Québec: Winter 2019–2020

Winter 2019–2020: 1 Dec–29 Feb

Pierre Bannon

Olivier Barden

Normand David

Samuel Denault

Recommended Citation

Bannon, P., Bardon, O., David, N., and Denault, S. 2020. Winter 2019–2020: Québec. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-8Ut> North American Birds.

Winter 2019–2020 was very mild. January was the mildest month, being 4–6 degrees Celsius above normal, followed by February, which was 1–4 degrees Celsius above normal, and then by Dec, which was 1–2 Celsius above normal. Snowfall was below normal in Dec, near normal in Jan, and above normal in Feb. The mild temperatures probably helped some of the species found near the limit of their winter range to survive through the winter. The most remarkable of these were the 13 species of Passerellidae that overwintered.


Snow Geese lingered later than usual in southern Québec, as evidenced by 750 at Saint-Zotique 4 Jan (J. Cantara) and approximately 900 at Sainte-Martine 13 Jan (D. Simon). Normally rare in winter, at least 6 Greater White-fronted Geese were reported in Dec, the latest 29 Dec at Anse Saint-Michel, Québec City. (P. Otis, m.ob.). Single male Northern Shovelers were also late at Chambly 1–4 Jan (G. Éthier et al.) and at Saint-Jérome 4–24 Jan. (L. Tremblay). A Harlequin Duck was a welcome sight at Saint-Stanislas-de-Kostka 16–23 Dec (L. Goneau). Single Wilson’s Snipe were rare winter sightings for Dorval 24–26 Dec (J. Coutu) and for Beauceville 2–5 Jan (L. Légaré).

Among the small gulls, late individuals included a Bonaparte’s Gull at Gros-Cap (Magdalen Is.) 3 Jan (C. Roy) and a first-winter Franklin’s Gull at Chambly 7 Dec (R. Belhumeur). An estimated 4500 Great Black-backed Gulls in the vicinity of a landfill at Sorel 4 Jan provided a notable count for the province and probably also for North America (J. Lemoine). Very unusual for an inland locality, a Northern Fulmar was a great surprise at Gatineau 15 Dec (R. Dubois et al.). Late Double-crested Cormorants included 2 at Ile Rouge (Magdalen Is.) 11 Jan (C. Roy) and one at Saint-Jean-Port-Joli 28 Jan (J. Bernier). An immature Black-crowned Night-Heron at Angrignon Park (Montréal) 21 Dec was rather unexpected (L. Chartrand). Single Black Vultures were spotted at Anse à Blondel (Gaspésie) 7 Dec (G. Roy, P. Poulin) and at Saint-Irénée (Charlevoix) 21 Dec (L. Bateman, L. P. Bateman). The two birds present near a landfill at Mont-Laurier in late Nov 2019 remained undetected in Dec–Jan but were surprisingly found again 21 Feb–25 Mar exactly at the same place—presumably an overwintering record and possibly one of the northernmost in North America (A. Boisclair et al.). Single Turkey Vultures were detected at Gatineau 8 Jan. (M. Turcot), Paspébiac 10 Jan (F. Gauthier), and Sherbrooke 25 Jan (L. Corriveau). Surprisingly, a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks established its winter territory at Laval 29 Dec–23 Feb (J. Roger), while singles appeared at Cowansville 4 Jan (P. Bannon et al.), Kahnawake  5 Jan  (J. Coté), Compton 6 Jan (C. Muir-Norrie), and Granby 22–24 Jan (M. Berlinguette, M. Maheu). Although not seen in unprecedented numbers, Northern Hawk Owl had a good year, with numerous sightings reported across the province, especially in Abitibi. About a dozen Boreal Owls were discovered across the province, which surprisingly included one calling at Hudson, near Montréal 31 Jan (W. Grubert).


A Western Kingbird at Petite-Rivière-Saint-François 8 Dec was both unexpected and a record late date (S. Tremblay, ph.). A Say’s Phoebe at Champlain 5 Dec (C. Hamelin, ph.) was a great find. A Marsh Wren at Nicolet 28 Dec–15 Jan provided a record late date (Y. Dugré, C. Boilard). Hermit Thrush winter presence seems to have increased in recent years, but the one at Pointe-aux-Outardes 20 Jan (E. Hains) was the northernmost wintering case. Single Varied Thrushes graced Saint-Antoine-Abbé 20 Jan­–3 Mar (fide D.Simon) and Trois-Rivières 21 Jan–12 Apr (L. Provencher, m.ob.). A Gray Catbird 5 Feb–8 Mar at Gatineau was only the second known record of the species overwintering in the region (R. Dubois, D. Dallaire et al). Eight more individuals were reported during the winter but disappeared before the end of the season. Single Brown Thrashers were found at Cap-des-Rosiers 5 Jan (C. Roy), Saint-Hubert 19 Jan+ (C. Trudel), Baie-Saint-Paul 20–31 Jan (L. Bilodeau), and at Baie-du-Febvre 31 Jan (Y. Dugré).

The Montréal Technopark Lark Sparrow was last seen 3 Jan (m. ob.). For the second consecutive winter, Chipping Sparrows were in evidence, with at least 14 birds reported in Jan and Feb. A Field Sparrow at Cap Tourmente 17 Jan–1 Feb (D. Campeau, L. Bilodeau) was noteworthy. A Harris’s Sparrow continued at Rivière-la-Madeleine until the end of the season (G. Blanchette, ph.), while another was discovered at Saint-Anicet 28 Jan–29 Feb+ (D. Simon, m.ob.). Single Vesper Sparrows were reported at Henryville 1 Jan (T. Jobin), Lacolle 24–27 Jan (P. Bannon, S. Labbé), and Saint-Anicet 29 Jan­–29 Feb+ (G. Éthier et al.). A Savannah Sparrow at Saint-Jacques-le-Mineur 6 Feb (S. Denault) was one of the very few known regional records of this species for Febuary. A Lincoln’s Sparrow successfully overwintered at Saint-Georges de Beauce from 31 Dec onwards (A. Beauchamp, ph.). Single Swamp Sparrows appeared in Rivière-des-Prairies 26–28 Jan (Y. Gauthier) and at Beauport 23–31 Jan (M. Giroux). Six Eastern Towhees were reported throughout the period, including one that survived the entire cold season at Dolbeau-Mistassini (D. Lavoie). A male Yellow-headed Blackbird at Rouyn-Noranda 11 Dec+ (C. Dion, J. Gagnon) was the first wintering record in Abitibi. An Eastern Meadowlark visited Ogden, Eastern Townships 23 Dec–4 Feb (S. Mailhot, P. Blain.). A Red-winged Blackbird at Waskaganish 9–16 Feb was the northernmost known winter record for the province (B. Paré).

The two Pine Warblers that overwintered at Park Jean-Drapeau (Montréal) were almost expected (m. ob.), but one at Val-d’Or until 6 Mar was the first confirmed winter occurrence in Abitibi (C. Siano, R. Ladurantaye, ph.). A Scarlet Tanager at Park Jean-Drapeau (Montréal) 15 Dec (D. Néron, photos) was only the second record in Dec for the region. A first-year male Indigo Bunting was seen occasionally at Mont Saint-Hilaire 5 Feb–16 Mar; it represented a first record in the province for the period extending from Jan to Mar (R. Allie).

Report processed by José R. Ramírez-Garofalo, 29 Sep 2020.

Photos–Québec: Winter 2019–2020
Hover or click on each image to read the caption.