Tagged: birding

Early fall birding along the Ottawa River

Northern Flicker, photographed by Sarma Vishnubhatla.

Northern Flicker, photographed by Sarma Vishnubhatla.

On Sunday, 11 September, Jeff Skevington led an outing to Britannia and points west along the Ottawa River. At least 28 participants spent the day visiting the best birding spots along the river, looking for migrants and, especially, shorebirds.

As Jeff reports, “We had many groups of warblers and ended up with 20 species of warblers for the day. My personal highlight was a group of warblers at Shirleys Bay that were coming to a puddle to drink. We had 6 Northern Parulas, 1 Tennessee Warbler, 1 Magnolia Warbler and 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler all attending the puddle at one time.

“We also saw 11 species of shorebirds, with the highlights being Sanderling and Short-billed Dowitcher. The species total for the day was 85.”

Sarma Vishnubhatla was kind enough to share her photos with us, and Jeff uploaded the list of species seen to eBird – if you have an eBird account, click here for the day’s checklist

Some of the participants in Sunday's birding excursion, led by Jeff Skevington (at right with scope).

Some of the participants in Sunday’s birding excursion, led by Jeff Skevington (at right with scope).


Ducks and gulls along the river

by Roy John

Report of an Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club excursion on Sunday, 22 May 2016.

A dozen people went to Mud Lake to take advantage of the recent change from cold windy weather to lovely warm sunshine. This had brought in numerous, much delayed, migrants over the last few days.

Wood Duck photographed by Roy John

Wood Duck photographed by Roy John

As soon as we arrived at Mud Lake we were told that a rare Yellow-throated Vireo had been found in the woods. We plunged in and soon could hear it singing. It took a bit more effort to actually see it jumping around the tree tops, but we all eventually did. A little further in, the resident Screech Owl sat rigidly still for all to see. Dave Moore did his turkey call and pulled a Wild Turkey out of the woods.

We continued around Mud Lake, finding many new species. At the east fence we saw a Raccoon’s nose poking out the hole of a garbage skip, obviously trapped (the city were informed). So we had a beautiful morning with many good birds.

A number of species were strangely missing. Although we heard a Great Crested Flycatcher many times, we never could see it. We saw only a few Tree Swallows (a pair at a nest), but no others – very odd for Mud Lake. There were no Green Herons and only one Great Blue – yet Great Egrets were easy to find.

All in all, a warm, sunny day with 43 bird species seen (plus 4 heard).

Canada Goose
Wood Duck (photo above)

Wild Turkey

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Egret
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron

Ring-billed Gull

Eastern Screech Owl photographed by Roy John

Eastern Screech Owl photographed by Roy John

Eastern Screech-Owl (photo at right)

Belted Kingfisher

Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker

Eastern Phoebe (heard only)
Great Crested Flycatcher (heard only)

Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven

Tree Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

American Robin

Gray Catbird photographed by Roy John

Gray Catbird photographed by Roy John

Gray Catbird (photo at right)

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing (photo below right)

NEW WORLD WARBLERS (11 species + 2 not seen or confirmed)
Tennessee Warbler
Common Yellowthroat (heard only)
American Redstart
Northern Parula
(Magnolia Warbler – not confirmed)
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Cedar Waxwing photographed by Roy John

Cedar Waxwing photographed by Roy John

Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

Pine Siskin (very late)
American Goldfinch

Non-bird species
Midland Painted Turtle
Water Snake
Spiny Baskettail (photo below)

Spiny Baskettail dragonfly photographed by Gillian Mastromatteo

Spiny Baskettail dragonfly photographed by Gillian Mastromatteo

The Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Birds Committee

By Claire Elliott


The 2014-2015 OFNC Birds Committee.

Every month a dedicated group of OFNC bird enthusiasts meet at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden to discuss bird-related news in the Ottawa region and to plan bird-related events and conservation initiatives. If you have participated in a bird-related OFNC event, visited a bird feeder located in an Ottawa greenspace, or requested help with an ID from identifications@ofnc.ca, there is a good chance you have come in contact with the work of the OFNC Birds Committee.

Weekly Bird Report for Ottawa/Gatineau Region

Every week, notable sightings data is packaged into a report and disseminated on the Ontario Field Ornithologist’s OntBirds email list, the OFNC website, and the OFNC Facebook page. If you are thinking about going birding in the Ottawa region, these reports are a great resource for finding local birding hotspots at any time of year. Due to increasing and widespread concerns regarding disturbance of wildlife and property, the OFNC Birds Committee no longer reports owl sightings on the internet, though reporting of all bird occurrences to the committee is encouraged for the maintenance of local records.  Please direct your sightings to sightings@ofnc.ca.

Christmas Bird Count

Since the inaugural Ottawa event in 1920, the OFNC has participated in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Each December, the Birds Committee in partnership with Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais organizes the Ottawa/Gatineau chapter of the count.  New and seasoned volunteers are encouraged to participate each year.  The 2014 report will be available shortly on the OFNC website.  As well, a write-up on the 2014 event appeared on this blog in late December.


Clementine, one of three chicks from the 2014 Data Centre brood, tests the wind, June 29, 2014.

Peregrine FalconWatch

The Ottawa Peregrine FalconWatch began in 1997 as an initiative to protect local nesting falcons and promote the recovery of the species. Each summer, volunteers monitor Peregrine chicks and wait for the young to make their first attempt at flight.  Once the young birds gain their wings, volunteers ensure the safety of chicks, rescuing them after any crashes, returning the chicks to the nest, or if necessary seeking medical attention for the chicks.  A detailed account of the last FalconWatch season can be found on the FalconWatch website.

Bird Study Group

The Birds Committee occasionally offers workshops and talks on bird-related subjects, including bird identification and biology.  The most recent Bird Study Group meeting took place in early December covering winter bird field identification skills in preparation for the 2014 Christmas Bird Count.  If you would like to be put on the email list for future Bird Study Group meetings, send an email to birdstudy@ofnc.ca.

These 13 migrating birds flew into a glass building in Kanata this morning. No one likes looking at dead birds. Let's support F.L.A.P. and see if we can prevent this.

These thirteen migrating birds flew into a glass building in Kanata. Let’s support F.L.A.P. and see if we can prevent bird-building collisions.


The Ottawa chapter of the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) was founded in 2014 by Anouk Hoedeman of the OFNC Birds Committee.  This group aims to document bird-building collisions in Ottawa during spring and fall migration, while concurrently raising awareness of collision prevention and bird-friendly building design. For her work, Anouk was awarded the 2014 OFNC Conservation Award. New volunteers to FLAP are always needed.  Please contact FLAP at Ottawa@flap.org if you are interested in getting involved this spring.

The Ontario Field Ornithologists’ Convention 2014

In October 2014, the Ontario Field Ornithologists held their annual convention in Ottawa.  Many Birds Committee members actively participated in this event, leading field excursions and helping to contribute to the 152 species observed over the weekend.  Recently, Birds Committee member Bob Cermak was awarded the OFNC President’s Prize for his contribution to the convention for organizing the OFNC-led field trips.


The backyard feeder with a Black-capped Chickadee visitor at Fletcher Wildlife Garden.

Bird Feeders

There are six winter bird feeders in the Ottawa/ Gatineau region that are maintained by the Birds Committee.   Maps of the feeder locations can be found on the OFNC website.  Stop by to enjoy some winter birds!

If you would like to learn more about the OFNC Birds Committee and their past and present activities, you are encouraged to visit OFNC birding and bird sightings webpages. Membership information on the committee can be found in the April-June issue of Trail and Landscape. Lastly, if you bump into any birds committee members at a meeting or on an outing, feel free to ask about the committee and its activities!

Turkey vulture vomit and memories of Lac Deschênes

By Natalie Sopinka

At the November monthly meeting members were treated to an overview of the Ontario Nature Youth Summit by OFNC ambassador Sarah Wray, and amazed by Bruce Di Labio’s ability to recall memories of birding at Lac Deschênes.

Sarah Wray attends youth summit
When she’s not playing soccer and basketball, you can find Sarah Wray, a grade 10 student at Nepean High School, volunteering in the FWG’s Butterfly Meadow. This year Sarah was sponsored by the OFNC to attend the 4th annual Ontario Nature Youth Summit held at the YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia. Sarah enthusiastically shared her stories and photos from the summit with OFNC members at the meeting.

During the summit Sarah learned how to identify edible mushrooms and medicinal plants and take photographs of wildlife from unique and unusual perspectives. She also found out which birds of prey vomit. Sarah’s new favourite bird, the turkey vulture, will vomit when under the threat of predation in hopes their regurgitated stomach contents will distract the predator.

The summit’s keynote speaker was Canadian filmmaker and conservationist Rob Stewart, whose words inspired and motivated Sarah. Sarah told OFNC members that it’s “not just polar bears” that need our attention; we must also consider the many small-scale and local conservation issues that need to be addressed too. Find out more about the summit here!

Youth Summit attendees. Photo: Brendan Toews

Youth Summit attendees. Photo: Brendan Toews

Bruce Di Labio’s work at Lac Deschênes
Bruce Di Labio is tackling local conservation issues through his work on the Lac Deschênes IBA (important bird area). The large lake, comprising various habitats (e.g., grasslands, deep waters, mud flats, rapids), is a valuable feeding and resting stop for birds that travel between James and Hudson Bays and the Atlantic shores. Over 350 species have been recorded in the Lac Deschenes IBA, with several new species spotted since 2011 (e.g., razorbill, violet-green and cave swallow).

Merganser family at Lac Deschênes. Photo: Don Hackett

Merganser family at Lac Deschênes. Photo: Don Hackett

Bruce started birding at Lac Deschênes when a bicycle was his only mode of transport and a pay phone call to alert fellow birders cost 10¢. At the meeting, he took OFNC members on a journey through his meticulously kept records. He first observed Arctic terns in Lac Deschênes on June 11, 1972, their distinctive short legs perched on log booms. Armed with 10-pound Tasco binoculars, Bruce observed over 2000 red throated loons circle frantically through the air on a foggy day in November 1984. An army of 2500 black scoters flew in on October 21, 1987 and an epic 11 000 brant on May 26, 2011. Be sure to check out Bruce’s Lac Deschênes birding spots: Britannia Point, Britannia Pier, Dick Bell Park and Shirleys Bay. More on Lac Deschênes here!

Continuing bird records will ensure Lac Deschenes remains an IBA. Although the Bird Status Line is no longer in service due to operating costs, members can still submit counts to the OFNC (ofnc@ofnc.ca) and Bob Cermak (sightings@ofnc.ca).

The meeting ended with Bruce receiving one of the OFNC’s new lens wipes. The lens wipe attaches to your camera, binoculars, hand lens and glasses. Lens wipes are on sale now for $8 each or 2 for $15. Also available are handcrafted maple hiking sticks donated by Gillian Marsden ($20 each).

Compact and expanded form of the new lens wipe. Makes a great stocking stuffer!

Compact and expanded form of the new lens wipe. Makes a great stocking stuffer!