Atlantic Region: Winter 2019-20

Winter 2019-20: 1 Dec 2019–29 Feb 2020

David Seeler

Recommended citation:

Seeler, D. 2021. Winter 2019-20: Atlantic Region & St. Pierre et Miquelon. <> North American Birds.

The season began innocently enough, with milder temperatures and less-than-normal precipitation through December. On New Year’s Eve, a massive blizzard struck Newfoundland, and things changed for the region. Newfoundland was the recipient of numerous snowstorms through to the end of the season, including a record-breaking snowfall in mid-January. Southern parts of the region also saw significantly colder temperatures and stormy weather through the rest of the season due to a stationary polar vortex in February. Despite this, it was a season where an unexpected and surprising number of species were reported.

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface): Alvan Buckley, Roger Etcheberry, Alix d’Entremont, Bruce Mactavish, Jim Wilson.

ABBREVIATIONS: C.S.I. (Cape Sable Island, Shelburne, NS); G.M.I. (Grand Manan Island, Charlotte, NB); S.P.M. (St. Pierre et. Miquelon, France).


Within Nova Scotia, the occurrence of Snow Goose was substantively above that of neighbouring provinces: New Brunswick only reported one, on G.M.I., Charlotte 12 Dec (ph. Bob Hay), and Prince Edward Island also had one in Bedeque Bay, Prince 28 Dec (ph. Donna Martin). The Graylag Goose discovered last season was last reported at Grove’s Point, Cape Breton, NS 4 Dec (David McCorquodale, ph. Steven McGrath), and provided the 3rd provincial record. A Greater White-fronted Goose, rare to Nova Scotia, was associating with Canada Geese along Tidal Bore Rd., Colchester 5–6Dec (ph. Ross Hall, Jason Dain, Diane LeBlanc, m. ob.). A Pink-footed Goose was reported at Forbe’s Lake, Pictou, NS 1+ Dec (ph. Jason Dain, Diane LeBlanc, ph. Sylvia Craig et al.). Another Pink-footed Goose in New Brunswick, where it is accidental, lingered into the season at Newcastle Creek, Northumberland 1–12 Dec (Don Gibson). Rare in winter to Newfoundland, another Pink-footed Goose was at Wishingwell Park, St. John’s 5+ Dec (Kyle d’Entremont, BM, m. ob.). Two Barnacle Geese which lingered into the season were relocated in Colchester, NS 5–6 Dec (ph. Ross Hall, m. ob.), and were again reported 22 Dec–3 Jan (m. ob.). Uncommon and out of place, a Blue-winged Teal lingered throughout the season into spring in St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island, SPM (Patrick Hacala, Joël Detcheverry, Patrick Boez). Nova Scotia had three reports of Blue-winged teal: one was observed at Hartlen Pt., Halifax 4 Dec (ph. David Currie), another was found on Sable Island, Halifax 25 Dec and 1 & 4 Jan (Greg Stroud), and the last was discovered on Bush Island, Lunenburg 28 Jan–14 Feb (Lise Bell). A drake Northern Shoveler observed in Charlottetown, PE 1 Feb was quite unusual (ph. Ken McKenna). A drake Gadwall, rare to Newfoundland in winter, lingered into and through the season at Virginia Lake, St. John’s (ph. Alison Mews, Ethel Dempsey, m. ob.). It was joined by four additional drakes through 27 Dec (Edmund Hayden); only three Gadwall remained to 15 Jan. It is likely the others were those reported at various locales in St. John’s through 25 Feb.

A Canvasback discovered in a marsh in Church Point, Digby, NS 28 Dec was a rare find (ph. Kathleen MacAulay, ph. AE). Exceptional in winter, two Ring-necked Ducks were found in St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island, SPM 18–19 Dec (Joël Detcheverry). Unusual to Prince Edward Island in winter, a Ring-necked Duck was observed in St. Peter’s Bay 7 & 9 Jan (ph. Donna Martin), and another was found at the Cavendish Waste Water Treatment Facility, Prince 18–24 & 30 Jan (ph. Donna Martin et al.). Tufted Duck is expected in Newfoundland during the season, so 64 Tufted Duck tallied during the St. John’s CBC was not unexpected (fide AB). In Nova Scotia, a female Tufted Duck was monitored in the Antigonish Sewage Treatment Plant 17 Dec through mid-Feb (ph. Angela MacDonald). Another female Tufted Duck was observed at various locations within Dartmouth, Halifax, NS  25+ Dec (ph. Pat McKay, ph. Diane LeBlanc, m. ob.), where it was joined by a male Tufted Duck 20+ Jan (Marty Zelenietz, m. ob.). At least 12 Bufflehead, rare in winter to S.P.M., were reported on the French Island 17 Dec–28 Feb (fide RE). Unexpected, a juvenile Pied-billed Grebe was at Virginia Lake, St. John’s, NL 1–12 Dec (ph. Alex McInnis, m. ob.). Another Pied-billed Grebe, also exceptional, was found at Rainbow Haven PP, Halifax, NS 3–13 Jan. Present consistently since Jan 2018, the Eurasian Collared-Doves remained throughout the season at Melvern Square, Annapolis, NS (ph. Larry Neily). A White-winged Dove was an unexpected find in Lumsden, Notre Dame Bay-Lewisporte, NL 5 Dec (Tracy Stagg).

An apparent Rufous Hummingbird, present since mid-Oct in Melvern Square, Annapolis, NS, was last viewed 18 Dec (ph. Larry Neily, ph. Lyall Bouchard). Upon closer examination of the photographs, it was apparent that there was a rufous colouration just visible at the base of the tail, which is shown by both Rufous and Allen’s Hummingbirds. Photos of this individual were analyzed by hummingbird expert Sheri Williamson, who concluded that it was a juvenile female–but that because the photos do not show the outer tail feathers– it can’t be identified to species. It was determined a female by the extent of green on the tail, and a juvenile by the weak gorget pattern. A late Virginia Rail was discovered along the Sydney River, Westmount, Cape Breton, NS 15 Jan (ph. vt. Brian Fraser). A Sora was observed at Rainbow Haven PP, Halifax, NS 15 Dec & 11 Jan (James Hirtle, B. Haley). A Common Gallinule discovered in a pond in Chapel Cove, St. John’s, NL 22–27 Dec was very unusual for the season (ph. Bill Mackenzie, m. ob.). A lingering American Coot was present in Virginia Lake, St. John’s, NL 1–12 Dec (AB, ph. Shawn Fitzpatrick, m. ob.). Late for the region, four Sandhill Cranes were found at Argyle, Yarmouth, NS 6 Dec (Terry Achenbach, AE). While uncommon, small numbers of Black-bellied Plovers do attempt to winter in the region. This season they were only reported from Nova Scotia, where a maximum single location count of 7 individuals were reported from C.S.I. 3 Feb (Mark Dennis et al.). A Killdeer, uncommon during winter in Newfoundland, was present on Long Beach, southeast Clarenville, Trinity Bay 8 Dec (BM, Ken Knowles). Another on the Isthmus, Miquelon Island, SPM 15 & 18 Dec was quite late (ph. Charlène Jézéquel). Curiously, at least eight Killdeer were reported in various regions of Nova Scotia throughout the season, which is unusual. Two Semipalmated Plovers discovered on Long Beach, southeast Clarenville, Trinity Bay, NL 1 Dec (Richard Thomas) provided the province with its first winter record of the species. On 8 Dec, only one was observed at this locale (BM, Ken Knowles). Three Semipalmated Plovers were reported in Nova Scotia: one on the beach at Terminal Beach Rd., Halifax 4 Dec (Sean DeKelver), another on Cherry Hill Beach, Lunenburg 8 Dec (ph. Michele Knott), and the last at The Hawk, C.S.I. 3 Feb (ph. Mike MacDonald, Mark Dennis).

Two Ruddy Turnstones were reported this season, with one observed on Wedge Island, Halifax, NS 4 Jan (Sylvia Craig), and another in the company of a flock of Purple Sandpipers at Point La Haye, Avalon Peninsula., NL 8 Jan (Jared Clarke). Nova Scotia hosted a number of Red Knots this season. The first was an individual along the Salt Marsh Trail, Halifax 15 Dec (Dominic Cormier, Lucas Berrigan), and an additional nine Red Knots were reported throughout the rest of the season. Seven Sanderling lingered at Grand Pré, Kings, NS 11 & 13 Dec (ph. Rick Whitman). While several flocks of Dunlin do overwinter in Nova Scotia, they are less common elsewhere in the region, so one at Renews, NL 8 Dec (BM, Ken Knowles) was unusual, and another on the Grand Barachois, Miquelon Island, SPM 23 Feb (Laurent Jackman) was an exceptional find. Uncommon in winter, two White-rumped Sandpipers were at Long Beach, southeast Clarenville, Trinity Bay, NL 1 Dec (Richard Thomas), with only one observed there later, on 8 Dec (BM, Ken Knowles). A Semipalmated Sandpiper discovered on Long Beach, southeast Clarenville, Trinity Bay, NL 1 Dec (Richard Thomas) was also present 8 Dec (BM, Ken Knowles), and provided the province with its first winter record of the species. A Long-billed Dowitcher at Town Point, Yarmouth, NS 22 Dec was yet another good find (ph. Kathleen MacAulay, ph. AE et al.).  A Wilson’s Snipe which attempted to overwinter on St. Pierre Island, SPM was observed 18 Dec & 10 Jan (Joël Detcheverry). A Wilson’s Snipe was also recorded at Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s, NL 10 Jan (ph. John Alexander), while another was found in a ditch at Cappahayden, Avalon Peninsula, NL 11 Jan (Ken Knowles, BM). The Willet ssp. inornata which lingered into the season at Crescent Beach, Lunenburg, NS 9 Dec—16 Feb overwintered again for a 3rd consecutive year (Sebastian Pardo, David Currie, ph. James Hirtle et al.). Only one Greater Yellowlegs was reported this season, at Renews, Avalon Pen., NL 8 Dec (BM, Ken Knowles).


Within Nova Scotian waters four Pomarine Jaegers were observed off North Point, Brier Island, Digby 17 Dec (Jake Walker, Phil Taylor), while another was viewed offshore of Brier Island 4 Jan (Luke Berg, Alexandra Rousseau). The number of observations of Thick-billed Murre close to the New Brunswick shore of the Bay of Fundy increased significantly this year as compared to the past, possibly due to weather events or an increase in available food sources within the Bay of Fundy (fide JW).  An adult Black-headed Gull briefly returned to the Prince Edward Island NP at Brackley 4 Jan again this year (Brett McKinnon, Vanessa Bonnyman). A first-winter Laughing Gull was a very uncommon visitor to new Glasgow, Pictou, NS 16 Jan (ph. Ken McKenna), and likely arrived to the province 4 months earlier with Hurricane Dorian. A Mew Gull observed in Pictou, Pictou, NS 8–18 Dec (ph. Ken McKenna) was again observed in the same area 4–6 & 15 Feb (Mark Brennan et al.). In Newfoundland, Mew Gull has been increasingly difficult to find than in the past (fide Dave Brown), so an adult discovered in the Lakeview area, Avalon Peninsula 5 Jan (AB) and a Mew Gull ssp. canus found at Quidi Vidi Lake, St John’s 22–27 Feb (BM, m.ob.) were both excellent finds. Three Ring-billed Gulls were reported in Newfoundland this season, all quite unusual for the season. A Herring Gull ssp. argentatus present in St. John’s, NL 11 Dec–14 Jan was a very good find (ph. AB, m. ob.). Interestingly, a first-year Herring Gull ssp. argentatus was later found at Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s, NL 26–29 Jan (Lancy Cheng, ph. Charles Fitzpatrick), while a second-year Herring Gull ssp. argentatus was also present at Quidi Vidi Lake 5–17 Feb (Edmund Hayden, Frank King, Dave Brown).

A Lesser Black-backed Gull, uncommon in winter to Prince Edward Island, was observed on the Tignish shore, Prince 24 Feb feeding on lobster waste from a processing plant (Rosemary Curley, Donna Martin). A Slaty-backed Gull at Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s, NL 8–27 Feb was an exceptional find (Dave Brown, Charles Fitzpatrick, Edmund Hayden). A Forster’s Tern at Hubbard’s Cove, Halifax NS 2 Jan (ph. Alan Covert) likely was a holdover from Hurricane Dorian. The Pacific Loon which in previous years overwintered offshore of southeastern Newfoundland was again reported off St. Vincent’s, Avalon Peninsula, 31 Dec (BM). It was later reported from St. Shott’s, Avalon Peninsula, NL 14 Jan (Jeff Skevington, Richard Skevington). Five Double-crested Cormorants at Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s, NL 1 Dec were out-of-place (Shawn Fitzpatrick, Edmund Hayden). A lingering American Bittern was found on Machias Seal Island, NB 13 Dec (Ralph Eldridge), while another was reported at Langlade, Miquelon Island, SPM 29 Dec (ph. Philippe Lahiton). An American Bittern found along the edge of a frozen pond in Lower L’Ardoise, Richmond, NS 8 Jan (Brian Simpson) was not doing well. A Great Blue Heron in St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island, SPM 5–29 Dec (Joël Detcheverry, Patrick Boez, Patrick Hacala) was also tempting fate. One Great Egret was reported in Sherose Island, Shelburne, NS 4 Dec (ph. Ervin Olsen, ph. Paul Gould, Mike MacDonald). Also in Nova Scotia, two Snowy Egrets were reported–one at Atwood’s Brook, Shelburne 4 Dec (ph. Paul Gould), and the other at Wood’s Harbour, Shelburne 15 Dec; these sightings may represent the same individual. A Black Vulture found during the Quispamis-Hampton CBC in Hampton, NB 4 Jan was an unexpected surprise (fide JW). In Nova Scotia a Black Vulture was present at a landfill in Richmond mid-Jan–2 Feb (fide Billy Digout). Three Turkey Vultures were reported outside of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia: one was observed in flight over St. John’s, NL 10 Dec (Anne Hughes); another was found at Bear Cove, Avalon Peninsula, NL 16 Jan (Jared Clarke), and the 3rd Turkey Vulture was in a yard in St. Margaret’s, Kings, PE 22 Jan (Gerald MacDonald).

Rare in winter, but presumed to be an ongoing seasonal visitor, a Golden Eagle returned to the Tantramar Marsh, Westmorland, NB 8 Dec (ph. Shawn Chapman, m. ob.), and was viewed in the area through 23 Feb (ph. Marco Vachon). At least three Northern Harriers in different locations on the Avalon Peninsula, NL 16–28 Dec were unexpectedly late (fide BM). An adult Cooper’s Hawk–very uncommon in Prince Edward Island–was struck by a car in Stratford, Queens, on 28 Feb, treated at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, and released 12 Mar. At least 11 Cooper’s Hawks were reported in New Brunswick and possibly up to 30 were seen in Nova Scotia, where in the far southwest, they have become nearly as regular in winter as are Sharp-shinned Hawks. Uncommon in Nova Scotia, a Red-shouldered Hawk was present on Sherose Island, Shelburne, NS 25–27 Jan (Mike MacDonald, ph. Mark Dennis et al.). Only one Snowy Owl was reported on Prince Edward Island. It was within the Prince Edward Island NP at Brackley 17 Dec (Roberta Palmer et al.), and the next day it was observed nearby in Cymbria (Don McLelland). A Snowy Owl briefly visited St. Andrews, Charlotte, NB 26 Dec (fide Gail Taylor). A Northern Hawk Owl visited Village of Gagetown, Queens, NB 17–23 Feb (Don Gibson, Gilles Bourque, Carmella Melanson), and two were observed in Nova Scotia: one at Apple River, Cumberland, NS (Blaine Spicer, m. obs.) that continued from fall to Dec 30, and another at Minudie, Cumberland, NS Dec 1–Mar 17 (ph. Ken and Etta Adams). The Belted Kingfisher reported at Baird’s Wetland, Stanley, NB 16 Dec (Julie Singleton) was considered a rare report, as this species does not tend to overwinter in that area. A female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was quite active on South Street, Halifax, NS 21–22 Jan (ph. Andrew Sibbald, ph. Diane LeBlanc, Liz Doull et al.).

A Red-bellied Woodpecker observed at feeders along Shaw Rd., Kings, NS 5 Feb was an unexpected surprise (George Forsyth, Harold Forsyth). Exceptionally late, an American Kestrel was present in Trepassey, Avalon Peninsula, NL 11–12 & 18 Dec (Julie Cappleman, David Shepherd), while one on Minister’s Island, Charlotte, NB 6 Jan & 17 Feb (ph. Ron Wilson) was perhaps more out-of-place. The lone Northern Shrike report for Prince Edward Island was an individual found in Nufrage, Kings 15 Dec (Gerald MacDonald). A visit by a Purple Martin at Birch Grove, Cape Breton, NS 8 Feb (ph. Bev Betts) was completely unexpected and could have been a long-staying bird brought to the region in September by Hurricane Dorian. Especially rare in winter to S.P.M., two Brown Creepers were discovered in Eastern Langlade, Miquelon Island 22 Feb (Laurent Jackman). Wren reports increased overall this year in the region. A House Wren was found along Thomas Rd., Cape Forchu, Yarmouth, NS 8 Dec (ph. Ervin Olsen). A late Winter Wren actively singing along Noggin’s Corner Farm Trails, Kings, NS 14 Dec–4 Jan seemed to intend to overwinter (au. Phil Taylor et al.). Another Winter Wren was found in Kentville, Kings, NS 23 Feb (John Brazner). A Sedge Wren, rare to Nova Scotia, was discovered at Bissett Lake, Halifax 24 Nov and lingered to 4 Jan (ph. Rob Edsall, Dominic Cormier, Lucas Berrigan, m. ob.). Exceptionally rare to Newfoundland, a Marsh Wren lingered into the season at Long Pond, St. John’s 1 Dec (fide AB). Marsh Wren is also rare to Nova Scotia, yet four were reported this season: one at Broad Brook Wetlands Park, Yarmouth 1 Dec–4 Jan (ph. Kathleen MacAulay, ph. AE); another was singing at Starr’s Point, Kings 2 Dec (Phil Taylor); one in Miner’s Marsh, Kings  7 Dec (ph. Sally Rose); and the last was found during the Dartmouth CBC 15 Dec and lingered to 4 Jan (Kate Steel, Chris Pepper et al.). Two Carolina Wrens, rare winter visitors to the province, intermittently visited feeders in Riverview, NB early Dec–23 Feb (Bob & Shirley Childs, m. ob.). A Carolina Wren located in Lower Sackville, Halifax, NS 7 & 18 Dec (ph. Rita Viau) was also a good find.  Another visiting feeders in Montague, Kings, PE 18–31 Jan (ph. Dale Murchison) provided the 6th provincial record.


A group of five Eastern Bluebirds lingered in a backyard in Taylor Village, Westmorland, NB 17 Dec–17 Jan (Alain Clavette). Curiously, these same birds may have also been observed in another backyard in Memramcook, Westmorland, NB 10 Jan & 25 Jan (ph. Marco Vachon, ph. Jaden Barney)–both dates upon which they were not observed at the previous locale. What was likely these same five were also observed at Dorchester, Westmorland, NB 25 Jan (Marjorie Wilson). Four Eastern Bluebirds were reported in Lorneville, St. John, NB 27 Jan (Jim & Therese Carroll), and six Eastern Bluebirds were observed in the same area 29 Jan (Christopher Ward). Two Eastern Bluebirds found in St. John, NB 2–11 Feb (fide JW) were likely the same individuals reported in St. Martin’s, St. John, NB 17 Feb (ph. Jim Carroll). Eastern Bluebird was once common in Nova Scotia, and the sightings this season support a seeming slow rebound of the population. Three Eastern Bluebirds settled in Overton, Yarmouth, NS 6–25 Dec (Tony & Angie Millard). Six Eastern Bluebirds were tallied during the Yarmouth, NS, CBC 22 Dec in Chegoggin (ph. Mark & Sandra Dennis). Two Eastern Bluebirds were at Dayton, Yarmouth 24 Jan (Ronnie d’Entremont), two were subsequently reported in Arcadia, Yarmouth 12 Feb (Paul Gould, Mike MacDonald), and four were at Davis Cove, Digby 17 Feb (Mark Dennis, Ronnie d’Entremont).

Three Hermit Thrushes were reported in New Brunswick: one in Harvey, Albert 2 Dec (Gilles Belliveau), another in Moncton 14 Dec (Pierre Janin), and the last, exceptionally late, in Salisbury, Westmorland 1 Jan (Marjorie Wilson). Hermit Thrush is rare to Nova Scotia in winter, so the number of reports this season was surprising. The first Hermit Thrush was located at Cranberry Head, Yarmouth 1 Dec (ph. Kathleen MacAulay, ph. AE), with another discovered at Cape Forchu, Yarmouth 1 Dec (Clarence Stevens Sr.). Hermit Thrush continued to be observed at Old Bowater Woods, Halifax, NS 2 Dec (Jason Dain, Mike Jones); in Fort Needham Memorial Park, Halifax, NS 5 Dec (Andy Horn); along the Nature Conservancy Trail, Westport, Digby, NS 17 Dec (ph. Phil Taylor, Jake Walker, Lucas Berrigan); and, further north, along the Grand Pré Rail Trail, Kings, NS 19 Dec–6 Jan (ph. Greg Forsyth, Rick Whitman). As the season continued, Hermit Thrush reports did, too—one was at Margaretsville, Annapolis, NS 21 Dec (ph. Richard Stern); an individual was observed in Bedford, Yarmouth, NS 27 Dec (David Currie, ph. Jim Edsall, Graham William); and another was discovered on Crystal Crescent Beach, Halifax, NS 2 & 20 Jan (ph. Diane LeBlanc, Mike Jones, ph. Justin Crosby). In February, individual Hermit Thrushes were present along the Sherose Island Nature Trail, Shelburne, NS 4 Feb (Mike MacDonald), on Cherry Drive, Halifax, NS 17 Feb (ph. Julie McKnight), and in West Jeddore, Halifax, NS 19 Feb (ph. Hillary van Herk). The first report of Redwing this season was an individual in the company of American Robins at Tors Cove, Avalon Peninsula, NL 27 Dec (ph. Dave Brown, Liam Singh), while another Redwing made an appearance in a yard in Lumsden, Straight Shore, Notre Dame Bay-Lewisporte 10 & 11 Jan (ph. Tracy Stagg et al.). Yet another Redwing was discovered in Clarenville, NL 31 Jan & 1 Feb (ph. Alison Mews, Ethel Dempsey, Edmund Hayden, m. ob.). A

Varied Thrush, rare to Nova Scotia, was found in West Jeddore, Halifax, NS 1 Feb (ph. Hillary van Herk). Feeders in Young’s Point, Queens, NB hosted an unexpected Brown Thrasher 4 Jan (Theresa McCready). Rare in winter to Prince Edward Island, a Northern Mockingbird observed in Charlottetown 3 & 16 Feb (ph. Brian Rolek) may have the same individual that was present there 24 Nov. Bohemian Waxwing are uncommon to rare during some winter seasons, so seven at feeders in a yard in Monticello, Kings 22 Feb was a welcome sight (Gerald MacDonald). A Lark Sparrow briefly lingered at feeders in Thorburn, Pictou, NS 1 Dec (ph. Trish Cartwright–Burdick), while another discovered in Port William’s, Kings, NS lingered 13 Dec–9 Feb (ph. George Forsyth, m. ob.). Rare to New Brunswick, a Lark Sparrow located in Mt. Whatley, Westmorland also lingered 19 Jan–17 Feb (ph. Judy Amos Ward, ph. Marjorie Wilson, m. ob.). Originally reported as a possible Vesper Sparrow, additional scrutiny quickly identified the Lark Bunting at Green Bay, Lunenburg, NS 5 Dec–18 Jan (Lise Bell, ph. James Hirtle, m. ob.), that perhaps was trying to overwinter. A Chipping Sparrow was discovered during the Quispamis-Hampton CBC 4 Jan (fide JW). A lingering Clay-colored Sparrow was found in Sydney, Cape Breton, NS 9 Dec (ph. Steven McGrath). Exceptional for Newfoundland, a Clay-colored Sparrow was discovered on Fogo Island, 22 Dec (Paul Jones, Jodie van Dieen). In New Brunswick, a Clay-colored Sparrow was present at New River Beach PP, Charlotte 1 Jan–2 Feb (Tracy Lomax, ph. Jim Carroll et al.). A Field Sparrow found in Central Chebogue, Yarmouth, NS 22 Dec (ph. AE, Kathleen MacAulay) was exceptionally late. The Seaside Sparrow first discovered at Horton Landing, Kings, NS 24 Nov (Rick Whitman) that lingered through 26 Dec (Rick Whitman, ph. Pauline Meldrum, m. ob.) was exceptionally rare to the province.

Two Lincoln’s Sparrow attempted to remain in Newfoundland this season, one in the area of the Waterford River, St. John’s, NL 8 Dec (Alison Mews, Ethel Dempsey), while the other was in Quidi Vidi Village, St. John’s 28 Dec–2 Jan (AB, m. ob.). At least seven Swamp Sparrows were reported within Nova Scotia at various locales 20 Dec–4 Jan. An Eastern Towhee, appearing in Quispamis, Kings, NB 1+ Dec, stayed through the season (Jim & Therese Carroll). In Nova Scotia, an Eastern Towhee was present in Dartmouth 20 Dec–26 Feb (Audrey Forsyth, ph. Jim Edsall), and 2 Eastern Towhees were present at Fall River, Halifax 9–10 Jan with only one remaining 13 Jan (ph. Lori Hodder, ph. Wayne Green, Lawrence Jefferson et al.). Finally, an Eastern Towhee was found at feeders in Sackville, Westmorland, NB 27 Jan–11 Feb (ph. Becky Whittam, Sean Blaney, ph. Michele Doucet, m. ob.). In addition to the 2 Yellow-breasted Chats which lingered into the season, seven more individuals were reported within Nova Scotia–unusual for the season. Rare to Newfoundland in winter, a Yellow-breasted Chat was found along the Virginia River Trail, St. John’s 22 Dec (David Smith, m. ob.). A Yellow-headed Blackbird was discovered in the mouth of the Renous River region, Northumberland, NB 15–29 Jan  (Denna Gadd, Michel Doucet, Irene Doucet et al.) Regionally rare at all seasons, a female Bullock’s Oriole was observed along Kennedy’s Road, St. John’s 4 Dec (ph. Frank King, ph. Shawn Fitzpatrick, Alex McInnis). Baltimore Orioles were well-distributed across Nova Scotia this season, with 15 observed. Curiously, Newfoundland hosted four Baltimores this season, all on the Avalon Peninsula. As with other passerines, warblers present strongly within parts of the region through the season; their presence is denoted in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Warblers Reported During the Winter Season for the Region

Warbler Species

New Brunswick

Nova Scotia


Black and White Warbler


Orange-crowned Warbler




Nashville Warbler


Northern Parula


Yellow Warbler


Palm Warbler


Pine Warbler



Yellow-throated Warbler




Prairie Warbler


Townsend’s Warbler


Hermit Warbler


+=First Winter Record; *=Fourth Winter Record; a=Lingering into Spring

A Rose-breasted Grosbeak in Dayton, Yarmouth, NS 17–18 Feb was late (Anne Jones, m. obs.). Four Dickcissel, rare to Nova Scotia in winter, were observed this season: one at Fort Needham Memorial Park, Halifax 1 Dec (ph. Justin Crosby), another at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Halifax 7  Dec (ph. Ann Tracy), one that took cover under plants in a yard during a storm in Hammond Plains, Halifax 5 Jan, and the last was observed at feeders in Yarmouth, Yarmouth 12 Feb (Eric Ruff, ph. Mark & Sandra Dennis). Dickcissel is uncommon in winter to New Brunswick, and only one, keeping company with House Sparrows, was reported, in Middle Sackville, Westmorland 15 Dec (Jaden Barney).

Report processed by Alison Világ, 11 Mar 2021.

Photos–Atlantic Region: Winter 2019-20

Click image to view fullscreen with caption.