Ontario: Spring 2017
Spring 2017: 1 Mar–31 May
Margaret J. C. Bain
Bain, M. 2021. Spring 2017: Ontario. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-ajT> North American Birds.
An unusually warm spell in the last days of February and the first few days of March created a false Spring in southern Ontario, encouraging numbers of waterfowl, woodcock, robins and blackbirds into an early return north. This provided several record arrival dates but almost certainly resulted in fatalities for many of these migrants as cold, wet weather returned all too soon. Rapidly alternating warm and cold spells then persisted through most of the period, stalling migration in many areas. In the north, a heavy snowstorm affecting Atikokan and Dryden in late April followed a prolonged warm spell, causing high mortality among Tree Swallows and American Robins, with dead birds widely reported. The Thunder Bay District was hit by a severe ice storm in late April too, with at least 15cm of ice pellets that froze like concrete, again bringing reports of many dead American Robins. In the south, rainfall was heavy for several consecutive weeks in late April and May, filling up dried-out wetlands from the previous Fall, but then causing widespread high water levels with some serious flooding. It was the wettest May in over 70 years in the Greater Toronto Area, with almost half of the Toronto Is. becoming completely submerged; in Ottawa heavy rain brought the worst flooding along the Ottawa River in decades, with a significant impact on shoreline habitat.
Spring migration in general was intermittent and mediocre over most of the province because of these weather vagaries, but several notable rarities brightened the birding scene, with a White Wagtail becoming the 496th species for Ontario. Other good finds included a “Bewick’s” Tundra Swan, a most unexpected Willow Ptarmigan in Metropolitan Toronto, “Eastern” Willet, Black-legged Kittiwake, Ivory Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, nominate Iceland Gull, Anhinga, Neotropic Cormorant, Brown Pelican, White-faced Ibis, Say’s Phoebe, Cassin’s Sparrow, Painted Bunting, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow.
The banding of Long Point Bird Observatory’s one millionth bird, a hatch-year female Tennessee Warbler, on May 29 was a major milestone for the Observatory and Bird Studies Canada.
Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface)
Alfred L. Adamo (Toronto), Charmaine Anderson (Durham), Christopher T. Bell (Manitoulin), Jeremy M. Bensette (Essex), Bruce Brydon (York), Mark H. Cranford (Peel), Michael S. Dawber, Carolle D. Eady (Dryden), David H. Elder (Rainy River), Roxanne D. Filion (South Cochrane), Roger E. Frost (Northumberland), Marcie L. Jacklin (Niagara), William G. Lamond (Hamilton), Renee Levesque (North Bay), Stuart A Mackenzie (Long Point), Blake A. Mann (Chatham-Kent & Lambton), Martha Miller (Kawartha Lakes), Bruce D. Murphy (Temiskaming/Cochrane), Brian Ratcliff (Thunder Bay), Mark D. Read (Kingston), Peter A. Read (Middlesex), Ron Ridout (Haldimand), Maureen Riggs (Presqu’ile), Ronald G. Tozer (Algonquin), James A. Turland (Grey-Bruce), Gregory K. Zbitnew (Ottawa).
BSC (Bird Studies Canada); CA (Conservation Area); GTA (Greater Toronto Area); HSA (Hamilton Study Area); LPBO (Long Point Bird Observatory staff); NWA (National Wildlife Area); OBRC (Ontario Bird Records Committee); Point Pelee (Point Pelee Birding Area); Presqu’ile (Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Northumberland Co); PP (Provincial Park); STP (Sewage Treatment Plant); WMA (Wildlife Management Area); place names in italics refer to a county, district, or regional municipality.
A family group of five Snow Geese rested far out on the Inner Bay of Long Point, Norfolk 1 Mar (SAM), and while there were scattered sightings across the province later in the month, the main Snow Goose passage through eastern Ontario was rather disappointing. Only a few large flocks went reported, including counts in Leeds and Grenville of 10,000 birds near Seeley’s Bay 26 Mar and 3500 near Lansdowne 28 Mar (fide MDR); instead of the much larger concentrations of previous years. Considered a scarce migrant west of the usual flight line, Howland Twp., Manitoulin had a high count of 75 Snow Geese on 16 Mar (CTB) with smaller flocks to 4 Apr (m. ob.); Presqu’ile saw three big flocks heading east into a headwind 26 and 27 Mar, the largest of 200 birds, 26 Mar (REF) was a record count for the location. A group of eight Ross’s Geese frequented Hillman Marsh, Essex 2–8 Mar (Jeremy M. Bensette). Single Ross’s Geese were south of Keswick, York 1 and 2 Mar (m. ob.), at Belwood Lake, Wellington 2 Mar (Scott Gibson), at Forest STP, Lambton 9 Mar (Sean M. Jenniskens), and at the Desjardins Canal, Dundas 9 and 10 March (Marcia Daly, m. ob.); two were seen at Aylmer WMA, Elgin 11 Mar (Paul Nicholson), one frequented the Royal Botanical Gardens Arboretum, Hamilton 16–18 Mar (Gabe Camozzi, m. ob.), later seen at LaSalle Park, Hamilton 19 Mar (Dominik Halas), and one was in Cranberry Marsh, Whitby, Durham 11–21 Mar (Owen N.W. Yates, m. ob.); up to five Ross’s Geese were with Snow Geese in Howland Twp. 19–24 Mar (CTB et al.), one frequented the Ridgetown STP, Chatham-Kent 22–24 Mar (Stephen R. Charbonneau, m. ob.), two adults grazed in fields near Welcome, Northumberland 23 (Margaret J.C. Bain) and 25 March (Rob Lonsberry). A single bird lingered in the town of Rondeau, Chatham-Kent 8–19 Apr (James T. Burk, SRC, m. ob.) and one at the Emo STP 19 Apr (Michael S. Dawber) was a first record for Rainy River. A Snow x Ross’s Goose hybrid was photographed during its stay on Low I., Manitoulin 27 Mar–4 Apr (John Savage).
Greater White-fronted Geese were in remarkable numbers across the province, with a very conservative estimate of 260 individuals reported across widely separated areas in Ontario, ranging from a single at Hillman Marsh, Essex 5 Mar (Jeremy L. Hutt) to 17 at Tommy Thomson Park, Toronto 9 Apr (Paul N. Prior), two near Powassan, Nipissing 24 Mar (Gary Sturge, Dick Tafel, Renee Levesque), two near South Stafford, Renfrew 9 Apr (Mark A. Gawn, Marc Bosc), 14 near Hearst, Algoma 14 Mar (Sophie Roy) and one at Moonbeam, Cochrane 13 May (RDF). After a week of strong westerly winds, Thunder Bay experienced very unusual multiple flocks of up to 15 birds in the first two weeks of March, including 15 at Dorion 7 Mar (Susan J. Fagan), 12 at Terrace Bay 9 Mar (Peggy L. Campbell, Mark Campbell), 10 at Nakina 10 Mar (Philip L. Wilson), 10 at Thunder Bay 11 Mar (Curtis Craig), three at Pass Lake 12 Mar (Christine V. Johnston) and two at Nipigon 13 Mar (Kimberley McNaughton). High counts included an unprecedented 44 in the schoolyard at Little Current, Manitoulin 21 Mar (Duncan Robbie) – part of a large influx lasting until 20 Apr in an area where just one bird was sighted the previous Spring – and 49 at Dry Lake, Haldimand 28 Mar (Richard D. Poort) for the third record in two years of high numbers at this location. Late lingering Greater White-fronted Geese included one near Welcome, Northumberland 23 Apr (David J. Milsom et al.) and one at the Moodie Drive ponds, Ottawa 10 May (Mark J. Patry). The Brant passage on Lake Ontario was centered as usual on the Kingston area with multiple reports there from early May through the rest of the month, the largest single flock of 470 flying over Amherst I., Lennox and Addington 6 May (fide MDR); Northumberland experienced a better than average Brant migration with peaks of 400 at Presqu’ile 10 and 11 May (Fred M. Helleiner et al.) and 300 over Cobourg Harbor 28 May (R. Doug McRae). Cackling Geese were widely reported, usually in small numbers among flocks of Canada Geese; 31 at Sarnia, Lambton 17 Mar (SMJ) was a record high count for that location. Three Canada Geese beside the Wabigoon River in Dryden, Kenora 1 Mar (CDE) provided the earliest record for the area.
Three Mute Swans at Porcupine Lake from 30 May (Jeffrey B. Parnell, m. ob.) were unusual for Cochrane and northern Ontario. A nesting pair of Mute Swans returning to the Calnan Rd. pond, Northumberland 22 Mar was ousted 10 May by a pair of Trumpeter Swans building a new nest and tending it to the end of the period (MJCB). Two Trumpeter Swans set an early arrival date on the Eagle River, Kenora 6 Mar (Samantha Hawkins) and were there again 25 Mar (John Terpstra) after the river had frozen over, then thawed; Donorwic Lake, Kenora held four birds 28 Mar (Marilyn Bilsbarrow) with two there 2 and 5 Apr (Ellen M. Riggins). Single Trumpeter Swans visited Forest STP 19 Mar (Deryl D. Nethercott, Sharon E. Nethercott) and 15 Apr (SMJ), Ridgetown STP 25 Mar (John Lamey et al.), and Grande Pointe, Chatham-Kent 2 May (Barbara N. Charlton et al.); up to four birds were seen in the Long Point area during March. A Trumpeter Swan at Two Rivers Airfield marsh 10 Apr (Jeffrey H. Skevington, ph Amanda Guercio) was very rare and a new early record for Algonquin PP, Nipissing. An immature bird frequented a field near Silver Water, Manitoulin 26 and 27 Apr (CTB). In the Long Point area, Tundra Swan migration had begun mid-February, but never built to the usual crescendo, with the highest count of 1000 birds 17 Mar (RR) well below a normal year’s peak daily tally, though the Ridgetown STP held 2000. A “Bewick’s” Tundra Swan was well studied at Aylmer, Elgin 19 March (Lev A. Frid et al.). Good numbers of Tundra Swans were reported by multiple observers in the HSA 1 Mar–4 Apr (fide William G. Lamond), with a high count of 400 at Spottiswood Lake, Bronte 21 Mar (J. Brett Fried). Fields near Morganston, Northumberland held a flock of 59 birds 27 Mar (MVAB). In Nipissing, 14 Tundra Swans were at the mouth of Sturgeon River 1 Apr (DT, RL) and Spring Bay on Eagle Lake, Kenora had 24 on 22 Apr (Robert Kelly).
In Rainy River, a Wood Duck in Morley Twp. 31 Mar (MSD) was very early and two Northern Shovelers in Atikokan 15 Apr (DHE) were rare for the area; there was a high count of 106 Northern Shovelers at the Townsend STP 23 Apr (Matthew T. Timpf). The male Eurasian Wigeon first seen at Rondeau PP in late Feb remained to 5 Mar when it was joined by a second bird (Keith J. Burk) but there were no sightings of the birds thereafter. A male Eurasian Wigeon was seen intermittently off Port Rowan, Norfolk 1–20 Mar (Todd Hagedorn, Reuven D. Martin, Nathan Miller), with likely the same bird appearing at Lee Brown WMA 12–14 Mar (m. ob.); a second bird was seen off St. Williams 19 Mar (RR) and one was observed at nearby East Quarter Line 24 Apr (Adrian Juurlink, Richard Skevington). In the HSA, single males were at Crieff Bog, Wellington 12 Mar (Joe Daize), Puslinch Lake, Wellington 27 Mar (Michael D. Cadman), and 8th Road, Hamilton also 27 Mar (Leonard P. Manning, Lisa Teskey). Hillman Marsh held an adult male 2 and 3 Apr (Richard D. Carr). The 725 Green-winged Teal at Hillman Marsh 26 Mar (BAM) represented a high count; a male Eurasian Teal (A. c. crecca) was closely studied at Milton Rd., Ottawa 9 Apr (Donald A. Sutherland, JHS et al.). In Northumberland, Garden Hill pond was an unusual location for a single Canvasback 25 Mar (MJCB) and one lingered at Presqu’ile until 23 May (RDM); the peak count of Redhead in Presqu’ile Bay was 3500 on 25 Mar (RDM). A male Ring-necked Duck and 5 scaup sp. diving on the Wabigoon River in Dryden 10 Mar (CDE) were all record early by a month; a Lesser Scaup at Fort Frances, Rainy River 14 Mar (MSD) also appeared at a very early date.
An astonishing six King Eiders, three immature males and three females, were off Tommy Thomson Park, Toronto 29 Apr (Kris Ito) and seen in varying numbers by many observers over the next month, with the last report of five on 27 May (Paul N. Prior). Other King Eiders reported, all also on Lake Ontario, included a long-staying second summer male at Colonel Sam Smith Park, continuing from the winter season through 31 May (m. ob.), a female off Amherst I. 20 Mar (Paul R. Martin), and an immature male off Bonnibrae Point, Durham 23 Mar (Tyler L. Hoar) with possibly the same bird photographed at this location 31 May (Charmaine Anderson); a first year male and a female were off Fruitland Rd., Hamilton 12 May (Rob Z. Dobos, Cheryl E. Edgecombe, Dave Don) with one male there until 17 May (LPM). Two male Harlequin Ducks at Erieau, Chatham-Kent continued from the winter season to at least 9 Mar (m. ob.) while another continuing male on the Rideau River in Ottawa stayed to 3 May (Gordon Robertson); a male was at Lakeside Park, Mississauga, Peel 11 and 12 Mar (Jim Watt, Rob Palin); a pair was photographed at Port Weller East, Niagara 11 (David Rooke) and 16 March (Nathan Schoelier); an adult male was on Nottawasaga Bay off Thornbury, Grey 2 Apr (Lynne Richardson). In Toronto, single adult male Harlequin Ducks frequented the Unwin Av. bridge 2 Mar–1 Apr (Christopher Wagner, m. ob.), Tommy Thompson Park 5 Mar–29 Apr (Victor Moroz, m. ob.), and Colonel Sam Smith Park 2–23 Apr (Stephen Smith, m. ob.). To the east in Durham, on 24 Apr, two males were off Thickson’s Point, Whitby (Sam Collins), and four males and two females were reported off nearby Lynde Shores CA (Christian Friis), though it is possible that there were no more than six birds altogether; two males and a female were seen at the second site 4 May (CF). A pair of Harlequins on Frederick House Lake near Timmins, Cochrane 28 Apr (RDF, Gary T. Dowe) provided the first record for the Timmins area. Almost all the Harlequin Ducks listed above were well photographed, and it is interesting that such a preponderance of them were beautifully plumaged adult males. A single White-winged Scoter in Sheguiandah Bay 22 Apr (CTB) was unusual for Manitoulin; many wintering scoters in the HSA lingered on Lake Ontario into Spring, with a high count of 1100 White-wingeds at Fifty Rd. 8 Apr (Amanda Bichel) and late counts of 15 Surf Scoters off Fruitland Rd. 12 May (RZD, CEE, DD), 25 White-wingeds at Fifty Point, Niagara 22 May (Sarah E. Lamond, WGL), and three Black Scoters in Bronte Harbor 9 May (Mark W. Jennings); four Surf Scoters were at Presqu’ile until 13 May (RDM) and two Black Scoters flew past Cobourg Harbor 23 May (Luke Berg). A first winter male Barrow’s Goldeneye was off Tommy Thompson Park 26 Feb–14 Apr (Allison Zhang, m. ob.) and an adult male was photographed at the Unwin Av. bridge 28 Mar (Kai A. Millyard). High counts of Ruddy Ducks included 250 at Windermere Basin, Hamilton 9 Apr (RDM, TLH) and 300 at Townsend STP, Haldimand 23 Apr (MTT).
Ptarmigans through Shorebirds
Most unexpected, and the first record for Metropolitan Toronto, was the Willow Ptarmigan found in the far reaches of Tommy Thomson Park 13 and 14 May (Noam Markus) and seen by many birders as it nibbled on willow buds in the midst of the brush and rubble on this man-made peninsula. There has been speculation that this could have been the same bird seen over several years around Lake Ontario, including Darlington, Durham from 8 Jun–10 Nov. 2011, and Point Peninsula, Jefferson, New York 24 Apr–18 May 2014 (OBRC). Red-necked Grebes were in good numbers on Lake Ontario, starting with ten at LaSalle Park, Hamilton 18 Mar (David Gascoigne), increasing to a high of 2642 birds counted from Fifty Rd., Hamilton to J. C. Saddington Park, Peel 8 Apr (fide WGL); a Red-necked Grebe on a farm pond beside Hwy.17 near the Wabigoon River 14 Apr was early for Kenora (CDE); two were building a nest at Bronte marsh 10 May (DH). Single Eared Grebes in transitional plumage were close to the harbor wall in Port Burwell, Elgin 23 Mar (ABA), at the Hagersville Quarry ponds, Haldimand 6 Apr (JBF), in Ben Machree Park, Mississauga 8 Apr (Luc S. Fazio), and at the Tip of Point Pelee 25 Apr–12 May (Delmar Doucette, m. ob.); a breeding-plumaged Eared Grebe was at Dyer’s Bay, Bruce 27–29 Apr (Michael T. Butler), with presumably the same bird seen slightly farther north on the Bruce Peninsula at the Gillies Lake outflow 30 Apr (Bob Taylor, Anne-Marie Taylor), and one was off Tommy Thomson Park 14 May (Adam Capparelli). A Western Grebe was off J. C. Saddington Park, Port Credit 21 Mar–8 Apr (Peter S. Burke, m. ob.); one was observed off Bonnie Brae Point, Oshawa, Durham 23 Mar (Rayfield R. Pye), while possibly the same or another bird was among a group of 89 Red-necked Grebes at nearby Thickson’s Bay, Whitby 22 Apr (Glenn Coady).
A Eurasian Collared-Dove frequented Nipigon, Thunder Bay 18 Feb–8 Apr (Kimberley McNaughton, Raymond J. Tyhuis), one was at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara 9 Apr (Paul Watson), another was observed at the Tip of Long Point 9 and 10 May (fide LPBO), and two frequented a Thunder Bay feeder 15–31+ May (Sheryl L. Lockert). A male White-winged Dove that spent its last two summers in Rondeau PP reappeared there 9 Apr (JTB, SRC, BAM), seen by many to the end of the period; one was at the Tip of Point Pelee 29 Apr (JLH, Kory J. Renaud, RDC) and another in Leamington, Essex 14 and 15 May (Brian Wyatt, Heidi Staniforth); one was photographed at Baie du Doré, Bruce 13 May (Bonnie Patterson-Collins); one at a private residence in Whitby from mid-May onwards (Gloria Garvie) was photographed but seen by only a few birders, and one was reported at the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory, Thunder Bay 30 and 31 May (Rinchen N. Boardman). The 27 Common Nighthawks over Wilkes Dam, Brantford, Brant 24 May (Andy Nguyen) provided a record-high spring count for the HSA The territorial male Chuck-will’s-widow returning for its fourth year to South Bay, Prince Edward, was first heard 12 May (Cheryl Anderson, Cindy Cartwright) and continued to sing at night well past the end of the period (m. ob.). With only one earlier record in the GTA database, an Eastern Whip-poor-will heard at Tommy Thomson Park 19 Apr (ALA) was very early. No migrant Yellow Rails were reported in southern Ontario this year, perhaps related to the unusually high water levels in most marshes. A King Rail was heard well at Rondeau PP 12 May (BAM) where one had been present last year. There was a Sandhill Crane in Komoka PP 8 May (Laurie Neish) and the same observer photographed a pair with young there 26 May, confirming the third ever breeding record for Middlesex.
Seven Black-necked Stilts foraging on mudflats were a good find in Little River Park, Windsor, Essex 15 Apr (Dwayne Murphy, m. ob.); a single Black-necked Stilt frequented the Tilbury STP 29 Apr–3 May (BNC, m. ob.). A noteworthy 36 breeding-plumaged American Avocets first arriving in the shorebird cell at Hillman Marsh 15 Apr (Mike Nelson, m. ob.) remained in slightly diminishing numbers to a final count of 23 on 29 Apr (BAM); single birds were on Port Burwell Beach 21 Apr (Aaron B. Allenson, m. ob.) and on Seacliff Beach, Leamington 30 Apr (JMB, Tim R. Arthur, m. ob.). An American Golden-Plover near Antrim 27 Apr (Raymond P. Holland, Bruce M. Di Labio) was possibly the first spring record for Ottawa.
Piping Plover migrants in the southwest included a banded male at Port Dover, Norfolk April 11 and 12 (Sheila Chevarie), discovered to be the bird known as Old Man, the oldest known male Piping Plover on the Great Lakes, hatched at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI in 2002; other singles, both on 7 May, were at the Port Franks sandspit, Lambton (DDN) and Port Burwell (ABA). Continued breeding success looked promising at the two Piping Plover strongholds on Lake Huron: a banded adult was at Wasaga Beach, Simcoe 18 Apr (PSB) and by 9 May eight birds had been reported there, including at least three pairs (m. ob.); a banded pair arrived back at Sauble Beach, Bruce 3 May, somewhat later than in most years (fide MTB), but by the end of the period three nests were being incubated with a total of eight adults present (m. ob.). But high water levels covering many Lake Ontario beaches became a problem for Piping Plovers this year: at Darlington PP, Durham where two pairs nested successfully last year, the first bird appeared 27 April (TLH) with up to three there to the end of the period (m. ob.), but nesting attempts washed out twice; at Presqu’ile, where one pair bred successfully last year, a pair tackling very wet beaches from 21 April (FMH)–10 May (m. ob.) reappeared 26 May farther east at North Beach PP, Prince Edward (Travis Cameron), nest-building by the end of the period. Migrants exploring other Lake Ontario beaches included singles at Bronte Harbor 21 May (MWJ, m. ob.) and Lakefront Park, Oshawa, Durham 21 May (Colette Descent); a bird banded as a 2016 nestling at Darlington was present both at Tommy Thomson Park 22 May and at Ashbridge’s Bay, Toronto 22–24 May (m. ob.).
An Upland Sandpiper was north to Terrace Bay Airport, Thunder Bay 31 May (PLC). The Whimbrel flight was relatively light along Lake Ontario this year with the Whimbrel Watch at Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto tallying 2160 birds 19–31 May compared with 3461 last year (Tim McCarthy, m. ob.); the largest flock reported was 450 off Van Wagner’s Beach, Hamilton 25 May (Brandon R. Holden). There was a Marbled Godwit at Mitchell’s Bay, Chatham-Kent 18 Apr (SRC) and a flock of up to 13 at the Hillman Marsh shorebird cell 28 and 29 Apr (J. Michael Tate, m. ob.); singles were also at Bluewater Park, Bruce 11 May (Richard Lee), on Amherst I. 20 May (Greg Miller, NM), and in the Kaiser Cross Road flooded fields, Prince Edward 22 May (DAS) – these last two possibly the same bird. Handsome breeding-plumaged Red Knots were reported in ones and twos from scattered locations in the south 19–30 May, with larger groups including nine at Wheatley Harbor, one with an orange leg flag “EJY”, 25 May (JMB, TRA, m. ob.) and 18 at Ashbridge’s Bay also 25 May (Jean Iron, m. ob.). Two, possibly three, male Ruffs were seen near Chatsworth, Grey 20–26 Apr (Jarmo V. Jalava, MTB, m. ob.), one in wet fields south of Cookstown, Simcoe 24–27 Apr (David E. Szmyr, m. ob.) moved to the Chatsworth location 26–27 Apr (m. ob.); and one foraged beside a pond on Holt Rd., Bowmanville, Durham 2 May (Peter B. Hogenbirk, m. ob.).
Up to four Stilt Sandpipers were at Hillman Marsh April 29–18 May (JMB, m. ob); one was at Powassan Lagoon, Nipissing 19 May (DT), and one was a rare spring sighting for Erieau 23 May (SRC, m. ob.). A count of 110 Dunlin in a damp field west of Port Hope, Northumberland 22 May (MJCB) was unusual away from the lakeshore; 600 flew past Van Wagner’s Beach 25 May (BRH). Very unexpected for spring, a Purple Sandpiper on the Port Weller East pier 1 May (Joshua D. Vandermeulen) was brought down to land during a storm. High water levels in Nipissing led to a scarcity of shorebirds, the only notable high count being of 82 Least Sandpipers on Powassan Lagoon 19 May (fide RL). The Whimbrel Watch at Colonel Sam Smith Park also yielded high counts of 53 White-rumped and 305 Semipalmated Sandpipers 30 May (Tim McCarthy). The only Western Sandpiper reported was one photographed on the Port Weller West pier 15 May (Jean Hampson, Judy Robins). Perhaps we are just getting better at picking out Long-billed Dowitchers in spring, but an impressive number of sightings included three at the Minesing Wetlands, Simcoe 28 and 29 Apr (JDV), two in a seasonal pond near New Tecumseth, Simcoe 1 May (John Schmelefske), up to 14 in the Point Pelee Onion Fields 1 and 2 May (KGDB, m. ob.), five in the nearby Hillman Marsh shorebird cell 1–8 May (JI, m. ob.), two at Dedrick Creek, Long Point 4 May (RR), up to four at Stoney Creek, Hamilton 4–6 May (RDP, m. ob.), one at the Sombra STP, Lambton 5–7 May (Michael P.J. Bourman, m. ob.), five near Port Crewe, Chatham-Kent 10 May (RR), two at Downsview Park, Toronto 7 May (Elias Takacs), and one at Kaiser Cross Road 18–19 May (MDR, m. ob.).
An influx of Willets occurred at Long Point 29 Apr with a record 36 at Big Creek NWA (TLH), 16 over Old Cut (Mark A. Conboy), and seven past the Tip (LPBO); also on 29 Apr, six flew past the Burlington Ship Canal pier, Hamilton (Joanne E. Redwood, Bonnie Kinder). Up to 52 Willets were seen at Hillman Marsh 30 Apr (KGDB, m. ob.); another flight of Willets 1 May included 21 birds wheeling over Lake Huron off Canatara Park, Sarnia in the early morning (JB) and the same number foraging on Seacliff Beach that afternoon (MTT, BNC). The Willet photographed on an island in Lake Opeongo 4 May (Gary Ridout, Courtney Taylor) was a first for Algonquin PP, bringing the Park’s bird list to 281 species. An “Eastern” Willet photographed at Tommy Thomson Park 13 May was considered the first documented record of that subspecies for Ontario. Nine Willets flew past Van Wagner’s Beach 5 May (BRH), two were at Port Dover, Norfolk 18 May (Peter Candido), and one was at Kaiser Cross Road, Prince Edward 19 May (Kurt J. Hennige); late migrants included one at the Embrun STP, Prescott and Russell 27 May (m. ob.), where it was the first sighting since 2009, and two at Wheatley 29 May (Garry T. Sadler). A record 205 Lesser Yellowlegs were counted in the Big Creek lowlands, Long Point 7 May (RR). The 38 Wilson’s Phalaropes at the Rainy River STP 10 May (MSD) were the highest number ever seen in spring migration there.
Jaegers through Owls
Two early jaegers, likely Parasitic, were over Lake Ontario off Bronte Harbor 21 May (RZD). A first summer Black-legged Kittiwake was found at Cobourg Harbor 27 May (MJP) and seen there again briefly the following morning (MJCB). A juvenile Ivory Gull photographed at Colchester, Essex 3 March (R. James Frith) was the first for the province since Dec. 2012 and only the second spring record. Bonaparte’s Gulls seemed in unusually large numbers along Lake Ontario with at least 200 frequenting Cobourg Harbor 23–31+ May (m. ob.). The first Little Gulls were six adults at Turkey Point Beach, Long Point 9 Mar (JGB, KGDB) with a high count of 56 in the Long Point Inner Bay off St. Williams 6 Apr (RR) and 15 at Old Cut 13 Apr (MAC); two Little Gulls arrived at Oshawa Second Marsh, a traditional migration way-station, 15 April (RRP) and the high count there was 19 on 22 Apr (RRP), with smaller numbers to 9 May (m. ob.); up to four first year birds lingered at Cobourg Harbor 23–31+ May (m. ob.). Single adult Laughing Gulls were found and photographed at the Cambridge Rd. bridge, Ottawa 22 Apr (Paul Mirsky, Gregory K. Zbitnew), Ashbridge’s Bay, Toronto 27 and 28 May (Allison Zhang, m. ob.), and Wheatley Harbor 28 May (Mark S. Field). A Franklin’s Gull was north to Porcupine Lake, South Porcupine, Cochrane 25 Apr (RDF); Ashbridge’s Bay held a first-cycle Franklin’s Gull 27 May (Allison Zhang, m. ob.) and a second-cycle bird was at Erieau, also 27 May (JTB, SRC et al.).
Excellent photographs of a nominate glaucoides Iceland Gull were taken 13–27 Apr at Ashbridge’s Bay (Jon P. Ruddy, m. ob.) for one of the few if not the only documented records for Ontario. The Lesser Black-backed Gull on Porcupine Lake, South Porcupine 21–29 Apr (RDF, Rhonda Donley) was unusual for the area. A third-cycle Slaty-backed Gull in Sarnia 6 May (DDN) was the first record for Lambton and a rare spring sighting for the province; the same individual was reliably identified in Muskegon, Michigan 21 and 22 Apr (eBird). The 23 Glaucous Gulls of various ages along the Sarnia waterfront 11 Mar (BAM) seemed a high count for the date.
An adult Arctic Tern among Common Terns on the east pier of Cobourg Harbor was unexpected and well photographed 28 May (RDM, m. ob.); the first of the Arctic Terns using their Ottawa River route northwards was at Constance Bay, Renfrew 31 May (JHS). On Lake Simcoe, at the edge of their range, 20 Forster’s Terns were at Young’s Harbor, Keswick, York 15 May (Frank Pinilla) and one was at Cook’s Bay, Simcoe 28 May (Adam Caparelli); two visited Whitby Harbor 17 May (CA), and two loitered at Cobourg Harbor 23–31+ May (LB, m. ob.), with scattered sightings at the west end of Lake Ontario.
Two Red-throated Loons flew past the Tip of Point Pelee 24 Mar (JMB, TRA); at Long Point, three were at the Tip 10 Apr (Matthew R. Iles) with almost daily flyovers, sometimes as many as 10 on the water to the end of the period, and a high count of 30 on 12 May (fide LPBO); a count of 23 migrating east past Cobourg Harbor 23 May (LB) was very unusual. An adult breeding-plumaged Pacific Loon flew directly overhead of birders at the Tip of Point Pelee 11 May (KGDB, MVAB, m. ob.); an impressive seven Pacific Loons were seen from Hastings Drive, Long Point 21 May (RR) and a single bird flew over Long Point PP 22 May (SAM).
Only the 6th provincial record, an Anhinga flew over Campbellville, Halton 28 May (Ross W. Wood). Single observations of an immature Neotropic Cormorant off Van Wagner’s Beach 5 May (BRH) and Fruitland Rd. 14 May (LPM) may represent a returning bird related to last year’s multiple observations of a long-staying individual in the HSA Given the increasing populations of American White Pelicans on the Great Lakes, it is not surprising that there were at least 16 reports of wanderers away from the known nesting colonies in the northwest of the province; most were single birds, but higher counts included six on the north shore of Lake Nipissing 30 Apr (Steve Clark), six flying over the Visitor Centre at Point Pelee 6 May (SEL, KJR), six at Rondeau PP 14 May (Ronald Kingswood, m. ob.), and 12 at Holiday Beach CA, Essex 22 May (David A. Martin); one adult at Brittania Bay was a very rare sighting for Ottawa. A first summer Brown Pelican found resting on navigation buoys on the U.S. side of the Niagara River in Buffalo, NY 27 May (Mike Monaco) obligingly made short flights into Canadian waters 29–31+May (fide Marcie L. Jacklin), seen by many Ontario birders, armed with navigation charts detailing the Canada/U.S. border, and providing the province’s 12th record.
Five American Bitterns just north of Presqu’ile 24 May (RDM) were likely flooded out of the marsh by heavy rains. At least three Least Bitterns were located in the Prospect Rd. Marsh, Kawartha Lakes 30 May (Marvin C. Medelko, Janet Medelko). The Great Egret at Port Rowan 4 Mar (Eric Jeffery) was record early for the area. Single Great Egrets were unexpected for Nipissing at Callander 19 Apr (DT,RL), and for Kawartha Lakes at Sebright 26 Apr (Nath Rockhill) and Pefferlaw 28 May (Ivan Foster); two were on Shrike Rd., Carden Alvar 28 May (JI). Two Little Blue Herons frequented Lawton’s Corners, Elgin 16–21 Apr (Mary Carnahan, Keith Sealy, m. ob.) and there was one at Prince Edward Point, Prince Edward 16 May (David Okines). Thunder Bay’s second ever Tricolored Heron was on Mission I. 25 Apr–25 May (A. Gregg Kendall, m. ob.), surviving a severe ice storm hitting the Thunder Bay area 27 Apr. Cattle Egrets were in good numbers in Essex with singles at Hillman Marsh 11 Apr (Dan Loncke) and 17 and 23 May (Karl Bardon et al.), Sturgeon Creek Marina, Leamington 4 May (Dennis Lewington, Gwen Lewington), Holiday Beach CA 22 May (DAM), and the Canard River 26 May (DAM); three were at the Onion Fields 4 May (m. ob.), and four at Hwy. 401 and Rochester Townline 15 May (DDN). Elsewhere, singles were in flight above Niagara Falls, Niagara 30 Mar (Adrian Juurlink), at Clearville, Chatham-Kent 17 Apr (Rex Bartlett), at Point Edward, Lambton 23 Apr (SMJ), at Didrick Creek, Long Point 12–22 Apr (Adam P. Timpf, Taylor Marshall, m. ob.) and past the Canadian Centre for Inland Waterways, Hamilton 29 May (Robert Z. Dobos); four Cattle Egrets flew past the Bluewater Bridge, Sarnia, Lambton 23 Apr (SMJ), three were among cattle at Sinopoli Farms, Wellington 26 Apr (JBF), and two flew north at Niagara Falls 17 May (JDV). The Green Heron in Dawson Twp. 27 May (Christopher J. Escott) was unusual for Rainy River. A breeding-plumaged White-faced Ibis was well photographed in a flooded field north of Lindsay, Kawartha Lakes 2 and 3 May (Chris J. Ellingwood, m. ob.). A Plegadis ibis was at Innis Point, Ottawa 4 May (m. ob.) and another flew overhead at the St. Clair NWA, Chatham-Kent 28 May (JTB, KJB).
At Queenston, Niagara, Black Vultures usually roosting on the U.S. side of the Niagara River occasionally drifted over into Ontario; the first to do so were three on 8 Mar (JER, BK) with intermittent sightings to 9 Apr when there were four (Dan Gavin); singles were at Blenheim, Chatham-Kent 21 Mar (KJB) and Rondeau PP 23 Apr (Jonathon Meyrav); a pair flew back and forth for two hours over the Hawk Watch at Beamer CA, Niagara 23 Apr (CJE) before going to roost in the nearby Grimsby gorge. The high count of migrating Turkey Vultures was 751 over Beamer CA 2 Apr (Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch). Thirteen Golden Eagles were seen over the HSA 6 Mar–15 Apr, all singles except for three at Beamer CA 13 Apr (m. ob.); two Golden Eagles at Big Creek NWA 19 Mar (LAF et al.) were the last of a few wintering individuals at Long Point; a Golden Eagle soaring over Sunday Creek Valley 27 Apr (CA, Virginia Anderson, Andrea Russo) provided a new late spring date for Algonquin PP Single Mississippi Kites were seen on Pelee I., Essex 17 May (Ben Porchuk, JVJ), flying over the Visitor Centre at Point Pelee 19 May (JI, m. ob.), and at Pardoville, Chatham-Kent also 19 May (KGDB). Beamer CA tallied 34 Bald Eagles 2 Mar–10 May (NPH); a nest with three young was south of Wilkes Dam, Brantford 13 Apr (Stephanie Dearing). Two Swainson’s Hawks, a light morph adult and an intermediate morph subadult, were closely studied on 3 May over Hiawatha, Chatham-Kent (KGDB, JGB). A Rough-legged Hawk on Greenbank Rd., Ottawa until 27 May (m. ob.) was very late.
Several Snowy Owls lingered unusually late: one flew over the BSC headquarters, Port Rowan 23 March (Denis Lepage, SAM, Amanda Bichel), one was at Tollgate Pond, Hamilton 6 Apr (Jeff Barbour), and one lingered in the centre of the town of Cobourg throughout March to 27 Apr (Audrey E. Wilson, Robert Lonsberry, Ben Walters, m. ob.). A Northern Hawk Owl was seen just outside Lavigne, Nipissing 25 Mar (DT,RE). A Barred Owl at South Porcupine 11 Mar (RDF) was only the second eBird report for Cochrane. Great Gray Owls were still being reported in small numbers – in Algonquin PP, at least four individuals could be seen along the Hwy.60 corridor 6 Mar–5 Apr (m. ob.), probably irruptive birds moving back north, but one mature adult at West Rose Lake 4 May (LAF,AG) was a probable resident given the date and location; up to three were on Homestead Rd., Nipissing 17–25 Mar (Ernie Frayle, RL, John Levesque), one near Birch I. 19 Mar (CTB, M. Joan Bell) was the only report for Manitoulin, and the last of the one or two wintering individuals west of Brighton, Northumberland was seen 7 Apr (RDM). A Long-eared Owl at Presqu’ile 16 Apr (FMH) was a rare spring record. A Northern Saw-whet Owl in the town of Rondeau 30 Apr (RVS, Robert Camp) was a very late spring record.
Woodpeckers through Old World Sparrows
Unexpectedly large numbers of Red-headed Woodpeckers took part in a reverse migration at the Tip of Point Pelee 26 Apr (m. ob.) though the species continues its steady decline over most of its provincial range; one was north to a Dorion feeder 30 May (Pam Carignan, Norman Carignan). A Northern Flicker at Dinorwic Lake 29 Mar (Marilyn Bilsbarrow) was an early date for Kenora. Acadian Flycatcher reports outside the extreme sw. of the province included one in the Happy Valley Forest, York 17–22 May (Andrew Davis, Steve Kinsley, Sean Macey, Julian Diener), one at Prince Edward Point 22 May (DO), and one in Marie Curtis Park, Peel 27 May (David I. Pryor). The Alder Flycatcher at Dow’s Lake 27 Apr (John Pratt) was probably the earliest record for Ottawa. A Say’s Phoebe hunted on the lawn of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory 23 Apr (Jaques Turner Moss, DO). The Great Crested Flycatcher north of Cobourg 11 Apr (Michael Biggar) was extremely early for the area. A Western Kingbird in Dawson Twp. 27 May (MSD) was rare for Rainy River; another was seen at Wiarton, Grey also on 27 May (MVAB et al.). A Loggerhead Shrike observed north of Port Hope 2 Apr (Edward R. McDonald) was a rare migrant; one was photographed at McMaster Forest, Hamilton 28 May (Rob Porter, Dilia Narduzzi). Unusual for Thickson’s Woods, Whitby was a White-eyed Vireo 13 (MJCB) and 19 May (RRP). The singing White-eyed Vireo at Lucas Point, Cobourg 27 May (David Geale, m. ob.) was rare for the area. A Bell’s Vireo was observed 12 May near the Visitors Centre, Point Pelee (Garth V. Riley, Nancy McPherson). On 16 Apr, two Warbling Vireos, one on the Stoney Creek Trail (William G. Lindley) and the other in north London (Ian Platt), were record early for Middlesex.
Fish Crows continued to advance into southern Ontario. A comparison with the late Alan Wormington’s Ontario Spring 2014 report (his last for NAB) shows the changes in both range and numbers of Fish Crows in the province in just 3 years. In Spring 2017 the main influx centered around the Niagara Peninsula and the HSA but with outliers as far apart as Point Pelee at the extreme west end of Lake Erie, to Cornwall on the St. Lawrence River, just west of the Quebec border. Most of the Fish Crows identified in 2014 were solitary while in 2017 the largest numbers reported were flocks of 12 and 14, with smaller groups of up to 5 individuals at several locations. This seems a strong foothold for further colonization.
The first nesting of Common Raven for Niagara was confirmed by a nest holding an adult and three chicks at Port Colborne 26 May (Jim White). Unusual for Durham, a Tufted Titmouse was at Darlington PP 1 May (TLH) and another was in Thickson’s Woods, Whitby 17–19 May (Michael J. Ferguson, m. ob.). At least two singing Brown Creepers were early at Eagle Lake, Kenora 27 March (Darlene D. M. Salter). A Sedge Wren at Rondeau PP 22–24 Apr (SRG, BAM, m. ob.) was locally record early. Early Blue-gray Gnatcatchers included one at Fifty Point 9 Apr (Chris Street), the earliest ever for the HSA, and another was early at the Presqu’ile Lighthouse 11 Apr (Andrea Kingsley, FMH); four at Candlewick Woods, Port Hope 2 May (REF) and three at the Cobourg Ecology Garden 11 May (Kenneth D. Niles) represented a better than average migration in Northumberland. The Townsend’s Solitaire in Thunder Bay 31 Mar (Lindy T. Wagenaar) was a good find and the only report for the period. In the HSA, a Gray-cheeked Thrush was seen at Shell Park 14 May (DD), with other singles at Riverwood Conservancy 17 May (LSF, RP) and at Ruthven Park, Haldimand 28 May (Rick Ludkin); one was on Wylie Rd., Carden Alvar 22 May (Martha Miller). Early Hermit Thrushes, singles at Erindale Park, Peel 27 Mar (Marc Johnson ) and Presqu’ile 29 Mar (MJCB), were likely migrants but possibly overwintering birds. A Wood Thrush at Ruthven Park 14 Apr (Peter Scholtens) was the earliest for the HSA by one week.
The White Wagtail foraging on a sunny lawn overlooking Lake Erie in Port Colborne, Niagara 16 Apr (Barbara K. Ceply, Kathleen VanClieaf) stayed only 10–15 minutes but luckily was photographed through a window, identifying it as not only the first for Ontario, but also only the second North American record of the yarelli subspecies, which has a home range largely in the British Isles where it is known as Pied Wagtail. Lingering Bohemian Waxwings included two at Bronte Creek PP, Halton 25 Mar (MWJ), a flock of 15 north of Port Hope 10 Apr (BW), and two at Centennial Park Rd., Kawartha Lakes 21 Apr (KAM). Late Evening Grosbeaks in the south included 10 still at Coboconk, Kawartha Lakes 2 Apr (CJE); the last birds in an overwintering flock in the Northumberland Forest north of Cobourg were 20 seen and heard 13 Apr (Karen Drew), one was at East Gwillimbury, York 18 Apr (Doug Jagger), and a female was photographed as late as 3 May at Lakeside Park, Peel (Bet Crooks). In Rainy River, large numbers of Purple Finches and Pine Siskins persisted to the end of the period (DHE). East Cross Forest, Durham produced 12 Red Crossbills 21 Mar (TLH, MJF) and four more were near Mattawa, Nipissing 14 May (Kaye Edmonds) but there were few other reports in the south outside the Algonquin Highlands. Single Common Redpolls were sighted in Guelph, Wellington 11 Mar (Fred Urie) and Woodland Meadows Park, Peel 14 Mar (Kristine Pilon). Lapland Longspurs were thinly scattered throughout the province, often as singles or in small numbers, but some impressive flocks were recorded including 200 at Fort Erie, Niagara 21 March (Ryan Griffiths) with 50 there 1 Apr (Judy Robins); Paris Plains Church Rd., Brant hosted 100 on 7 Apr (JBF), 250 on 14 Apr (JBF, Erika K. Hensch,TLH) and 200 on 26 Apr (JBF); 45 were tallied at Malmaise Point, Algoma 26 Apr (JDV), 87 were in fields on the Sibley Peninsula, Thunder Bay 4 May (Lindy Wagenaar), and up to 20 in full breeding plumage were enjoyed by many near Dunrobin, Ottawa 10–17 May (m. ob.). A few groups of Snow Buntings lingered, including 150 along Mines Rd., Haldimand 15 Mar (George Naylor) and another 150 north of Cobourg 1 Apr (Suzanne Williams).
A Cassin’s Sparrow, the 9th for Ontario and Long Point’s 3rd and earliest record, was banded at the Tip 24 Apr (MAC), staying to at least 16 May (MRI, SAM, Blaine Landsborough). An American Tree Sparrow was a rather late migrant at Rondeau PP 12 May (BAM). The Clay-colored Sparrow at Eady’s Farm, Dryden 7 May (CDE) had returned early. Single Lark Sparrows at Point Pelee were found 16 Apr at the Sparrow Field and East Beach (JDV, m. ob.) and 27 Apr at Blue Heron (SEL); another was photographed 16 May at Polly Lake, north of Nipigon, Thunder Bay (Robert Niemi). A Grasshopper Sparrow at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory 26 May (RNB) was north of the breeding range. A Henslow’s Sparrow was well-studied on the West Beach of Point Pelee 29 Apr–1 May (KGDB, m. ob.), and another was singing in Milton, Halton 25 May (Karl R. Konze). Very uncommonly seen spring migrants in the south, single Nelson’s Sparrows were discovered at St. Clair NWA (Jeremy McLarty) and Birch Point, Manitoulin (JVJ), both on 9 May. An early migrant LeConte’s Sparrow was at Canatara Park, Sarnia 24 Apr (JRB, m. ob.); at Point Pelee, one or perhaps two different LeConte’s Sparrows were seen by many at The Dunes near the Tip 30 Apr and 11 May (BAM, m. ob.) and another was beside the boardwalk in Tilden’s Woods 9 May (JBF, EKH, BHC); one was a very rare find near Almonte, Lanark 19 May (MAG). Five single White-crowned Sparrows were very early spring migrants at scattered locations across the HSA 27–29 Apr (fide WGL); four Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrows were banded at Breakwater, Long Point 2–14 May (LPBO), and another was identified at Rondeau PP 21 May (BAM). A late Fox Sparrow was in the Wawanosh Wetlands, Sarnia 19 and 27 May (Edward Lavender, m. ob.). An immature Harris’s Sparrow was on Hastings Drive, Long Point 14 May (SAM), and in the HSA singles were at James Snow Parkway pond, Milton, Halton 19 Mar–8 Apr (m. ob.) and at Riverwood Conservancy 17 May; (RP, MN); one arrived earlier than usual at Eady’s Farm, Kenora 10 May. An adult male Oregon Dark-eyed Junco was at Delaurier, Point Pelee 3 Apr (JMB) and another was observed at Old Cut, Long Point 6 May (Yousif S. Attia); the male Oregon Dark-eyed Junco at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk entrance 22 and 24 Apr (Murray Shields, m. ob.) was only the 4th record for Algonquin Park. Away from Lake Erie, single Yellow-breasted Chats were seen at Prince Edward Point 21 and 26 May (V. Paul Mackenzie, Bruce E. Ripley), Ruthven Park, Haldimand – banded 19 May (Derek Ludkin, Caleb Scholtens), Wainfleet Bog, Niagara 27–31 May (Peter Yoerg, m. ob.), and the Lambton County Heritage Forest 30 May (Kathryn Hoo).
At least three Yellow-headed Blackbirds were reported from their usual stronghold on Angler Line beside Lake St. Clair, Chatham-Kent from 22 Apr onwards (m. ob.); elsewhere, an adult male was in cattails beside stormwater ponds in Burlington, Halton 13 Apr (Tom Miller, m. ob.), another was banded at the Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Center, Timiskaming 5 May (Bruce D. Murphy, Chris Sukha), and one was at Dedrick Creek, Long Point 6 May (SAM). A Bobolink at the Toronto Is. 21 Apr (David D. Beadle) was very early for the GTA; in the north, one was an early arrival for Kenora at Oxdrift 14 May (Jo-Anne Bridgwater), with two near there 17 May (Lisa Harvey), and several in farm fields north of Dryden 24 May (CDE). An Eastern Meadowlark at Thorold, Niagara 18 Mar (Kayo J. Roy) could have been an early migrant or perhaps an overwintering bird. An early Orchard Oriole returned to Presqu’ile 28 Apr (fide FMH); Thunder Cape Bird Observatory reported single Orchard Orioles 20 and 28 May (RNB). Two Brewer’s Blackbirds were in Port Rowan 14 Mar (SAM).
The unpredictable weather systems this spring seemed to confuse and delay warbler migration. There were few large fall-outs, although the records of hoped-for southern overshoots appeared average. Worm-eating Warbler reports included one at Edgelake Park, Hamilton 6 May (Gordon Laidlaw); the one on the Jobes’ Woods Trail 12 May (David Bree) was only the 5th record for Presqu’ile; the Rondeau area saw one in Rondeau town 13 May (Robert Paul), two different individuals in Rondeau PP on 13 May (Michael J. Bouman; Brent Easter) and one 21 and 22 May (Todd Hagedorn, RDM, m. ob.); another was at Port Frank, Lambton 29 May (MVAB, CDJ, m. ob.). North to Thunder Bay, single Golden-winged Warblers were banded at McKellar I. Bird Observatory 25 May (John M. Woodcock) and Thunder Cape Bird Observatory 26 May (RNB). A Brewster’s Warbler was rare for Ottawa at Britannia Bay 18 May (m. ob.). Two interesting Golden-winged x Blue-winged Warbler hybrids were banded at Old Cut, Long Point 27 Apr (Jody R. Allair, MAC) – one had the appearance of a more or less typical Brewster’s Warbler, while the other strongly resembled a Lawrence’s Warbler, but lacked the black throat, so was not one of the typical hybrid phenotypes; a Lawrence’s Warbler was singing a Golden-winged song at Old Cut 12 May (Brendon Boyd). Usually extremely uncommon, other single Lawrence’s Warblers were seen at Point Traverse Woods, Prince Edward 12 May (MDR) and Point Pelee 20 May (Rohan van Twest), and a brilliant male sang with a Golden-winged near M’Chigeeng, Manitoulin 25 May (Don Brisebois). A Prothonotary Warbler was in an unusual location, the Canadian Wildlife Service office on the Long Point Causeway, 16 May (Denby Sadler); An extremely early Tennessee Warbler was found dead on Albert St., Ottawa 24 April (Anouk Houdeman), another early migrant was observed at Breakwater, Long Point 29 Apr (Jill Slater), and the Tennessee Warbler at Baptist Church Rd., Dryden 12 May was the earliest date for Kenora by 12 days (CDE). The overwintering Orange-crowned Warbler at Sedgewick Park, Halton was last seen 8 Apr (Randy Doniuk) and the one overwintering at LaSalle Park remained until 17 May (m. ob.).
The Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Center, Timiskaming banded its very first Connecticut Warbler 25 May (BDM) during its unexpectedly best warbler banding season on record. In the south, an adult male was seen in Canatara Park, Sarnia 17 May (Genny Houghton, Brenda Lorenz); Long Point PP harbored single Connecticut Warblers 18 May (m. ob.), 21 May (APT), 22 May (SAM) and 24 May (JRA), and one was at Old Cut 21 May (Blaine Landsborough); in Point Pelee, four or more birds were heard and some seen 10–20 May (m. ob.), mostly on the Woodland Trail and in Tilden’s Woods; one was in Harrow, Essex 21 May (Donny Moore) and one in the Ojibway Prairie Complex, Windsor also 21 May (Tom Preney, Alesandra Bugjiski); five were reported in the HSA 17–30 May including one nicely photographed at Marie Curtis Park, Peel (DIP, ph Jack Farley); one was well seen on Tommy Thomson Park 28 May (Kitty Anderson).
Single Kentucky Warblers were heard in Long Point PP 27 Apr (BNC, BRH) and at Rondeau PP 21 May (RvT et al.); at Point Pelee one was reported on the Woodland Trail 27 Apr (Delmar Doucette), one was seen and photographed in Tilden’s Woods 8 May (Michael McAllister, ph. SEL), and one was heard and briefly seen 11 May on the Woodland Trail (BNC, JBF). Outlying Hooded Warbler reports included a singing male at Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve, Bruce 15–28 May (MTB, m. ob.), its third consecutive spring at this location; one was seen at Prince Edward Point 14 and 23 May (James Thomson) and a singing male was photographed at nearby Point Traverse Woods 16 May (Richard Guillet et al.); at Presqu’ile a singing male was seen from the Newcastle Trail (RDM, Kiana Rittwage); at least one male was at Happy Valley, York 15–28 May (FP, m. ob.) with a pair photographed there on the last date. A singing male Kirtland’s Warbler was enjoyed by many birders at the West Beach of Point Pelee 9 May (m. ob.); another, probably a young male, was at the Tip 14 May (BNC, RBF, EKH, m. ob.) and one was at Sheridan’s Point, Pelee I. 14 May (Dawn Miles, Peter Coo); an adult male was well photographed at Rondeau PP 13 May (Joshua R. Bouman, m. ob.) and one was found east of Wheatley 16 May (BRH, m. ob.); in Bruce one was photographed south of Kincardine 21 May (Bob Moore) and one was at a traditional site near Southampton 28 May (Bob Taylor, Anne-Marie Taylor, m. ob.); the only female Kirtland’s Warbler reported was one at Prince Edward Point 16 May (Chris Lyons).
Hilliardton Marsh banded record numbers of Cape May Warblers and Northern Parulas in late May (JBM). A singing Cerulean Warbler was a rare migrant for Northumberland north of Cobourg 21 and 22 May (MJCB, Maureen Riggs). A “Yellow” Palm Warbler at Lakeside Park, Peel was record early for the HSA by a day (RDM, Sumreen Munim). A female Pine Warbler that overwintered at Dufferin Is., Niagara was last seen 25 Mar (NM) and a male singing at Mew Lake Campground 9 Apr (LAF) provided a new earliest date for Algonquin PP. A Yellow-throated Warbler sang from high in tall spruce trees at Holiday Beach CA 23 Apr (Paul D. Pratt, m. ob.) and one was in Tilden’s Woods, Point Pelee 12 May (Richard Skevington, m. ob.); at Long Point, one was banded at Breakwater 20 May (Casey Wright, Eleanor Page, Nick Gulotta) and another was photographed at the Tip 27 May (Peter Denyer). Two Canada Warblers were early at Dinorwic Lake, Kenora 16 May (EMR).
Summer Tanagers were widely reported, mostly the expected young male adventurers. At least 26 individuals were observed 27 Apr–26 May, largely in the heavily birded southwest of the province, but farther afield two were seen, flying south again, at the Sault Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma 17 May (Robert D. Knudsen), a second year male was at the Tobermory STP, Bruce 24 May (MTB), a female was photographed near Howdenvale, Bruce 26 May (Kiah Jasper), and farthest north of all was a brilliant male photographed at Longlac, Thunder Bay during its stay there 25 and 26 May (Fred R. Jennings). A Western Tanager in early breeding plumage was a rare find in Sudbury 23 Apr (John O’Toole); a bright male in Dwight, Muskoka frequented a feeder 2–4 May (Kelly Stronks, Rick Stronks, m. ob.), a male in Kemptville, Leeds and Grenville 3–12 May (m. ob.) was very unexpected, a female was found in Chatham, Chatham-Kent 8 May (William F. Smith), while in Thunder Bay there was one at Murillo 13 May (Diane C. Dunford) and another at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory 15 May (RNB). A resplendent male Painted Bunting visited feeders at Denbigh, Lennox and Addington 30 Apr–4 May (Ken Fuller, m. ob.).
The harbingers of the Dickcissel invasion from the dry prairies into damp Ontario included one flying over the Tip at Point Pelee 11 May (MVAB, KGDB), another with American Pipits on the nearby West Beach 17 May (Karl Bardon) and one on Pelee I. 17 May (JVJ); one was at Rondeau PP 13 May (SRC, BAM), one at Wheatley 19 May (KGDB, BRH) and one in flight at Rhododendron Gardens, Peel 13 May (RDM); in Cochrane a male in breeding plumage visited a feeder beside Porcupine Lake 17–19 May (JBP, m. ob.) and one flew up from an airstrip runway giving its distinctive flight call at North Bluff Point 17 May (RWW, Arnie MacDonald); a male was at a Thunder Bay feeder 20 and 21 May (Jeff N. Robinson).
A female House Sparrow photographed at the Visitor Centre feeders 9 Apr (LAF) was very rare for Algonquin PP, the first record since 2009. A Eurasian Tree Sparrow, only the 9th record for the province, was photographed at Port Elgin Harbor, Bruce 3 Apr (Bob Taylor, Anne-Marie Taylor).
Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 28 Mar 2021.