Winter bird watching offers us an exciting opportunity to observe unique and notable birds such as snowy owls, winter finches and overwintering raptors.
This year’s Christmas Bird Count will run from December 14, 2018 to January 5, 2019. So, grab your sweaters, scarves, coats, binoculars and cameras and get ready to enjoy a marvelous season filled with birds.
With the annual Christmas Bird Count approaching, Ontario Nature staff and Youth Council members shared some of their favourite bird watching memories and tips to get you excited for some winter watching.
“Seeing a Townsend’s Warbler, a rare warbler from the west, near Rondeau Provincial Park was one of my favourite moments. This was the first time that a Townsend’s Warbler had been seen during the winter months in Ontario.”
“Ducks are one of my favourite groups and Hamilton is one of my favourite places to observe ducks in the winter. On one occasion last winter, on a single day, I was lucky enough to see species such as king eider, harlequin duck, surf and white-winged scoter, and, one of the most attractive species of duck in my opinion, black scoter.”
Jack Farley, 16
Ontario Nature Youth Council member
“In late March last year, I went on an Ontario Field Ornithologists outing to Northumberland County, the highlight of the excursion was a great grey owl.”
“I really like Algonquin Provincial Park. Some years, hundreds of winter finches flock down from the boreal forest to forage in the park. Pine grosbeaks, evening grosbeaks, red crossbills, and white-winged crossbills are common some years, along with resident boreal chickadees, spruce grouse, Canada jays and black-backed woodpeckers.”
Ontario Nature Conservation Projects and Education Manager
“One memorable winter bird sighting was of trumpeter swans congregating in a small open water channel between Horseshoe Lake and Mountain Lake, near Minden, ON. These features can be great hotspots during the winter months for bird watching, as well as seeing other types of wildlife including those preying on waterfowl using the open water!”
“Closer to home, I enjoy making a trip out to the Toronto Islands to bird. Lake Ontario can be a good spot for viewing winter waterfowl like mergansers, buffleheads, shovelers, and long-tailed ducks. Snowy owls are also often seen along the barren, icy, snow-covered shoreline landscape.”
Ontario Nature Communications Technician
“One of the first areas I took my wife bird watching was Haldimand County. Haldimand, southwest of Hamilton, has many overwintering birds including eagles, falcons and hawks. As we were driving along a county road, Heather pointed up at a tree towards a large bird perched in an open area of the boughs – it was a rough-legged hawk!”
“On a recent enjoyable Christmas Bird Count in the St. Catherines area, we saw many snow buntings, horned larks, tufted titmice, wild turkeys and a Cooper’s hawk.”)
Hannah Stockford, 18
Ontario Nature Youth Council member
“The best winter bird I’ve seen is a gyrfalcon (a rare arctic breeding bird) right in my own backyard near Minesing!”
“I love going to Heritage Park in Barrie, especially for wintering gulls such as Bonaparte’s and great black-backed gulls. One winter I was able to see eight species of gulls there!”
Noah Cole is Ontario Nature’s communications technician and a regular contributor to Ontario Nature's blog and ON Nature magazine. Noah is an accomplished naturalist with a passion for protecting the great outdoors and a nature photographer. Noah is the author of Ontario Wildlife Photography (canadianimages.net).