can be hard to see, but fairly easy to hear right now, as they are singing their raspy song all over the Greenbelt and any decently-sized forest in the region.

Great Blue Heron, Britannia, by Alan Short. Not just a stunning composition, this photo hints at how many different feather types a single bird can have.

Redhead –  Westbrook Rd., Ottawa  From 22 birds on the 21st, the flock dwindled to a single bird, last reported May 24.

Snow Goose – One at Riverain Park, Ottawa.  A pair at the Centre touristique du Lac-Simon, Papineau.

Trumpeter Swan – Singles reported: Marais des Laîches, Gatineau.  Heaphy Road. Marlborough Forest, Ottawa. McTeer Road, Prescott and Russell

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Burnt Lands Road Ottawa.  Watts Creek pathway, Ottawa.

Sandhill Crane – Dolman Ridge Road, Ottawa.

Hudsonian Godwit –  May 26,  Parc Brébeuf, Gatineau.

Red Knot – A flock of 5-7 on May 26,  Baie Simard, Gatineau.  Also seen from Britannia Point, Ottawa.

Wilson’s Phalarope – May 17-27, Greenbelt Pathway West, Ottawa.  May require patience and a scope. A great opportunity to see male and female plumage as a pair linger.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Britannia Point,  and Moodie Quarry, Ottawa.

Laughing Gull – May 21, Deschenes Rapides, Ottawa.

Red-throated Loon – May 25, Shirley’s Bay, Ottawa and Parc des Cèdres, Gatineau.

American White Pelican – 4 seen flying east over the river on May 21.  Possibly the same 4 were seen in Montreal the same day.

Caspian Tern – Britannia CA, and Shirley’s Bay (Boat launch), Ottawa.

Arctic Tern – 4 photographed May 24, Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Red-headed Woodpecker – At least two adults continue in Constance Bay, Ottawa. Lac-McGregor, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Chemin de la Symphonie, Val-des-Monts, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  Copeland Road, Ottawa.

Carolina Wren – Continues at Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.   Wychwood, Gatineau.

Evening Grosbeak – The last reports?  May 23, Manotick, Ottawa.  Rolston Way, Kanata, Ottawa.

Dark-eyed Junco – May 24, Mer Bleue Bog, Ottawa, singing.  Rockcliffe Park & McKay Lake, Ottawa.

Orchard Oriole  – May 26-27.  A first-year male at the Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa, singing and nest-building near the observation platform.

Rusty Blackbird – Twin Elm Road Wetlands, Ottawa.

Cerulean Warbler – Murphys Point Provincial Park,  Lanark:  Silver Queen Mine Trail, McParlan House Trail, and Lally Homestead Trail.   Berry Side Road, Dunrobin.

eBird tip from the local reviewers: Two species pairs pose problems for birders when it comes to heard only birds: Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers and Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos. These species pairs cannot be confidently separated by their vocalizations. Because Golden-winged Warbler and Black-billed Cuckoo are the expected species of their sister species pairs in our region, we accept eBird records of these from heard only birds. However, if you want records of Blue-winged Warbler and Yellow-billed Cuckoo accepted for either eBird or the atlas, you need to actually see these birds. Golden-wings and hybrids routinely sing Blue-winged Warbler songs. Black-billed Cuckoos often sing Yellow-billed songs and often give perfect imitations. If you have a Yellow-bill that slips into Black-billed song briefly, it is almost certainly a Black bill. If it only sings like a Yellow-bill, you need to see it to confirm.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 20 May 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

More warblers, more shorebirds, and huge numbers of Brant and Bonaparte’s Gull migrating through.  The great Blue Jay migration continues during the day.

Adult breeding Bonaparte’s Gulls, Petrie Island, by Tony Beck. Many of these gorgeous birds are passing through the OFNC region right now.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Airport Parkway bike trail, by Allan Robusky. Fairly common breeders in the Ottawa area, this is another species that seems to surprise many people. Despite the vibrant white, it is surprising how well they disappear into the trees at the water’s edge when not hunting.

Juvenile Carolina Wrens, Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, by Sanam Goudarzi. Sanam has been carefully observing the male since the winter, noticed when he was joined by a female, and was ready to snap this picture of the fledgling young when they arrived. Young birds are easily identified by the yellow gape at the corner of the mouth.

Adult male Black-throated Blue Warbler, Andrew Haydon Park, by Alan Short.

Semipalmated Plover and Least Sandpiper, Richmond Conservation Area, by Janice Stewart. Great composition with the tiny plover towering over the world’s smallest shorebird, the Least Sandpiper. If an observer stops moving, both of these species will come very close to them.

Yellow-throated Vireo, Ottawa, by Aaron Hywarren. The least common of the annual vireos in Ottawa, this one is easily identified by its yellow spectacles.

Tree Swallows, Brewer Park, by Judith Gustafsson. If you’ve ever wondered how they hang on with their short little legs when mating, now you know. They cheat.

Wilson Phalaropes, Ottawa, by Arlene Harrold. Phalaropes have a fascinating form of breeding plumage and behavior. Sure, the females still lay the eggs, but the rest of the sex roles are reversed. The female is brightly colored to attract males, and each female will mate with multiple partners, then leave all the child-rearing to the more subtly colored males.

Garganey – A heart-breaking single observer sighting, never refound bird, at Shirley’s Bay, Ottawa, on May 17.

Redhead – Britannia Pier, Ottawa.

Brant – Moving through in big numbers.  Look for them flying over Ottawa, then turning west to follow the river.

Snow Goose – One or two between Champlain Bridge and Britannia, on the Ottawa River.

Black-bellied Plover – Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Wilson’s Phalarope – May 17-20, Greenbelt Pathway West, Ottawa.  May 18-19, Holland’s Marsh, Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Britannia Point,  and Moodie Quarry, Ottawa.

Iceland Gull – May 19, Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Caspian Tern – Shirley’s Bay (Boat launch), Ottawa.

Arctic Tern – May 19, Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Red-headed Woodpecker – At least two adults continue in Constance Bay, Ottawa.  A rare sighting outside Constance Bay on Copeland Road (Ashton), Ottawa.  Another at Lac-McGregor, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Shirley’s Bay,  Britannia CA (general location), Stanley Park, all Ottawa.

Yellow-throated Vireo – May 15, Richmond CA (formerly Richmond Sewage Lagoons), Ottawa.  Malakoff Rd, Paden to Cowell, (Richmond), Ottawa.

Olive-sided Flycatcher – Terry Carisse Park, Ottawa.

Northern Mockingbird – May 17,  Murphys Point Provincial Park–Silver Queen Mine Trail, Lanark.  Remic Rapids Lookout, Ottawa.

Gray-cheeked Thrush – Reported from the Sentier du corridor Champlain, Gatineau,

Carolina Wren – Frank Ryn & Elmhurst Parks, Ottawa.

White-winged Crossbill – Monty Drive, Ottawa.

Common Redpoll –  Guertin Ave.  Last one in Ottawa?

Evening Grosbeak –  Still lots of reports of single birds and pairs.

Blue-winged Warbler – May 15, Richmond CA, Ottawa.

Cerulean Warbler – May 18, Murphys Point Provincial Park, Lanark.  Singing May 18-20, Berry Side Road, Ottawa.

Louisiana Waterthrush – Continues on Sentier Lauriault, Parc de la Gatineau, Gatineau.

Prothonotary Warbler – Reported on Magladry Road, Ottawa, May 20.

Not quite triggering a rare alert, but still much desired, warblers such as Golden-winged Warbler and Canada Warbler returned this week.

E-Bird tip from the local reviewers: We had record numbers of Carolina Wren and Red-bellied Woodpecker in Ottawa this winter. Some are hanging around and now is the time to look for breeding evidence; freshly fledged Carolinas are already being seen! If you do find either of these breeding please report them to e-Bird and to the Atlas.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 14 May 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

Another week, another vagrant!  A  Ruff showed up on the 10th at the Richmond Lagoons.  Warbler diversity and numbers continue to increase, at the same time as more winter finches (Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Redpolls) show up at feeders on their way north.  It’s the best of spring and winter birding!  Brant migrated up the river 8-9 May, along with Common Loons, Bonaparte Gulls, and more grebes.  Blue Jays are passing through in large numbers during the day.

Female Ruff, Richmond Lagoons, by Aaron Hywarren. That is excellent camouflage. The nearby Yellowlegs stand out by comparison. Differentiated from the similar-sized Lesser Yellowlegs by the small, drooped bill, the buffy head, the black back feathers with the lovely scalloped edges, the orange (not yellow) legs, and the dark chevrons along the flank.

Female Ruff, Richmond Lagoons, by Arlene Harrold, with Lesser Yellowlegs. A lovely comparison in flight shot! Not all the id points are visible in this view, but check out the overall buffiness, and the slightly shorter, slightly dropped bill. In comparison, the Yellowlegs’ eye ring pops, and its bill is regulation straight.

Palm Warbler – Andrew Haydon Park, by Tony Beck. Tony says: “Male and female Palm Warblers look similar. But, they consist of two subspecies – Western/Brown and Eastern/Yellow. Interestingly, Western is a common migrant here while Eastern is a rare migrant, and a rare nester in our local bogs. Their breeding range overlaps east of the Ontario/Quebec border, well north of Ottawa. Within this overlap region, subspecies sometimes interbreed. With prominent yellow on the throat and undertail, the individual in this photo superficially looks like the Western subspecies. However, the extent of yellow on the face, breast, belly & flanks is more than what I expect from a typical Western. This suggests that this bird is either a Western at the yellowish extreme, or an Eastern/Western intergrade.”

Hoary Redpoll, Ottawa, by Maureen Mark. This Hoary Redpoll is long overdue for a northern departure, but has just found another Hoary friend. Have they decided on an extended vacation?

Chimney swift, Overbrook, by Bertrand Michaud. A cigar with wings. Pre-colonization, these birds nested in hollow trees. Now they nest almost exclusively in human structures.

American Redstart male in full song. Britannia by Alan Short. Those front facing bristles are modified feathers called rictal bristles. What do they do? Long believed to act as an insect catching net, they are now thought to be used for sensory input.

This beautiful leucistic white-throated sparrow is hanging in South Mountain. Picture by Carole Duford. Interesting that the yellow, made from different compounds than the brown, is unaffected.

Male Cape May Warbler, Britannia, by Gregory Zbitnew. Ever notice that male warblers show up and start singing before the females arrive? They race north to establish the best territories, and the females can take more time and less risk.

Eurasian Wigeon – Britannia on May 9.

Long-tailed Duck – Marais aux grenouillettes, and Parc des Cèdres, Gatineau.

Black Scoter – Shirley’s Bay.  Not rare, White-winged Scoter also reported.

Trumpeter Swan – Heaphy Road,  Shirley’s bay,  and Moodie Drive Quarry, Ottawa.

Sandhill Crane – Baskin Drive East (Arnprior),  Fine Estate, Mer Bleue, and Petrie Island, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker – Constance Bay, Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Shirley’s Bay,  and Kanata Lakes, Ottawa.  Rue de Saint-Malo, Gatineau. Parc de Plaisance, Papineau.

Dunlin – Holland’s Marsh,  the ponds just North of the Moodie Drive Quarry, and Richmond Sewage lagoons, Ottawa.

Black-bellied Plover – Dilworth road (Kemptville), Ottawa.

Ruff – Identified on May 13 at the Richmond Conservation Area, Ottawa.  An adult female spent the day mostly hiding in the vegetation in the North (mostly dry) lagoon, and occasionally flying or swimming with Lesser Yellowlegs in the middle Lagoon.  This incredibly well camouflaged bird requires patience, and a scope wouldn’t hurt.  The bird was photographed but not identified on the 10th.  Weird shorebirds are always worth a second or third look.

Purple Sandpiper – Continues on the rock at the base of the Deschênes rapids on the Gatineau side.

Some of the smaller shorebirds occasionally reported from Richmond lagoons, Wesley Clover park, and Petrie Island, Ottawa, as well as Parc de Plaisance, Papineau.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Andrew Haydon Park, Britannia Point, Ottawa. Moodie Quarry and Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa.  Rapides Deschênes, and Parc Brébeuf, Gatineau.

Neotropic Cormorant – Continues to the 13th.  More variation in its travels recently. Reported recently from Dow’s lake, Lemieux Island, Britannia Point, and still roosting at night in Gatineau.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Hurdman Wood, Ottawa.

Yellow-throated Vireo – Vincent Massey/Hog’s Back Parks, and Strathcona Park on May 9, Ottawa.

Hoary Redpoll – Applewood Acres, Ottawa.  Not satisfied with being an extremely late solo record, this bird has found a friend and the pair continues as of the 13th.

Common Redpoll – Everywhere in small numbers.

White-winged Crossbill – Crazy Horse Trail, Ottawa.

Evening Grosbeak –  Everywhere in small numbers.

Louisiana Waterthrush  – Sentier Lauriault (Parc de la Gatineau), Gatineau

Golden-winged Warbler – Birchgove Road (Sarsfield), Ottawa.

Orange-crowned Warbler – Birchgove Road (Sarsfield), Ottawa.

E-Bird tip from local reviewers: One duo that occasionally trips up observers are the two yellowlegs. Their status changes over the migration period: Greater is commoner in April, Lesser in May. If you are not sure, please record them as Yellowlegs species.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 7 May 2021

by Derek Dunnett at

A tale of two vagrants!  No, it’s not a cut and paste error (this time).  The region’s exceptional spring continues with two new mega-rare birds:  a Painted Bunting and an Eurasian Collared Dove.  Amazingly, the Purple Sandpiper and the Neotropical Cormorant continued until at least May 5.  Winter Finches – Common and Hoary Redpolls, Evening Grosbeaks, and Pine Siskins continue to hit local feeders.  American Tree Sparrows and Fox Sparrows linger.  Shorebirds are beginning to build up, and Richmond is a good spot to see them.  A good selection of warblers was seen.

Female plumage Painted Bunting, Hilda Road feeders, by Tony Beck. Only the second confirmed record for Ottawa, this beauty has been fairly cooperative for birders. Gaps between feeder visits can be as long as 90 minutes or more.

Eurasian collared-dove, Hilda Road feeders, by Aaron Hywarren. Introduced to the Bahamas only in the 1970’s, this species spread rapidly across North America. Compared to our native Mourning Dove, it has: red eyes, the collar on the back of the neck, a square tail quite unlike the work of art that is the Mourning’s tail, and is a bit bigger. This is the first confirmed record for Ottawa.

‘Green’ Pine Siskin, Hammond, by Bree Tucker. The yellow on most Pine Siskins is very subtle, but for a small number it is very striking. This morph is referred to as green Pine Siskin, because bird names are weird, whether for official species or just interesting color variations. Why call a yellow bird yellow when you can call it green?

Palm Warbler (Eastern subspecies), Andrew Hayden Park, by Richard Rowlee. The Western subspecies of Palm Warblers is our expected bird, and they flooded in this week. This locally less common bird, however, is identified as an eastern breeder from it’s vibrant yellow color that extends over the breast, belly, and undertail, as well as the red stripes on it’s breast. Derek is surprised it’s not called a green morph.

Greater Yellowlegs, Brewers Park, by Judith Gustafsson. Sometimes the Yellowlegs species feel challenging to tell apart, but this bird has the classic markers even without a Lesser for comparison: the bill is 1.5 times the length of the head, slightly upturned, and gray at the base, and the bird sports heavy barring on the flanks.

Common Raven, Britannia, by Alan Short. That poor baby Snapping Turtle was hatched last year, survived the cruel winter, only to become a probably unrewarding lunch for this raven.

Leucistic male Downy Woodpecker, central Ottawa, by Amberlea Williams. Look how frayed almost every feather on this birds body appears. White feathers are weaker than black feathers, and don’t last as long.

Horned Grebe, Shirley’s Bay, by Janice Stewart. We don’t see many of these, and especially not close to shore, but there was a large movement here last week. Janice caught this shot of a bird in beautiful breeding plumage. This bird will return in the fall wearing shades of grey and white instead of red.

Greater White-fronted Goose – May 3,  Baie Parker, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Cackling Goose – May 3, Baie Parker, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

Long-tailed Duck – Parc des Cèdres,  Gatineau.

Ruddy Duck – Parc de Plaisance (Tête de la Baie), Papineau.

Sandhill Cranes are passing through, seen or heard flying over many locations, as well as returning to local breeding areas such as Mer Bleue, Ottawa.

Eurasian Collared-Dove  – Seen on May 5 only, as birders were looking for the Painted Bunting at the Hilda Road feeders, Ottawa.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Rainbow Lake, Lanark. Elm Grove Road, Perth, Lanark.  Kettles Road, Ottawa.

Red-headed Woodpecker (5) – Len Purcell Drive (Woodlawn), Ottawa.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Chemin Champlain, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.  In Ottawa on Monty Drive, Hilda Road feeders, Shirley’s Avenue, and Kanata lakes, Ottawa.  Rue de Saint-Malo, Gatineau. Parc de Plaisance, Papineau.

Purple Sandpiper – Continues on the magic rock at the base of the Deschênes rapids on the Gatineau side.

Iceland Gull – Britannia Point, Ottawa.  Moodie Quarry (the northern ponds), Ottawa.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Britannia Point, Ottawa. Moodie Quarry and Trail Road Landfill, Ottawa.

Caspian Tern – Constance Lake (southern bay), Ottawa.  Rapides Deschênes, Gatineau.

Neotropic Cormorant – Continues to spend most days at Dow’s Lake, Ottawa, with the Double-crested Cormorants.  Roosts in Gatineau at night, visible from the Sentier des Voyageurs.   Seen most days from April 21-May 05.

Rough-legged Hawk – Breckenridge, Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais.

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

Hoary Redpoll – Applewood Acres, Ottawa.  Seen up to May 6, this is possibly the latest ever Ottawa spring record for this species.

Red Crossbill – Flock continues in Larose Forest, Prescott and Russell.

White-winged Crossbill – Visiting a feeder on Monty Drive, Ottawa.

Painted Bunting – Female plumage, Hilda Road feeders, Ottawa, seen daily from May 2 to 6.  Sightings can be 90 minutes apart.

Cape May Warbler – Hilda Road feeders, and the Arboretum, Ottawa.  Parc de Plaisance, Papineau.

Palm Warbler – Everywhere.  The locally less common Yellow or Eastern Palm Warbler seen at Andrew Haydon Park and Britannia CA on May 02.

Northern Parula – Kizell Pond, Ottawa.

The DND property at Shirley’s Bay is now restricted to official business only.  If this changes in the future, there will be an announcement.

Earlier reports from 2021Sightings from 2020