Ontario: Summer 2017

Summer 2017: 1 June–31 July

Blake A. Mann

Recommended citation:

Mann, B. A. 2021. Summer 2017: Ontario. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-ajA> North American Birds.

The month of June saw above average rainfall. Although July was a little drier, above average precipitation still fell in most regions. Water levels continued to rise from the previous year and reached levels not seen in 20 years. High lake levels caused some flooding especially with the relentless winds. Such was the case in the Toronto Is. where they were closed to the public for much of the summer. Some areas normally accessible for birding were unavailable due to high water levels.

One of the most notable events during the period was the invasion of Dickcissels. By mid-June they started arriving and by early July they were found in numbers not seen for decades. Some regions experienced multiple colonies, while others recorded their first breeding records.

The excellent year for rarities continued into the summer period. Most notable were Western Grebe, Rufous Hummingbird, Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican (2), Tricolored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (2), Gray Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow and Bewick’s Wren.

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface)

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface)

Alfred L. Adamo (Toronto), Margaret J. C. Bain, Christopher T. Bell (Manitoulin)Bruce Brydon (York), Mark A. Conboy, David H. Elder (Rainy River)Roxane FilionRoger E. Frost (Northumberland)Marcie L. Jacklin (Niagara)William G. Lamond (Hamilton)Renee J. Levesque (North Bay)Stuart A. Mackenzie (Long Point)Blake A. Mann (Chatham-Kent & Lambton)Martha L. Miller (Kawartha Lakes), Deryl D. Nethercott, Brian D. Ratcliff (Thunder Bay)Mark D. Read (Kingston)Peter A. Read (Middlesex)Ron Ridout (Haldimand)Maureen A. Riggs (Presqu’ile)Ronald G. Tozer (Algonquin)Gregory K. Zbitnew (Ottawa).


Point Pelee (Point Pelee Birding Area); Presqu’ile (Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Northumberland); STP (Sewage Treatment Plant); place names in italics refer to a county, district, or regional municipality.

Waterfowl through Rails

Various waterfowl lingered past the spring migration period. The Greater White-fronted Goose at Terrace Bay, Thunder Bay on 9 Jun was a late spring migrant (Mark Campbell, Peggy L. Campbell). A lingering Brant was last seen at Cobourg, Northumberland on 21 Jun (m. ob.). An immature male King Eider was at Colonel Sam Smith Park, Toronto on 4 Jun (Alfred L. Adamo, Rick Eckley). Uncommon, but annual for summer were the two White-winged Scoters at Hamilton, Hamilton on 12 Jun (Bridget Hribljan). Out of season for the location was the Common Goldeneye at Sturgeon Creek, Essex on 2 Jul (DDN, m. ob.) as was the Horned Grebe at Sarnia, Lambton on 1 Jul (Sean M. Jenniskens, m. ob.). Always rare for Ontario and in this case well east, a Western Grebe was at Ottawa, Ottawa on 4 Jun (Nicholas von Maltzahn). The Eurasian Collared-Dove from the previous period at Thunder Bay was last seen 11 Jun (Sheryl L. Lockert, m. ob.). A Eurasian Collared-Dove was noted on Pelee I., Essex on 20 Jun (David Fraser). White-winged Doves are becoming quite regular now. One frequented a single location at Whitby, Durham on 16 May–31+ July (Gloria Garvie, m. ob.). Another White-winged Dove took advantage of a feeder at Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay on 24–26 Jun (Jason T. Bateman). The long-staying White-winged Dove at Rondeau PP, Chatham-Kent continued through the summer period (m. ob.). A Chuck-will’s-widow was once again at South Bay, Prince Edward from 15 May–18 Jul (Peter R. Fuller, m. ob.). A Rufous Hummingbird at Crow Rock Inlet 14–18 Jul was Rainy River’s second record (Nicole A. Grennier). King Rails are difficult to find anymore, but there were several scattered reports this year. One was heard calling near Presqu’ile on 2 Jul (R. Douglas McRae) and one at Long Point Tip, Norfolk 20–31+ July (Matt R. Iles).

Shorebirds through Gulls

The 15 Sanderlings at Cobourg Harbor, Northumberland on 3 Jun (m. ob.) were notable as late spring migrants as was the single bird at Erieau, Chatham-Kent on 20 Jun (Charmaine Anderson, Michael Ferguson, Tyler L. Hoar). A Dunlin at Kettle Point, Lambton on 18 Jun (DDN) was considered a very late spring migrant. Pushing the envelope for spring migration was the Pectoral Sandpiper near Wallaceburg, Chatham-Kent from 2–3 Jun (BAM, m. ob.). Three Semipalmated Sandpipers were getting late at Hamilton’s Windermere Basin 13 Jun (Cheryl E. Edgecombe, Robert Z. Dobos). The Long-billed Dowitcher at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara on 16 Jul was a very early fall migrant (Ryan Griffiths). A Willet at Port Hope, Northumberland on 9 Jun (Roger Frost) was a late northbound migrant. The Willet at Hearst STP, Cochrane on 4 Jun was only the second district record (Joshua D. Vandermeulen).

It was a good summer for rare gulls on the lower Great Lakes. Rarely seen in spring migration, a Black-legged Kittiwake put on a show at Bronte Harbor, Halton 7 Jun (Jean Iron, Kevin A. McLaughlin, Richard Poort, m. ob.); and out of season indeed, was another at Ashbridge’s Bay, Toronto 13 Jul (Jean Iron, Ron J. Pittaway). A Black-headed Gull was at Cobourg 4 Jun (Mark J. Paltry); it was joined by another there 7 Jun (MJCB). Yet another Black-headed Gull was at Wheatley Harbor, Chatham-Kent 5–7 Jul and likely the same bird was at Leamington, Essex 11 Jul (Jeremy M. Bensette). Laughing Gulls were in unusually high numbers, with one at Cobourg 1 Jun (MJCB), one at Bronte Harbor, Halton 8 Jun (Alec Napier, m. ob.), another at Port Dover, Haldimand 15–18 Jun (Mourad Jabra, m. ob.) and yet another was at Fruitland Beach, Niagara 28 Jun (Leonard P. Manning). An adult was at Toronto’s Ashbridge’s Bay 20 Jun (Owen Strickland) while a second-cycle was at the same location 22–24 Jun (Owen Strickland, m. ob.). An adult Franklin’s Gull was at Ottawa 3–5 Jun and at Kanata, Ottawa 7 Jun (Bernie Ladouceur, m. ob,). A first-cycle Franklin’s Gull was at Bronte Harbor 4–5 Jun (Mike King, George Prieksaitis, Paul Strong, m. ob.). Another was at Toronto’s Ashbridge’s Bay 3 Jul (Brian Stahls). A summering Glaucous Gull was at Wheatley Harbor 28–31 Jul+ (Kenneth G. D. Burrell, Brandon R. Holden).

Frigatebirds through Herons

A female Magnificent Frigatebird at Sturgeon Creek, Essex 30 Jun–2 Jul was the first record for Point Pelee (Joan Walker, m. ob.). Although they have increased in recent years, there were fewer reports of American White Pelicans in the south than the previous year. The 24 at Point Pelee 3 Jun were likely individuals that spent early summer in western Lake Erie (BAM et al.). Six were at Hamilton 2–3 Jun (Jackson Judecki, m. ob.). A single was at Port Maitland, Haldimand 6 Jun (Christian A. Friis), while another was at Murphy’s Point, Leeds and Grenville 8 Jun (Jon P. Ruddy). 18 were at Windsor, Essex 12 Jun (Dwayne Gillis) and four were at Point Pelee 17 Jun (BAM). Rare for Lambton, one was at Kettle Point 4 Jul (George W. MacDermid, m. ob.). The last report was the individual at False Duck I., Prince Edward 31 Jul (Tyler L. Hoar). A Brown Pelican first seen at Fort Erie, Niagara 29 May was in the area until at least 5 Jun (Marcie L. Jacklin et al.). A Brown Pelican was briefly seen at Toronto 10 Jun (Burl Gar). Appearing to be an annual event, a Snowy Egret was again at Hamilton’s Windemere Basin 20 Jun–31 Jul (Barry S. Cherriere, m.ob.). A Tricolored Heron was at Toronto’s Tommy Thompson Park 20–28 Jul (Paul N. Prior, m. ob.). Cattle Egrets are indeed becoming more regular in the province. One was at Wiarton, Bruce 23 Jun (Garth V. Riley, Nancy McPherson). Others included the two at Mitchell’s Bay, Chatham-Kent 23 Jun (William Cornell) and one at Etobicoke, Toronto 23 Jun (Natalie Robertson). A single bird was at Point Pelee 1 Jul (Joshua R. Bouman, m. ob.). The Cattle Egret at Gore Bay STP, Manitoulin 12 Jul was the first district record since 2012 (Terry Land). Rare for the north was the Black-crowned Night-Heron at Thunder Bay 24 Jul (Amy L. Godwin). A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was at Tincap, Prescott and Russell 15 Jun (Jon P. Ruddy, et al.) while another was a popular attraction at Clarington, Durham 3–7 Jul (Sue Mulder).

Flycatchers through Wrens

A Western Kingbird was at Long Point Tip 1 Jun (MAC, Margot Munro) while another was found near Gore Bay, Manitoulin 7 Jul (Mark J. Paltry). New for Long Point and only Ontario’s ninth, was the Gray Kingbird at Long Point Tip 21 Jul (Stuart A. Mackenzie). A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was in Nipissing’s Calvin Township 7 Jun (Fred Pinto). A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Toronto 25 Jun was a one-day wonder (Eric Phelps). A Loggerhead Shrike at Avonry, Lambton 13 Jun created some excitement (DDN, Blake A. Mann). This species nested regularly in the area more than fifty years ago but had long since disappeared due to loss of habitat and other factors. Fish Crows continue to increase in the province and are well-established in the Niagara region. An unprecedented 40 were at Niagara Falls, Niagara 21 Jul (Joshua D. Vandermeulen)Elsewhere the sightings are more frequent such as near the west end of Lake Ontario. One was at Bronte 6 Jun (Bob Curry et al.) and one was at Port Credit, Peel 14 Jul (Peter Burlee). A Violet-green Swallow that mated with a Tree Swallow at Thunder Bay was first observed 12 Jun and last seen 6 Jul (Christine V. Johnson, m. ob.). The pair was observed actively building a nest, but this was lost due to Red Squirrel predation. The pair moved to a second box to resume nesting. After the female disappeared, the nest box was examined and two cold eggs were found.

Finches through Dickcissels

A bumper crop of conifer cones in 2017 began to attract crossbills in areas such as Algonquin Park. The normal time between bumper crops is two to three years, but the last one was about six years previous. Numbers of Red Crossbills gradually increased since late June, while White-winged Crossbills were present in smaller numbers (fide Ronald G. Tozer). Rare for the north was the Eastern Towhee at Thunder Bay’s Lakehead University 13 Jun (Joshua L. Levac). Unusual locations for the declining Yellow-breasted Chat included one at Wainfleet, Niagara 30 May–4 Jun (Joseph Fell, m. ob.) one at Sarnia 4–7 Jun (John Cameron, m. ob.) and another near Guelph, Wellington 10–16 Jun (Dan McNeal, Curtis Combdon, m. ob.). Yellow-headed Blackbirds away from usual breeding areas, included a single male at Georgina, York 2 Jul (Karl R. Konze, Cindy Shaban). In Manitoulin, a Western Meadowlark was on Manitoulin I. near the airport 27 Jun–7 Jul (Christopher T. Bell, Steve Thorpe) while another was reported farther west at Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma 9 Jul (Kenneth G. D. Burrell, Nathan G. Miller).

A Louisiana Waterthrush at Frontenac PP, Frontenac 21 Jun was unusual for the eastern part of the province (Dan Derbyshire). A Black-and-White Warbler at Port Credit 4 Jul seemed out of place for the date (Peter S. Burke). A singing male Cerulean Warbler at Point Pelee 3 Jun was unusual for the date (BAM, Marianne B. Balkwill, Jeremy L. Hatt). A Northern Parula was a record-early fall migrant at Presqu’ile 13 Jul (William A. Gilmour, Margaret Tourney). A male Lark Bunting was observed near Thunder Bay 1 June (Harold W. Alanen). A pair of Western Tanagers at Kama Point near Nipigon, Thunder Bay 4 Jun (A. D. Belmont Kerr and Elizabeth M. Kerr) briefly visited a feeder. Another was at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory, Thunder Bay 5 Jun (Rinchen N. Boardman). A Blue Grosbeak at Ottawa 3–7 Jun was a local first (Cathy MacLaren, m. ob.). The invasion of Dickcissels into Ontario was unprecedented. By about mid-June Dickcissels started moving into the province in noticeable numbers and eventually reached hundreds of birds with most in the southwest. Birders in Chatham-Kent recorded at least 30 locations involving over 100 birds (fide P. Allen Woodliffe), while Lambton recorded at least 27 sites with singing males (fide BAM). Essex birders found about 20 sites involving more than 70 birds. There were four reports in the north involving ten individuals; seven singing males were at Rainy River (Dan Lee, m. ob.). Some regions recorded their first ever nesting records, including the pair at Long Point last seen 14 Jul (Ron Ridout, m. ob.).

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 28 Mar 2021.

Photos–Ontario: Summer 2017

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