Québec: Winter 2016-2017

The Winter 2016-2017, December 1 – February 28

Pierre Bannon
235 de Vimy, app. 2
Saint-Bruno de Montarville, Qc J3V 6G9

Olivier Barden
2942 rue de l’Aubier
Québec, Québec G1M 3V1

Normand David
202-53 Hasting
Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Québec H9G 3C4

Samuel Denault
1991 rue Saint-Zotique Est
Montréal, Québec H2G 1J2

Recommended citation:

Bannon, P., Barden, O., Normand, D., & Denault, S. 2020. The Winter 2016-2017: Québec. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-8IP> North American Birds.

The winter 2016-2017 was among the three warmest winters in Québec’s weather history. The average temperature at Val-d’Or finished second after the record winter of 2015-16, while Montréal had its third warmest winter. Elsewhere in s. Québec, the majority of cities ranked in the top five warmest winters with temperatures 2 ° C to 5 ° C higher than the average from 1 December to 28 February. The only exception was the eastern part of the province, where the cold has been more present. In terms of precipitation, the winter 2016-2017 has respected a classic pattern. More snow fell than in a normal winter in most areas, except for extreme southern Québec near the US border where precipitation was frequently in the form of rain. The end of February was exceptionally mild in southern Québec, driving many migrants north much earlier than usual.

Contributors (sub regional editors in boldface)

Maxime Aubert, Pierre Bannon (Montréal), Jean-Pierre Barry, Hélène Crête, Samuel Denault, L. Dionne, Louis Imbeau (Abitibi-Témiscamingue), Jacques Larivée (Lower-St. Lawrence), Mylène Perreault, Pierre Poulin (Gaspésie), Alain Quenneville, Alain Richard (Magdalen Is.), Jean-François Rousseau (Québec City), Germain Savard (Saguenay−Lac-Saint-Jean), Daniel Toussaint (Outaouais).

Geese through Scoters

A Pink-footed Goose at Saint-Lazare 9-10 Dec, the 8th report in a little more than two months, was a record late date by nearly a month (ph., M. Bourque, m.ob.). As a result of the very mild temperatures near the end of Feb, several thousand Snow Geese and Canada Geese moved into the Upper-St.Lawrence and Upper-Richelieu River as early as 22-24 Feb (m. ob.). Associated with this influx of geese, a rare Barnacle Goose X Canada Goose  hybrid was well documented at Dundee 28 Feb (D. Gochfeld, M. Roach, T. Johnson, ph.). A Mute Swan discovered on Lake Boivin (Granby) 1st Dec was later found dead 16 Dec (N. Laplante, m.ob.). A late Northern Shoveler continued in Park Jean-Drapeau (Montréal) until at least 26 Jan, providing a record late date (MA, m.ob.) while 2 birds at the Mascouche wastewater pond 28 Feb established a record early arrival date (S. Guimond). Several hundreds Northern Pintails had already moved to the Upper St-Lawrence by 25 Feb. Now always rare in winter, a male Canvasback was spotted at Verdun 20 Jan (PB , SL) while another turned up at Hungry Bay 28 Feb (ML. Beaudin, m. ob.). A male Ring-necked Duck  overwintered at Dégelis (M. Beaulieu), while a pair at Sherbrooke 22 Jan was noteworthy (C. Maurice, F. Shaffer). A few early migrants started to appear in southern Québec near the end of Feb. A 1st winter male King Eider was a nice discovery at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield 1-22 Jan (AQ, m. ob., ph..). Inland Harlequin Ducks included a female at Laval 27 Dec until the end of the period (P. Franche, m.ob.), a pair at Park Jean-Drapeau (Montréal) 20 Dec-6 Feb (MA, m. ob.) and a female at Verdun 26 Dec-8 Mar (PB, SL). Finally, a male paused at Sherbrooke 18 Feb (V. Comeau). A White-winged Scoter noted 29 Jan and again 26 Feb at Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague  most probably overwintered there (AQ).

Grebes through Vultures

Always rare in winter, single Pied-billed Grebes showed up at Magog 7-14 Jan (B. Turgeon et al.), Sherbrooke 15-22 Jan (C & A. Turcotte-van de Rydt) and Laval 25-28 Jan (D. Tétreault). A Red-necked Grebe  successfully overwintered at Laval (m. ob.). Still rare in Québec, an Eurasian Collared-Dove accompanied Mourning Doves at a feeder at Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu 11 Dec onwards (E. Landa, P. Bergeron, m.ob.). Single Killdeers at Dundee (AQ) and at Saint-Jude 25 Feb (C. Dion, M. Bouchard) were most probably early migrants. During the course of an aerial survey made by the Canadian Wildlife Service, a record 1,975 wintering Purple Sandpipers were tallied at l’Îlet aux Alouettes (Charlevoix-Est) 21 Feb (C. Marcotte, F. Bolduc, S. Orichefsky). A young Black-headed Gull at Sainte-Pétronille 2 Dec was unexpected (J. Bernier, M. Raymond). At least half a dozen Double-crested Cormorants continued in southern Québec after mid-Jan. An injured American Bittern  was found at Baie-du-Febvre 13-14 Dec, providing a record late date for the province (HC, m. ob.). A Great Egret straggled to 4 Dec at Cap Tourmente, a first in the winter season for the Quebec City area (m.ob.). A late Turkey Vulture flew over Bécancour 19 Jan (ph. HC). The first migrant Turkey Vultures reached the province by 23 Feb, notably one at Saint-Armand (N. Oborne, C. Muir-Norrie), one at Saint-Hyacinthe (R. Buteau) and three at Saint-Pie-de-Bagot (Y. Daigle). They were already numerous on 25 Feb, totalling 16 at Saint-Armand (E. Tremblay) and 14 at Granby (R. Guénette).

Owls through Pipits

A live Barn Owl was a surprising discovery in a barn at Saint-Jean-des-Piles 5 Jan. The owner of the barn was able to pick up the bird and release it outside. As the news spread, a few observers soon arrived  at the site but found the bird dead in a nearby cedar edge (H. Chevalier, P. Filion, Y. Dugré). This provided a new record late date for the species.  A total of 57 Great Gray Owls was reported in s. Québec this winter. According to a four year cycle, this irruption was expected.

Rare in winter, an immature Red-headed Woodpecker was also out of range at Godbout 4 Dec onwards (D. Saint-Laurent, JPB). For a second consecutive year, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker made it through mid-winter with one at Saint-Romuald 10-21 Jan (C. Labbé). An Eastern Phoebe at Mirabel 19 Jan was quite a surprise for an insectivorous species at this record late date (FX & T. Grandmont). A chaseable Say’s Phoebe at Baie-du-Febvre 11-16 Dec survived temperature below -10 degrees Celsius during several days before vanishing at a record late date (MP, m. ob.). A Tree Swallow, misled by the mild weather, was a record early arrival by 12 days at Pointe-aux-Trembles 26 Feb (Y. Gauthier). A Marsh Wren was singing until 3 Dec at Cap Tourmente (m.ob.). A Carolina Wren at Rouyn-Noranda 5 Jan was a good find for Abitibi (C. Dion). Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Angrignon Park (Montréal) 4-14 Dec was a record late date (O. Renaud, m.ob.). Probably also misled by the mild weather, several Eastern Bluebirds were reported from eight localities in Feb. Again, with five individuals tallied for the season, the Townsend’s Solitaire can be considered as the most regular vagrant from western North America in the Region. Amazingly, a Veery was photographed again this year in Dec, this time in La Baie 4 December (GS). An American Pipit at Baie-du-Febvre 26 Dec (ph, MP, E. Demers, K. Barry) provided a record late date for the Region.

Sparrows through Cardinalids

A continuing Lark Sparrow was last seen at Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé 16 Dec (A. Couture, Y. Cyr). Vesper Sparrows were found at Grand-Saint-Esprit 1 Jan (Y. Dugré) and Saint-Blaise 9-18 Feb (L. Lemay, S. Cardinal, m. ob.). A Spotted Towhee visited a feeder and was enjoyed by hundreds at Saint-Mathieu-de-Rioux from 2 Dec though the end of winter. (LD, m.ob.). Eastern Towhees were reported as far north as Chutes-aux-Outardes from late Dec to 15 Jan (JPB) and at Baie Johan Beetz from 21 Dec-17 Jan (F. Cyr). An adult male Yellow-headed Blackbird at Contrecoeur 21 Jan (M. Surprenant) and another one at Saint-Zéphirin-de-Courval 19 Feb (ME Boudreault) were the only ones of the season. An Eastern Meadowlark at Mirabel 28 Feb (P. Marinier) was probably an early migrant. A group of 10 Rusty Blackbirds at Stanbridge Station 13 Jan was notable (PB, SL). A Northern Parula lingered at Sainte-Catherine up to 4 Dec (SD, m. ob.). Extremely rare in winter, an Indigo Bunting was also record late at Saint-Mathieu-de-Rioux 18 Dec (LD, D. Riou).

Photos–Québec: Winter 2016-2017
Hover or click on each image to read the caption.