Thursday, March 17, 2016

Migrating Birds of Ontario

Spring Bird Migration has begun in Ontario


Birds of Ontario Migration - Songbirds
A gorgeous Male Scarlet Tanager photographed at Point Pelee National Park

We couldn't be more excited about the arrival of the migrating songbirds in Ontario!  Every year in early spring we begin to see some of the beautiful species that are only here for a short time. The colorful songbirds like the Scarlet tanager, Hooded warbler, and Blackburnian warbler are some of our absolute favorites. Aside from the songbirds, there are many other species of birds we like to observe the migration patterns of as well.

Migrating Waterfowl in Ontario


Some of the first migrating birds in Ontario that we notice are the waterfowl that visit the Northern tip of St. Catharines in Lake Ontario.  There is a pond located in the Port Weller area that has attracted a number of migrating waterfowl over the years and provides us with some incredible photo opportunities!


Waterfowl Bird Migration in Ontario
A Blue-winged teal and Northern shoveler duck in flight


The Blue-winged teal and Northern shoveler ducks seen above are some of our favourite migrating waterfowl birds to see in mid to late March in St. Catharines. Some other notable migrating waterfowl in Ontario are the American widgeon, Greater scaup and Common loon.  The longer days and golden sunlight in the evenings make the photography opportunities that much better.  The best shots seem to happen when shooting late in the day with the sun at our backs, so the birds plumage is well-lit and catchlight in the birds eyes.


Early spring migrating birds


Most of or favorite songbirds show up at Point Pelee National Park in early May, but many interesting species show up right here in the city as early as late March and early April. Because we have been birding in Southern Ontario for a few years now, we have found some spots that we can count on seeing the same species year after year.


Migrating birds of Ontario - Birds in St. Catharines
Caspian tern seen flying over Martindale Pond in St. Catharines


The Caspian terns and Common terns show up near Martindale pond in St. Catharines every April. They put on an impressive diving show for fish!  They will hover in mid-air, and then dive into the water like a spear to catch their dinner.  It is amazing example of the beauty in nature all around us.

It is unfortunate that humans are spoiling their habitat in this area with garbage including old fishing lures and fishing lines in the trees.  If Martindale pond continues to be overrun with fisherman and the trail of garbage they leave behind, these birds will surely lose a key portion of their natural habitat, and be forced to move elsewhere.  I hope that we can reverse some of the damage that has been done in my generation. 


Ontario woodpeckers - Northern Flicker
A Northern flicker woodpecker forages in the grass for ants


The Northern flicker is another welcome visitor to Ontario in April. This Ontario woodpecker can be seen and heard in an old dead tree, or foraging in the grass for ants and beetles. These woodpeckers are quite large and colorful.  The bright yellow undersides of their wings are unmistakable in flight.
 

Eastern bluebirds in Ontario



Where to find Eastern bluebirds in Ontario
A male Eastern bluebird in St. Catharines, Ontario


Last year, I spotted my first Eastern bluebird of the year in the Port Weller area of St. Catharines.  It was a vibrant blue male, foraging for food in the shrubs and tall grass.  He gave me quite the photo opp, as he seemed to be very tolerant of my presence.  This is a bird that I have always admired, and was extremely happy to finally capture the true beauty of this species.

Where to find Eastern bluebirds in Ontario


Bluebirds are somewhat common in the Niagara region, if you know where to look. Learning the birds song and call will help you identify the bird and hopefully spot one. They are often seen sitting on a telephone wire in an open country area or meadow.  Nest boxes are helping this bird continue to survive in this area and compete with it's non-native species competitors such as the European starling and House sparrow.


Early migrant - Chipping sparrow


Ontario Birds - Chipping sparrow songbird in a tree
A Chipping sparrow sings in an Evergreen tree at Jaycee Gardens Park in St. Catharines


The arrival of the Chipping sparrow is a sure sign of spring. They are one of the early migrant birds to appear in Ontario.  Their distinctive "chipping" call is the best way to find a Chipping sparrow in a tree for a photo opportunity.  The photo above was taken last spring at Jaycee Gardens Park in St. Catharines. During April, look for Chipping sparrows in open woodlands and parks with a grassy clearing.  They often hop on the ground searching for seeds as well.

Point Pelee - Festival of Birds

 

Our Ontario Birding Trip is Booked!

 

Ontario Birds - Rose-breasted grosbeak at Point Pelee
A male Rose-breasted grosbeak at Point Pelee National Park

We have booked our trip to Point Pelee for 2016 to see the remarkable annual bird migration!  We have chosen to arrive at Point Pelee National Park on Thursday, May 5th, and we will stay until Sunday May 8th.  This is our absolute favorite birding trip of the year as we observe and photograph over 150 species of Ontario birds in just a few days.

We have once again chosen to stay at Sturgeon Woods Campground, less than 10 minutes away from the park. We have always had a wonderful time at this park, so we booked the same cabin we stayed in last year!  Many of the guests at the park are there for the very same reason we are, the birds:)

As we approach the busy season for birding, we will continue to update our blog with any exciting species we photograph. We hope that you are able to explore your local area for the beautiful nature and animals that live there. This planet is home to so many amazing creatures that live honorable and incredible lives, and we hope that you can respect and appreciate the beauty that is all around us.


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