Eastern Ontario Migration Update

Hi everyone,

What a thrill it’s been taking in spring migration here in eastern Ontario. The birds have appeared so suddenly and in tremendous numbers, and also in high diversity!

Shorebirds: The following species are widespread: Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs (both frequently observed in wet agricultural areas), Spotted Sandpiper, American Woodcock, Wilson’s Snipe, and Upland Sandpiper. The following species are less-commonly seen: Solitary Sandpiper, American Golden-Plover (Hwy 17, Antrim wetland; an injured bird), Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope (Kingston area; KFN property). NOTE: The first week of May is traditionally a great week to search for Long-billed Dowitchers here in eastern ON. Look for them among the frequently observed species in wet fields, sewage lagoons, and exposed mudflats.

Nightjars: Eastern Whip-poor-will is more widespread throughout eastern ON as of the latter half of this week. The first few were just tallied in the Ottawa area this morning (28 April 2017). Common Nighthawks are approximately three weeks away from their return to our region.

Flycatchers: Great Crested Flycatchers have begun to pop up here and there, congrats to some EOB clients for tallying them this week. I had a Least Flycatcher at Maple Hill Park–an observation I am tremendously pleased with (I love “little trophies” like personal best early/late dates, etc.). Eastern Phoebe are, as you know, widespread.

Vireos: Two species are present as of 28 April 2017: Eastern Warbling, Blue-headed. Yellow-throated are only a day or two away from being tallied somewhere along the southeastern portion of the Frontenac Arch!

Swallows: 5 species (Bank, Barn, Tree, Cliff, Northern Rough-winged) and Purple Martin are seen in eastern ON at this time. Migrant swarms may include all five species, so be sure to check flocks carefully. Large, hawking swarms are often found near sewage lagoons, and along rivers at this time of year.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher: Massive numbers passed through Cape May B.O. in late March. What this means is that there’s potential for offshoots (heading just a bit too far north, overshooting their destination) to be tallied N of their breeding grounds. Ottawa’s first of the season was tallied at Innis Point B.O. yesterday (27 April 2017), but this is just the beginning. For the next two weeks, keep your eyes and ears peeled for these neat little birds. If you find one, know that you’ve seen a prized bird and make sure to tell others (if others are near) or call around to share your find 🙂

Thrushes: Hermit Thrush is now widespread. Next up is typically Wood Thrush, and I believe the first reports are trickling in; usually, they’re around in good numbers by the end of the first week of May (at least in the southern portion of eastern ON). Swainson’s, Gray-cheeked, and Veery are a little later than Wood Thrush, with the bulk passing through from the end of the second week, to the fourth week, of May.

Warblers: 11 species are now present in eastern ON! That’s pretty damn impressive considering we haven’t even hit May. Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush (Kingston Study Area), Black-and-white Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow Palm Warbler, Western Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler. So, in effect, what this means is: dull birding days are long behind us now. Every walk you go on, you’re going to encounter birds, and potentially birds of great interest.

Sparrows: 11 species are present in eastern ON. An excellent tally for late April. Eastern Towhee, Vesper, Field, Swamp, Song, Savannah, Chipping, White-crowned, White-throated, Fox, and Dark-eyed Junco. We are days away from the first Grasshopper Sparrows (in fact, I imagine a few took the express southerlies and are present in PEC today) to arrive. Clay-colored tend to be a bit later in the season, usually a mid-May arrival in eastern ON.

Hope you enjoyed reading this segment! Very much looking forward to birding the Kingston and eastern PEC area this weekend, and I’m raring to go with regards to Pelee in just over a week’s time.

Have a great birding weekend, everyone.

PS: If you would like recommendations on where to see any of the species as mentioned above, please get in touch by email! eontbird@gmail.com