Owl logo The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club

Birding in Ottawa


OFNC home page
Coming events
Birding
Publications
Fletcher Wildlife Garden
Conservation
Awards
Macoun Club for young naturalists
FalconWatch
Committees and Board
Join the OFNC/make a donation
Links
Search
Contact us

Get help identifying a bird
Report a bird sighting

Can't find Milton Road? Not sure where the Sarsaparilla Trail is?
Check the Birds Committee's location guide, complete with species to watch for and directions for getting to the best birding spots in the Ottawa region.

Code of conduct
Due to increasing and widespread concerns regarding disturbance of wildlife and property, the OFNC's Birds Committee no longer reports owl sightings on the Internet. We will continue to encourage the reporting of owls to sightings@ofnc.ca for the purpose of maintaining local records. Please refer to the OFNC Code of Conduct.

Please note: The copyright for all photos on this web site belongs to the photographer. The OFNC reserves the right to use these photos in other parts of the web site. To contribute photos or report bird sightings, please email sightings@ofnc.ca

Please also note: The OFNC's Birds Committee no longer reports owl sightings on the Internet. We will continue to encourage the reporting of owls to sightings@ofnc.ca for the purpose of maintaining local records.

ACCESS TO THE SHIRLEY’S BAY CAUSEWAY. The OFNC has a signed agreement with DND and PWGS that gives OFNC members limited access to this important birding area. You must call the Range Control Office (613-991-5740) before entering DND property, and you will be informed how far down the causeway you may go. For your safety, please respect their instructions, as the shooting patterns vary from day to day.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 23 February 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Oregon Junco (probable female) taken near Poltimore, Quebec on Friday afternoon by Tony Beck.


There were 2 highlights this week: 4 TRUMPETER SWANS in Carleton Place on the 18th, and 2 on the 21st. A GRAY JAY was seen from time to time at a feeder near Quyon on the 16-21st. A little outside the area, and possibly a first for Lanark County, a TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE was seen near Smith’s Falls on the 18th to at least the 21st.

Meanwhile, the topsy-turvy winter weather has given us a major week-long thaw with sun and rain, and on the 23rd our warmest temperature since mid-November. This has caused causing considerable melting, and a few early migrants, like the RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD at Trail Road on the 20th. Area birders are cautioned that spring has NOT arrived.

Among the waterbirds, a RING-NECKED DUCK was seen in Carleton Place, undoubtedly a recent arrival from a little farther south. Other than that, all the lingerers/ specialities were seen-WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road, and the HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman, which is becoming more colourful by the week.


Northern Horned Lark photographed by Tony Beck on agricultural fields east of Ottawa.


5 species of GULL were reported, highlights being ICELAND GULL at Parc Mousette on the 19th and GLAUCOUS GULL at the Trail Road Landfill.

A few less common RAPTORS were seen: GOLDEN EAGLE at Val des Monts on the 18th, a NORTHERN GOSHAWK at Lac Ramsay on the 19th and near Luskville on the 21st, and an AMERICAN KESTREL in Kanata on the 19th. A few probably early migrant NORTHERN HARRIERS have been cruising the agricultural fields.

A BELTED KINGFISHER was at Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham on the 19th, and up to 9 GRAY PARTRIDGE are irregular in the neighbourhood near Robert Grant/ Bobolink/ Cope.

A HERMIT THRUSH was in Val Tétreau on the 17th, and another was in Manotick on the 18th. 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were on Klondike Road in Kanata on the 18-19th and near Richmond on the 21st.

2 CHIPPING SPARROWS continue in Carleton Place as of the 23rd. For those interested in different populations, a DARK-EYED JUNCO (OREGON) was seen in Poltimore. 4 COMMON GRACKLES were in Fitzroy Harbour on the 17-18th, with another and a possible migrant in Russell on the 23rd. Finally, 2 PINE GROSBEAK were in Kanata on the 17th.


Winter male Snow Bunting photographed by Tony Beck on agricultural fields east of Ottawa.


NOTE: A number of people have written in to the sightings line, wondering about apparently early AMERICAN ROBINS and also concerned about their food supply. Firstly, these birds are not early but have never left. The first migrants will be in a few weeks. AMERICAN ROBINS are now fairly common in the winter, this year having the most ever. Secondly, AMERICAN ROBINS are almost entirely consumers of over-wintering fruit in the winter and there is little we can do to help with their food supply. However, they are a fairly hardy bird and can easily travel to find the abundant fruit crops in the region, so there is no real cause for concern.

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

Good birding.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 16 February 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca


Black-capped Chickadee photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Keith Wickens, who writes: "Nice shot but ho-hum subject: chickadee with safflower seed in its mouth. The next I took I found interesting - chickadee with safflower seed in its claws holding it steady against the branch to eat."


After a number of weeks without, Ottawa finally had a birding highlight. On the 11th a GYRFALCON was seen on Appleton Side Road, but rather predictably it was not seen again. Also, a GRAY JAY was reported in Gatineau on the 13th but not since.

While temperatures were seasonal to above seasonal, steady and often heavy snowfall, with about 60 cm added in the last week, was a strong disincentive for birders to get out. So there are rather fewer reports and not so many birds to see either. Still, over 60 species have been seen in the region in the last week. Although the days are getting noticeably longer, unfortunately it only means that we can see the snow and clouds longer.

Some of the lingering waterfowl have either disappeared or are not being searched for. However, WOOD DUCK continues at Billings Bridge, while HARLEQUIN DUCK and BARROW’S GOLDENEYE are still regular at Hurdman. BUFFLEHEAD are still regular off Bate Island.

9 GRAY PARTRIDGE continued near Cope and Robert Grant on the 14-15th, and a GOLDEN EAGLE was on Appleton Side Road on the 15th.


Brown Creeper photographed by Connie Denyes at Pine Grove Trail


A HERMIT THRUSH in Elmvale Acres on the 12th was the first recent sighting of this species, while a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD is still coming to a feeder in Orleans. Other continuing sightings include the CHIPPING SPARROW in Carleton place on the 12th, and up to 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS are still making chance appearances in Kanata, most recently on the 16th.

WINTER FINCHES are mostly in the northern forests, with still not many sightings. 4 PINE SISKIN were north of Wakefield on the 12th, while 2 were in Richmond on the 14th. 80 EVENING GROSBEAKS were coming to a private feeder north of Wakefield. There were 18 PINE GROSBEAKS near Masham on the 10th. 2 COMMON REDPOLL were in Gatineau on the 14th and 1 was in Constance Bay on the 11th. There was a PURPLE FINCH in Constance Bay on the 11th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 9 February 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


Dark-eyed Junco photographed by Tony Beck at Mud Lake


Ottawa remains in the heart of the winter doldrums, once again with static birding conditions and no highlights.

Weather was typical for mid-winter, generally seasonal with some wild temperature swings and a lot of cloudy days with light precipitation.

Previously reported lingering WATERBIRDS continue: HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman, WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at BillingS Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL at Iber Road.

2 GOLDEN EAGLES were on Steele Line on the 5th and NORTHERN GOSHAWK was in Russell on the 5th.

9 GRAY PATRIDGE were near Cope and Robert Grant on the 7th, the first sighting in a few weeks.


Female Northern Cardinal photographed by Tony Beck at Mud Lake


EASTERN BLUEBIRD was near Luskville on the 6th and there were 2 in Kanata on the 9th. Flocks of up to several hundred BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are in many places, with a sprinkling of CEDAR WAXWINGS among them. The TUFTED TITMOUSE was last seen at Fitzroy on the 2nd.

Up to 2 CHIPPING SPARROWS were in Carleton Place as late as the 8th.

A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was in Plaisance on the 4th, and a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (female) was at a feeder in Orleans as late as the 3rd.

Finally, among the FINCHES, EVENING GROSBEAK was in Larose Forest on the 4th, a PINE SISKIN was in Richmond on the 7th and 2 PURPLE FINCH were there on the 6th. A flock of over 50 REDPOLLS was at Mer Bleue on the 2nd.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 2 February 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


White-throated Sparrow photographed by Ann Lambert at McLarens Landing


By and large, birding conditions were rather static this week, and there were no real highlights.

Weather was considerably colder but temperatures were still near normal. There was a lot of cloud and light precipitation but no major accumulation.

The extended spell of milder weather has resulted in an expansion of the area of open water in the rivers. These situations in winter sometimes cause an influx of waterfowl or gulls from the Great Lakes, and may have been a factor in the appearance of a LONG-TAILED DUCK on the 28th in the Deschênes Rapids. Otherwise the uncommon overwintering ducks continued this week again: HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman, BUFFLEHEAD at Bate Island, WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road. Joining them, a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, rare at this time year, is still making occasional appearances on the Rideau River from Hurdman to Carleton University.

Other notable sightings this week included:

  • An adult GOLDEN EAGLE was seen from Steele Line Road west of Westbrook on the 2nd
  • A BELTED KINGFISHER was in Chapman Mills on the 29th
  • Multiple sightings of both NORTHERN FLICKER and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continue in the region
  • Up to 4 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were on Berry Side Road on the 28th; up to 3 are in the Luskville area, most recently seen on the 1st
  • TUFTED TITMOUSE is still being seen in Quyon and Fitzroy Harbour
  • CAROLINA WREN is still semi-regular in the Carlington area and Carleton Place
  • Up to 2 CHIPPING SPARROWS continue at a feeder in Carleton Place as late as the 28th
  • 2 PURPLE FINCH were in Breckenridge on the 29th and in Richmond on the same day
  • 2 PINE GROSBEAK were in Gatineau on the 26th
  • 14 PINE SISKIN were at the north end of Torbolton Ridge Road on the 30th

SPECIAL NOTE

In the last few weeks there has been a modest influx of GREAT GRAY OWLS into Eastern Ontario and Southern Quebec. These birds are moving south due to a food shortage and are almost certainly under severe stress. One was found starved to death in a residential area. There is another report of an owl being vigorously harassed by groups of people. Should you encounter a GREAT GRAY OWL, you are strongly urged to follow the birders’ Code of Conduct and minimize disturbing it. These birds are easily flushed; being disturbed is energy intensive and hampers their search for food.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 26 January 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


Chipping Sparrows photographed by Michael Jacques in Carleton Place


There were 2 highlights this week. 2 TRUMPETER SWANS were in Carleton Place on the 22nd, and 3 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were on MacLaren’s Sideroad on the 21st. However, by and large, there was very little change from the previous week.

Weather this week generally had above seasonal temperatures, and not much precipitation, so it was fairly easy on the remaining birds and for birders looking for them.

The uncommon overwintering DUCKS continued this week again-HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman, BUFFLEHEAD at Bate Island, WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road. Joining them, a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, rare at this time year, has made occasional appearances on the Rideau River from Hurdman to Carleton University.

Other notable sightings this week included:

  • 2 GOLDEN EAGLES were seen from Steele Line Road on the 26th
  • 9 GRAY PARTRIDGE were in the Cope Drive area on the 21st
  • Multiple sightings of both NORTHERN FLICKER and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continue in the region
  • 4 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS are sometimes seen in the Morgan’s Grant area of Kanata, most recently on the 23rd
  • TUFTED TITMOUSE is still being seen in Quyon and Fitzroy Harbour
  • CAROLINA WREN is still semi-regular in the Carlington area and Carleton Place
  • Up to 2 CHIPPING SPARROWS continue at a feeder in Carleton Place as late as the 24th
  • A FOX SPARROW continues at a feeder in the Meadowlands Drive area as of the 26th
  • A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was in Aylmer on the 21st
  • A PURPLE FINCH was in Constance Bay on the 24th
  • 2 PINE GROSBEAK were in Carp on the 20th

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 19 January 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


American Robin photographed by Eric Leger in Gatineau Park


As was the case last week, there were no real highlights. One item of interest is that a second TUFTED TITMOUSE has appeared in the region, this one at a feeder in the Fitzroy Harbour area. Meanwhile, the other one continues in the Quyon area.

Weather was relatively dry and mild most of the week with a bit of melting, a pleasant break from the constant snow of past weeks. Conditions were relatively static, birdwise, which is no big surprise at this time of the year.

The uncommon overwintering DUCKS continued this week again-HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman (2 were present at one point), WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road. Joining them, a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, rare at this time year, has made occasional appearances at Hurdman.

There were still 4 species of GULL at the Trail Road landfill on the 13th, but in very small numbers.


Northern Goshawk photographed by Lise Leduc south of Sarsfield on 14 January 2017


Among the less common raptors, a NORTHERN GOSHAWK was south of Sarsfield on the 14th, and an AMERICAN KESTREL was in Antrim and in Masson-Angers. GOLDEN EAGLE is making irregular appearances in the Steele Line/ Eardley-Masham Road area.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are still reliable in Gatineau and Fallowfield.

4 GRAY PARTRIDGE were in the area around Cope Drive/ Robert Grant on the 17th, and 9 on the 18th, the first time seen in this area in some months.

A GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET was at Hurdman, and 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS are making regular appearances in the 5th Line/ 6th Line /Berry Sideroad area, but are moving around quite a bit. 2 of the same species are also making regular appearances in the Luskville area. A WINTER WREN was in the Dunrobin area on the 15th, and the CAROLINA WREN is singing regularly but briefly in the Carlington area.

A WHITE-CROWNED SPARRROW was in the Luskville area as late as the 17th, while a CHIPPING SPARROW has reappeared at a feeder in Carleton Place. A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was in a flock of 100 SNOW BUNTINGS on Giroux Road on the 17th.

Winter FINCHES remain few and far between. Small numbers of PINE GROSBEAK are being seen in the Steele Line/ Eardley-Masham Road area, and an EVENING GROSBEAK was seen there on the 14th. COMMON REDPOLL was at the Conroy Pit on the 17th, and PURPLE FINCH was at Richmond on the 18th, but generally sightings of winter FINCHES remain quite limited.



Male Northern Pintail among a flock of Mallards photographed by Sami Zeitouni at a pond on Iber Road near Abbott.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 12 January 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


Carolina Wren photographed by Anne Marie Todkill in her backyard in Alta Vista


There were no real highlights this week, but there was a late report of 4 BOREAL CHICKADEE on the 2nd on Trail 3 off Camp Fortune Road.

Birding conditions were relatively static, and so was the bird population. The resident birds resided, and the lingering birds lingered. As is normal in January, great swathes of field and forest were bereft of birds, with pockets of activity at feeders and in the open water. The weather was a mix of freezes, thaws, snow, rain, freezing rain and sun, every type of winter weather all in the same week.


One of four Eastern Bluebirds photographed by Tony Beck at Berry Side Road on 7 January


The uncommon overwintering DUCKS continued this week-HARLEQUIN DUCK at Hurdman (another was at the Champlain Bridge on the 7th), WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON at Billings Bridge, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road. GULLS have diminished considerably, but there was still a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Trail Road Landfill on the 7th. The other lingering flowing-water-dependent bird, BELTED KINGFISHER, was on the Jock River at Greenbank on the 8th and on the 6th in Gatineau Park.

GRAY PARTRIDGE were their elusive selves, mostly buried in snow and cornstalks, and were last seen in the Eagleson-Rushmore area on the 6th, but were near Carp on the 8th and in the Russell area on the 7th.


Common Mergansers (female at left, male at right) photographed near Hurdman by Keith Wickens


There have been a number of spots for fairly reliable RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER-Gatineau, Fallowfield, and March Valley Road. GOLDEN EAGLES were seen from time to time on Steele Line Road and the vicinity. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was seen near Magladry/ Canaan north of Larose Forest.

4 EASTERN BLUEBIRD were on Berry Side Road on the 7th, and 3 near Luskville on the 12th. CAROLINA WREN is fairly regular in Carlington and Carleton Place, and a TUFTED TITMOUSE continues near Quyon as late as the 12th.


Bald Eagle photographed by Eric Leger at Strathcona Park


A FOX SPARROW is still regular in the Meadowlands area as late as the 8th, and finally, 5 PINE GROSBEAK were near Lac Philippe on the 10th, and 2 were in the Steele Line area on the 8th.

NOTE: There have been a number of recent sightings of AMERICAN ROBIN, which has surprised some people. AMERICAN ROBIN is now a regular winter resident in modest numbers, and is not a sign of spring. The numbers of over-wintering AMERICAN ROBINS has been rising steadily for several decades, with this year being the most ever. While the reasons are undoubtedly complex, the increasing number of bushes and trees with over-wintering fruit is undoubtedly a factor. This is a fairly hardy bird and can handle our winters provided there is sufficient fruit available.



Ottawa and area bird sightings to 5 January 2017

by Gregory Zbitnew


Carolina Wren photographed in Carleton Place by Tony Beck


There was a GRAY JAY, an increasingly scarce bird in the region, on the Forêt Larose Christmas Bird count on the 2nd but the bird has not been relocated. Otherwise the highlight of the week was 2 different THAYER’S GULL, seen briefly a few times at the Trail Road Landfill on the 31st-5th. There was a late sighting from the Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on the 27th, a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, quite rare in the winter, coming to a feeder.

Temperatures were again above seasonal most of the week, but like last week birders were hampered on 31st by heavy snow and on the 3rd-4th by more freezing rain and snow. However, there was a lot of birder activity especially on the 1st as everyone started their year list afresh. As of press time, about 75 species have been seen in the region so far this year, and there are probably about another 10 that are here and have not yet been seen.


Common Goldeneye eating a mollusk, photographed by Keith Wickens at Hurdman Bridge.


The Dunrobin-Breckenridge CBC on the 3rd, produced a few interesting sightings, most notable of which was a TURKEY VULTURE on Baird’s Sideroad in Fitzroy Township, and 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS on 5th Line Road.

The HARLEQUIN DUCK continues in the fast water under and near the Hurdman Bridge. The BARROW’S GOLDENEYE is usually present there but sometimes it appears to move temporarily to near Bate Island where it joins a second one. Up to 10 BUFFLEHEAD are there too. Other lingering waterfowl are as follows:

  • An AMERICAN WIGEON and up to 2 WOOD DUCKS at Billings Bridge.
  • A NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road and 2 at Breckenridge on the 3rd.
  • A RED-BREASTED MERGANSER at Bate Island as late as the 2nd.


Belted Kingfisher photographed near Greenbank and Cambrian Roads by Tony Beck


GRAY PARTRIDGE remain irregular in the Eagleson-Rushmore area as recently as the 5th. A BELTED KINGFISHER was at a stormwater pond near Greenbank and Cambrian on the 5th.

Trail Road Landfill and area have had up to 6 species of GULLS. A single LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL is with small numbers of both ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULL. GULLS may be on the frozen Moodie Drive Pond and hard to identify, or they may be flying over the landfill site and glimpses are close but fleeting.

GOLDEN EAGLE in the Steele Line area on the 1st and 2 on the 5th, NORTHERN GOSHAWK in Larose forest on the 2nd and Steele Line on the 5th, and somewhat late NORTHERN HARRIERS near Shirley’s Bay and Richmond were notable among the RAPTORS. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have been regular in Fallowfield village and Gatineau.

A TUFTED TITMOUSE is still regular near QUYON, as is the CAROLINA WREN in Carlington. A HERMIT THRUSH was in Merivale Gardens on the 1st.

Last, a COMMON GRACKLE was at Baie Noire on the 2nd and a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was on Rushmore Road on the 2nd, and 7 PINE GROSBEAK were on Iber Road on the 4th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 29 December 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Common Goldeneye photographed at Bate Island by Keith Wickens


There were no real highlights this week. Temperatures were well above seasonal almost all week, so it was generally favourable for birding except for freezing rain on the 26th and more snow on the 29th. So two rotten days in seven is not bad for Ottawa. Generally the regular bird crew was here, as well as most of the same group of lingering birds as last week.

The best of the lingering WATERBIRDS was the HARLEQUIN DUCK, still at Hurdman as of the 25th. The NORTHERN PINTAIL continues at the pond on Iber Road as of the 27th. WOOD DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON were at Billings Bridge on the 28th.


First winter Glaucous Gull with first winter Iceland Gull (Kumlien's) photographed at the Trail Road Dump by Tony Beck


There are still 5 species of GULL in the region, but really not very many. At the Trail Road landfill on the 27th, there were 2 ICELAND and 1 GLAUCOUS GULL. The mild weather has kept a few storm ponds open- there was a BELTED KINGFISHER at a stormwater pond on Eagleson on the 23-25th (but not on the 26th).

The most sought after bird of the week was GRAY PARTRIDGE. Up to 14 are still being seen in the corn stubble off Eagleson between Aikens and Brownlee, most recently on the 28th. These birds hide very well; some birders have made 4 trips before being successful.

The most unusual of the lingerers was not seen previously this winter. A GRAY CATBIRD was in Manotick on the 27th, and another was in Kanata South on the 28th. CAROLINA WRENS continue in Carlington on the 23rd, in New Edinburgh on the 25th and in Carleton Place on the 26th. 2 LAPLAND LONGSPUR were near Marvelville on the 25th.


Gray Partridge photographed on Eagleson Road by Peter Blancher

Other lingering birds are as follows:

  • The TUFTED TITMOUSE continues near Quyon as of the 27th.
  • The HERMIT THRUSH was at Marais Sabourin on the 27th.
  • NORTHERN FLICKERS continue north of Aylmer on the 29th, in Aylmer on the 27th and the Island Park area on the 25th.
  • A (male) RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD was on Kinburn Sideroad on the 26th and 2 in Masson on the same day.
  • The FOX SPARROW continues in the City View area as of the 25th.
  • Up to 4 EASTERN BLUEBIRD were on Greenland Road/ Fifth Line on the 23rd 24th respectively.

A PURPLE FINCH, scarce this winter, was in Richmond on the 28th. Finally, there were some FINCH reports from Arnprior-Pakenham Christmas Bird Count on the 26th:

  • 30 PINE SISKIN on Bellamy Road
  • 22 EVENING GROSBEAK on Concession 6.
  • 54 COMMON and 1 HOARY REDPOLL on Bellamy Road

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 22 December 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker photographed by Ian Nicholson in the Prince of Wales/Hogs Back area


The highlight of the birding week was the Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count, on the 18th. Unfortunately, weather just prior to the count severely hampered it, and the preliminary species tally of 67 was the lowest in a number of years. The -28 temperature on the 16th froze up the rivers, except for the fast flowing regions. There was 20 cm of snow starting the 17th which continued into early on the 18th. Adding to this there was a bit of wind and declining temperatures, so some birders were struggling through knee-deep snow and getting little to show for their efforts. Still, the combined efforts of so many people did produce some good birds.

There were no new birds, but a few record or tied totals were set:

  • 2 HARLEQUIN DUCKS (tied record), one near Hurdman (still present on the 22nd), and one in Aylmer.
  • 10 BUFFLEHEAD
  • 5 NORTHERN FLICKER (tied record).
  • Over 1000 AMERICAN ROBIN, over double the previous record.
  • 445 CEDAR WAXWING

Some other notable sightings were as follows:

  • WOOD DUCK and RING-NECKED DUCK at Billings Bridge
  • RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in the Aylmer Sector.
  • HERMIT THRUSH in the Hull Sector (and still there on the 22nd)
  • FOX SPARROW in the Britannia Sector

Finally among the count highlights, a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was seen in the Rideauview area in the count week (the 21st).


European Starling photographed in Orleans by Keith Wickens.


Outside of the count day and area, there were some other interesting sightings. Temperatures rose to well above seasonal by the end of the week, but the earlier cold weather reduced the WATERBIRD levels to regular early winter levels. Only a few lingering CANADA GEESE are about. Only 14 species of DUCKS were present in the severely reduced area of open water, the vast majority being MALLARD and COMMON GOLDENEYE. Aside from a handful of lingerers on the Ottawa River, a NORTHERN PINTAIL was at a pond on Iber Road on the 19th.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is a regular visitor to a feeder in the FALLOWFIELD area. A flock of about 14 GRAY PARTRIDGE have been seen irregularly on Eagleson between Rushmore and Richmond Road. A CAROLINA WREN is an irregular visitor to a feeder in Carleton Place, and a TUFTED TITMOUSE is coming to a feeder in Quyon.

On and near Rushmore Road, a mixed flock of up to 70 SNOW BUNTING, 11 HORNED LARK and 1 LAPLAND LONGSPUR were present on the 20th. A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD was in Gatineau on the 16th.

Finally, at least 1 HOARY REDPOLL is still present in a small flock of COMMON REDPOLL on the Eardley-Masham Road. This road is otherwise almost empty of birds.

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


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 15 December 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Harlequin Duck photographed at Britannia by Mike Tate


The bird of the week was a HARLEQUIN DUCK, seen at Britannia on the 9th to at least the 11th. What may be a second bird was seen on the Rideau River near Hurdman from the 11th to as late as the 14th. A most unusual lingerer, our first December record, a CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER was at Britannia feeding on snow fleas on the 10th, but the future is likely bleak for this bird with the subsequent heavy snow and severe cold. The PACIFIC LOON at Muskrat Lake near Cobden was still there on the 11th.

Heavy snow on the 12th, and the coldest temperatures of the season on the 15th were unfortunately just in time to hamper the upcoming CBC. However, there was still a surprising variety of lingering birds around, mostly but not all on the water. Rivers are still running fairly freely, but the ice is building up on the edges and more sheltered, slow moving areas. Still, this may have a bit of a concentrating effect making the lingerers more apparent until the ice gets too widespread.


Chestnut-sided Warbler photographed at Britannia by Bruce DiLabio



American Tree Sparrow photographed at Mer Bleue by Keith Wickens



Hoary Redpoll photographed along Eardley Masham Road in Gatineau Park by Tony Beck


9 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were still on Lake Madawaska on the 10th, and 800 SNOW GEESE were in the Russell area on the 13th. 19 species of DUCK were in the region this week, which is quite good for this time of the year. Among the highlights were:

  • BLACK and SURF SCOTER on the Ottawa River
  • 3 BARROW’S GOLDENEYE (2 male and 1 female) on the Rideau north of Hurdman.
  • At Billings Bridge, AMERICAN WIGEON on the 14th, 2 WOOD DUCKS on the 14th, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on the 13th.
  • A NORTHERN PINTAIL on Iber Road on the 15th.
  • At Britannia, NORTHERN SHOVELER and GREEN-WINGED TEAL to at least the 14th.

In other water news, a GREAT BLUE HERON was at Quyon on the 9th, a PIED-BILLED GREBE was near Hurdman on the 12th, and BELTED KINGFISHER was at Billings Bridge on the 14th, and at Richmond on the 11th.

A GOLDEN EAGLE was in Kinburn on the 8th, and a NORTHERN GOSHAWK was at the Pinegrove trail on the 11th; neither raptor has been seen recently.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues in Gatineau as of the 14th, and a NORTHERN FLICKER was in Richmond on the 11th.

CAROLINA WRENS have been in Carleton Place and New Edinburgh, while WINTER WREN was at the Deschênes Rapids on the 11-13th, and another was in Britannia on the 11-14th.

This seems to be the year for lingering EASTERN BLUEBIRD. 6 were still near Luskville on the 11th. More were on Century Road on the 10th, on Panmure on the 14th, and up to 4 were in the Dunrobin area on the 10-12th. It is also shaping up to be a banner winter for Robins. 100 were at Green’s Creek on the 10th, while over 200 were at Britannia recently. Britannia also hosted a HERMIT THRUSH on the 11th.

CHIPPING SPARROW was still in Carleton Place on the 12th, while there has been a FOX SPARROW in Nepean on the 11-13th. 3 species of ICTERID graced our frozen land: BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD in Kanata on the 10th; 8 COMMON GRACKLE in Richmond on the 10th and 2 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS in Gatineau on the 13th.

There was finally a bit of a bright spot, finch-wise. On the 14th, on the Eardley-Masham road on the 14th, a female PINE GROSBEAK was near Church Hill and farther up at Ramsay lake, 2 HOARY REDPOLLS with a few COMMON REDPOLLS. There was also a PINE SISKIN in Aylmer on the 12th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 8 December 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Brown Creeper photographed by Nina Stavlund at Jack Pine Trail on December 2.


The bird of the week was a GREAT CORMORANT, seen by a small group from Britannia Pier on the 3rd, but not relocated. The PACIFIC LOON at Muskrat Lake near Cobden was still there on the 6th.

With the arrival of December, many birders were out to start their “winter list” (December-February), and there was quite a bit of searching this week. Weather the first few 4 days of the month was particularly favourable due to the mild conditions, absence of snow cover and a lot of open water. Snow arrived again on the 5th, but temperatures were mostly above seasonal for the remainder of the week. Quite a few lingering birds were present, and so far this month, 95 species have been seen in the region.

WATERBIRDS were in good supply this week. A few GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were present still at Lake Madawaska, as well as at the Moodie Drive ponds. A few CACKLING and SNOW GEESE are also around with still 1000s of CANADA GEESE taking advantage of the largely bare fields.

20 species of DUCKS were present, the Ottawa River being the best spot. Among the scarcer were BLACK and SURF SCOTER (Ottawa River), numbers of NORTHERN PINTAIL and GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Giroux Road), NORTHERN SHOVELER (Dow’s Lake and Britannia), AMERICAN WIGEON (Britannia), WOOD DUCK (Rideau River), and GADWALL (Plaisance). 2 BARROW’S GOLDENEYE (male and female) have been present on the Rideau River north of Hurdman. Numbers of both RED-THROATED and COMMON LOON were seen along the Ottawa River as late as the 5th. Both HORNED and /RED-NECKED GREBE were also around.

Also taking advantage of the open water were a few DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT and BELTED KINGFISHER, again along the Ottawa River. An AMERICAN COOT at Plaisance on the 4th completes the list of lingering birds reliant on open water.

GULLS are back in the news. A THAYER’S GULL was at Beltown Park on the 7th with 100s of others, mostly HERRING GULLS, including a few of the coveted WHITE-WINGED GULLS (GLAUCOUS and ICELAND).

A NORTHERN FLICKER was at Bruce Pit on the 2nd, while a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER remains in Gatineau. 4 EASTERN BLUEBIRD were in the Luskville area on the 4th, and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were near Dow’s Lake and at a feeder in Gatineau.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was near the Trail Road Landfill and on Shaw Road this week. Among the lingering SPARROWS, FOX SPARROWS in Nepean and Richmond were notable, but the most unusual was a CHIPPING SPARROW, seen daily at a feeder in Carleton Place.

Lingering BLACKBIRDS were RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Petrie Island), BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD (Trail Road) and COMMON GRACKLE (at a feeder in Kanata).

Finally, the FINCH supply is quite poor this winter. PINE SISKIN was in Gatineau, as was COMMON REDPOLL. Up to 40 EVENING GROSBEAKS (fairly reliable) are frequenting a few spots near the western edge of Larose Forest, with a few COMMON REDPOLLS (not reliable) as well.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 1 December 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Bohemian Waxwings photographed by Tony Beck at Eardley Masham Road in Gatineau Park.


Although well outside the region, a THICK-BILLED MURRE was found on Muskrat Lake near Cobden on the 25-28th. This ALCID is provincially rare and sent many Ottawa and even Southern Ontario birders winging their way north to chase it. Rather astoundingly (or not) another rare bird, a PACIFIC LOON, was found on the same lake on the 27th and was still present on the 30th.

Weather improved this week, with good birding conditions on the weekend and temperatures mild enough to melt all of last week’s snow. Rivers remain open, but there is some icing on the edges and most small ponds are frozen.

Given the excitement west of Ottawa, it is worth mentioning that Muskrat Lake had some other interesting birds like RED-THROATED LOON, and that Lac Doré, near Renfrew, is often excellent in the fall and hosted an EARED GREBE on the 26th to at least the 30th. Other than the excitement west of Ottawa, the bird population this week was quite similar to last week. That is, there was a reasonable number and variety of WATERBIRDS, but PASSERINES were mostly at their winter populations with a small number of the hardier SPARROWS and fruit-eating birds.


Tufted Titmouse photographed by Joanne Ewart at her feeder in Perth.


19 species and reasonable numbers of DUCKS were in the region this week as rivers and larger ponds were open. There were also plenty of the usual GEESE with 10 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE still on Lake Madawaska near Arnprior as late as the 27th. The most interesting sighting on the water was on the 25th where there was a fallout of RED-THROATED LOONS on the Ottawa River. One observer counted 226. 1 or 2 lingered in the area for a few days afterwards.

A GOLDEN EAGLE was on Smith Road on the 26th along with 71 SANDHILL CRANES. 30 were there on the 1st. A somewhat late BELTED KINGFISHER was near Lincoln Fields on the 27th. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER has been coming to a feeder in Gatineau since the 26th.

There have been a number of sightings of both BOHEMIAN and CEDAR WAXWING. A CAROLINA WREN was in Gatineau on the 29th. 4 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS at Eardley on the 27th were late, as was a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER at Shirley’s bay on the 26th //and another at Dow’s Lake on the 1st.

A rather large number of ICTERID species were reported this week, considering the late date. A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD at La Pêche on the 29th was only a bit late, but EASTERN MEADOWLARK in Luskville on the 27th, RUSTY BLACKBIRD near Almonte on the 28th, COMMON GRACKLE in Gatineau on the 29th and BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD at Trail Road on the 1st were definitely late.

7 LAPLAND LONGSPUR were on Steele Line on the 27thand 1 was at Trail Road as late as the 1st. A FOX SPARROW is still coming to a feeder in Richmond as of the 30th and Nepean as of the 1st.

A PINE GROSBEAK in Constance Bay on the 24th was the only notable FINCH sighting.



Snow Buntings and a single Brown-headed Cowbird (female) photographed by Tony Beck at Trail Road.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 24 November 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

The (female) SUMMER TANAGER was re-found at the Bruce Pit on the 18th and was last seen on the 19th. There was a report of an unidentified JAEGER flying west, just east of the Deschênes rapids on the 22nd but it was not relocated.

Weather was above seasonal until the 19th, but winter arrived quite suddenly on the 20th with heavy snow and temperatures below freezing for the rest of the week, with even more snow on the 24th. While it was not cold enough to freeze the rivers, ponds are freezing up and most lingering passerines have likely perished or have been driven to feeders or more sheltered areas. The poor weather conditions also reduced birding activity this week.

There are still a reasonable variety of WATERBIRDS around, with the best variety and numbers along the Ottawa River. 20 species of DUCKS were seen in the region as a whole this week. On the 19th there were over 300 birds of 10 species of DUCKS at Shirley’s Bay, mostly LESSER SCAUP. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was in a pond on Cope Drive on the 22nd. A ROSS’S GOOSE was in the Woodlawn area on the 19th.

The same pond on Cope Drive also had a very late BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON on the 23rd, and there are still a few GREAT BLUE HERONS around.

A few late/ uncommon WOODPECKERS were around: a NORTHERN FLICKER at Pine Grove on the 19th and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER coming to a feeder in the Fallowfield area.

73 SANDHILL CRANES were near Smith and Milton in Navan on the 22nd. The CAROLINA WREN is still in the Carlington area as of the 18th and there was another in Gatineau on the 22nd. 2 lingerers seen on the 18th will have a tough time in this weather: a BROWN THRASHER in Kanata, and a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET in Britannia.

On the 19th a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was at Shirley’s bay and also on Kerwin Road.

This is time when SPARROWS start showing up at feeders or milder microclimates near the rivers. Of the less common ones, FOX SPARROW has been seen regularly at feeders in Richmond, Nepean, and Gatineau as late as the 24th. A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was along the Ottawa River near Parkdale on the 23rd, and a SAVANNAH SPARROW was at Andrew Haydon Park on the 23rd. Single LAPLAND LONGSPURS were near Pakenham on the 22nd and on Brownlee Road on the 22nd as well.

Finally, even the hardier BLACKBIRDS are becoming scarce. There were 3 COMMON GRACKLES at a feeder in Gatineau on the 22nd. Modest numbers of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS are still around but they will become scarce very soon.



Cooper's Hawk photographed by Janice Stewart in Orleans.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 17 November 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Northern Shoveler photographed by Louis Brodeur at Britannia.


The bird of the week was a SUMMER TANAGER seen at the Bruce Pit on the 14th, but unfortunately not relocated. There were a number of interesting lingering and rarer birds but none of this caliber.

Generally above seasonal temperatures prevailed and with little precipitation the birds lingered and were easier to find. Water was still wide open and there was still a reasonable variety, around similar to last week.

WATERBIRDS were, as last week, in good supply and variety. Over 300 birds of 9 species of DUCKS were at Plaisance on the 13th, AMERICAN WIGEON being the most plentiful. AMERICAN COOT was there as well. About 300 birds of 19 species were at Shirley’s Bay on the 15th, COMMON GOLDENEYE being the most common. GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were in a number of spots, most recently at Constance Bay on the 16th. There were still 4 near Arnprior as late as the 13th, and 1 near Embrun on the 12th. 2 ROSS’S GEESE were in Winchester on the 16th. Slightly farther afield, at the Laflèche Landfill, there are regular sightings of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, AND there were 3 ROSS’S GEESE on the 13th, with a rare Dark Morph of this species on the 12th.

A RED-THROATED LOON was at Dick Bell on the 13th, and a continuing late BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was at Andrew Haydon and Britannia on the 11th.

While there are not huge numbers of GULLS, a THAYER’S GULL at Dick Bell Park on the 13th and BONAPARTE’S GULL at Britannia on the 15th were of interest.

Some SHOREBIRDS are still around. There was a PURPLE SANDPIPER at Britannia Pier on the 15th, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Constance Bay on the 14th, and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Chrysler on the 14th.


Sandhill Cranes photographed by Paul Page on Milton Road.


A GOLDEN EAGLE was at Lac McGregor on the 13th, and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was in Chelsea on the 15th. Numbers of SANDHILL CRANES are regular on Milton Road and the area.

A CAROLINA WREN is continuing in Carlington as of the 15th. 6 EASTERN BLUEBIRD in Richmond on the 13th were late.

There were a surprising 3 species of WARBLER seen this week. They were a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER at la ferme Moore in Gatineau on the 16th, the continuing COMMON YELLOWTHROAT at Britannia Pier on the 15th, and a very late NORTHERN PARULA at Plaisance on the 13th.

Of the SPARROWS, only notable were a number of sightings of FOX SPARROW: Carleton Place, Lac Leamy and Richmond.

Finally, of the FINCHES, 30+ EVENING GROSBREAKS were seen at their usual spot on the western edge of Larose Forest.



Sandhill Cranes photographed by Tony Beck on the Milton Road in east Ottawa.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 10 November 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Purple Sandpiper photographed by Bruce DiLabio at Britannia Pier.


There have been a few more sightings of the PINK-FOOTED GOOSE among the 1000s of SNOW GEESE near the Laflèche landfill east of Casselman, most recently on the 7th. A most unusual lingerer was a likely YELLOW WARBLER at Breckenridge on the 4th.

Generally there was little change to the bird population this week. There was minimal precipitation and temperatures generally above seasonal. The regular winter birds were fairly widespread, water was open, and a few interesting lingerers were about.

There are still lots of WATERBIRDS around, mostly on the Ottawa River as usual, with LESSER SCAUP and COMMON GOLDENEYE being the most abundant. On the 5th at Shirley’s Bay there were over 1000 DIVING DUCKS of 10 species and 200 PUDDLE DUCKS of 8 species. All three SCOTERS and LONG-TAILED DUCK were included in the mix from time to time.

Just at the edge of the 50K circle, on the Madawaska Head Pond near Arnprior, an unusually large number (up to 12) of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were present on the 8-10th. A singleton of this species was at Andrew Haydon Park on the 9th.

A sign of winter is the arrival this week of BARROW’S GOLDENEYE along the Ottawa River. There were 5 around, an unusually high number for the season. One was in Russell on the 6th. A somewhat late PIED-BILLED GREBE was at Shirley’s Bay on the 5th, as was a RED-THROATED LOON on the 8th.


Red-breasted Nuthatch photographed by Sami Zeitouni.


A late BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON continued at Andrew Haydon park until the 4th.

SHOREBIRDS are disappearing quickly; only about 5 species were seen this week. A PURPLE SANDPIPER was at Britannia Pier on the 4th. Some late ones were a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at the Moodie Drive Quarry as late as the 8th, a LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Constance Bay on the 9th, and a SPOTTED SANDPIPER at Britannia on the 5th.

Among the raptors, there was a GOLDEN EAGLE on Kerwin road on the 4th and one at Shirley’s bay on the 7th. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was in Russell on the 6th.

Among the SONGBIRDS, mostly it was the lingering birds that were of interest:

  • A COMMON YELLOWTHROAT continued at Britannia Pier as late until the 7th., and one was also at Breckenridge on the 4th.
  • A ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK continued in Gatineau at least until the 7th.
  • 2 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were at Shirleys Bay on the 5th.
  • A CAROLINA WREN was in Gatineau on the 8th.
  • SWAMP SPARROW was on Kerwin Road on the 5th.
  • There were at least 4 sightings of FOX SPARROW at various places, all at feeders.
  • WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and RUSTY BLACKBIRD were at the Hilda Road feeders on the 8th.
  • A CHIPPING SPARROW was at Parc Brébeuf on the 6th.

Finally, there were a few scattered sightings of EVENING GROSBEAK and a single sighting of RED CROSSBILL on Kerwin Road on the 4th.



Black Scoter photographed by Connie Denyes at Andrew Haydon Park.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 3 November 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

The best bird of the week was seen just outside the region, a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE at the Laflèche landfill east of Casselman on the 31st in a flock of about 60,000 SNOW GEESE. GREATER WHITE-FRONTED and ROSS’S GOOSE was also seen in the flock. Last week’s HUMMINGBIRD in Constance Bay appears to be a lingering RUBY-THROATED, and was unfortunately last seen on the 29th. The first PURPLE SANDPIPER of the year was seen at Britannia Pier (and across the Ottawa River) on the 30th. A TUFTED TITMOUSE in Winchester on the 1st was notable among the SONGBIRDS.

It was quite a cool week early but near to above normal temperatures later, with some precipitation but no weather that was extreme enough to have much effect on bird movement. Generally the variety of birds was as expected: plenty of WATERBIRDS, few SONGBIRDS, but as there was no major freezing and no sustained snow cover, most lingering birds were able to survive.

WATERBIRDS were in reasonable supply mostly along the Ottawa River, with Shirley’as Bay and Plaisance again being the best spots, but there were no massive concentrations anywhere. All three SCOTERS, LONG-TAILED DUCK and RED-THROATED LOON were among the less common seen.

Up to 3 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS (late) were at Andrew Haydon Park as late as the 2nd.

SHOREBIRDS, as expected, were limited to small numbers of a few species. 18 DUNLIN were at Embrun on the 31st . Late WILSON’S SNIPE and LESSER YELLOWLEGS on the 1st at Shirley’s Bay and LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Constance Bay were notable but not exceptional.

A GOLDEN EAGLE was near Luskville on the 30th and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at Beryl Gaffney park on the 2nd.

Late EASTERN BLUEBIRD were at multiple locations: Chemin River west of Quyon on the 31st, the Gatineau Airport on the 29th and on Berry Side Road on the 1st. There is a continuing CAROLINA WREN in Carlington as late as the 1st.

WARBLERS have nearly disappeared. There have been scattered sightings of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER as recently as the 3rd. A COMMON YELLOWTHROAT at Britannia Pier as late as the 2nd is late, as is one on the 3rd in Stoney Swamp.

Very small numbers of SONG and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS remain here and there. Somewhat late were SWAMP SPARROW at Andrew Haydon on the 30th, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW AT Shirley’s Bay on the 2nd, and FOX SPARROW at Deschênes on the 1st and Richmond on the 2nd. A late ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was near Munster on the 29th.

Finally, there have been a few interesting FINCH SIGHTINGS. Up to 8 EVENING GROSBEAKS were in Larose Forest (west) on the 31st - 3rd, Constance Bay on the 1st and Wakefield on the 3rd. RED CROSSBILL was on Greenland Road on the 30th and 5 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL were at Andrew Haydon on the 30th.





Snow Geese photographed at Lafleche by Tony Beck.


Earlier sightings available on request ofnc@ofnc.ca

Top of Page

© Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club
This page was revised on 23 February 2017
Contact the OFNC