Québec: Winter 2021-2022

Winter 2021–2022: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Pierre Bannon

Olivier Barden

Normand David

Samuel Denault

Recommended citation:

Bannon, P., O. Barden, N. David  and S. Denault. 2022. Winter 2021—2022: Québec. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-dyS> North American Birds.

The winter started with mild temperatures in Dec but turned much colder in Jan. Highlights for the period were the amazing discovery of three Bramblings, a passerine of northern Eurasia previously found only once in the province, a Northern Lapwing, a Mountain Bluebird and an Ivory Gull. Western visitors almost annual in Québec present during this period were Townsend’s Solitaire, Varied Thrush, Lark Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Some summer resident species that appear to be more frequent in recent winters included Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Bluebird, and Hermit Thrush.


Single Greater White-fronted Geese stopped at Noyan 5–12 Dec (Tristan Jobin) and at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu 15–17 Dec (Réal Boulet). The Tundra Bean-Goose present in several localites of southern Québec in the fall was last reported at Noyan 5 Dec (Tristan Jobin) and at Saint-Georges-de-Clarenceville 6 Dec (Mathieu Landry) providing a new record late date. A female Gadwall  at Matane 15 Jan was very unusual for the date (Jules-Alex Banville). An immature male King Eider was harvested by a hunter on Lake Saint-Louis near Dorval 30 Dec (fide Dominique Bellemare). Single Harlequin Ducks at Laval 18–23 Dec (Sylvie Duchemin, m. obs.), Sorel 24 Dec (Jean Lemoyne) and Beauharnois 12–28 Jan (Denis Collins) were noteworthy. A hunter harvested 2 Willow Ptarmigans (from a group of 3) about 20 km north of Saint-Michel-des-Saints on 28 Nov (fide Josée Gagnon, Alain Sylvain). Rarely found so far south, a Rock Ptarmigan was reported 20 km south of Fermont 31 Dec (Bernard Jolicoeur, Alexandre Plourde, ph.). A group of six Wild Turkeys was near the limits of its range at Saint-Fabien, in the Lower St. Lawrence 2–15 Jan (Dominique Berteaux).

A Northern Lapwing stopped at l’Anse aux Baleiniers (Les îles de la Madeleine) 2–3 Dec, providing the 7th record for the province (André Couture, Alain Richard, Donna-Gail Gaudet). A late Killdeer was at Saint-Georges-de-Beauce 6 Jan (France Roy). Single Dunlins stopped at Yamachiche 4 Dec (Daniel Ngoo et al.), Rimouski 9–10 Dec (Guy Gendron) and at Les Îles de la Madeleine 11 Dec (André Couture). An immature Ivory Gull made a short stop at Sept-Îles 25–26 Dec (Bruno Duchesne, Claire Couture, ph.). A Common Gull (L. canus canus) was last seen at Les Escoumins 1 Dec (David Turgeon). A record late Great Shearwater was well described at Cap-des-Rosiers 18 Dec (Diane Jalbert, Andrée Gagnon, Patsy Skene, Karine St-Onge). Eight Double-crested Cormorants  were seen at Ile Rouge (Les Îles de la Madeleine) 31 Dec (Claude Roy, Jeanne Roy). An Atlantic Puffin found dead at Québec City 11 Feb was worthy of note (Alain Lajeunesse). A late Black-crowned Night-Heron lingered at Aylmer 10 Dec–3 Jan (Michel Turcot).


Single Black Vultures were seen 20 km north of Baie-Comeau 19 Dec (Amélie Bélanger, Gabriel Farcy, ph.), at Matane 5 Jan–8 Feb (Steve Girard, ph.), at Saint-André-Avellin (Théo Gicquel de Menou, ph.) seen by many 31 Jan–8 Mar while feeding in a waste container (m. obs., ph.) and finally at Henryville 9 Feb (Tristan Jobin, ph.). Curiously, this species has now been reported in the last 4 winters. Some notable groups of Turkey Vultures were still present in Dec—5 at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu 7 Dec (Réal Boulet), 5 at Ayer’s Cliff 9 Dec (Hala Ghali), and 5 at Otterburn Park 23 Dec (Vincent Sévigny). Despite the cold weather, a movement towards the north was already perceptible before the end of February, as shown by singles at Hemmingford 21 Feb (Mathieu Landry), at Varennes 22 Feb (Sébastien Pellegrini), at Sainte-Clotilde-de-Châteauguay 24 Feb (Louise Lemaire), at Granby 26 Feb (Gérard Viens), at Île Demers (Carignan) 26 Feb (Hélène Hamel) and at McMasterville 26 Feb (Yves Darveau, Nancy Boutin). At least 20 sites were visited by the Red-shouldered Hawk in Dec—Jan, while about 10 individuals remained in the province throughout the month of Feb, all of them concentrated around Montréal and Québec City (m. obs.). Although not seen in record number, it was definitely an irruption year for the Great Gray Owl, as shown by a total of about 50—60 individuals reported in the province (m. obs.).


An unprecedented 16 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were reported in Dec—Jan, mostly in the Montréal area, but the most remarkable one was at Mont-Joli 9 Jan through the end of the winter (Pierre Fradette). A very late Marsh Wren made it to 31 Dec at Nicolet (David Trescak).

Once scarce or simply absent during the cold season, Eastern Bluebirds have became more and more numerous in the past 10–20 years; several lingering groups involving no less than 150 birds were reported in the province in Dec—Jan. A female Mountain Bluebird was enjoyed by numerous observers and photographers at Saint-Pierre-de-Broughton 24 Dec–18 Jan, the 13th record for the province (Marco Vachon, François Cloutier). Single Townsend’s Solitaires visited Saint-Anaclet-de-Lessard 18 Dec (Gilbert Bouchard), Lévis 26 Dec (Benoit Jobin), Terrebonne 26 Dec–1 Jan (Jonathan Roy, m. obs.), Douglastown 30 Dec–23 Jan (Sophie Bourdages), Sept-Îles 19 Jan–25 Feb (Serge Gaudreau, m. obs.) and Saint-Aubert 24 Feb (Daniel Voyer). Two Swainson’s Thrushes survived our harsh climate including one that turned up at Québec City 15 Dec–3 Jan (Peter Lane) and another bird at Gatineau 5–7 Jan providing a record late date for the province (Donald Dallaire, Rodolphe Dubois). Hermit Thrush has been showing a similar pattern to Eastern Bluebird; in the last few years, this species has extended its winter territory to the north. This year, at least 50 localities were visited by the species in Dec–Feb, the northernmost being Forestville 2–7 Dec (B. Gagnon), Sainte-Flavie 15 Dec (S. Bérubé), and Les Escoumins 6 Jan (Sarah Delisle). Four Varied Thrushes visited the province during the season, with one continuing at Saint-Émilie-de-l’Énergie until 21 Jan (m. obs.), another at Saint-Fulgence 9–15 Jan (Jacinthe Fortin), one at Dégelis 24–28 Jan (fide Pierre Fradette) and one at Neuville 19 Feb onwards (Serge Lemieux, Suzanne Blackburn, m. obs.). An American Pipit was photographed at La Malbaie 20 Feb, providing the first record ever for the month of Feb (Philippe Berrouard, Nancy Lavoie). A Gray Catbird at Val-d’Or 2 Jan (S. Bilodeau) was quite a surprise at this latitude.


The Eurasian Tree Sparrow that showed up at Saint-Barthélemy in Nov was last seen 29 Dec (m. obs.). Amazingly, up to 3 Bramblings were reported, the first at Val-David 29 Nov–10 Dec (Johanne Marquis, Jean Laperrière, m. obs.), the second at Pierrefonds 10–11 Dec (Josée Campeau, Francine Duhamel), and the third at Grondines 8 Jan—11Mar (Corinne Beaupré, m. obs.) providing the 2nd, 3rd and 4th record for the province; these exceptional presences correspond to a peak of abundance in western Europe this past fall. Very rare in winter, a Clay-colored Sparrow stopped at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu 22 Feb–27 Mar (Diane Ménard, ph.). A Lark Sparrow was found at Cap d’Espoir (Gaspésie) 17 Dec–23 Jan (Albini Couture). Single female Dark-eyed Juncos (Oregon) were well documented at Cap Tourmente (Sylvie Martel, Gaétan Giroux) and at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield (Denise Simon) both 25–28 Jan until late Mar. A Harris’s Sparrow successfully spent the entire winter at feeders at Saint-Rosaire 19 Dec–21 Mar (Manon Saint-Louis). Single Vesper Sparrows lingered at Saint-Basile-le-Grand 21 Dec–12 Jan (Karim Bouzidi, m. obs.), Coteau-du-Lac 22 Dec (Martine Parent), and at Saint-Urbain 23–24 Dec (Lucien Lemay). Up to 3 Lincoln’s Sparrows were present simultaneouly in the Québec City harbor 5–28 Dec (Gérard Cyr et al.) and one visited Sainte-Catherine 29 Dec (Lucien Lemay). An adult Golden-crowned Sparrow was back at Rimouski 3 Feb onwards exactly at the same place where it overwintered last year (Vincent Giroux, Andra Florea, ph.). Yellow-headed Blackbird records this winter included the bird present at Saint-Barthélemy in Nov that was last reported 19 Dec (m. obs.). Single birds also appeared at Saint-Basile-le-Grand 1–16 Jan (Émilie Desfossés Foucault, m. obs.) and at Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel 13–28 Jan (Luc Lemoyne et al.). Always rare during the winter, an Eastern Meadowlark at Dundee 22 Dec was a good find (Denise Simon). 

Late Orange-crowned Warblers appeared at Gatineau 21 Nov–9 Jan (fide Frédéric Bédard), at Rivière-du-Loup 8–11 Jan (S. Beau) and at Sainte-Catherine 13–14 Jan (Jean Coté, m. obs.). Less expected was a Cape May Warbler at Sainte-Catherine 12 Dec (Alain Quenneville, Sylvain Cardinal). The Yellow-throated Warbler present at Lavaltrie since Nov was found dead 12 Jan (A. Marcoux). A Summer Tanager at Gaspé 3–5 Dec (Sylvain Arbour) was noteworthy, as was an immature male Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Percé 11 Jan (L. Brochet). A female type Indigo Bunting visited Madeleine-Centre (Gaspésie) 15–24 Dec (W. Fortin, ph.), an immature male was also at Saint-Philippe-de-Laprairie 27 Dec (François Pelletier, ph.) and most probably the same individual 8 km further away at La Prairie 30–31 Jan (Gisèle Guibord, ph.). This is the 3rd consecutive year with the presence of this species in winter in the province.

Addendum: A Ross’s Goose at Drummondville 26 Dec 2015 established a record late date for the province (Claude Roy).

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 5 Jul 2022.

Photos–Québec: Winter 2021-2022

This Brambling, the first of three found in the province of Québec during the winter 2021–2022, was photographed here at Val-David 10 Dec. These exceptional presences in eastern North America were corresponding to a peak of abundance in western Europe in fall 2021. Photo © Suzanne Labbé.

This Black Vulture, one of four recorded in the province of Québec during the winter 2021–2022, was photographed here at Saint-André-Avellin 13 Feb 2022. This bird defied the cold weather for at least 5 weeks feeding on the contents of a waste container located in a restaurant backyard. Photo © Lyne Charron.

This immature Ivory Gull stopped briefly at Sept-Îles, province of Québec, 25–26 Dec 2021 (photographed here 25 Dec). This species is a very rare visitor here during the cold season. Photo © Bruno Duchesne.

This female Mountain Bluebird, the 13th record for the province of Québec, was a welcome sight for numerous observers and photographers at Saint-Pierre-de-Broughton 24 Dec 2021–18 Jan 2022 (photographed here 16 Jan). Photo © Alexandre Anctil.

This Harris’s Sparrow, photographed here on 16 Jan 2022, successfully spent the entire winter at feeders in Saint-Rosaire 19 Dec 2021–21 Mar 2022. There are now close to 60 records in the province of Québec for this vagrant from the west. Photo ©Frédérick Lelièvre.

Rare in winter, this Pine Warbler spent most of Feb 2022 in a park in Lachine (Montréal) where observers could enjoy the bird in their hands as it was coming to pick up food. Photographed here on 13 Feb. Photo © Frédéric Langlois

This Northern Lapwing made a short stop 2–3 Dec 2021 (here 2 Dec) at l’Anse aux Baleiniers, Les Îles de la Madeleine providing the 7th record in the province of Québec for this Eurasian species. Photo © André Couture.

This adult Golden-crowned Sparrow showed up at the same feeder in Rimouski for the second consecutive winter. The bird (photographed here 6 Feb 2022) continued until 16 April, providing the 5th record for the province of Québec. Photo © Suzanne Labbé.

Rare in winter, a total of 16 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers attempted to overwinter in the province of Québec in winter 2021–2022. The bird appearing here was photographed at Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville on 15 Dec 2021. Photo © Suzanne Labbé.