Québec: Winter 2022–2023

Winter 2022–2023: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Pierre Bannon

Olivier Barden

Normand David

Samuel Denault

Recommended citation:

Bannon, P., O. Barden, N. David  and S. Denault. 2023. Winter 2022–2023: Québec. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-gC3> North American Birds.

Overall, the winter was very mild. Positive anomalies between 1.5 and 3.5 degrees Celcius were recorded between December and February. Sherbrooke observed the greatest deviation from normal during this period. Ice cover formed very late on the main streams, prompting several waterfowl to attempt to overwinter. Some species even wintered successfully for the first time and others lingered on new record dates. Probably the most interesting highlight of the period was the large number of Red-bellied Woodpeckers present throughout the province. Some have even reached regions as far north as Témiscamingue, Lac Saint-Jean, the North Shore and Gaspésie.

Geese through Cranes

Some migrant Snow Geese appeared very early in southern Québec, with 200 at Lacolle (Sylvie Robert), 200 at Ormstown (Micheline Ouellet) and 650 at Noyan (Tristan Jobin), all of them on 16 Feb. A Blue-winged Teal at Beauport 20 Dec was record late for the province (André Desrochers). A count of 120 Northern Shovelers at Drummondville 7 Jan represented a record number for such a late date (Yvon Roy), while eight were still at Mascouche 18 Feb (Olivier Barden, Samuel Denault) and four at the same location 19 March (Manon Couture). Counts of 13 Green-winged Teal at Mascouche 9 Jan and six on 11 Feb were unusual for the dates (Sylvie Duchemin, Michelle Bélanger). Rare in winter, at least 25 Canvasbacks were reported in Jan, singly or in small groups; some seemed to have overwintered successfully, as evidenced by Grande-Rivière 17 Jan–18 Feb (Albini Couture, Yvette Cyr), Verdun 20 Jan–26 Feb (m. ob.), and Sainte-Catherine 11 Jan–16 Feb (m. ob.). A count of 111 Redheads at les Coteaux 22 Jan represented a record number for such a late date (Olivier Barden). An adult male Tufted Duck at Saint-Vallier 8 Dec was record late (Serge Lemieux). High counts of 240 Greater Scaup at Les Coteaux 22 Jan (Olivier Barden), 110 at Verdun 15 Feb (Stéphane Barrette) and 750 at Lacolle 21 Feb (Sylvie Robert) were unusual for mid-winter. A count of 15 Lesser Scaup at Les Coteaux 22 Jan was surprising for mid-winter (Olivier Barden). Five male King Eiders at Pointe Saint-Pierre 12 Feb were notable (Stéphane Barrette). Inland records of Harlequin Duck included singles at Gatineau 1 Dec–12 Jan (Donald Dallaire), at Ile des Soeurs 20 Dec (Samuel Denault) and at Saint-Jérome 17–23 Jan (Carole Mattard). Ruddy Ducks were still present in six localities in early Jan; two were last seen 10 Jan at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Michel Asselin et al.).

A White-winged Dove continued at Sainte-Sabine-de-Bellechasse until 22 Dec (m. ob.). Four American Coots at Longueuil 8 Jan were noticeable for such a late date (Jennefer A, Amanda B). A Sandhill Crane at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue 26 Dec provided a record late date for the province (Jean Demers).

Shorebirds through Owls

Single late Killdeers at Chesterville (Steve Hamel) and at Ile des Sœurs (Samuel Denault) were both recorded on 26 Dec. A Spotted Sandpiper at Ile Sainte-Hélène (Montréal) 5–9 Dec established a record late date for the province (Olivier Barden). Single Razorbills or small groups of them continued in different localities of the Upper St. Lawrence; the latest was seen 9 Jan at Beauharnois (Tristan Jobin) while one at Sorel 15 Feb was the first reported in the province for the month of Feb (Jean Lemoyne). A gathering of 15 individuals at Fatima (Iles de la Madeleine) 7 Jan was more expected for this region. Three Black-legged Kittiwakes were reported at Sainte-Catherine 1 Jan (Daniel Ouellette) as well as three at Beauharnois 4 Jan (Daniel Jauvin) ; this species is extremely rare in southern Québec for these dates. Also, 116 at Baie-Comeau 23 Jan were an unusual number for the North Shore at this date (Emmanuel Hains). A few Bonaparte’s Gulls lingered in the Montréal area in early Jan, including three at Beauharnois 4 Jan (Samuel Denault) and four at Sainte-Catherine 27 Dec (Sylvie Robert). A high count of 1030 Glaucous Gulls was tallied at Matane 30 Dec (Jules-Alex Banville). Four Northern Fulmars seen separately at inland localities were exceptional : Lévis 8 Dec (Serge Lemieux, Suzanne Blackburn), Chambly basin 14 Dec (Olivier Barden, Gilles Éthier, Jean-Pierre Tousignant), Cap Rouge 15 Dec (Gaétan Lord) and Saguenay 17 Dec (Jacques Ibarzabal).

Single Turkey Vultures at Mont-Laurier 5 Dec–23 Jan (Alain Boisclair) and at Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé 30 Jan (Albini Couture) were rare for mid-winter. About 25 birds were recorded starting in mid-Feb, a very early northward movement associated with very mild temperatures (m. ob.). Bald Eagle is increasingly common in winter, with highs of 47 at Mont-Laurier 27 Dec (Alain Boisclair) and 43 at Compton 25 Jan (Julie Paquette). An Eastern Screech-Owl at Québec City 27 Dec was exceptional (François Shaffer, Céline Maurice).

Woodpeckers through Tanagers

The incredible explosion of Red-bellied Woodpeckers that started last fall continued throughout the winter. Their number was roughly estimated at 100 birds spread across the province, as far north as Lac Saint-Jean and the Gaspé peninsula. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue 23–28 Feb was possiby an early migrant (Ron Rind). A Marsh Wren at Châteauguay 2 Jan was late (Martin Arcand, Shawna Sévigny). A Brown Thrasher wintered at Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan 17 Nov–28 Feb+ (Desmond Ward). Single Townsend’s Solitaires were spotted at Boucherville 11–29 Dec (Pierre Wery et al.), at Saint-Jérome 25 Dec–15 Jan (Céline Desjardins), and at Métabetchouan 2–8 Jan (Éric Wilmot et al.). A Veery at Saint-Jacques-de-Montcalm 22 Nov–9 Dec was the third record in Dec since 2015 (Bernard Dugas, Pierrette Gaudet, ph.). A Swainson’s Thrush at the Montréal Technopark 29 Dec was late (Marieta Manolova). Single Wood Thrushes seen at the Mount-Royal cemeteries until 12 Dec (Raphael Millot) and at Ile-aux-Chats (Argenteuil) 18 Dec (Nancy Simon, ph.) were both record late for the province. A Redwing photographed at Sept-Iles 3 Dec provided the fourth record for the province of Québec (Serge Gaudreau). A Varied Thrush was identified at Mont Saint-Bruno 9 Dec (Danielle Cayer). A late American Pipit was found at Fort Chambly 28 Dec (Maude Savoie, Daniel Savoie).

Single female “Oregon” Dark-eyed Juncos visited Montréal 28 Dec–2 Jan (Jean-François Franche) and Saint-Isidore-de-Laprairie 28 Jan (Samuel Denault). A Harris’s Sparrow turned up at Fabre (Témiscamingue) 29 Dec (Lucie Laforest). Single Vesper Sparrows were reported at Saint-Jérome 5 Jan–17 Feb (Daniel Forget), Mascouche 8 Jan (Jean-François Piché), and at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu 14 Jan–14 Feb (Réal Boulet). Single Lincoln’s Sparrows were detected at Bonaventure 29 Dec (Sophie Bourdages, Éric Guénette) and in Montréal 1–7 Feb+ (Samuel Denault). Single Eastern Meadowlarks were nice finds at Saint-Barthélemy 19 Dec–10 March (Micheline Ouellet), and at Val-Barrette 23–30 Dec (Francine Leduc).

Late warblers included a Tennessee at Ile Sainte-Hélène (Montreal) 9 Dec (record late) (Olivier Barden), an Orange-crowned Warbler last seen at Verdun 6 Jan (Frédéric Hareau), a Nashville Warbler at Sainte-Catherine 9–10 Dec (Sylvain Cardinal), a Common Yellowthroat at Granby 11 Dec (Samuel Jetté), a Cape May Warbler at Ile des Sœurs (Montreal) 21–22 Dec (Richard Guillet), a Northern Parula at Sainte-Catherine 2–10 Dec (Normand Trottier) and a Yellow-throated Warbler photographed at Terrebonne 2 Dec (Diane Ouimet). A Western Tanager continued at Lavaltrie until 8 Dec (m. ob.).

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 26 Nov 2023.

Photos–Québec: Winter 2022–2023

The fourth Redwing ever reported in the province of Québec was photographed at Sept-Iles 3 Dec 2022. This Eurasian species is widely distributed, stretching from Iceland to Siberia. Photo ©Serge Gaudreau.

This Lincoln’s Sparrow, photographed on 7 Feb 2023, spent the cold season in the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâces district, the first successful wintering record in Montreal for this species, which is surprisingly rare in winter. Another individual was detected at Bonaventure on the Gaspé Peninsula. Photo ©Pierre Jasmin.

Usually rare in winter, Canvasbacks (at least 25), solitary or in small groups, were reported in Jan. Some appear to have successfully overwintered, notably in the Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé and Grande-Rivière areas of the Gaspé Peninsula, where sightings were spread out between 17 Jan and 18 Feb. This individual was photographed at Grande-Rivière on 20 Jan 2023. Photo ©Diane Jalbert.

Two Wood Thrushes set late departure records: this one was observed in the Mount Royal Cemetery until 12 Dec 2022, while another was seen at Saint-André-d’Argenteuil on 19 Dec 2022. Photo ©Frederik Gustavsson.

This Cape May Warbler, present in Montreal 21–22 Dec 2022 was surprising, as the species has never been seen this late in the season. Photo ©Pierre Jasmin.

Found at Lavaltrie, this Western Tanager was last seen 8 Dec 2022. Photographed here 2 Dec. Photo ©Pierre Jasmin.

This “Eurasian” Green-winged Teal spent part of the winter from 8 Jan to 20 Feb 2022 at Quebec City, setting a late date record for what is considered a full species in some circles. Photo ©Serge Cloutier.

This Eastern Meadowlark wintered at Saint-Barthélemy, in the Lanaudière region from 19 Dec 2022 to 17 Mar 2023. Photographed here on 5 Jan. Photo ©Karim Bouzidi.

This Eastern Screech-Owl, photographed at Quebec City on 27 Dec 2022, was an exceptional record for the area, which lies at the northeastern limit of the species’ distribution. Photo ©Céline Maurice.