Guide to Fall Arrivals in Eastern Ontario

Hi there,

Using eBird’s Explore Data — Bar Charts function, I created a variety of graphs, some highlighting frequency of observations, derived from the percentage of observations of a particular species / all checklists during a specific time frame, and others highlight the total number of individuals tallied during a specific time frame. The parameters I chose, are: Eastern Ontario counties (all), with a time frame of 1990 – 2016. My hope is that birders of all skill sets get either a refresher or an outright lesson in the migration timing of specific species, especially their most sought-after species! I cut right to the chase below. Good birding 🙂

Common Nighthawk

Figure 1: Common Nighthawk, fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Figure 2: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Flycatchers

Figure 3: Olive-sided and Empidonax flycatchers: OSFL, YBFL, TRFL (Traill’s Fly), and LEFL. This is the peak passage of immatures. Immatures adorn perfect finery, with the warmth and intensity of their plumage detail expressed in full. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 4: Eastern Wood-Pewee & Great Crested Flycatcher. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 5: Eastern Phoebe. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 6: Eastern Kingbird. EAKI’s are characteristically early-season migrants, with peak numbers, including large concentrations of birds in suitable habitat such as fallow fields occurring in early August. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

 

Shrikes

Figure 6: Northern Shrike. The first NSHR appear in eastern Ontario as early as Thanksgiving weekend. The following few weeks, a pulse of migrants (first year’s and immatures) generally occurs. If food sources are sufficient, shrikes will begin to set up winter territories. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Vireos

Figure 7: Yellow-throated Vireo. This species is most often found in mixed-species flocks from the third week of August through to the end of the first week of September. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

 

Figure 8: Red-eyed Vireo. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 9: Warbling & Philadelphia Vireo. Note: these two can present ID challenges in fall, when Warbling tend to be at their brightest, while some Philadelphia’s may be quite drab. Please see the following web article for tips on how to separate the two: http://eontbird.ca/?p=652. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 10: Blue-headed Vireo. Fall passage in numbers, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Swallows

Figure 11: Swallow species (NRWS, TRES, BANS, BARS, and CLSW). Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Wrens

Figure 12: House & Winter wrens. Winter Wrens are characteristically late fall migrants. They peak in numbers around Thanksgiving weekend. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Kinglets

Figure 13: Golden-crowned & Ruby-crowned kinglets. Both species are characteristically late fall migrants. They show a broad peak in numbers, from early October through to the latter part of the second week of October. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Thrushes

Figure 14: “Spotted” thrushes (VEER, GCTH, SWTH, HETH, and WOTH). A good graph to magnify and study, as each species’ has a different peak in frequency. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 15: Eastern Bluebird. These hardy birds peak in numbers throughout October, into early November. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Mimids

Figure 16:  Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, and Northern Mockingbird. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

“Tundra” landbirds

Figure 17: Tundra birds, Horned Lark, American Pipit, Lapland Longspur, and Snow Bunting. Note that the HOLA records in September are that of the southern and eastern ON breeder, “Prairie” Horned Lark, subspecies praticola. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Warblers

The following warblers are arranged from early season to late season. Note that many species share the same peak dates (mid to late August).

Figure 18: Our earliest season warbler, the Yellow Warbler, paired with other abundant, early August species. YEWA, BAWW, AMRE, and CSWA. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 19: Common Yellowthroat and American Redstart are very similar in frequency (shown), totals, and migration timing. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 20: Cape May and Blackburnian are very similar in frequency, totals (shown), and migration timing. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 21: Golden-winged, Blue-winged, and Brewster’s (hybrid). Not at all common finds during fall migration! Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 22: Mourning Warbler & Canada Warbler. Both are highly sought-after species, and, rightly so! Mourning, in particular, are a prize find. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario, 1990-2016.

Figure 23: Ovenbird & Northern Waterthrush. Skulkers of the underbrush. Fall passage in totals eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 24: Nashville & Tennessee warblers. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 25: Blackpoll & Bay-breasted warblers. For information on how to separate these two look-a like’s, please see http://eontbird.ca/?p=873. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 26: The Heavyweight Champion of the Warblers, the Connecticut Warbler. The best time to look for this species is from the last few days of August through to the beginning of the second week of September. Very early September, in particular, is prime COWA season. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 27: Northern Parula & Magnolia Warbler. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

 

Figure 28: Black-throated Green and Black-throated Blue Warbler. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 29: Palm Warbler. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 30: Pine Warbler. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 31: Wilson’s Warbler. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 32: Orange-crowned Warbler. A highly sought-after and characteristically late-season migrant. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 33: Yellow-rumped Warbler. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Sparrows

Figure 34: Clay-colored Sparrow. For Ottawa area birders, a visit to the Goulbourn Sparrow Field during mid September will produce some Clay-colored finds! Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 35: Lincoln’s Sparrow. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 36: Nelson’s Sparrow. A visit to Westmeath Provincial Park from late September through to the end of the first week of October is likely to produce some finds of this species. On 30 September 2016, our birding group had great success here: http://eontbird.ca/?p=3478. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 37: A far rarer find in eastern Ontario is a Le Conte’s Sparrow. This species peaks slightly later than Nelson’s here, with peak dates occurring from just before Thanksgiving weekend to the following weekend. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 38: White-crowned Sparrow. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 39: White-throated Sparrow. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 40: Fox Sparrow. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 41: Dark-eyed Junco. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Tanagers, Grosbeaks, Buntings

Figure 42: Indigo Bunting, the sneakiest spring and fall migration around! Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 43: Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 44: Scarlet Tanager. This species sometimes gives a call during migration; it is a forceful chup, somewhat similar to, but more emphatic than, that of a Yellow-rumped Warbler. More on this call here: http://eontbird.ca/?p=3159. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Blackbirds

Figure 45. Baltimore Oriole. Fall passage in totals, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 46: Bobolink. Massive numbers of Bobolink pass over, by day (they are daytime migrants, like all of the blackbirds), from mid to late August. Knowing their unique rhink flight note is key to tallying them, as they are often very high in the blue (personal observation) when mass-evacuating! Here’s a sample of their flight call: http://www.xeno-canto.org/147289. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

Figure 47: Rusty Blackbird. Fall passage in frequency, eastern Ontario. 1990-2016.

That’s it, that’s all! Enjoy fall migration, everyone.

Jon