Ontario: Summer 2021
Summer 2021: 1 Jun–31 Jul
Capparelli, A., Janvrin, J. 2021. Summer 2021: Ontario. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-bBo> North American Birds.
We would like to extend our gratitude to Blake A. Mann, Roger Frost, Jeremy L. Hatt, Leo Heyens, and Brian Ratcliff for regional reporting, Andrew Keaveney for assistance in data logistics, and Joshua Vandermeulen, Michael Hatton, Melanie Palik, and Luke Raso for contributing the photo highlights for this report.
Drought-like conditions from May continued throughout most of the province into the first half of the summer period. Southern and north-western Ontario saw higher than average temperatures while the Hudson and James Bay region was cooler and wetter than average. July brought relief for southern Ontario, with cooler than average temperatures and rainfall to break the drought. Northern Ontario, especially north-western Ontario continued to have above-seasonal temperatures and low rainfall. This combination resulted in an exceptionally high number of forest fires: 1180 for the 2021 season compared with only 595 in 2020 and the 10-year average of 792.
Notable rarities included Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Ruff, Neotropic Cormorant, White-faced Ibis, Swainson’s Hawk, “Krider’s” Red-tailed Hawk, Sprague’s Pipit, Barn x Cliff Swallow and Clay-colored x Chipping Sparrow hybrids, and Lark Bunting.
Waterfowl through Shorebirds
This summer saw several records of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in the province: Two birds on 21 Jun at Niagara Falls, Niagara RM (fide. Marcie L. Jacklin), 16 birds from 8–13 Jul at Port Dover, Norfolk Co (Glen Patton), three birds on 9 Jul at Palmyra, Chatham-Kent Co (m. obs.), one bird on 13 Jul at Belleville, Hastings Co (Joel Frijters), and three birds from 27–28 Jul at Rodney, Elgin Co (Sarah Leys). Less exciting were a handful of reports of Mute Swan in northern Ontario: 14 Jun at Jackfish Lake, Thunder Bay Dist (Pegg L. Campbell, Mark Campbell), 15–26 Jun at Wawa, Algoma Dist (Tyler L. Hoar), 9 Jul at the mouth of the Pic River, Thunder Bay Dist (Brian Ratcliff), and 20 Jul at Terrace Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Pegg L. Campbell, Mark Campbell). Two Eurasian Collared-Doves continued from the spring into the summer reporting period: the Staples, Essex Co bird was last reported on 16 Jul (m. obs.), while the Shrewsbury, Chatham-Kent Co bird continued into August (m. obs.); a third bird, and a remarkable first for the Ottawa birding circle, was seen 3 Jun in Ottawa, City of Ottawa (Michelle Martin). The continuing White-winged Dove in Windsor, Essex Co first reported in May, was last seen on 22 Jun (m. obs.); new birds were: 3 Jun at Shrewsbury, Chatham-Kent Co (Garry T. Sadler), 21 Jun at Miller Lake, Bruce Co (Lynne Richardson, Shirley Harrison, Alfred Raab), and 18–19 Jul at City of Ottawa (fide. Sue and Gary Milks). The long-staying Chuck-will’s-widow was last heard on 16 Jul at South Bay, Prince Edward Co (m. obs.)—some observers reported hearing two birds.
The start of the third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas saw more birders than usual covering northern Ontario and turning up interesting finds, including several notable rallids. Virginia Rails recorded 9 Jun at Smooth Rock Falls, Cochrane Dist (Angie Williams), 10 Jun at Cochenour, Kenora Dist (Merle Nisly), and 6 Jul at Nettleton Lake, Cochrane Dist (Krista Oswald) were notable so far north. Similarly, Common Gallinules recorded 5 Jun at Hearst, Cochrane Dist (Jeff H. Skevington, Vincent Fyson) and 24 Jun at Savanne, Thunder Bay Dist (Sheryl Ertolahti) were also unexpected. Yellow Rail is an uncommonly detected breeder south of James Bay; atlassing efforts turned up singing birds on 5 Jun near Caramat, Thunder Bay Dist (Jeff H. Skevington, Vincent Fyson), 10 Jun at Echo Bay, Algoma Dist (Stan Phippen), and 28 Jun at Carman Bay, Cochrane Dist (Adam Liposcak).
The only record of Black-necked Stilt for the summer was 9 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Jenny Andrews, Sean M. Jenniskens). American Avocets were seen 6–12 Jun at Jarvis, Haldimand Co (Rob Palin, Stuart A. Mackenzie) and 30 Jun at Lambton Shores, Lambton Co (Kelly Montanaro). Piping Plover reports were of both migrants and breeding birds; nesting birds were last reported: 6 Jun at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Northumberland Co (m. obs.), 18 Jun at Allenwood Beach, Simcoe Co (m. obs.), 14 Jul at Sauble Beach, Bruce Co (m. obs.), 18 Jul at Wasaga Beach, Simcoe Co (m. obs.), and 21 Jul at Darlington Provincial Park, Durham RM (m. obs.); migrants were seen 14 Jun near Burlington, Halton RM (fide. iNaturalist), 13–16 Jul in the City of Toronto (Owen Strickland), and two birds on 14 Jul in the City of Toronto (Riley Walsh, Owen Strickland). A Marbled Godwit lingered from 31 May–1 Jun at Rondeau Provincial Park, Chatham-Kent Co (Stephen R. Charbonneau). A Ruff was an exciting find in Coldwater, Simcoe Co and was seen by several birders from 21–26 Jun (Anthony Glenesk). There were a few reports of Willet during the first half of the summer: the continuing bird in Oshawa, Durham RM was last seen 2 Jun (fide. Jakob Monroe), 7–14 Jun in Pembroke, Renfrew Co (Anne Burnette), 13 Jun at Wellers Bay, Prince Edward Co (Greg Brydun), 26 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Mark A. Conboy, Ryan Leys, Henry James), 30 Jun at Pinery Provincial Park, Lambton Co (Josh Nieuwenhuis), and 4 Jul at Pinery Provincial Park, Lambton Co (Sean M. Jenniskens, Brandon Edwards, Jenny Andrews).
Gulls through Ibis
Laughing Gulls were seen: 7 Jun at Amherstburg, Essex Co (Kirk Williams, Cole Williams), 9 Jun at Cabot Head, Bruce Co (Stephane Menu), and 24 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Erik Van Den Kieboom). Away from Rainy River, where they are an expected migrant, Franklin’s Gulls were reported: 6 Jun at Hurkett, Thunder Bay Dist (Susan Craig), 7 Jun near Low Bush, Cochrane Dist (Jeff H. Skevington, Vincent Fyson), 17 Jun at Brampton, Peel RM (Greg Laverty, Pat Hare, Gord Watts, Patricia Kluge), and 11 Jul at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Cecilia Verkley). A Frigatebird sp. was reported 29–30 Jul at Long Point, Norfolk Co (fide. Stuart A. Mackenzie). The continuing Neotropic Cormorant from the spring near Leamington, Essex Co was last seen 2 Jun (m. obs.) while another was present from 17–18 Jul in the City of Hamilton (Alvan Buckley). Reports of American White Pelican were widespread throughout southern Ontario: 5–7 Jun in the City of Ottawa (Gilles Seutin), 7 Jun in Mississippi Mills, Lanark Co (Rich Russell), 11 Jun near Parry Sound, Parry Sound Dist (Samantha Harvey), 13–19 Jun at Golden Lake, Renfrew Co (fide. Bev McBride), 19 Jun in the City of Toronto (Sandra Hawkins), 25 Jun at Sandy Point, City of Kawartha Lakes (Dale Coffin), 26 Jun in Burlington, Halton RM (Ryk Naves), 29–30 Jun in Brampton, Peel RM (fide. Ian Jarvie, Yves Scholten), and 2 Jul in Dundas, City of Hamilton (Kevin Empey).
A few Snowy Egrets were around at the beginning of the summer: 7 Jun in Mississauga, Peel RM (Tess Jackes), 8–14 Jun in the City of Hamilton (Dave Moffat), and 13 Jun in Orangeville, Dufferin Co (Juilan Diener). Little Blue Herons were reported: 4–5 Jun in Kingston, Frontenac Co (Ken Edwards) and 7 Jun in Amherstburg, Essex Co (Jeremy M. Bensette). Cattle Egrets were seen 15 Jun at Rodney, Elgin Co (Chris Leys) and 27–28 Jul near Moulton Station, Haldimand Co (William Konze). Green Herons reported 3 Jun in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Aarre Ertolahti), 10 Jun in Slate River Valley, Thunder Bay Dist (Troy Balec et. al), 19 Jun in Fort Frances, Rainy River Dist (Bob Saunders), and 28 Jul in Rainy River, Rainy River Dist (Jay Solanki, Andrea Kauppinen) were north of this species’ usual range. Several Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were reported this summer: 10 Jun in Windsor, Essex Co (Samantha Dundas), 10–14 Jun on Pelee Island, Essex Co (Jill Crosthwaite), 10 Jul at Port Royal, Norfolk Co (Brian Craig), 11 Jul at Glenora, Prince Edward Co (Cathy Harris), 22 Jul near Canning, Oxford Co (Dave Michielsen), 25–27 Jul in St. Catharines, Niagara RM (Lisa Bacon), and a bird present from at least 31 Jul into Aug in Etobicoke, City of Toronto (Biljana Milicevic). Glossy Ibis lingered at two spots from the spring: until 1 Jun at Leamington, Essex Co (m. obs.) and until 2 Jun at Whitby, Durham RM (m. obs.). White-faced Ibis reports were from Rondeau, Chatham-Kent Co from 1–3 Jun (Craig Anderson) and Conestogo, Waterloo RM on 24 Jun (Anthony Vanderheyden).
Vultures through Finches
Away from the Niagara region, Black Vulture sightings included 15 Jun at Waterloo, Waterloo RM (Lucas Liu), and 17–27 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Kyle Cameron, Evan Sinclair). The continuing Swainson’s Hawk from May was last seen 4 Jun at Terrace Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Jeff H. Skevington, Vincent Fyson). The Krider’s subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk, normally exclusive to central regions of the continent, can occasionally range as far as Ontario’s extreme west; one was observed 14 Jun at Rainy River, Rainy River RM (Peter Hogenbirk, Geoff Carpentier). Willow Flycatcher is very rare north of Lake Huron, but this summer saw two records: 5 Jun near Caramat, Cochrane Dist (Jeff H. Skevington, Vincent Fyson), and 10 Jun–5 Jul at Hilliardton Marsh, Timiskaming Dist (Michael Werner). Western Kingbirds were reported 4 Jun at Sioux Narrows, Kenora Dist (Christopher Martin), 7 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Henry James), 11–12 Jun at the City of Ottawa (Bernie Ladouceur), 15 Jun at Port Rowan, Norfolk Co (Stuart A. Mackenzie), and 25 Jun–29 Jul at Sable Island, Rainy River Dist (Bob Saunders). Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is remarkable for northern Ontario. Birds were reported 4 Jun at Selim, Thunder Bay Dist (Rachel Epstein), and 22–23 July at Mountjoy, Cochrane Dist (fide Adam Liposcak). Two White-eyed Vireos were seen: 1 Jun at Leamington, Essex Co (Barbara N. Charlton), and 19 Jun–9 Jul at Pelee Island, Essex Co (fide eBird).
Loggerhead Shrike observations away from expected locations included 29 Jun–1 Jul at Marsville, Dufferin Co (Kevin Lehman), 27 Jul at Seaforth, Huron Co (Marilyn Ohler), and 31 Jul at Bunyan, Lambton Co (Allanah Vokes). The continuing Black-billed Magpie of many years was observed throughout the summer at Echo Lake, Algoma Dist (fide George Prieksaitis). There are only a handful of North American records of the Barn x Cliff Swallow hybrid, one was observed 21 Jul at Strathroy, Middlesex Co (Joshua D. Vandermeulen). Marsh Wrens, rare in northern Ontario, were reported 2 Jun–23 Jul at Hurkett, Thunder Bay Dist (Max Segler, Gis Segler), 8 Jun–8 Jul at Cochenour, Kenora Dist (Makail Johannesson), 20 Jun at Rainy River, Rainy River Dist (Nancy Douglas, Mike Cowlard), 28 Jun at Carman Bay, Cochrane Dist (Adam Liposcak), 4 Jul at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Thunder Bay Dist (Dean Post, Patricia Quackenbush), 4–5 Jul at Rainy River, Rainy River Dist (Travis Cameron), and 5 Jul at Dawson, Rainy River Dist (Gray Carlin). A Sprague’s Pipit, the first record since 2003, was found near Rainy River, Rainy River Dist, seen 15–21 Jun (Peter Hogenbirk, Geoff Carpentier). The first June record of an Evening Grosbeak in the Rondeau birding area was seen at Erie Beach, Chatham-Kent Co, 13 Jun (Stephen R. Charbonneau). The House Finches first reported in Mar at the northern extreme of their range continued through Aug at Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Troy Balec et al). A Common Redpoll initially observed in Apr continued until a very late 15 Jun at Aurora, York RM (Siegmar Bodach).
Sparrows through Buntings
Field Sparrows, rare north of Lake Superior, were reported 5 Jun at Fort Frances, Rainy River Dist (Bob Saunders), and 24 Jun at Shuniah, Thunder Bay Dist (James Barber). The Clay-colored x Field Sparrow hybrid is not unexpected because of their close phylogenetic relationship, but observations are very rare; one was reported 3–22 Jul at Puslinch, Wellington Co (Joshua D. Vandermeulen). Lark Sparrow is good anywhere in the province; the one sighting this summer was 29 Jun at Walsingham, Norfolk Co (Sean M. Jenniskens, Jenny Andrews, Erik Van Den Kieboom). Also unusual was a Lark Bunting, outside its typical western range, on 18 Jun at Rainy River, Rainy River Dist (Michael V. A. Burrell, Ethan Quinton). A White-crowned Sparrow was a summer surprise at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Northumberland Co, 22–23 Jun (Baxter M. Naday); the last migrants have usually left the county by the end of May, so this late bird is unprecedented. The season’s only Harris’s Sparrow was seen 15 Jun at Rainy River, Rainy River Dist (Peter Hogenbirk, Geoff Carpentier). A mated pair of Henslow’s Sparrows, now extremely rare breeders in the province, were observed 3 Jun–Aug at Clearville, Chatham-Kent Co (James T. Burk, Keith J. Burk), with breeding confirmed. Another singing male was reported at Charing Cross, Chatham Kent Co, but disappeared after a few days, 12–17 Jun (Stephen R. Charbonneau).
There were several reports of Yellow-breasted Chat: May–16 Jun at Bronte Creek Provincial Park, Halton RM (m. obs), 2 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Rinchen Boardman), 4–16 Jun at Odessa, Frontenac Co (Jon Ruddy), 4 Jun–9 Jul at Pelee Island, Essex Co (Alessandra Wilcox), 8 Jun–6 Jul at Pelee Island, Essex Co (Alessandra Wilcox, Gabriel Evans-Cook), 15 Jun at Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (fide eBird), 15–20 Jun at Waterloo, Waterloo RM (Franc Gorenc), 16 Jun at Pleasant Valley, Essex Co (Leon Barlow), and another two records at Pelee Island, Essex Co, 23 Jun–6 Jul and 28 Jun (Alessandra Wilcox). Yellow-headed Blackbird sightings included: May–4 Jun at Rossport, Thunder Bay Dist (Jeff H. Skevington, Vincent Fyson), 1 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Stuart A. Mackenzie), 5 Jun at Sarnia, Lambton Co (m. obs.), 7 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Henry James), 11 Jun at Rondeau, Chatham-Kent Co (Paul Lagassi), 11 Jun at Heron Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Robin Heron), 18 Jun at Turkey Point, Norfolk Co (Chris Leys), and 18 Jun at Shuniah, Thunder Bay Dist (Allan Gilbert). The Western Meadowlark first seen in Apr at Glencoe, Middlesex Co (m. obs.) continued until 18 Jul; another was seen 16 Jun at Balmertown, Kenora Dist (Reuven Martin, Todd Hagedorn). There were two records of Prothonotary Warbler in the City of Toronto: May–2 Jun and May–12 Jun (m. obs.)—clearly hoping for a partner to arrive. An 18 Jul sighting of Bay-breasted Warbler was quite unusual for Walsingham, Norfolk Co (Greg Tilford) or anywhere in southern Ontario for that matter. The Summer Tanager first seen in May continued until 1 Jun at Leamington, Essex Co (Jeremy M. Bensette). A Rose-breasted Grosbeak was remarkable as far north as Kashechewan, Cochrane Dist, seen 4 Jun (Johnny Koosees). A Blue Grosbeak was observed 4 Jul–Aug at Walsingham, Norfolk Co (Erik Van Den Kieboom). Reports of Dickcissel were widespread with sightings in Norfolk, Essex, Chatham-Kent, Middlesex, Bruce, Lambton, Perth, and Elgin Cos, Niagara RM, and Manitoulin, Algoma, Thunder Bay, and Rainy River Districts.