Prairie Provinces: Fall 2016

Fall 2016: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Rudolf F. Koes

Peter Taylor

Recommended citation:

Koes, R. F., and P. Taylor. 2021. Fall 2016: Prairie Provinces. <> North American Birds.

August was rather wet throughout the region, especially in Alberta. Temperatures were near normal through much of the early fall, though central Alberta experienced a very cold October. November was mild throughout. The Rockies and parts of Saskatchewan were hit by massive snow storms in September and early October, respectively, but the snow did not persist. Southern Manitoba remained virtually snow-free to the end of November. Migration was described as routine in Alberta, without any fallout events, while southern Manitoba had one major wave of passerines between late August and early September. Winter finches were scarce. All three provinces hosted some exceptional rarities.

Contributors (provincial compilers in boldface): Christian Artuso, Yousif Attia, Michelle Belanger, George Best, Colin Blyth, James Boccia, Ryan Bradshaw, Connor Charchuk (CCh), Harry Colquhoun, Cal Cuthbert (CCu), Ethan and Neil Denton, Bruce Di Labio, Anita Drabyk, Suzy Duckett, Ryan Dudragne, Beverley Eert, James Fox, Wlad Franco-Valias, Jack and Val Frederick, Matt Gasner, Paul and Valorie Goossen, Bill Harris, Michael Harrison, Karl Hentze, Jean Horton, Kelly and Joan Kerr, Laurie Koepke, Terry Korolyk, Peter Kufeldt, Steve Lane, Bob Luterbach, Donna Martin, Paolo Matteucci, Beth McCallum, Ray Méthot, Linda Morgan, Ken Orich, Nick Parayko, Vicky Parker, Robert Parsons, Colton Prins, Dianne and Bob Ramsey, Louanne Reid, Vic Reimer, Gillian Richards (GRi), John Riddell, Gerald Romanchuk (GRo), Craig Salisbury, Nick Saunders, Dan Sawatzky, Tom and Elaine Scott, Stan Shadick, Martin Sharp (MSh), Jason Straka, Michael Sveen (MSv), Jo Swartz (JSw), Peter Taylor (PeT), Phil Taylor (PhT), Betsy Thorsteinson, Liis Veelma, Greg Wagner, Bill Wilson.


Twelve Greater White-fronted Geese at Whitewater Lake, MB 27 Nov (CB, GRi) and a Ross’s Goose near Brandon, MB 20 Nov (LR, JH) were late. At least four, but probably six, pale-bellied Brant were at Frank Lake, AB 1–19 Nov (GW, m.ob., ph.) and two at Seebe Dam, AB 20 Nov (m.ob., ph.) may have been the same duo seen earlier at Frank Lake. These were the first reports in Alberta since 1996. A Eurasian Wigeon at Luck Lake, SK 19 Oct was rare (BDL). An out-of-range American Black Duck was at Seebe 30 Oct–12 Nov (E&ND). A Harlequin Duck at St. Ambroise, MB 28 Aug–1 Sep was unusually early (MG, m.ob.). Southern Manitoba attracted greater numbers of all three scoter species than usual. Could the recent arrival of zebra mussels in the province be responsible?

Red-throated Loons were noted at Glenmore Reservoir, AB 4 Nov (BW) and Buffalo Pound Reservoir, SK 4–5 Nov (BL), one or more Pacific Loons were at Last Mountain Lake, SK 14 Oct–3 Nov (DS, BL, RD), and a Yellow-billed Loon visited Lake Wabamun, AB 2 Oct (CCh, NP). Rare anywhere in the region was a Little Blue Heron at Whitewater Lake 5–9 Sep (RP, LV, m.ob.). A tardy Cattle Egret was near Fox Creek, AB 7 Nov (K&JK, ph.) and seven were at Delta, MB 2 Nov (CCu). A Green Heron at Regina, SK 24 Sep until at least 8 Oct attracted much attention (LK, m.ob., ph.). A staggering 558 White-faced Ibis were seen lifting off from a roost at Whitewater Lake, MB on the morning of 10 Sep (RM), while at Carmichael, SK 80+ were seen 17 Aug (RB).

Leucistic individuals of several species were photographed in Alberta, including a pure-white Red-tailed Hawk in the Edmonton area for most of August (m.ob., ph. HC). A flyby Whooping Crane near Rossendale, MB on 7 Sep was convincingly described (BE). Very late was a Sora at Winnipeg, MB 21 Nov (T&ES). An excellent find was a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper near Wetaskiwin, AB 10–11 Oct (GRo, m.ob., ph.); a possible bird was near Allan, SK 10 Sep (SS et al.). Other shorebirds of note included a Black-necked Stilt at Saskatoon, SK 22 Aug (CS), 34 Buff-breasted Sandpipers at Marquette, MB 28 Aug (CA, MG, JSw, BT), and a Red Phalarope at Kaleida, MB 23 Oct (P&VG, ph.).


Jaegers have been rare in southern Manitoba in recent years, so a light-morph adult Parasitic Jaeger at Winnipeg Beach 27 Sep (DM, ph.) and a darkish immature across Lake Winnipeg at Grand Beach 29 Sep (PeT, AD, ph.) were good finds. The gull season was productive in the Calgary area, but a bust at Edmonton, AB after a local dump was closed and capped. Sabine’s Gulls were at Jasper NP, AB 14 Sep (JB), Buck Lake, SK 15 Sep (BL et al, ph.), Regina 7 Oct (LK, ph.) and Kitsim Reservoir near Brooks, AB 1-5 Nov (MH). The latter bird was the latest-ever in Alberta. Little Gulls graced Chestermere Lake, AB 26 Oct (TK) and Coal Lake, AB 1 Oct (GRo, MSh, m.obs.). Other notable gulls included single Iceland Gulls at Calgary 9 Oct (GB, WFV) and 15 Oct (MH) and numerous Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the Calgary area 5 Sep–3 Dec (m.ob.). A Lesser Black-back at the PR 227 dump in Manitoba–first reported in summer 2016–lingered until at least 10 Nov (m.ob.). Also rare were a Glaucous-winged Gull at Calgary, AB 15 Oct (MH) and a Great Black-backed Gull at Patricia Beach, MB 20 Nov (JSw, CA).

Alberta’s second Flammulated Owl was found dead at Calgary 19 Oct (KH); the specimen is now at the Royal Alberta Museum. Nearly as rare was a Western Screech-Owl near Calgary, AB from 26 Sep into Dec (D&BR, ph.). An Anna’s Hummingbird at Hinton, AB 29 Oct–23 Nov was captured on the latter date and transported to British Columbia, where it was released (BM, VP; ph. LM). Southern Manitoba experienced an unprecedented influx of Red-bellied Woodpeckers, with at least 19 different birds reported between 1 Oct and the end of the period. One was at Regina, SK from 16–30 Nov (SD, m.ob., ph.). A White-eyed Vireo at Regina, Saskatchewan’s second-ever, on 7 Nov was fortunately photographed by the lone observer (LK). A Sage Thrasher at Banff NP, AB 9 Aug was well out of range (MB, ph.). A Northern Mockingbird near Medicine Hat, AB 28 Aug was rare (YA). Smith’s Longspur is a rare migrant in Alberta, but three were seen this fall: near Seven Persons 27 Aug (YA) and near Medicine Hat 1 Oct (MSv) and 6 Oct (CP).

A Blue-winged Warbler at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Calgary 6-7 Sep was banded on the latter date (JR, SL; ph. PK). Although it represented the third record for Alberta, it was the first to be fully documented. An American Redstart at Regina 5 Nov (DS) and a Bay-breasted Warbler near Lethbridge, AB 26 Oct (KO) were late. Black-throated Blue Warblers were nice finds at Winnipeg, MB 6–13 Sep (CA, m.ob.), Canmore, AB 23–27 Sep (E&ND, ph.), and Saskatoon, SK 24 Sep (CS). A well-described Black-throated Gray Warbler at Hanley, SK would be the fourth for the province, if accepted (BH). The region’s first (and Canada’s third) Painted Redstart delighted birders from far and wide at Pinawa, MB 27 Oct–7 Nov (J&VF, AD, PeT, m.ob., ph.). Single Summer Tanagers were at Saskatoon 30 Oct–6 Nov (NS, PhT, ph.) and at Tolstoi, MB 9 Nov (PM, ph.), while a Western Tanager near Ste. Anne, MB 10–14 Nov was visited by many (VR, m.ob., ph.). Notable at Regina, SK 20–22 Oct was a Field Sparrow (DS). Both crossbill species were present in good numbers in southern Manitoba.

Photos–Prairie Provinces: Fall 2016

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