Prairie Provinces: Fall 2022

Fall 2022: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Rudolf Koes

James Fox

Recommended citation:

Koes, R.F., and J. Fox. 2023. Fall 2022: Prairie Provinces. <> North American Birds.

Relatively mild and placid weather during much of the period enticed many migrants to linger beyond normal departure dates and resulted in a drawn-out overall migration. This came to an abrupt end during the second week of November, with cold temperatures and substantial snow, especially in the east of the region. Northern owls and winter finches remained scarce, a trend that continued into winter. Rare alcids made a splash in Alberta and Manitoba, with Ancient Murrelet and Dovekie respectively. Other notable rarities included Whooper Swan and Surfbird in Alberta and Costa’s Hummingbird and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Saskatchewan.

Waterfowl through Hummingbirds

A Whooper Swan lingered from 25 Aug into Oct at Weed Lake and Langdon Reservoir, AB (m. ob., ph.). Previous records of this species in the province have not been accepted as countable and no decision on this record has been made so far. The migration of Snow Geese was more pronounced in southeastern Manitoba than it had been in recent years. A Eurasian Wigeon at Big Gully Lake, SK on 5 Oct was a good find (Larry Hooge), as were six American Black Ducks at Marcelin, SK 12 Oct (Jean Iron, Barbara Charlton). Surf Scoter reports in Manitoba stretched from 29 Sep to 4 Nov. A tally of 35 White-winged Scoters on 29 Oct at Chalet Beach was unusually high for southern Manitoba (m. ob.), while up to three Black Scoters at Delta, MB 27 Oct–1 Nov (m. ob., ph.) and two at Round Lake, SK 29–31 Oct (m. ob.) were the most noteworthy sightings of this species. A count of 103 Barrow’s Goldeneyes, in rafts of 87 and 16, at Cypress Lake, SK on 17 Oct was probably record-high for the province (Bruce & Benjamin Di Labio). Twenty-three Ruddy Ducks at Crooked Lake, SK on 25 Nov represented a high number for such a late date (Don Weidl). Similarly, three Eared Grebes at Katepwa Lake, SK on 11 Nov were notably late (Jared and Teal Clarke). A Clark’s Grebe at Genesee Lake 4 Sep–22 Oct provided the second-ever record of the species for the Edmonton, AB area (Eugene Huyrn, ph.). White-winged Dove is still rare in the Prairie Provinces, making the record of one at Calgary, AB 23 Nov memorable (m. ob., ph.). Also rare was a Mourning Dove at Churchill, MB on 10 Oct, far north of its usual range (Michael Goodyear). Single Black-chinned Hummingbirds were at Lake Louise, AB on 14 Aug (Chaiby Leiman, ph.) and at Beaver Mines, AB on 19 Aug (Asher Warkentin). Anna’s Hummingbirds are being found in Alberta in ever-increasing numbers; there were at least seven reports between 3 Aug and 13 Oct (m. ob., ph.). New for Saskatchewan was a male Costa’s Hummingbird at Saskatoon, first noted on 27 Oct. The bird was captured, measured and photographed on 8 Nov, at the onset of colder weather, before being taken to a local rehabilitation centre (Angela & Randy Schmidt, Ron Jensen, ph.). A Rufous Hummingbird was photographed at Winnipeg, MB on 1 Sep (Michael Loyd).

Rails through Ibises

A very tardy Sora was at Oak Hammock Marsh, MB on 21 Nov (Rudolf Koes, ph.)—it was found again on 7 Dec (Helen Slavuta, ph.). Saskatchewan Black-necked Stilt reports between 1 Aug and 15 Sep came from Chaplin Lake, Last Mountain Lake, the Regina area, Reed Lake and Saskatoon (m. ob.). American Avocets lingered at Delta until 2 Nov, a provincial record-late date (m. ob., ph.), while another was at Cooking Lake, AB on 7 Nov (James Fox). A congregation of 905 American Golden-Plovers at Oak Hammock Marsh on 20 Oct, with dwindling numbers afterwards, rivalled the previous highest daily count in Manitoba (Rudolf Koes, m. ob., ph.). A Surfbird at Lesser Slave Lake on 10 Sep was the second-ever for Alberta (Susan Oshust Sly, ph.); unfortunately it did not linger. A late Spotted Sandpiper was at Saskatoon on 29 Oct (Nick Saunders). Otherwise there were no remarkable shorebird reports. Manitoba’s second-ever Dovekie was seen and well-described at Delta on 26 Oct (Cal Cuthbert); no photograph could be obtained and subsequent searches failed to relocate the bird. Equally rare was an Ancient Murrelet at Glenmore Reservoir, Calgary 1–2 Nov (Ian Maton, m. ob., ph.). In Alberta lone Parasitic Jaegers were found at Genesee Lake on 5 Sep (m. ob., ph.) and St. Albert Big Lake on 19 Sep (Chris Doupe). An unidentified jaeger was a fly-by at Delta 25 Sep (Christophe Turcotte-van de Rydt). Rafferty Lake, SK produced a late Franklin’s Gull on 28 Oct (Brett Quiring), while another tardy bird was at Starbuck, MB on 3 Nov (Jo Swartz). Reports of Iceland Gull (Thayer’s and Kumlien’s), Lesser Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull were scarce. A record-late Black Tern at Delta 27 Oct–1 Nov was about two months past its usual departure date (m. ob., ph.). An Arctic Tern was nicely photographed at Calgary on 30 Sep (Calvin Snider, ph.). The following Pacific Loon records came from Saskatchewan: one at Gardiner Dam from 15–22 Oct (Nick Saunders, Masoud J., m. ob.), one at Saskatoon 22–23 Oct (m. ob., ph.) and four at Crooked Lake on 27 Oct (Don Weidl). Two Double-crested Cormorants on 6 Aug were rare at Churchill, where the species is casual at best (Stephen Peterson, Andrew Brown). A Great Blue Heron was a Churchill rarity from 20–26 Oct (Connie Cloud). A Little Blue Heron frequented two retention ponds in Winnipeg from 18 Sep–16 Oct (Carol Vermeer, m. ob., ph.). Seen by many, it was a first for the city and about the 30th overall for the province. A Green Heron nest with three juveniles was found in Winnipeg on 28 Aug (Walker Giesbrecht, ph.). One was present at Calgary from 10 Aug to 18 Sep (m. ob., ph.); the species is much rarer in Alberta than farther east. Cattle Egret numbers in Manitoba have plummeted in recent years, making a count of 18+ near Deleau on 27 Aug noteworthy (Robert Parsons, Jo Swartz, Aaron Hywarren). Similarly, White-faced Ibis tallies during spring and summer had been low in the province, but then up to 270 were found at Whitewater Lake around 19 Sep, making one wonder where they all were earlier in the year (Cory Laughlin, Geoff Fierce, James Deng, ph.). In Alberta many late birds were present, including at Beaverhill Lake on 29 Oct.

Diurnal Raptors through Crossbills

A fly-over Golden Eagle at Winnipeg on 11 Nov was a nice find (Asher Warkentin, Jay and Judy Anderson), as was an equally-rare Ferruginous Hawk at Pembina Valley PP on 6 Oct (Jay and Judy Anderson). There were at least three Eastern Screech-Owls in southern Alberta through November, but locations are not publicized (m. ob., ph.). At the end of the fall period, northern forest owls remained scarce. There were four reports of lingering Belted Kingfishers in Saskatchewan between 29 Oct and 3 Nov, at Crooked Lake, Katepwa Lake, Round Lake and Regina (m. ob.), while one was at Portage la Prairie, MB on 2 Nov (Ward Christianson, Marlene Waldron). A Lewis’s Woodpecker visited Cochrane, AB on 3 Sep (Janice Smith, ph.). A Red-bellied Woodpecker at Regina was first noted on 9 Oct (Susan MacDonald). Possibly the same bird was rediscovered on 12 Nov; it stayed into winter (Suzy Duckett, m. ob., ph.). Remarkably late was a Western Kingbird at Grand Beach, MB on 26 Oct, almost two months past the usual departure date (Jan Bradley, Jo Swartz, ph.). A great fall visitor to Saskatchewan was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, which was seen by many during its stay at Battleford from 4 Sep to 9 Oct (Judy Jordan, m. ob., ph.). There were at least 15 previous records for the species in the province. An Eastern Wood-Pewee at Drumheller, AB on 11 Aug was well west of its usual range (Derek Keeping, fide Michael Sveen). A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at Regina on 29 Sep was late (Jared Clarke). Tardy wrens included a record-late House Wren at Lac du Bonnet, MB on 3 Nov (Peter Taylor) and Winter Wrens at Saskatoon on 8 Nov (Ryan Dudragne), Whitecourt, AB on 9 Nov, and at Edmonton on 22 Nov (Lucas Wessner. Wayne Oakes). Several Gray Catbirds were seen in Alberta in late Nov (fide James Fox). Another lingerer was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Grand Beach on 2 Nov (Peter Taylor). Catharus thrush migration was poor, at least in southern Manitoba. A Wood Thrush at Winnipeg on 5 Oct was a fall rarity (Jan Bradley). Two Bohemian Waxwings at Hecla PP, MB on 7 Sep were early arrivals from the north (Bob Shettler). The number of sightings of Eurasian Tree Sparrow continues to climb in the Prairie Provinces: one was at Broadview, SK on 1 Nov (Don Weidl, ph.), while a hybrid Eurasian Tree Sparrow x House Sparrow near Ste. Anne, MB, first seen on 9 Nov, remained into the winter (Vic Reimer, ph.).  American Pipits at Neilburg, SK on 4 Nov (Kale Worman) and at Hnausa, MB on 11 Nov (Nelson Chubey) were very late. Winter finches, especially redpolls, siskins and crossbills, were very scarce throughout the south of the region.

Snow Bunting through Indigo Bunting

A party of five Snow Buntings at Fisher Branch, MB was exceptionally early in the fall (Joanne Smith). A Clay-colored Sparrow at Saskatoon on 4 Nov was very late (Logan Moore). Vesper Sparrows usually leave southern Manitoba by early September, making a bird at Pembina Valley 12–13 Nov extremely late (Ben Ginter, ph.). Also late were a Spotted Towhee which lingered into Dec at Fort McLeod, AB (Liz Saunders) and an Eastern Towhee at Winnipeg from 17 to 29 Nov (Richard & Martha Sawchuk, Rudolf Koes, ph.). There were a number of other reports of lingering sparrows; those that remained into winter will be listed in the appropriate report. A tardy Baltimore Oriole was at Saskatoon from 7 Oct to 3 Nov (Philip Taylor). Warbler migration in southern Manitoba showed peaks 8–10 and 18–19 Sep, a bit later than usual. The following rare or late warblers were reported: Tennessee Warblers at Saskatoon 22, 26 and 29 Oct (Craig Salisbury) and at Mundare, AB on 5 Nov (Bill Riley), Northern Parula at Cold Lake 29–31 Sep (possibly the most northerly record in Alberta) (James Murray), Black-throated Blue Warblers at two Winnipeg locations on 6 and 8 Sep (Jo Swartz; John Weier), a Pine Warbler at Martensville, SK on 7 Nov (Crystal Dawn, ph.) and single Wilson’s Warblers at Chief Whitecap Park, SK on 7 Oct (Bob Godwin) and at Banff, AB on 5 Nov (James Bannon). A Summer Tanager at Dunnotar, MB 31 Jul–3 Aug attracted a lot of birders (m. ob., ph.). Two Western Tanagers were found in Saskatchewan: at Saskatoon on 1 Aug (John Kearly) and at Neilburg on 13 Aug (Kale Worman), while a cooperative bird was seen by many near Lockport, MB from 20–23 Oct (Gerald Macnee, m. ob., ph.). Northern Cardinals were west of their usual restricted range in the Prairie Provinces at North Battleford, SK on 26 Sep (Marissa Berard) and far north at High Level, AB on 20 Sep (Duncan Walmsley, ph.). An indigo Bunting at Winnipeg on 26 Sep was tardy (Marlene Waldron, ph.); even later was one at Gimli, MB on 6 Nov (Bonnie Chartier).

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 02 Apr 2023.

Photos–Prairie Provinces: Fall 2022

This Clark’s Grebe at Genesee Lake, AB on 4 Sep 2002, the first day of its stay, was north of its usual haunts. It remained until 22 Oct. Photo @ Eugene Huryn.

This Black-chinned Hummingbird was the second rare hummingbird to visit the same feeder at Beaver Mines, AB in the fall of 2022. It is seen here on 19 Aug. Photo @ Asher Warkentin.

Records of Anna’s Hummingbird have increased in recent years in Alberta. This bird was at Beaver Mines on 27 Aug 2022. Photo @ Asher Warkentin.

Costa’s Hummingbird was added to the Saskatchewan list when this bird was captured and identified at Saskatoon on 8 Nov 2022. Fearing for its survival as cold weather set in, it was caught by a licenced bander and was taken to a local rehabilitation centre, where it was apparently thriving. Photo @ Ron Jensen.

While Rufous Hummingbird is the most frequently encountered vagrant hummingbird in Manitoba, it occurs less-than-annually. This bird was at Winnipeg on 1 Sep 2022. Photo @ Michael Loyd.

The photographer of this Surfbird, Alberta’s second-ever, at Lesser Slave Lake on 10 Sep 2022 was the only person lucky enough to see it. Photo @ Susan Oshust Sly.

Although Parasitic Jaeger is a fairly regular fall migrant through Alberta, a sighting always gets the blood pumping. This bird was at Genesee Lake on 5 Sep 2022. Photo @ Ethan Denton.

Glenmore Reservoir at Calgary, AB, hosted an Ancient Murrelet on 1 (here) and 2 Nov 2022. It attracted many birders but always stayed far out on the water, resulting in mostly poor, albeit identifiable, photographs. Photo @ Calvin Snider.

Black Terns normally depart southern Manitoba by early September. This bird, seen here on 27 Oct, lingered until 1 Nov 2022, a record-late date. Photo @ Cam Nikkel.

The ultra-short legs and all blood-red bill are good fieldmarks to identify this Arctic Tern at Calgary, AB on 30 Sep 2022. Photo @ Calvin Snider.

This Little Blue Heron frequented two storm retention ponds in Winnipeg, MB from 18 Sep (here 24 Sep) to 16 Oct 2022. A first for the city, it was quite confiding and seen by many. Photo @ Rudolf Koes.

This long-staying Green Heron at Calgary, AB was first noted on 10 Aug 2022 (here 14 Aug); it lingered until 18 Sep. Photo @ Shirley Otaway.

There are only a handful of known breeding records of Green Heron in Manitoba. This family group was found at Winnipeg on 28 Aug 2022. Photo Walker @ Giesbrecht.

The Pembina River valley in southern Manitoba is a well-known hawk migration corridor in spring. It is less often visited by birders in fall, but can still turn up interesting raptors, such as this Ferruginous Hawk on 6 Oct 2022. Photo @ Jay & Judy Anderson.

Almost two months past its expected departure date was this Western Kingbird at Grand Beach, MB on 26 Oct 2022. Photo @ Jan Bradley.

One of Saskatchewan’s best birds of fall 2022 was this Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, which lingered at Battleford from 4 Sep (here 5 Oct) to 9 Oct. Photo @ Sharlane Toole.

In recent years Eurasian Tree Sparrows have shown up in the Prairie Provinces on an almost annual basis. This bird was at Broadview, SK on 1 Nov 2022. Photo @ Len Ferns.

Pine Warbler is one of the hardiest warblers in North America, sometimes lingering in the Prairie Provinces into late fall or even winter, such as this bird at Martensville, SK on 7 Nov 2022. Photo @ Crystal Dawn.

A rare warbler in Alberta at any time, this tardy Northern Parula was at Cold Lake from 29 (here) to 31 Sep 2022. Photo @ James Murray.

Several birders managed to tally this Western Tanager near Lockport, MB. Seen here on the day it was first observed (20 Oct 2022), it was last seen on 23 Oct. Photo @ Gerald Macnee.

This Northern Cardinal at High Level, AB, on 20 Sep 2022, may well have provided the northern-most record for the province. Photo @ Duncan Walmsley.