Ontario: Summer 2023

Summer 2023: 1 Jun–31 July

Adam Capparelli

Aaron Rusak

Recommended citation:

Capparelli, A., and A. Rusak. 2023. Summer 2023: Ontario. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-h7Z> North American Birds.

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

The lack of precipitation from May continued throughout the month of June creating drought conditions throughout the province. As a result, a number of forest fires broke out across northern Ontario, resulting in one of the worst summers for forest fires in the province. By the end of July, 503 fires were recorded in the province, well above the 10-year average of 469 and significantly more than the 164 recorded in summer 2022. Smoke from these fires and similar fires in western Quebec caused several days of extremely poor air quality in southern Ontario and the northeastern United States. Temperature-wise, June was near- to slightly below-normal throughout most of the province. July brought above-normal precipitation to southern Ontario, although much of northern Ontario continued to receive below-normal precipitation. Living up to its reputation as the hottest month, temperatures in July were above normal across the province with a few days of extreme heat in southern Ontario.

It was a relatively quiet summer for notable birds, although the quality was quite high, with a second, third, fourth, and seventh record recorded this summer. Towards the end of the summer period there were several reports of large flocks of Red and White-winged Crossbills moving east across the boreal forest with a few scattered reports of birds (mostly Red Crossbills) in southern Ontario.

Notable rarities included Limpkin, White-winged Tern, Tricolored Heron, and Cassin’s Kingbird.

Waterfowl through Shorebirds

The long-returning Mute Swans in Wawa, Algoma Dist were present from 19 Jun into August (Marcus Buck, Sheldon McGregor). Atlassing canoe trips into the Hudson’s Bay lowlands region of northern Ontario produced several records of Trumpeter Swan. Some of the more notable reports were: 11 Jun on the Severn River, Kenora Dist (Christian Friis), 18 Jun on the Winiskisis River, Kenora Dist (Patrick Kramer), 30 Jun–1 Jul on the Severn River south of Fort Severn, Kenora Dist (m. ob.), and 5 Jul on the Severn River south of Fort Severn, Kenora Dist (m. ob.). Eared Grebes were seen on 19 Jun in Dyer’s Bay, Bruce Co (Andrea Geboers) and 20–23 Jul in Emo, Rainy River Dist (Tim Logan, Jeremy Logan). Still fairly rare in the province, Colonel Samuel Smith Park is a well-known site for hosting the odd Western Grebe—this bird seen on 27 Jul in the City of Toronto remained into August (George Koppel). The continuing Eurasian Collared-Dove from the spring in Staples, Essex Co was last reported on 21 Jul (m. ob.); another was seen on 18 Jun near Baldoon, Chatham-Kent Co (Tyler Hoar). Summer records of White-winged Dove came exclusively from northwestern Ontario: 3 Jun in Sioux Lookout, Kenora Dist (Ari Wantoro) and 1–9 Jul in Rossport, Thunder Bay Dist (Joan Campbell Smith, Gordon Smith). Another good atlassing record for the lowlands, a Black-billed Cuckoo was heard near Moosonee, Cochrane Dist on 3 Jul (Chris Risley, Ben Taylor). While not accessible to the public, a Rufous Hummingbird was a surprising summer record on 20 Jul near Dyer’s Bay, Bruce Co (fide iNaturalist).

A Common Gallinule seen on 4 Jun near New Liskeard, Timiskaming Dist was a good record for northeastern Ontario (Mark Milton, Andrew Davis). Away from northern Ontario, notable Yellow Rails were recorded on 20 Jun near Ophir, Algoma Dist (Stan Phippen), 4 Jul near Port Severn, Muskoka DM (Aaron Rusak, Bradley Squarek, Stefani Matis), and a window-strike casualty on 19 July in the City of Toronto (fide Geoff Carpentier). Hot on the heels of Ontario’s first record, the second and third records of Limpkin were seen on 17 Jul near Windsor, Essex Co (fide Kenneth G. D. Burrell) and 18 Jul in Watford, Lambton Co (fide Erin Nicole). Unlike the first record, these two birds were only seen by the finders. The continuing Black-necked Stilts from the spring in Strathroy, Middlesex Co remained the entire summer and nested successfully for the second year (m. ob.); the continuing birds in Drayton, Wellington Co also continued into August and nested successfully (m. ob.). American Avocets were recorded on 27 Jun in Renwick, Chatham-Kent Co (Blake A. Mann), 28 Jun in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Cameron Chevalier), and 16 Jul in Belle River, Essex Co (fide Wally Simpson). The nesting Piping Plovers in Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Northumberland Co continued into August (m. ob.) as did those in Wasaga Beach, Simcoe Co (m. ob.). A Western Sandpiper was photographed on 6 Jun in Port Colborne, Niagara RM (Debbie Wright, Shirley Chambers). Summer records of WIllet were: 8 Jul in Leamington, Essex Co (Jeremy L. Hatt), 10 Jul in Pinery Provincial Park, Lambton Co (fide eBird), and 27 Jul in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Cameron Chevalier).

Gulls through Pelicans

Laughing Gulls were seen on 1 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Dale Auchinlek), 11–12 Jun at Rondeau and Erieau, Chatham-Kent Co (Sarah McAllister, David Puglia), 14–15 Jun in Whitby and Oshawa, Durham RM (fide eBird), 26 Jun in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Cameron Chevalier), and 29 Jul in Wasaga Beach, Simcoe Co (Jason Song). The continuing Franklin’s Gull from May was last reported on 24 Jun in Whitby and Oshawa, Durham RM (m. ob.); other summer records were: 5 Jun at Port Burwell, Elgin Co (David Goodyear, Regan Goodyear), 12 Jun at Rondeau, Chatham-Kent Co (Stephen R. Charbonneau, Blake A. Mann), 25–27 Jun in Kingsville, Essex Co (Jeremy L. Hatt), 25 Jun–14 Jul in Port Hope, Northumberland Co (Tim Logan, Jeremy Logan), 4 Jul in Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Dist (Brennan Obermayer), 14 Jul in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Theresa Schiller, Roz Hayes), and 19–21 Jul in Oshawa, Durham RM (Jax Nasimok). The White-winged Tern originally found across the border in Michigan made a one-day stop at Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co on 5 Jul, representing the fourth Ontario record and second this year (Cameron Chevalier). In both instances it is commonly thought that one bird was involved.

Pacific Loons were reported on 1 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Stuart A. Mackenzie) and 1 Jul near Winisk, Kenora Dist (William Konze). Neotropic Cormorants were seen on 3 Jul near Amherstburg, Essex Co (Jeremy L. Hatt) and 23–28 Jul in Vaughan, York RM (Lev Frid). Away from Essex Co and northwestern Ontario, reports of American White Pelicans were: the continuing birds from May in Sudbury, Greater Sudbury Dist, which were last seen on 5 Jun (Chris Blomme), 4 Jun in Mitchell’s Bay, Chatham-Kent Co (Maille Head), 17 Jun in Mississauga, Peel RM (Tess Jackes), 18 Jun in the City of Toronto (David Lightheart, Heather McMartin), 26 Jun in Sarnia, Lambton Co (Deryl Nethercott, Sharon Nethercott), 3 Jul at Kettle Point, Lambton Co (James M. Holdsworth), 5 Jul in North Kent, Chatham-Kent Co (Daniel Run), 9 Jul at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Kiah R. Jasper, Alessandra Wilcox), and 23 Jul in Mitchell’s Bay, Chatham-Kent Co (Valerie Chort).

Herons through Shrikes

A very northerly record of Least Bittern was reported on 4 Jun in Hilliardton, Timiskaming Dist (Andrew Davis). There were also three Great Egrets that made it quite a bit north with records on 22–24 Jul in Timmins, Cochrane Dist (Silvie Labelle), 25 Jul in Holt Mine, Cochrane Dist (Doug Manners), and 26 Jul in Esker Lakes Provincial Park, Cochrane Dist (Kathy Miller). One Snowy Egret was also found and seen for several days on 15–17 Jun in Sauble Beach, Bruce Co (Cathy Bailey). It was a good year for Tricolored Herons with records on 3–16 Jun in Collingwood, Simcoe Co (Sue Milks, Gary Milks), 4 June in Sarnia, Lambton Co (Jessica Spina), and 7–9 Jun in London, Middlesex Co (Scott Milne). A long-staying Cattle Egret was also recorded from 3–21 Jul in Georgina, York RM (Kate Derbyshire). The northern Black-crowned Night-Heron stuck around from May–13 Jun in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Gregg Kendall). Rounding out our herons were three separate records of Yellow-crowned Night-Heron with records on 8–13 Jun in Rondeau, Chatham-Kent Co (Nancy Milfrod-DeMoor), 11–12 Jun in Midhurst, Simcoe Co (Susie Bell Eves), and 23 Jun in Port Elgin, Bruce Co (Tineka Bishop).

Black Vultures were seen in a few places outside of their regular range, with one individual continuing from May–11 Jun on Pelee Island, Essex Co (Danielle Lacasse) and records on 7 Jun in Grand Valley, Dufferin Co (Dan J. MacNeal), 8 Jun in Carholme, Norfolk Co (Steve Moore), and 27 Jul in Portland, Leeds and Grenville Co (Milo Lef). A Turkey Vulture wandered quite a bit north, being recorded on 22 Jun in Peawanuck, Kenora Dist (William Konze, Mark Peck, Emily Rondel). Two out of season records of Golden Eagle were seen on 1 Jun in Dyer’s Bay, Bruce Co (Alfred Raab) and 13 Jul on Manitoulin Island, Manitoulin Dist (Garth N. Baker). Both records of Mississippi Kite stuck around for a few days with records on 7–9 Jun in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Zheng Dong Fan) and 17–19 Jun in Longlac, Thunder Bay Dist (Fred J. Jennings). The last notable raptor was a Swainson’s Hawk seen on 2 Jun in Rainy River, Rainy River Dist (m. ob.).

Three different records of Acadian Flycatcher were seen out of their expected range on 1 Jun at Prince Edward Point, Prince Edward Co (Jon P. Ruddy), 2 Jul in Bolingbroke, Lanark Co (Remy Poulin), and 25–31 Jul in Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, Lanark Co (Jon P. Ruddy). A rare vagrant Cassin’s Kingbird stuck around for a few days from 14–16 Jun in Leamington, Essex Co (Nicole Shangi). Two different Western Kingbirds also made their way into Ontario with records on 2 Jun in Pinewood, Rainy River Dist (m. ob.) and 5 Jun at Long Point, Norfolk Co (Dale Auchinlek). Finishing up the vagrant flycatchers was a stunning Scissor-tailed Flycatcher seen on 13 Jun in the City of Toronto (Laura Murray, Mark Reid). A White-eyed Vireo was also observed outside of its expected breeding range on 7 Jun in Moulton Station, Haldimand Co (Bev Stevenson).

Corvids through Buntings

A Loggerhead Shrike was seen early in the breeding season on 6 Jun in Albuna, Essex Co (Brandon R. Holden). A group of Black-billed Magpie lingered for the breeding season as well from 25 Jun–Aug in St. Thomas, Elgin Co (fide Trish Snider). Several Fish Crow were also seen outside of their usual range with records around 18 Jun in Kingston, Frontenac Co (m. ob.), May–11 Jun in Bright’s Grove, Lambton Co (m. ob.), and 29–30 Jun in Ayr, Waterloo RM (Nate Badger). One northerly report of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was seen on 3 Jun in Thunder Cape, Thunder Bay Dist (Thunder Cape Bird Observatory). Adding to our northern wanderers, a Marsh Wren was recorded for much of the breeding season from 12 Jun–25 Jul in Cochenour, Kenora Dist (Merle Nisly). Finally, a Northern Mockingbird showed up in the north as well from May–7 Jun in Terrace Bay, Thunder Bay dist (Brian Ratcliff). A vagrant Townsend’s Solitaire was also seen on 18 Jun in Horseshoe Bay, Algoma Dist (Jacques H Landry).

There were a couple records of Eurasian Tree Sparrow, a species becoming much more regular in parts of northern Ontario, with records on 5 Jun at Thunder Cape, Thunder Bay Dist (Thunder Cape Bird Observatory) and 12 Jul at Rossport, Thunder Bay Dist (Gordon Smith, Joan Campbell Smith). Another species that is having an increasing number of individuals pushing north is House Finch, with records on 10 Jun–14 Jul in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Dist (Sarah Ferguson) and 15 Jul at Lake Despair, Rainy River Dist (Bob Pape). Several Lark Sparrows were seen throughout Ontario, some records lingering since the spring, with individuals seen on May–5 Jun in Thunder Cape, Thunder Bay Dist (m. ob.), May–16 Jul in Tecumseh, Essex Co (Cathy Lapain), 9–10 Jul in Rossport, Thunder Bay Dist (Gordon Smith, Joan Campbell Smith), and 25 Jul in Brantford, Brant Co (Denys Gardiner, Sharon Gardiner). A surprising summer record of Nelson’s Sparrow was seen on 11 Jun in the City of Toronto (Julia Yelovska). A Henslow’s Sparrow also continued from the spring, being seen from May–30 Jul in Clearville, Chatham-Kent Co (m. ob.).

There were many summer records of Yellow-breasted Chat, with birds being seen 8–15 Jun in Shakespeare, Perth Co (Brent Musser), 10 Jun in West Lorne, Elgin Co (Kenneth G. D. Burrell), 25–28 Jul in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Cameron Chevalier), and 20 Jul on Pelee Island, Essex Co (Patrick Jackson). Yellow-headed Blackbirds were also reported in several different locations in the province this summer, on 26–27 Jun in the City of Hamilton (RW Bullock), 3 Jul in Whitby, Durham RM (Mike Berger), 24 Jul in Esker Lakes Provincial Park, Cochrane Dist (fide iNaturalist), and 30 Jul in Point Pelee National Park, Essex Co (Jeremy L. Hatt). Two Prothonotary Warblers were seen outside of their regular breeding grounds with a record on 17 Jun in the City of Toronto (m. ob.) and 13 Jul in Kingston, Frontenac Co (Rudy Garns). Kirtland’s Warblers were also picked up, including in a restoration site, on 2 Jun in Cavan, Peterborough Co (Scott McKinlay) and 15 Jun–2 Jul in Barrie, Simcoe Co (m. ob.). A first spring male Summer Tanager was seen on 19 Jun in Sombra, Lambton Co (Mike Bouman). A Blue Grosbeak originally seen in summer ended up lingering until the fall, being seen from 28 Jun–Aug in Tilbury, Chatham-Kent Co (Paul Pratt). Finally, a bird that is becoming significantly more widespread in Ontario is the Dickcissel, with reports from Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Bruce, Haldimand, Perth, and Grey Cos and Rainy River Dist.

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 13 Jun 2024.

Photos–Ontario: Summer 2023

Three Tricolored Herons were reported this summer in the province, including this one, photographed here on 6 June, in Collingwood, Simcoe Co which was present for two weeks. Photo © Sarah Lamond.

Only the seventh record for Ontario and the first chaseable record in over 50 years, this Cassin’s Kingbird, photographed here on 15 June, was present from the 14-16th of June in Leamington, Essex Co. Photo © Josh Vandermeulen.

Ontario’s fourth record of White-winged Tern and second this year, was almost certainly the same bird originally seen near Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately, it was only seen in Ontario by a few lucky observers on 5 July, flying past Point Pelee National Park in Essex Co. Photo © Cameron Chevalier.

Ontario sees Black-billed Magpies in the northern part of the province, but there was an exciting record of a family group in southern Ontario this summer. The group was seen from the 25th of June and continued into August in St. Thomas, Elgin Co. Photo © Lucas Foerster.