Ontario: Spring 2023

Spring 2023: 1 Mar–31 May

Adam Capparelli
adam.capparelli@mail.utoronto.ca

Aaron Rusak
afrusak@gmail.com

Recommended citation:

Capparelli, A., and A. Rusak. 2023. Spring 2023: Ontario. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-gU8> North American Birds.

March felt more like winter than January and February with cold temperatures for most of the month, and several winter storms. In northern Ontario the cold temperatures continued into April resulting in an overall colder than normal month for that region. Even in southern Ontario, April continued March’s trend of cold weather (with some areas even seeing snow in mid-April) except for a brief period of extremely warm temperatures near the end of the month that included the province’s first 30-degree day of the year. This warm stretch brought several overshooting rarities into southern Ontario. The beginning of May brought yet another return to cold temperatures which stalled migration for several days. From the second week of May onwards temperatures switched to and remained mostly seasonal for the rest of the month. Additionally, precipitation for this last bit of spring was well below normal throughout the province, resulting in steady birding throughout the month, albeit without many notable fallout events.

Due to the clear weather in May, there was only one notable weather-related birding incident: a wide band of rain across southern Ontario on May 24th grounded a number of shorebirds across the region as well as several Arctic Terns in the eastern part of the region. The other notable birding trend was the appearance of a number of Black-billed Magpies in southern Ontario. With the exception of a long-staying bird in Algoma District, this species is very rarely seen away from extreme northwestern Ontario. Most records in southern Ontario are deemed escapees, so the provenance of these birds is still in question.

Notable rarities included Pink-footed Goose, “Eurasian” Green-winged Teal, Willow Ptarmigan, Limpkin, “White-rumped” Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone x White-rumped Sandpiper hybrid, Glaucous-winged Gull, White-winged Tern, Great Cormorant, Ferruginous Hawk, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Violet-green Swallow, White Wagtail, Bullock’s Oriole, and Townsend’s Warbler.

Special thanks:

We would like to extend our gratitude to Blake A. Mann, Brian Ratcliff, Michael Dawber, Carter Dorscht, and Jeremy L. Hatt for regional reporting and Andrew Keaveney for assistance in data logistics.

Waterfowl through Grebes

Three separate records of Pink-footed Goose were present within Ontario this spring, with records on 30 Mar–3 Apr in Ajax and Markham, Durham RM/York RM (Dave Worthington), 6 Apr in Lancaster, Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry Co (Daniel Lafortune), and 29–30 Apr in Markham, York RM (Eva Lau). The first record for the province of a Barnacle x Cackling Goose was recorded 15–16 Mar in Kincardine, Bruce Co (Kiah R. Jasper). A couple swans were seen unusually far north, with a Mute Swan 15–17 May in Wawa, Algoma Dist (Ross Wood) and a Trumpeter Swan 30 May in Moose Factory, Cochrane Dist (Keith Gregoire). Another notable hybrid less regularly seen in Ontario was a Blue-winged x Cinnamon Teal seen on 16–20 Apr in Exeter, Huron Co (Nathan Hood, Dana Latour). Not unusual in spring, Eurasian Wigeon were recorded 25–28 Mar in Rowan Mills, Norfolk Co (Ted Gent, Paula Gent), 4–30 Apr in Whitby, Durham RM (Mark Dorriesfield), 7 Apr in Northville, Lambton Co (James M. Holdsworth), 18 Apr–2 May in Slate River Valley, Thunder Bay Dist (Lisa Loiselle), 18 Apr in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Susan Craig, Nelson Contardo), 21 Apr in Thessalon, Algoma Dist (Ted Priddle), 22 Apr–3 May in Mar, Bruce Co (Jarmo Jalava), and 25–28 May in Alfred, Prescott and Russell Co (Jon P. Ruddy). A Eurasian x American Wigeon was seen on 30 Mar in East Lake, Prince Edward Co (Paul Jones). Two Green-winged Teal (Eurasian) were observed in Ontario, with one lingering from Feb to 5 Mar in the City of Toronto (m. ob.) and another seen from 8–9 Apr in Whitby, Durham RM (Sam Collins). Adding to the other duck hybrids are several reports of a Green-winged Teal (Eurasian x American) being seen on 26 Mar in Rowan Mills, Norfolk Co (Mourad Jabra), 1–11 Apr in Whitby, Durham RM (Jax Nasimok), 2 Apr in Everett, Simcoe Co (WIllem Span), and 8 Apr in Leamington, Essex Co (Jeremy L. Hatt). There was a Canvasback found at an unusual location on 1 May in Tarzwell, Timiskiming Dist (Serge Gendron). Another odd duck hybrid involving Ring-necked Duck x Lesser Scaup was seen from 2–4 May in Belleville, Hastings Co (Camille Bock). Several Tufted Duck x Scaup sp hybrids were also detected this spring with one lingering from Jan–5 May in the City of Toronto (m. ob.), 29 Mar–9 Apr in Gosport, Northumberland Co (Robin Cunningham), and 21 Apr in Townsend, Haldimand Co (Max Segler). Some long staying Barrow’s Goldeneyes continued into the spring, with records from Nov–6 Apr in Owen Sound, Grey Co (m. ob.), from Feb–15 Mar in Frankford, Hastings Co (m. ob.), and one individual was seen on 14–15 in Long Point, Norfolk Co (Richard Skevington), and another seen 2 Apr on Wolfe Island, Frontenac Co (Christine Hough). The final notable duck hybrid of the spring was a Bufflehead x Hooded Merganser observed on 5 Apr in Mar, Bruce Co (Jarmo Jalava).

This year was an incredibly amazing year for Willow Ptarmigan with records popping up in a number of locations in Ontario on 30 Apr in the City of Toronto (Dibyendu Das, Bernard Miller), 6 May in Port Stanley, Elgin Co (Katey Berzins), 8–9 May in Holiday Harbour, Chatham-Kent Co (Jeremy M Bensette, m. ob.), and one of the most notable being seen on 9 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (m. ob.). This season was highlighted by widespread reports of Eared Grebe, totalling 11 records, with sightings on 31 Mar in Long Point, Norfolk Co (Ted Gent, Paula Gent), 2 Apr in Gosport, Northumberland Co (Andrea Kingsley, Adam Holder, Julia Marshall), 6–27 Apr in Strathroy, Middlesex Co (Estela Quintero-Weldon, Thilini Samarakoon, Vasura Jayaweera), 11 Apr in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Cameron Chevalier), 22 Apr in Inverhuron, Bruce Co (Bob Taylor, Anne-Marie Taylor), 23 Apr in the City of Ottawa (Rodolphe Dubois), 27 Apr at Turkey Point, Norfolk Co (Nathan Hood), 3–5 May in Oshawa, Durham RM (Mike Ferguson), 8–9 May in Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Joyce Ferris), 13 May in Kingsville, Essex Co (Barb Newman), and on 21 May in Townsend, Haldimand Co (m. ob.). Rounding out this section is three reports of Western Grebes with individuals being sighted on 4 Mar in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Michael McAllister), 28 Mar–10 Apr in Port Credit, Peel RM (Markus Legzdins), and 15 May on Sable Island, Rainy River Dist (Bob Saunders).

Doves through Shorebirds

Starting this section are two different records of Eurasian Collared-Dove with one individual being seen from 22 Mar–Jun in Staples, Essex Co (Jeremy L. Hatt) and another making its way far north being observed on 20 May in Blind River, Algoma Dist (Larry Kirtley). A good number of White-winged Doves were observed in the province with records on 8 Apr in Kingston, Frontenac Co (Robert Hickey), 12 Apr in Port Perry, Durham RM (Charmaine Anderson), 25–30 Apr in Long Point, Norfolk Co (Dale Auchinlek, Hannes Andersson, Julie Webber), 10 May in Wardsville, Middlesex Co (Donald Pye), and 13 May in Whitby, Durham RM (Peter Darcy). A Common Gallinule wandered quite far north, being seen on 28 May in Hilliardton, Timiskaming Dist (Colleen Reilly, Geordie Ray). Two Yellow Rails were detected during spring migration, with one lingering from 6–30 May in Kirkfield, City of Kawartha Lakes (Rick Lauzon) and one seen from 13–19 May in Bridgenorth, Peterborough Co (Tim Haan).

A surprising, long-awaited migrant Limpkin was seen for the first time in Ontario on 20–21 May in Angus, Simcoe Co (Josh Mandell, Rebecca Mandell, Emily Mandell). A species becoming more regular in Ontario is the Black-necked Stilt with records on 17–20 Apr in Strathroy, Middlesex Co (Donna Ferguson), 29 Apr in Strathroy, Middlesex Co (Arthur Quinlan), 7 May–Jun in Strathroy, Elgin Co (Maria Cohoon), 8–9 May in Rondeau, Chatham-Kent Co (Blake A. Mann), 12–13 May in Harrow, Essex Co (Janice Pelan), 13 May–Jun in Drayton, Wellington Co (Timothy Griffiths, Jeff DeRuyter), 14 May in Essex, Essex Co (Mike Burkowski), 16–17 May in Leamington, Essex Co (Avron Kulak, Terri Kulak), and 22 May in Wallaceburg, Chatham-Kent Co (Butch Dompierre). Another migrant with many sightings this spring was the American Avocet, being seen on 16 Apr in Leamington, Essex Co (Kory J. Renaud), 17 Apr in Oakville, Halton RM (Mark Jennings), 18 Apr in the City of Hamilton (Kathleen Farley), 18–19 Apr in St. Catherines, Niagara RM (Bob Highcock, Jean Hampson), 18 Apr in Port Stanley, Elgin Co (fide Trisha Snider), 19–24 Apr in Leamington, Essex Co (Paul Pratt), 20 Apr in Burlington, Halton RM (Ethan Gosnell), 22–23 Apr in Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Kevin Gevaert), and 8 May in Leamington, Essex Co (Kenneth G. D. Burrell, Jim Burrell). Several Piping Plovers made their way to various shorelines around the province, a few sticking around into breeding season, with records on 23–26 Apr in Rondeau Provincial Park, Chatham-Kent Co (Blake A. Mann), 27 Apr in Kingsville, Essex Co (Mike Burkowski), 30 Apr in Leamington, Essex Co (Kelly Moore, Heidi Stanforth), 4–30 May in Oshawa, Durham RM (Charmaine Anderson), 6 May in Sauble Beach, Bruce Co (fide iNaturalist), 6–27 May in the City of Toronto (Steven McClellan), 7–13 May in Allenwood Beach, Simcoe Co (Adam Capparelli), 13–23 May in Hurkett, Thunder Bay Dist (Troy Balec et al.), 10 May–Jun in Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Northumberland Co (m. ob.), and 19 May–Jun in Wasaga Beach, Simcoe Co (Anthony Taliana).

Two northerly records of Upland Sandpiper popped up on 16 May in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Gregg Kendall) and 21 May in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Susan Craig). The Eurasian subspecies of Whimbrel (White-rumped) was seen on 15 May in Whitby, Durham RM (Jax Nasimok). A very unique hybrid made an appearance for potentially the first time in North America, with a Ruddy Turnstone x White-rumped Sandpiper seen on 23 May in Leamington, Essex Co (Jeremy M. Bensette, Kate Derbyshire) and 25 May in Wheatley, Chatham-Kent Co (Vicki McKay). Two Ruffs showed up in the province, with one staying for a long time from 10–26 Apr in Long Point, Norfolk Co (Mike Poole) and another being seen on 27 Apr in Kingscote, Grey Co (Mike Cadman, Larry Hubble). A couple of unusual spring records of Purple Sandpiper were seen on 22 May in Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Pete Read, Leanne Grieves) and 23 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Ben Ivens, Owen Ivens). Another unusual spring record was a Baird’s Sandpiper on 12–13 May in Peterborough, Peterborough Co (Dave Milsom). An early Short-billed Dowitcher was picked up on 12–15 Apr in Long Point, Norfolk Co (m. ob.). Widespread reports of Willets were also spotted throughout the province with reports from Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Elgin, Haldimand, and Norfolk Cos, Parry Sound, Timiskaming, and Thunder Bay Dists, the City of Toronto, and Durham and Niagara RMs. Rounding out the shorebirds was an incredibly early Lesser Yellowlegs continuing from Feb12 Mar in Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (m. ob.)

Jaegers through Pelicans

A record of Parasitic Jaeger farther up the lake than normal was seen on 4 May in Oshawa, Durham RM (Jax Nasimok, Jeremy Logan, Tim Logan). Numerous Black-legged Kittiwakes were seen with records on 4–8 May in Georgina, York RM (William McIntyre), 5 May in Oakville, Halton RM (Mark Jennings), 5–7 May in Westport, Leeds and Grenville Co (Peter Blancher), 5 May in the City of Ottawa (Nicholas Escott, Christopher Escott), 10 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Jon P. Ruddy), and 25–26 May in Cobourg, Northumberland Co (Susanne Williams). Three Black-headed Gulls were observed across the province with records on 7 Apr in Turkey Point, Norfolk Co (Chris Vickerson), 13 May in the City of Toronto (Brian Stahls), and 19 May in the City of Toronto (Gray Carlin). A Little Gull wandered quite far north, being seen on 15–16 May in Hurkett, Thunder Bay Dist (Douglas Tate). Adding to the slew of spring rare gulls, a Laughing Gull was picked up on 1 May in Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Stephen R. Charbonneau, Kevin Gevaert). A Franklin’s Gull appeared in spring and continued into the summer, seen on 28 May–Jun in Whitby, Durham RM (Dave Worthington). A California Gull was seen on 4 Apr in Flamborough, City of Hamilton (James Lees). The last rare gull species has been becoming more regular in Ontario with Glaucous-winged Gulls being seen on 24–26 Mar in Burtch, Brant Co (William G. Lamond) and 1 Apr in Ripley, Bruce Co (James Turland, Becky Grieves).

A rare record of a White-winged Tern, likely part of the northward movement of the species, was seen on 22 May in Smiths Falls, Leeds and Grenville Co (fide eBird). This year was also a surprisingly good year for southward moving Arctic Terns with records on 24–27 May in Whitby, Durham RM (Tyler Hoar, Dave Worthington), 24 May in Morrisburg, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Co (Jon P. Ruddy), 24 May in the City of Ottawa (Colin Gaskell, Martha Burchat), 24 May in Sundridge, Parry Sound Dist (Craig Evans, Stephen O’Donnell), 24 May in Algonquin Provincial Park, Nipissing Dist (m. ob.), 28 May in Black Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Aarre Ertolahti), and 31 May in Shirley’s Bay, City of Ottawa (Michael Tate).

The southern part of province hosted several Pacific Loons with records on 30 Apr in the City of Toronto (Paul Prior), 5 May in the City of Toronto (Gavin Platt), 10 May in Long Point, Norfolk Co (Julie Webber), and 24 May in Long Point, Norfolk Co (Ron Ridout). A Northern Gannet was seen on 4 May in Ingleside, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Co (Calvin Hanson). A rare Great Cormorant continued from the winter, being seen from Dec–8 Mar in the City of Hamilton (m. ob.). Neotropic Cormorants were seen in several locations with reports on 19 Apr in Kingston, Frontenac Co (Jon P. Ruddy), 22 Apr in the City of Toronto (Howard Shapiro), 4 May in the City of Toronto (Owen Strickland, Riley Walsh), and an individual that stayed for a week from 13–20 May at Prince Edward Point, Prince Edward Co (Tom Wheatley). American White Pelican were another bird widespread away from Southwestern and Northwestern Ontario, with reports from Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Norfolk, Huron, and Bruce Cos, Durham RM, and the Cities of Toronto and Ottawa.

Herons through Shrikes

Several Great Egrets showed up in Northwestern Ontario this spring, with some records likely pertaining to the same bird: 11 Apr in Pigeon Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Allan Gilbert), 11–13 Apr in Kenora, Kenora Dist (fide Christopher Martin), 12 Apr in Dorion, Thunder Bay Dist (Rob Swainson), 12 Apr in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Julia MacArthur), and 15–21 Apr in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Susan Craig). A number of Snowy Egrets also made an appearance, with reports from the City of Hamilton on 19 Apr and 23–26 Apr (Barry Cherriere), 3–5 May in Fort Erie, Niagara RM (Terri Kershaw), 9 May in Rondeau Provincial Park, Chatham-Kent Co (Steve Hamel), 10–12 May around Wheatley and Leamington in both Chatham-Kent and Essex Cos (Cyndy Love-Minns, m. ob.), and 20–21 May in Stoney Creek, City of Hamilton (Jason Miller). A Tricolored Heron was observed on 13 May in Barrie, Simcoe Co (m. ob.) and what is possibly the same bird was seen from 18–25 May in Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Dist (Les Piccolo). Cattle Egrets were seen on 8 Apr in Tara, Bruce Co (Michael Irwin), 3 May in Shrewsbury, Chatham-Kent Co (Jeff Tunstall), 4 May in Port Alma, Chatham-Kent Co (Kevin Gevaert), 4 May in Wheatley, Chatham-Kent Co (Garth V. Riley, Nancy E. McPherson), 13–17 May in Drayton, Wellington Co (Timothy Griffiths, Jeff DeRuyter), and 27 May in Elmvale, Simcoe Co (Jack Starret).

A Green Heron seen on 27 May at Thunder Cape, Thunder Bay Dist was a good record for Northern Ontario (Thunder Cape Bird Observatory). Similarly, a Black-crowned Night-Heron present from 17 May into June in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist was unusual for the locality (Jim Miller). The only Yellow-crowned Night-Heron of the spring was photographed on 22 May near Binbrook, City of Hamilton (Steve MacIntyre). An unidentified Glossy/White-faced Ibis was reported on 7 May near Omemee, City of Kawartha Lakes (Daniel J. Riley). Black Vultures were widespread with reports from Frontenac, Chatham-Kent, Essex, Lambton and Simcoe Cos, the Cities of Toronto and Ottawa, and Niagara, Muskoka and Durham RMs. Swallow-tailed Kites were seen from 22–25 Apr near Langton, Norfolk Co (Josey Kitson), 25 Apr in the City of Ottawa (Edith St-Martin), and 13 May in Newmarket, York RM (Glenn Coady). Reports of Mississippi Kites were mostly from the province’s southwest, with one surprising report from Rainy River District in the far northwest: 13 May in Wheatley, Chatham-Kent Co (Dean Post, Patricia Quackenbush, Karla Everard), 13–20 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (m. ob.), 20 May in Burlington, Halton RM (Cheryl Edgecombe), 24 May near Harris Hill, Rainy River Dist (Nathan Hood), 28 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Steve Pike), and 29 May at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Stuart A. Mackenzie). Hybrid Red-shouldered x Red-tailed Hawks were noted from 26 Mar–3 May in Huntsville, Muskoka DM (Kelly Watts) and on 10 Apr at Dunrobin, City of Ottawa (m. ob.).

A Ferruginous Hawk was found in a ditch on 3 May near Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Samantha Ethier). Fortunately, the bird was rehabilitated and re-released with a tracking device. This individual was tracked through Lambton, Middlesex, Chatham-Kent, and Essex Cos, before crossing into Michigan on 30 May. It was independently found by birders on 24 May in Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Mike Bouman, Joshua Bouman). A hybrid Yellow-bellied x Red-naped Sapsucker, rarely reported in Ontario, was seen on 14 Apr in London, Middlesex Co (Brandon R. Holden). The continuing celebrity Lewis’s Woodpecker near Billings, Manitoulin Dist was last reported on 23 May (m. ob.). Continuing American Three-toed Woodpeckers from the winter were last reported on 3 Mar and 5 May in different locations in the City of Ottawa (m. ob.), while another was seen on 12 Mar in North Lancaster, Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry Co (fide iNaturalist). Notable Acadian Flycatchers were reported on 28 May in Kingston, Frontenac Co (Dianne Croteau, Gihyun Yoo) and 31 May near Southampton, Bruce Co (Jarmo Jalava). Western Kingbirds were observed on 22 May near Neebing, Thunder Bay Dist (Brian Ratcliff, Evan McCaul), 22–28 May on Sable Island, Rainy River Dist (Bob Saunders), 24 May in Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Keith J. Burk), and 25 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Louis Sobol). The only Scissor-tailed Flycatcher of the spring was seen 28–29 May in Cambridge, Waterloo RM (Robert Linfield). White-eyed Vireos were widespread with reports from Essex, Chatham-Kent, Middlesex, Lambton, Norfolk, and Haldimand Cos and Peel, Niagara, and Waterloo RMs. Away from their strongholds at Carden and Napanee, Loggerhead Shrikes were reported 17–21 May near Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Tyler Hoar) and 31 May in Franktown, Lanark Co (Jon P. Ruddy).

Corvids through Blackbirds

This spring saw an unprecedented number of Black-billed Magpie sightings in Southern Ontario. Many records of this species in the south have been treated as escapees, so provenance is an issue with these records. Birds were reported on 4 Apr near Wardsville, Middlesex Co (Donald Pye), 11 Apr near Guelph, Wellington Co (Angela Healey), 12–14 Apr in Dundas, City of Hamilton (Ellen Horak, Jerry Horak), 14 Apr near Rowan Mills, Norfolk Co (Steve Wilcox), and 18 Apr near West Lorne, Elgin Co (Brendan Johnston). Fish Crows were widespread away from Lake Ontario/the Niagara river corridor with reports from Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Norfolk, Huron, Haldimand, SImcoe, Prince Edward, Lennox and Addington, and Frontenac Cos. The continuing Boreal Chickadee from the winter in Fraserville, Peterborough Co was last seen on 10 Apr (m. ob.); another was reported on 7 Apr near Bobcaygeon, City of Kawartha Lakes (John Bick). A possible Violet-green Swallow was seen on 17–18 Apr in Alliston, Simcoe Co, although this record has not yet been reviewed by the provincial records committee (Willem Span). A Brown Thrasher photographed in Moosonee, Cochrane Dist on 26 Apr was a good record for James Bay (fide Christy Nielsen). Northern Mockingbirds present on 15 Apr in Silver Islet, Thunder Bay Dist (Douglas Tate) and from 29 May into June in Terrace Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Pegg L. Campbell, Mark Campbell) were notable for Northern Ontario.

A Townsend’s Solitaire was briefly seen on 17 May near Hurdville, Parry Sound Dist (Mike V. A. Burrell). Both spring records of Varied Thrush were from Northwestern Ontario: 17 Apr in Terrace Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Pegg L. Campbell, Mark Campbell) and 21 Apr in North McIntyre, Thunder Bay Dist (Joel Diebolt). There were a number of Eurasian Tree Sparrow records this spring, mostly in Northern Ontario: 28 Apr on St. Joseph Island, Algoma Dist (Patti-Jo Garside), 4 May in Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Dist (Stan Phippen), 4 May in Michipicoten, Algoma Dist (Bob Elliott), 13 May on St. Joseph Island, Algoma Dist (Carter Dorscht), 13 May in Rossport, Thunder Bay Dist (Joan Campbell Smith), 14–15 May near Government Landing, Rainy River Dist (Bob Saunders), 18 May in Hurkett, Thunder Bay Dist (Nathan Hood), 19 May in Pearl Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Aarre Ertolahti), 22 May near Tobermory, Bruce Co (Kenneth G. D. Burrell), 30 May at Prince Edward Point, Prince Edward Co (Paul Jones), and 31 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Cameron Chevalier). An “East Siberian” White Wagtail (ssp. ocularis) was seen from 23–25 April in Angus, Simcoe Co, representing the second record of this species and first of this subspecies for Ontario (Willem Span). This follows only a few years after Ontario’s first record, reported after the fact from a private residence, so as to make this second record extremely popular in the birding community—you can imagine the crowds. Notable House Finches were seen from 24 Mar–8 Apr in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Michael Carter), 25 Mar–24 May in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (m. ob.), 12 May in Kenora, Kenora Dist (Christopher Martin), and 17–18 May in La Vallee, Rainy River Dist (Severn Faykes). A Smith’s Longspur was seen from 16–17 Apr near Melbourne, Middlesex Co (Estela Quintero-Weldon). This species is very rarely recorded in Southwestern Ontario despite vast areas of open fields present and relatively close proximity to the migration route. A Grasshopper Sparrow on 24 May at Thunder Cape, Thunder Bay Dist was an excellent record for Northwestern Ontario (Thunder Cape Bird Observatory).

Lark Sparrows were reported 21–26 Apr in the City of Toronto (Noam Markus), 18 May in Hurkett, Thunder Bay Dist (Nathan Hood), 21 May near Harris Hill, Rainy River Dist (Nathan Hood), 22 May in the City of Toronto (Cecilia Verkley), 28 May into June at Thunder Cape, Thunder Bay Dist (Thunder Cape Bird Observatory), and 31 May into June in Tecumseh, Essex Co (Cathy Lapain). The continuing Harris’s Sparrow from the winter in Port Franks, Lambton Co was last seen on 24 Mar (m. ob.). A hybrid White-crowned x White-throated Sparrow was photographed on 23 Apr in the City of Hamilton (Robert Waldhuber, Mike Waldhuber). A Dark-eyed Junco x White-throated Sparrow hybrid was present from 20–21 Apr in Echo Bay, Algoma Dist (Carter Dorscht). Henslow’s Sparrows were seen on 4 Apr in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Steve Pike), 23 Apr in Long Point Provincial Park, Norfolk Co (Nicole Richardson), 4 May into June near Clearville, Chatham-Kent Co (m. ob.), and 16 May on Long Point, Norfolk Co (Long Point Bird Observatory). Yellow-breasted Chats were widespread with reports from Essex, Chatham-Kent, Elgin, and Norfolk Cos and Peel RM. Yellow-headed Blackbirds were widespread away from Lake St. Clair and Northwestern Ontario with reports from Essex, Lambton, Norfolk, Haldimand, Peterborough, Wellington, and Hastings Cos, the City of Toronto, Thunder Bay and Cochrane Dists, and Durham RM. Notable Western Meadowlarks were reported on 7 Apr in Carleton Place, Lanark Co (Jon P. Ruddy), 13 Apr in Leamington, Essex Co (Jeremy M. Bensette), and 1–10 May in Coldwater, Simcoe Co (Anthony Glenesk). Orchard Orioles seen 23 and 29 May at Thunder Cape, Thunder Bay Dist were good records for Northwestern Ontario (Thunder Cape Bird Observatory). A Bullock’s Oriole was photographed at a feeder in Michipicoten, Algoma Dist on 28 Apr (Bob Elliott).

Warblers through Buntings

Worm-eating Warblers were seen 10 May in Rondeau Provincial Park, Chatham-Kent Co (Ken MacDonald), 13 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Gina Turone), 14–21 May in Burlington, Halton RM (David Flook), 15 May at Long Point, Norfolk Co (fide eBird), 21 May near Walsingham, Norfolk Co (Ernest Carman), and 23 May in Dundas, City of Hamilton (David Bird). Notable Prothonotary Warblers were reported on 11 May in the City of Toronto (Steven McClellan), 13 May in the City of Hamilton (TJ Umb), 13–14 May in Evansville, Manitoulin Dist (Rodney Thompson, Chris Blomme), and 19 May in the City of Hamilton (Alvan Buckley). Reports of Kentucky Warbler were restricted to the southwestern counties: 11 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Piper Smith, Amy Smith), 12–14 May in Wheatley, Essex Co (Annie Finch, Kyle Swanson, Neil Denton, Rain Saulnier). 13 May in Rondeau Provincial Park, Chatham-Kent Co (m. ob.), 19 May in Rondeau Provincial Park, Chatham-Kent Co (Rick Brown), 22 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Eric Baldo), and 30 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (David McNorton). Kirtland’s Warblers were noted on 7 May on Pelee Island, Essex Co (Rob Tymstra), 9 May near Mitchell’s Bay, Chatham-Kent Co (Tyler Hoar), 16 May in Stoney Creek, City of Hamilton (Rob Dobos), and 29 May in the South Bruce, Bruce Co (Mike V. A. Burrell, Heather Broddy).

Several Yellow-throated Warblers were seen this spring: 22 Apr in Port Franks, Lambton Co (Kenneth G. D. Burrell), 24 Apr in Corunna, Lambton Co (Joshua Bouman), 26 Apr in the City of Toronto (Sean Hurley), 29 Apr–1 May in Sarnia, Lambton Co (Deryl Nethercott), 4 May in Rock Point Provincial Park, Haldimand Co (Alvan Buckley), 7 May in Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Alan Sheppard), 13 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Jeremy M. Bensette), 13–14 May on Pelee Island, Essex Co (Laurena Kirkwood, Colin Gerber), 17 May in Rondeau Provincial Park, Chatham-Kent Co (Cathy Kuepfer), and 27 May near Batchawana Bay, Algoma Dist (Pamella Hopper). A Townsend’s Warbler seen on 1 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co, was an excellent find and the first seen in the park in many years (Quinten Wiegersma). Summer Tanagers were widespread with reports from Essex, Chatham-Kent, Northumberland, Prince Edward, and Norfolk Cos, Timiskaming and Thunder Bay Dists, the City of Toronto, and Durham and Halton RMs. A Western Tanager was photographed on 6 May in Belle River, Essex Co (Maurice Bottos, Theresa Lucas) and what is likely the same bird was seen the next day, 7 May in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Brett Fried); another was seen on 18 May also in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (m. ob.).

A Rose-breasted Grosbeak present from 18–23 Apr in Manitouwadge, Thunder Bay Dist was extremely early for Northern Ontario (Tammie Hache). Blue Grosbeaks were reported from: Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co on 12 May (m. ob.), Mar, Bruce Co on 12 May (Jarmo Jalava), Walsingham, Norfolk Co on 13 May (Matthew Timpf), Rondeau Provincial Park, Chatham-Kent Co, on 13 May (George Prieksaitis), St. George, Brant Co, on 15 May (fide Stuart A. Mackenzie), Renwick, Chatham-Kent Co, on 16 May (Brandon R. Holden), and Prince Edward Point, Prince Edward Co, on 28 May (Monique Grenier). Records of Painted Bunting this spring were primarily from Northern Ontario: 6 May in Dyers Bay, Bruce Co (Sharon Bauman), 6 May in Superior Shores, Thunder Bay Dist (fide Norma Maurice), 15 May in Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Dist (Lindsay Bellini), 18 May in Hornepayne, Algoma Dist (Georgia Clifford), and 23 May near Cloud Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (fide Charmaine Fletcher). Dickcissels were seen on 21 Apr near Dowling, City of Greater Sudbury (Debbie Maki), 11 May in South Kent, Chatham-Kent Co (James T. Burk), 12 May (m. ob.) and 13 May (Henrique Pacheco) in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co, 18 May in Thessalon, Algoma Dist (Marie Wannamaker), 19 May in Mitchell, Perth Co (fide eBird), 27 May at Thunder Cape, Thunder Bay Dist (Thunder Cape Bird Observatory), and 27 May (Michael McAllister) and 28 May (Steve Pike) in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co.

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 03 Apr 2024.

Photos–Ontario: Spring 2023

This White Wagtail of the “East Siberian” subspecies, photographed here on 24 Apr near Angus, Simcoe Co, represents the second record of this species and first of this subspecies for the province. It was also the first chaseable record of this species and was cooperative for hundreds of birders from 23-25 April. Photo © Willem Span.

The first record for Ontario, this Limpkin, photographed here on 21 May near Angus, Simcoe Co, was present from 20-21 May. Although some lucky birders managed to see it from the road, for many it required a difficult walk into the marsh to get a glimpse of this rarity. Photo © Josh Vandermeulen.

This year saw several Willow Ptarmigan push south, with one making it all the way to Point Pelee National Park. It was seen by hundreds of bird on 9 May, staying around the tip of the peninsula and offering stunning views all morning. Photo © Amanda Guercio.

This Ferruginous Hawk was originally found injured along the side of the road and was rehabilitated and released with a GPS tracker on it. It travelled through several counties and was photographed on 24 May in Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co, one of its many stops around the province. Photo © Steve Charbonneau.

This unusual shorebird hybrid was originally seen on 23 May in Leamington, Essex Co. Suspected to be a Ruddy Turnstone x White-rumped Sandpiper, incredibly, this would be the first record of a Ruddy Turnstone hybrid. Photo © Jeremy Bensette.