‘Ottawa’ World of Birds: Rare Pink-footed Goose Again Spotted in Region
A Pink-footed Goose was found on Oct. 31 by Brian Morin just east of Casselman along Lafleche Road. Surprisingly, this is the same location that the first record for Ontario was found last year on Oct. 30 by Jacques Bouvier, almost to the date. The likelihood is that it’s the same individual returning along with the large, 70,000+ flock of Snow Geese.
Fortunately, it was photographed. But it hasn’t been relocated yet, much to the distress of birders who missed it last year. Searching through more than 70,000 geese takes a long time and lots of luck. Last year, the goose was present in December, so it’s likely that it will repeat this pattern.
This Pink-footed Goose is a rare visitor to northeastern North America from its breeding grounds in Greenland and Iceland. It has only been found once close to our region when an individual was found at Plaisance, Que., and was present from April 17-28, 2004.
Interestingly, the Pink-footed Goose populations have risen spectacularly over the past 50 years, due largely to increased protection from shooting on its wintering grounds. Numbers wintering in Great Britain have risen almost tenfold from 30,000 in 1950 to 292,000 in Oct. 2004. As a result the number of records in eastern North America have increased in the past 25 years.
Another rarity that was discovered on Oct. 12 and reported by Ron Grant was a Golden-crowned Sparrow just west of Mackey in Renfrew County. This western sparrow is a vagrant in the east and there are only a few records for Eastern Ontario and the Outaouais. Luckily, it was documented and Ron Grant sent me the photos for identification. As I have said many times, anything is possible, so don’t forget to photograph any birds that look unusual.
The hummingbird reported from Constance Bay last week was finally identified as a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Due to the similarity to Black-chinned Hummingbird it took a bit of time to get good photos and review them. It was last reported on Oct. 30 and represents the latest record for the Ottawa area.
The variety of gull species migrating though our area continues to increase with reports of Glaucous and Iceland Gulls along the Ottawa River on Oct. 28. These two species are referred to as “white-winged gulls” due to their pale wing tips. Both of these Arctic gulls winter along the St. Lawrence River and are occasionally found during the winter months in the Ottawa-Gatineau district.
With the continuing mild conditions numerous late lingering species have been reported during the past week. On Oct. 28, a Common Yellowthroat was observed in the cattails along Britannia Pier and was still present on Nov. 2. On Nov. 2 a late Lesser Yellowlegs and a Wilson’s Snipe were seen at Shirley’s Bay while another Lesser Yellowlegs was photographed at Constance Bay on Nov. 1.
Remember to carefully check all flocks of Black-capped Chickadees, American Tree Sparrows or any groups of land birds for other lingering species.
The feeder watcher report continues to be quiet except for the regular visitors including Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, House Finch and American Goldfinch. One feeder watcher near Renfrew had a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at their feeder on Oct. 31. Another reported a Pileated Woodpecker enjoying suet. Over the next few weeks, watch for an increase in feeder bird activity once there is snow on the ground and keep your camera and field guide close by.
I’d like to thank all birders, photographers and feeder watchers that sent reports and/or photographs during the past week.
Please e-mail bird observations and/or photographs to: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject line: “Ottawa Citizen Birds.” For photos, please provide date, location, and photographer’s name and for bird reports, observer, date and location. The birding Code of Ethics and guidelines of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club can be found at www.ofnc.ca/birding/Code-of-Conduct.pdf. Access to Shirley’s Bay is restricted and you must be an OFNC member and obtain permission from the Range Control Office before entering the area. Please call 613-991-5740 before entering the Shirley’s Bay causeway area. To reach the Wild Bird Care Centre for orphaned and injured birds call 613-828-2849. Report bird bands to www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/bblretrv/. View more great photos online at http://ottawacitizen.com/category/life/world-of-birds