Category Archives: Birding Report


Nature Club News for January 2023

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists Club (OSFN) is kicking off its series of Winter 2023 Talks with Springtime Wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains, and guest speaker Walter Muma. While early Spring still has Ontario in its grip, the Great Smoky Mountains put on a spectacular display of wildflowers during the latter part of April. Many species found there are familiar to us while others will be new to Ontario naturalists. Join Walter Muma as he shows us the many varieties of wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This event is scheduled for 7pm Thursday January 12, at the Bayshore Community Centre. Everyone is welcome, and admission is free or by donation. OSFN also plans to offer this as a hybrid event sent via zoom to a virtual audience too. Typically the zoom link is emailed to OSFN members, and is available upon request to interested members of the community, upon receipt of an email, in advance, to with Walter in the subject line. For more information about this event and OSFN, please visit

Walter is an avid, experienced field botanist who focusses much of his botany explorations on Grey and Bruce counties, and from Newfoundland to Lake Superior and down into the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. His outdoor interests, which he has pursued since his teenage years, include tracking and wilderness survival, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, and just generally “wandering the wild areas”.

He is the curator of the Ontario Wildflowers website, as well as the Ontario Trees, Ontario Ferns, and Ontario Grasses websites, which are “go to” sites for parks staff, environmental consultants and others who are in the business of identifying wildflowers and other plants in the field. In addition to these sites, he has created many other websites relating to survival, tracking, and the outdoors.

In his work life he is a busy self-employed accounting software consultant, custom software developer, and accountant.

Walter and his wife Julie reside in Grey County on their 100 acre natural and farmland property.

The local annual Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) have all been held, and here is a sampling from the count results: 

Tobermory – December 14 – Tyler Miller, Compiler

From sunrise to sunset on December 14, 2022, 33 volunteers searched over 300km of the Northern Bruce Peninsula, including throughout Bruce Peninsula National Park, trying to spot as many birds as possible. This was the 50 th time that local birding enthusiasts have taken to the landscape for the Tobermory Christmas Bird Count. The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running, most widespread bird census in the Western Hemisphere. The first count took place at 25 locations in 1900, and today, there are more than 50,000 citizens participating at over 2,000 count areas. The data collected helps scientists describe multi-continent patterns in bird ecology and has been used in hundreds of conservation and climate-based scientific papers. The benefits of participating in the bird count are social, too! The annual count builds comradery, community and inspires seasoned and novice birders alike to cultivate a love for birds and birding!

This year’s participants in Tobermory’s Christmas Bird Count saw a total of 1187 individual birds representing 47 different species. On average, 40 species of birds have been spotted over the past 50 years, but the total number of birds seen was down this year. On average, over 1600 individual birds are usually spotted in the area’s Christmas Bird Count. Some of the notable statistics from the 2022 count include:

  • a new high record of 41 Canada Geese and 6 American Black Ducks were counted;
  • the lowest number of Black-capped Chickadees since 1978 were counted; and
  • Trumpeter or Tundra Swan, Green-wing Teal, and Merlin were all spotted, each for
    only the second time in Tobermory’s Christmas Bird Count history.

Parks Canada is pleased to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count as the results gathered from this year’s survey will be used to help ensure the protection of this region’s natural heritage. The count was also an opportunity to celebrate the diversity and beauty of the region’s natural protected spaces with fellow birders, and to invite new birders into Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Read more in the  “50th Annual Tobermory Christmas Bird count Summary Report” (prepared by Tyler Miller and Tanya Markvart)

Kincardine – December 15 –  James Turland,  Compiler

Hi all; Because of bad weather on Kincardine’s count day only a few participants were out. They did manage to find 50 species. Along with the species found during count week that’s an impressive 64 species. Thanks so much to all who helped out and hoping for a better weather day next year. Cheers James.

Group of ducks mostly Redheaded ducks sleeping away at Bayshore. January 2, 2023 (Photo by Fely Clarke)

Neyaashiinigmiing – December 17 

The twelfth annual Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker) Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, December 17, 2022. The day began with snow flurries and mainly cloudy skies, with sunny breaks later in the morning and through the afternoon. Winds were southwesterly, ranging from 13 to 25 kph. Temperatures hovered around -1.0°C all day. The waters of Georgian Bay and streams were open, but non-flowing inland waters were ice-covered. There was at least 10-15 cm of snow on the ground, with some of it having freshly fallen the previous night.

Fourteen participants tallied a total of 37 species, below the average of 39.7. The 769 individual birds counted was well below the average of 1,027. Ruby-crowned Kinglet was a new species for count day. Otherwise there were no big surprises, but 69 Bohemian Waxwings, 3 Evening Grosbeaks and a Pine Grosbeak were nice finds.

There were no high counts, but low counts were recorded for Long-tailed Duck (2, average 12), Ruffed Grouse (1, average 8), Blue Jay 2 (average 49), Golden-crowned Kinglet 2 (average 9). Notable misses were Red-bellied Woodpecker and Pileated Woodpecker (each missed on only one previous count). Winter finches were limited to the Evening and Pine Grosbeaks.

Chi Miigwetch to Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation community for hosting this always special birding event. Compilers – Jarmo Jalava and Miptoon (Anthony Chegahno)

Owen Sound December 17 Erik van Den Kieboom, Compiler:

The 2022-2023 Christmas Bird Count marked the 52nd year of the Owen Sound count. On December 17th, 45 participants tallied 10165 individuals of 69 species. The total number of individuals was down slightly compared to last year; however, the species count was higher. The weather proved to be admirable throughout the day, with no precipitation of any kind and temperatures hovering between -2 and 0 degrees Celsius.

Some highlights from this year’s count included the first Blue-winged Teal and Brown Thrasher for the count, as well as Rusty Blackbird, Pied-billed grebe, American Coot, and Common Grackle to name a few. Additionally, several rare species were recorded during the week of the count but not on count day, including Harlequin Duck, Grey Catbird, and Mountain Bluebird. The large Sandhill Crane flock found last year returned this year, totaling 652 individuals. For the sixth count in a row, a male Barrow’s Goldeneye was spotted in Owen Sound harbour. This rare duck has become quite the regular visitor!

This year, six species were counted in higher numbers than ever before: Canada Goose (2,608), Redhead (20), American Coot (5), Rock Pigeon (946), Common Raven (58), and Bohemian Waxwing (695). This has been an excellent winter for Bohemian Waxwings, with the previous high being 185! A few species were seen in lower numbers than is typically expected, including Bufflehead (9), Ruffed Grouse (3), and Snow Bunting (47). Oddly enough, no owls were found this year.

There has been a large flock of Bohemian Waxwings feasting on wild grape and buckthorn near my home. These are just a few…(North of Kimberley) (Photos by Ingrid Remkins)
There has been a large flock of Bohemian Waxwings feasting on wild grape and buckthorn near my home. These are just a few…(North of Kimberley) (Photos by Ingrid Remkins)

Wiarton – December 18 – Jarmo Jalava, Compiler

The 48th Wiarton Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, December 18, 2022 (it was actually
the 51th anniversary of the count, but three years were missed).

Temperatures ranged from between -1°C at 7:00 a.m. to 1°C at 5:00 p.m. under overcast to mainly cloudy skies. Light to moderate (9-15 kph) westerly breezes made inland birding pleasant, but winds were stronger at exposed areas along the Lake Huron shore. The waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron were open, as were faster-flowing creeks and rivers, but most interior waterbodies were ice-covered, as were some near-shore areas of sheltered bays of Lake Huron. Up to 15 cm of snow covered the ground in most areas.

Twenty-five participants and three feeder watchers tallied 62 (+1 count week) species, well above the long-term and 10-year averages of 50 and 53 species, respectively, but just shy of the record of 63 set in 1997.

The total of 6,090 individual birds was also much higher than the previous overall (3,431) and 10-year (4,185) averages and the third highest total overall (the all-time high was 6,283 in 1997).

One new species, Eastern Bluebird, was recorded. This raises the overall count day total to 131 species (plus 6 additional count week species). Other good finds this year included Merlin (3rd count), Green-winged Teal (2nd count), Ring-necked Duck (9th on count day and the first since 2001), and a count-week Red-winged Blackbird (5th count).

Record high numbers were recorded for:

  • Canada Goose (1,556, previous high 1,329 in 2021; for the first 18 years of this CBC, the high count was 33 birds, and pre-1995 this species was not recorded annually);
  • Mute Swan (62, previous high 23 in 2021);
  • Green-winged Teal (3, previously just 1);
  • Bald Eagle (25, previous 21);
  • American Crow (407, previous 257);
  • Bohemian Waxwing (347, previous 326).
  • Other relatively high counts included Trumpeter Swan 16 (record 17), Ring-necked Duck 4 (record 5), Great Black-backed Gull 12 (first double-digit total since 1994, when 22 were observed), Pine Grosbeak 44 (first double-digit total since 2007) and Evening Grosbeak 99 (highest count since 1995 for this far-from-annual species).
  • Aside from no Common Redpolls, there were no particularly notable low counts.
  • Winter finches were limited to Pine Siskin (16), Pine Grosbeak (42), Evening Grosbeak (99) and Purple Finch (2), and American Goldfinches were at feeders in moderate numbers.

Thanks to all the volunteers for your efforts!
Jarmo Jalava

Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Owen Sound January 8 (Photos by Carol L. Edwards-Harrison)
Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Owen Sound January 8 (Photos by Carol L. Edwards-Harrison)

Meaford – December 28 – Lynne Richardson, Compiler

Hello Meaford CBCer’s,
Here is a quick draft summary of our Meaford Christmas Bird Count:

The 52nd annual Meaford Count was held on Wednesday December 28th under somewhat favourable conditions! After a rather intense winter storm over three days a few days prior to the Count the weather cleared, temperatures warmed up and snow melted down somewhat for Count Day.

The combined efforts of our 28 field observers resulted in the third highest total – 55 species – in the 52 years of the Count! This total continues the trend of the past 10 years of finding over 50 species in the Meaford circle. Prior to that, the long-term average was 46 species. The top three totals have been in 2021 (61), 2020 (59), and 2012 (58).

Total individuals at 4724 birds were slightly over the past-count average.

Two new species were added to the 52-year cumulative total for this count – Ruddy Duck (yay Team 5) and Winter Wren (yay Team2)! This addition brings the all-time cumulative total to 126 species. A total of seven new Highs were recorded this year. which is higher than usual for new high counts. You’ll see on the attached tally sheet the new highs and the previous highs for these six species: Hooded Merganser, Horned Grebe, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Robin, Bohemian Waxwing, Purple Finch and White-throated Sparrow.

Eastern Bluebirds made an appearance again this year, continuing their trend of the last few years of overwintering in this area (5 of the past six years). These results, along with time & travel data will be posted on the Birds Canada Christmas Bird Count website. It was a good count.  Hope you enjoyed it! Thanks again, and happy, birdy, New Year to all!
Lynne Richardson,

Pike Bay December 29, and Cape Chin December 30 – Andrew Keaveney

Good evening friends,
I have for you the final results for both of the 2022 season central Bruce Peninsula CBCs.This completes the 9th Pike Bay CBC and the 7th Cape Chin CBC. This season we had a combined 62 species including count week species which is wonderful when you consider it is winter! The combined count day and count week Pike Bay CBC total of 61 species ties last year’s record, though the count day tally of 55 species is a bit shy of last year’s record of 57. A few more observers would surely have increased our count day totals for both counts. This and other peninsula CBCs provide a wealth of valuable bird presence and abundance data for a time of year when few observations are being recorded and fewer visitors are making the trip up.

I’ll try to touch upon the count results here.
Two large concentrations of Bald Eagles (9 and ~14) were a delight for 2 groups and resulted in a huge number of records this year, almost tripling our previous high. Both groups were on the Huron islands.
Brown Creepers continue to be a difficult species to detect on these counts, with none this season. To be clear… they are here… they are just quiet and stealthy. Both Snowy Owl and Snow Bunting numbers seem to be depressed this season. Raptors in general were mostly absent with no Rough-legged Hawks recorded.

Bohemian Waxwings

Five new species were recorded on the Pike Bay CBC which is rather astounding given we added several last season too. This year we had a Great Horned Owl during count week and we FINALLY added Barred Owl to the overall count total thanks to the keen eyes of Area 2 participant Miptoon who recorded it in Area 4… hmmm. Haha. Our excellent Area 2 observers (Miptoon and Jarmo) also got eyes on a Hermit Thrush, perhaps overdue as it is a scarce winter straggler in southern Ontario.

I think the greatest story of the day comes from the By The Bay store in Pike Bay when owner Sarah Carson got her camera to ask me about some birds she’d been seeing at the feeders that they tried to identify themselves. The first was a Red-bellied Woodpecker and well done on the identification. The second was more of a mystery and they were assuming it was another plumage of the Red-bellied Woodpecker. It was in fact a handsome juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker. The photos were taken in November so I didn’t get too excited, but she then let it slip that both birds were still coming to the feeders regularly. As if! Well we watched for a while with no results. We then went off to scan Lake Huron and I decided to coming back through for a second shot early afternoon. Jackpot! The bird spent the whole time in a large tree across from the back picnic table feeder. Lots of photos were taken and 5 of us eventually got on it.

Juvenile Red-Headed Woodpecker

Two Northern Shrikes recorded on the Cape Chin CBC was the only species that was absent on the Pike Bay CBC. The Snowy Owl present the day before across from the Tru Food Cafe was playing hide-and-seek on count day and nowhere to be found! Several participants frequented the By The Bay store and Tru Food Cafe and nothing but good things could be said about the food and service.

It is a pleasure putting together these counts each season. It is a surprising amount of work though so I appreciate your patience. Best to all in 2023 and I hope to see you out for next season’s CBCs.

Andrew Keaveney

On January 4th, 31 field observers and 4 feeder watchers went out around the Southampton area to participate in the annual Saugeen Shores Christmas Bird Count. It was a dreary sort of day, rainy and foggy throughout with temperatures ranging from 1C to 5C. Some inland water was frozen, however the majority of Lake Huron remained open for count day.

Despite this, birders still managed to see 53 species. This is exactly average compared to the historical average of 53, but considerably below the all time high of 66. 

An ALL TIME HIGH was recorded for total individual birds, with a whopping 18,427. This is over 6,000 higher than the previous high count.

The highlight species of the 2022 count were Tufted Titmouse (2nd count record), Cackling Goose  (3rd count record), Northern Flicker (4th count record) White-throated Sparrow (3rd count record)

All time high counts were recorded for the following species:

  • Cackling Goose (5, previous 2)
  • Greater Scaup (51, previous 40)
  • Snow Bunting  (10,152!!, previous 4,090)
  • Bohemian Waxwing (237, previous 154)

Low counts were noted for numerous waterfowl and Ruffed Grouse (1), also raptor numbers in general were quite low this season. This trend has been seen all across Bruce County, and is likely due to a crash in rodent populations. 

The poor weather conditions on count day can likely be blamed for making us miss Golden-crowned Kinglet and Brown Creeper completely, something that hasn’t happened in a number of years. It was also a very poor day for finches, Pine Grosbeak and Evening Grosbeak were missed completely, and only 1 Purple Finch and 1 Common Redpoll were recorded.

3 Count week birds were recorded, Common Grackle, Belted Kingfisher and Red-headed Woodpecker.

Thanks to all the participants!

Kiah Jasper, Compiler

Chillaxing Male Cardinal in our backyard (Photo by Fely Clarke January 2, Owen Sound·)

While we wait and wonder what weather is in store for us, some of our neighbours have wildflowers showing new growth.

 I have been seeing flying insects outside near Woodland areas and some summer birds appear to be staying with us for the winter.  

So the question David Turner, of Beaver Valley Birding, says he is being asked all the time is: “Where are the Snowy Owls this year?”. His answer: “Well, there was a collapse in the Lemming population last year, so the Snowy Owls population didn’t do too well. That means that there aren’t many down this way for this winter.”

“Look up, Rusty, way up”
Curious Red Fox watching a bird up in a tree.
(Photo by Pat Gillies, January 3)

To close, a Nature quote about Claude Monet, from Mad Enchantment – Claude Monet and the Painting of The Water Lilies, by Ross King: Monet loved birds and animals, even leaving the windows of his dining room open so the sparrows could help themselves to bread crumbs from the table. Japanese chickens, a gift from Clemenceau, ranged freely through the gardens and even in the studio, where the master fed them from his own hand.

Nature Club News, January, 2019


by John Dickson


The December 13 Indoor Meeting of Owen Sound Field Naturalists was very well attended, for John Reaume’s  Spiders of Eastern North America. He featured many of his own superb photographic images along with detailed and entertaining commentary.

Coincidentally, the Royal Ontario Museum has a current exhibition entitled Spiders – Fear and Fascination, still on display but closing January 6.   For more information please visit –

The Owen Sound Young Naturalists Club have a planned outing to the Bognor Marsh on January 20, for snowshoeing, nature sightings, and even some hot chocolate with bannock.

Mmmmmmm Bannock. (Photo by Brian)
Mmmmmmm Bannock. (Photo by Brian)

This entire 2018-19 OSFN season, we are celebrating 30 years of what our motto says – Knowing Nature Better.

One highlight is the Celebrate Earth Day event with Doug Larson’s Songs and Stories of Nature and Ecology. University of Guelph Professor Emeritus Doug Larson was the club’s first guest speaker, in January of 1989. This year he returns on Saturday April 20, 2019, at 2PM, aboard the MS Chi Cheemaun, berthed in Owen Sound harbour, with songs and stories of nature and ecology. In recent years he has also been crafting his own guitars, and these instruments also have tales to tell, some of which are outlined in his book The Storyteller Guitar.

Tickets  (only $5 each)  are now on sale for this 4th Annual Celebrate Earth Day event and are available at Ginger Press, Owen Sound Farmers Market (Saturdays, from Sheila Gunby), OSTC Springmount office, and at OSFN meetings – (Jan 10, Feb 14, March 14). Once again this event is sponsored by Caframo, and is hosted by Owen Sound Transportation. All proceeds are directed to OSFN youth projects. Don’t miss out – tickets are already selling fast.

On Thursday January 10, the OSFN kicks off 2019, with – Bruce Trail: 856 kms of Discovery – featuring Audrey Armstrong and Willy Waterton whose presentation is “based on our end to end hike, with references to science, geology and history all along the Niagara Escarpment with a healthy emphasis on our area. (i.e. black bears, rattlesnakes, ferns and a plane crash!).” The meeting begins at 7PM, in the auditorium of the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

(In addition, Waterton’s evocative photography can also be seen at the Roxy Theatre until January 13, and at a new show at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, opening January 11th – SALT OF THE EARTH: PEOPLE OF GREY & BRUCE COUNTIES.”)


Details about all OSFN programmes, Young Naturalists, online membership and donations can be found at

Apropos to the season here are a couple of Nature quotes from Knud Rasmussen – “the moon shimmered in the ice crystals, and the trembling arc of northern lights played over the edge of the wood…” and, since we have just received a fresh blanket of new snow here in Grey Bruce overnight, Rasmussen, in Northern Canada, in 1923 also writes ” a glittering carpet of innumerable tiny crystals;  and across it moved the caribou in their hundreds.” 

In recent weeks, Christmas Bird Counts took place in our area and many OSFN members were helping out with these surveys. Here are  excerpts from some of the compilers’ reports:

Owen Sound – December 15 – Compiler Erik Van Den Kieboom reported that although some numbers were down, good sightings included a red morph Eastern Screech Owl, and a Northern Goshawk, along with 14 brown-headed cowbirds, 30 Bohemian waxwings, a Northern shrike, a snowy owl, a Northern flicker, house and purple finches, pine grosbeaks and redpolls.

I was with a team in Harrison Park just after 7AM where we counted an amazing 600 or so mallard ducks arriving steadily in small groups for about 40 minutes, from wherever they had spent the night. I was also fortunate to see a single Bald Eagle, circling high above the Jubilee bridge around midday.


Hanover – Walkerton   Compiler Gerard McNaughton 

The Hanover-Walkerton CBC took place under excellent conditions on Saturday Dec 15, 2018.  There was very little wind which meant birds were easy to detect by call, and once the early fog lifted birds were easy to spot but not concentrated at feeders as in the past few years.
Overall 53 species were detected on the count day itself with 1 additional species found during count week bringing the total to 54 which ties the highest total recorded (2004, 2007, 2012, 2016).

1 species set new high count record       Red–breasted Nuthatch 45 birds (43 in 1999)

3 species tied high counts records          Belted Kingfisher (4 in 1998, 1999), Red-bellied Woodpecker (11 in 2016) and White-throated Sparrow (3 in 1983)

Winter Finches seen included                  Pine Grosbeak (1), Common Redpoll (181), Evening Grosbeak (8)

3 Owl species were recorded                  Eastern Screech Owl (12), Great Horned Owl (1) and Snowy Owl (2)

1 meadowlark species was recorded just outside Walkerton, feeding in a wet grassy area with Starlings (not recorded since 1978)

Notable misses included Wild Turkey not seen on count day but were seen during count week.

Total number of birds seen 6509.
Next Count will take place on Saturday Dec 14, 2019


Jarmo Jalava and Miptoon (Anthony Chegahno), co-compilers report that the eighth annual Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker) Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, December 15, on the beautiful Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula.

Count weather was spectacular, with sunny skies, light winds, and pleasant temperatures ranging from -3.5C during pre-dawn owling to +3.5C in the afternoon. The waters of Georgian Bay and streams were open, but non-flowing inland waters were generally ice-covered. Fifteen cheerful participants of varying ages and skill-levels tallied a total of 39 species, which is about average for the count. The 1,025 individual birds tallied was considerably higher than the average of 824. Highlights included only the count’s second Redhead and third Common Grackle. No new taxa definable to species were documented, but a very interesting find was a Brewer’s/Rusty Blackbird, which was well-described, but with not quite enough detail to conclusively settle on one species or the other. All-time high counts were tallied for seven species: Bufflehead (68, previous 39, average 21), Ruffed Grouse (25, previous high 9, average 4.2), Horned Grebe (10, previous 8, average 2.1), Barred Owl (2, previous 1, only the second count record), Great Horned Owl (3, equaling previous high, average 1), Hairy Woodpecker (9, previous 8, average 3.1), Pileated Woodpecker (5, previous 3, average 1.2) and Brown Creeper (4, previous 2, average 0.8). The only regularly occurring species for which a low count was recorded was Blue Jay (8, previous 15, average 32.2). This was the first Neyaashiinigmiing CBC with no American Tree Sparrows. House Sparrows have now been absent for five years, down steadily from the 45 individuals reported in 2011. Chi Miigwetch to Neyaashiinigmiing First Nation for hosting this very special birding event, and the always delicious breakfast and dinner feast.


Wiarton CBC Jarmo Jalava compiler The 45th (not quite annual) Wiarton Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, December 16. Count weather was spectacular, sunny and mild, with little to no wind. Temperatures rose from -1 in the early morning to +5C in the afternoon. The waters of Georgian Bay were open, as were creeks and rivers, but most inland waterbodies were frozen, and the shallows of more sheltered bays of Lake Huron had a thin layer of ice. Twenty-seven enthusiastic participants and three feeder watchers tallied 63 species, tying the all-time high set in 1997, and well above the 45-year average of 48.7 species, and the 10-year average of 52.8. The 4,793 individuals counted was also well above the 45-year (3,436) and 10-year (4,417) averages. One new species for the count was found, Barred Owl. It was heard within the circle shortly after the round-up dinner. Barred Owls are uncommon but widespread residents on the Saugeen Bruce Peninsula, so it’s a bit surprising it’s taken almost half a century for one to be found on the Wiarton CBC. The bird-of-the-count prize (again) this year has to go to a hardy Winter Wren. Wiarton Winnie? Prior to 2016 there had been but two Winter Wren observations since 1971. Presumably the same individual has now been found at the exact same location for the third year in a row! Other notables included Gadwall (3rd count), Glaucous Gull (5th count), Golden Eagle (2nd count) and White-throated Sparrow (8th count). A presumed “Great Lakes Gull” (Herring X Great Black-backed hybrid), which would be a first for the count, was also found and photographed. Winter finches, most of which have been absent for several years, were represented in low numbers but good diversity, with 27 Pine Siskins, 19 Evening Grosbeaks, 6 Purple Finches, 4 Common Redpolls and 3 Pine Grosbeaks. All-time highs were tallied for Mute Swan (16, previous 13), Bald Eagle (21, previous 17), Red-bellied Woodpecker (9, previous 7) and Common Raven (86, previous 81). Second highest-ever counts were recorded for Long-tailed Duck (65, all-time 71), Red-breasted Nuthatch (52, all-time 54), Brown Creeper (7, all-time 11). No regularly occurring species had record low counts, and there were no notable misses. Thanks to everyone who made it such a memorable day! Jarmo Jalava


Michael Butler & Tricia Stinnissen (co-compilers) for the 46th Tobermory Christmas Bird Count.

Date: December 19th, 2018.

A record high number of participants (56) enjoyed exceptionally mild weather and the usual fine camaraderie. Recent thaws had left very little snow cover allowing for excellent access to the backcountry. Indeed, 13 parties logged a remarkable 103 km (61.5 hours) on foot . Despite the increased coverage of the circle area, most parties reported that birds were scarce and feeders were poorly attended.

Total species: 44 (average=40).

Total individuals: 1243 (average=1637).


  • Trumpeter Swan: 1. Karen Connoy photographed a young swan in Eagle Harbour which, after much consultation, was identified to this species. In the frame of one of her swan photos was a Mallard which proved to be the only one encountered on count day  – all waterfowl were scarce.


  • Bohemian Waxwing: 144. This count is just shy of 1999’s record high of 148.
  • Chipping Sparrow: 1. Only the second record for the count (the first was in 2015).
  • Evening Grosbeak: 104. Only the second occurrence since 2001.


  • Red-breasted Nuthatch: 14 (average=41), down from last year’s record high of 155.
  • Blue Jay: 4 (average=41). This is the lowest number tallied since 1975.
  • Snow Bunting: 1 (average=33).


  • European Starling:  This is only the second time the species went undetected on count day (average=27).


  • European Starling.
  • Swamp Sparrow (2nd record for count period).

Lost and Found: Someone left a black, zippered Mountain Equipment Co-op jacked at the Visitor’s Centre. Email me if it’s yours.

Much gratitude: Many thanks to all who participated in the count or helped out with preparation and clean-up of the delicious breakfast and dinner. Thanks as well to Bill and Judy Caulfeild-Browne for hosting a cozy and tasty pre-count gathering on Tuesday.

47th Tobermory Christmas Bird Count: WednesdayDecember 18, 2019.



Meaford CBC – Lynne Richardson, Compiler 

The 48th annual Meaford CBC was held December 28th in balmy, snowless conditions thanks to a spring-in-December day with temperatures rising to +12; no wind, a bit of sun in the afternoon. Georgian Bay was completely open with no ice-edge and most other water bodies were partially open with barely a skim of ice on still areas.

21 count participants found 55 species, continuing the trend of the past 10 years of totaling over 50 species in the Meaford circle, up from the average of 46 over the previous 30+ years of the count. 55 species ranks 4th highest in the all time totals.

Total individuals was about on average at 3534 birds.

No new species were recorded leaving the cumulative total at 120 species.

Interesting sightings included 14 Brown Creepers foraging together which contributed to a new high for this species, and the only new high for the count.  A tie for high was made by Horned Grebe at 9. Two American Tree Sparrows were a somewhat unusual low. Missing were the Golden Eagle(s) of the past 6 counts.

A Carolina Wren was a count 2nd; 1 Northern Pintail was the count’s 4th ever, and Evening and Pine Grosbeaks put in an appearance for only the 3rd times in the past 14 years.

Thanks to the dedicated participants who so diligently covered the count areas!

Bohemian Waxwings on a wire (Photo by Lynne Richardson)
Bohemian Waxwings on a wire (Photo by Lynne Richardson)


The results from this year’s Pike Bay, (December 29) and Cape Chin (December 30),  Counts are as follows…

Andrew Keaveney, Compiler 

Pike Bay: 17 participants, 39 species + 6 ‘Count Week’ species; most numerous species were Snow Bunting (700), Black-capped Chickadee (261) and Common Redpoll (217); New to the count were Mute Swan (2 at Pike Bay), White-winged Crossbill (1) and Horned Lark (count week). Birds of interest were Hoary Redpoll (1), Pine Grosbeak (6) and White-throated Sparrow (1) at a feeder in Howdenvale. Absent on Count Day were Pileated Woodpecker and Brown Creeper, always difficult to find in the winter months. Count Week produced a flock of over 2000 Snow Buntings and several Lapland Longspurs.

Andrew Keaveney, Compiler 

Cape Chin: 20 participants, 36 species + 3 ‘Count Week’ species; most numerous species were European Starling (327), Black-capped Chickadee (277) and Common Redpoll (171). Appearing for the first time in many winters, 111 Evening Grosbeaks were recorded at a few feeders and they always travel in crowds. One group was even photographed feeding naturally on sumac. The only new species recorded was an immature Northern Goshawk in the Dyer’s Bay area during Count Week. Perhaps the most talked about bird was a Belted Kingfisher found along an open creek by three separate groups, much to their surprise. Another Hoary Redpoll was carefully picked out of a group of more than 100 Common Redpolls and Dyer’s Bay once again produced an excellent number of winter grebes with Horned (25) and Red-necked (12), despite waterfowl being extremely scarce across most counts in the region this winter.

At least 3 Snowy Owls have been present in the count circle areas but only 1 was recorded on the weekend, during Count Day.


Saugeen Shores CBC  Norah Toth, Compiler, 

reports that fifty-five species were recorded by 24 citizen scientists during the Saugeen Shores Christmas Bird Count which was held on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.  This is an average number of species for the count.  The number of individual birds was slightly above the average at 6441.  The fact that Lake Huron remains open and that there is not a lot of snow cover will have contributed to an all time high for the number of Canada Geese seen throughout the day.  The volunteers found the temperatures cold and crisp with clear skies in the morning and snow flurries in the afternoon.

Common Raven vs Snowy Owl (Photo by Bruce Edmunds)
Common Raven vs Snowy Owl (Photo by Bruce Edmunds)

Hermit Thrush (Photo by Bruce Edmunds)
Hermit Thrush (Photo by Bruce Edmunds)

Northern Shrike (Photo by Bruce Edmunds)
Northern Shrike (Photo by Bruce Edmunds)

Christmas Bird Counts – Grey and Bruce Counties (2018)

Held every year between December 14th and January 5th, the Christmas Bird Count is one of the the largest citizen science projects.

If you would like to join one of the counts in Grey or Bruce counties, the contact information and dates of the 2018 counts are listed below. If you are outside the area, or would like more general information about the project, head to the Bird Studies Canada Website.

Owen Sound Erik Van Den Kieboom Dec. 15, Sat.
Hanover-Walkerton Gerard McNaughton Dec. 15, Sat.
Wiarton Jarmo Jalava Dec. 16, Sun.
Kincardine James Turland Dec. 19, Wed.
Tobermory Tricia Stinnissen Dec. 19, Wed.
Meaford Lynne Richardson Dec. 28, Fri.
Pike Bay Andrew Keaveney Dec. 29, Sat.
Cape Chin Andrew Keaveney Dec. 30, Sun.
Saugeen Shores Norah Toth Jan. 2, Wed.

Nature Club News, January, 2018


by John Dickson

A version of this column appeared in the OS Sun Times on Thursday January 11, 2018 .

The Owen Sound Field Naturalists presentation on December 14, featured Angie Littlefield, an engaging speaker, who enlightened the audience about the “Nature” knowledge of Tom Thomson, who, in his formative years, spent many hours on nature hikes, and in the company of prominent contemporary naturalists, some of whom had family connections for him. One of her sources, suggests that “Tom had his naturalist bent from Uncle Brodie” – (Dr. William Brodie). Also shared were examples of Thomson’s more detailed nature art, of wildflowers, and fish species, as well as some of his more iconic painted images, and even many of his photographs. Some of Thomson’s paintings also document the some of the effects of human activities – showing the devastation of forested landscapes through logging, fire and construction of dams. Littlefield’s research also led her to suggest that Thomson spent some time with Grey Owl during his trip to western Canada, and that both are included in a photo of swimmers in the Banff area in 1913. Thomson was also noted for his preparation of tasty cuisine.

Angie Littlefield (supplied photo)
Angie Littlefield (supplied photo)

The next presentation in our speaker series is at 7PM Thursday January 11, at the Public Library in Owen Sound, and features Peter Middleton with “Ancient Plants of Grey and Bruce”. Here is Peter’s outline –
“The two counties we call home are also the place where a number of remarkable plants that have occupied the earth for aeons find a place to live. From the escarpment face to the forests and fens, mosses, liverworts, ferns and trees thrive. This program will introduce a few of them and their remarkable histories.”

Peter explaining the characteristics of a bracken fern.
Peter explaining the characteristics of a bracken fern. (Photo by Brian Robin)

On January 28 the Young Naturalists will share their outing with the regular OSFN club members at Bognor Marsh for a snowshoe Nature hike. There is still room for more Young Naturalists to participate in club activities. Visit for more information.

Christmas Bird Counts

Many area naturalists participated in Christmas Bird Counts throughout the area, from December 14 to January 5. Here are some excerpts and highlights from many of them.

The 47th Annual Owen Sound Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. 33 observers in 8 groups recorded 6286 birds of 63 species. There were several count highs this season, especially with woodpeckers. There were count highs for Red-bellied Woodpecker (16), and the second highest count for Hairy Woodpeckers (50). There were also count highs for Rock Dove (675), and Red-breasted Nuthatch (45).

Other sightings of note include:
One male Barrow’s Goldeneye, a species recorded only once before on a count in 1977.
The first Ruddy Duck ever recorded in the history of the Owen Sound CBC.
1 Broad-winged Hawk, previously only recorded on the count in 2006 (referenced on the Audubon CBC website for the Owen Sound area).
1 American Coot, a bird not recorded every year on the count and always in small numbers.
3 Brown-headed Cowbird, a bird not recorded in the count since 2002, and a Common Grackle, not recorded since 2012.
Other unusual birds recorded this season include 1 Tundra Swan, 4 Eastern Bluebird, 1 Northern Flicker, 2 Merlin, and a Snowy Owl.
The lack of certain winter finches was notable, with no Purple Finch, Common Redpoll, and only one Pine Siskin this season.

Compiler – Erik Van Den Kieboom

The 42nd annual Hanover-Walkerton Christmas Bird Count also took place on Dec. 16, 2017 with 28 participants searching woodlots, open fields and feeders in search of their feathered friends.

By the end of the day 49 species had been recorded totalling 6375 birds with an additional 3 species being recorded during the count week period. One new species was recorded when 2 Ring Neck Ducks were observed at Chesley, bringing the overall total species seen to a impressive 105 over the 42 years. 4 species would set new record highs they were Great Black-backed Gull 11, Blue Jay 307, Bald Eagle 30 (23 were observed in one field alone), and Golden Eagle 2.

Compiler – Gerard McNaughton

Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker) CBC
The seventh annual Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker) Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, December 16.
Eighteen participants eked out a record low total of 35 species.

However, two new species for the count were seen – Lesser Scaup (1) and American Coot (1), raising the composite seven-year total to 77. A count-week Ring-necked Pheasant was also new for the list. All-time high counts were tallied for Canada Goose (3, previous 2), Hairy Woodpecker (8, previous 7) and Northern Cardinal (13, previous 12).

Compiler – Jarmo Jalava

Wiarton CBC
The 44th Wiarton Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, December 17.
Twenty-four participants and three feeder watchers tallied 50 species (close to the 44-year average of 48.4, and the 10-year average 50.5) and 3,818 individuals (44-year average 3,405, 10-year average 4,135).

All-time highs were tallied for Cooper’s Hawk (3, previous 2), Pileated Woodpecker (12, previous 6), Blue Jay (445, previous 385) and Dark-eyed Junco (70, previous 58). No regularly occurring species had record low counts, but numbers of dabbling ducks, European Starling, House Sparrow and winter finches were well below average.

Compiler – Jarmo Jalava

The 47th annual Meaford CBC was held on Thursday December 28 under cold, but windless conditions.

55 species were tallied; up from the last-20 year average of 49.7 and reflecting the continuing trend towards higher species counts over the more recent years of this CBC. 55 species is the third highest total in 25 years; 4th highest in all 47 years. Total individuals was 3817, slightly lower than average. No new species were found, leaving the cumulative count total at 120.

Winter finches included 12 Purples, 2 White-winged Crossbills and 16 Common Redpolls. House Finch (including one male counted in the bill of a Northern Shrike!) were back to a low count of 10, after recent better years. Bald Eagle was missed for the first time in 5 years. 2 Golden Eagle confirmed their continuing trend of overwintering in the area. Cooper’s Hawk was absent for the first time in 10 years. Two days after the count Mark Wiercinski called in 3 Eastern Bluebird going in & out of a nest box. Great birds for Count Week! Bluebirds have been recorded on 3 previous counts in 47 years. They’re hardier than they look!

Compiler – Lynne Richardson

House Finch and Northern Shrike (Photo by Ethan Gosnell)
House Finch and Northern Shrike (Photo by Ethan Gosnell)

Results Of the 2017 Kincardine Christmas Bird Count (KCBC) on Friday December 15th. The first ever Baltimore Oriole seen brought the historic 33 year total to 121 species. The Oriole was an anticipated find for it had been eating peanuts at a feeder on the south side of Kincardine for a week prior. Many people are familiar with the Oriole’s beautiful song and orange color during our summer months. Orioles along with most song birds migrate south but on occasion stragglers get left behind.

Here are the complete 2017 Kincardine Christmas Bird Count results. Twenty-two participants counted 2366 individual birds of 51 species. Goldfinch and Juncos were found in greater than usual numbers. Baltimore Oriole was new to the count.

Compiler – James Turland

Subject: Pike Bay and Cape Chin CBC’s – Dec. 29th and 30th, 2017
These two CBC’s cover the central Bruce Peninsula and provide a great snapshot of winter birds present on the peninsula this time of year.
This was the second year the Cape Chin count has been held and Pike Bay just graduated from year 4.
Pike Bay CBC Dec. 29th (known for having Canada’s first Eurasian Tree Sparrow on a CBC!!!)

37 species; 1607 individuals.
Cape Chin CBC Dec. 30th (one of the newest CBC’s in Ontario, with some of the highest verticals – Cabot Head!)
31 species; 907 individuals.
New species for count: Common Grackle (feeder bird)
Winter Finches (combined counts):
Common Redpoll (172)
Pine Siskin (101) – scarce but 1 flock of 100
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 29 and 8. Quite high for the Pike Bay count.
Brown Creeper – just 3, but still a new high for Pike Bay CBC. They are notoriously difficult to find in winter.
Ruffed Grouse – 17 and 6. Smashes the old records. I do think it is a good year for them and that this isn’t just an anomaly.

Compiler – Andrew Keaveney

Tobermory Date: Dec 20, 2017. Participants: 40. Total Species: 41 (average=40).
Total individuals: 1108 (average=1646).
Noteworthy Highs, Lows and Misses:
Wild Turkey: 29. Record high. Wild Turkey was first detected on the Tobermory count in 2008 and the growing numbers on the Peninsula reflect an ongoing increase throughout the Great Lakes area over the past decade.
Eastern Screech-Owl: 4. Tied for the second highest count (four were also detected in 2012). In 2013, seven were recorded (average=0.7).
Red-breasted Nuthatch: 155. A record high (average=41).
Summary: Individual birds were scarce although the species total (41) was close to the 45 year average and up from last year’s tally (36)

Compiler – Michael Butler

The 14th Saugeen Shores Christmas Bird Count took place on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 with 28 people participating and 10 feeder watchers.
We found a total of 3504 individual birds; representing 49 species which is below the average of 53. No species were new to the count so the cumulative total remains at 102 species.

Of interest is an Oregon Junco which was photographed at the same feeder where one was recorded during the 2017 count. Some totals that may be interesting, are Snowy Owl (15), Brown-headed Cowbird (6, high for the count), Common Redpoll (40), American Goldfinch (733, 2nd highest for the count), House Sparrow (3, low for the count).

Compiler – Norah Toth

Christmas Bird Counts – Grey and Bruce Counties (2017)

Held every year between December 14th and January 5th, the Christmas Bird Count is one of the the largest citizen science projects.

If you would like to join one of the counts in Grey or Bruce counties, the contact information and dates of the 2017 counts are listed below. If you are outside the area, or would like more general information about the project, head to the Bird Studies Canada Website.

Kincardine James Turland Dec. 15, Fri.
Hanover-Walkerton Gerard McNaughton Dec. 16, Sat.
Owen Sound Erik Van Den Kieboom Dec. 16, Sat.
Wiarton Jarmo Jalava Dec. 17, Sun.
Bruce Peninsula N.P. Tricia Stinnissen Dec. 20, Wed.
Meaford Lynne Richardson Dec. 28, Thur.
Pike Bay Andrew Keaveney Dec. 28, Thur.
Cape Chin Andrew Keaveney Dec. 29, Fri.
Saugeen Shores Norah Toth Jan. 3, Wed.

Report on 2016 Owen Sound Christmas Bird Count: Dec 17

32 Volunteers walked 16 km and drove 852 km to produce the days results. 55 Species and 7548 individual birds were counted.
Highlights of this years count include:

14 Mute Swan – 9th year in a row on the count, numbers continue to grow.
12 Bald Eagles, count high.
2 Greater Black-backed Gull – much more common 15 years ago.
12 Red-bellied Woodpecker – count high.
1 Tufted Titmouse – 1st ever! Species number 125 in the 46 years of the count.
Notable misses: Ruffed Grouse, first ever miss.

Full OSCBC data available here (Count Code is ONOS, 2016 not yet available at the time of this posting):

Submitted by Freeman Boyd


Here are the e-bird entries from one of the participants, Angela Nicholson:

Bruce Birding Club – Nov 2nd, 2016 Outing Report

Submitted by the Bruce Birding Club, a fantastic resource for birding in Bruce County.

Participants: 22

In birding, it’s the time of year when birders search for waterfowl. Thank you, Lynne for leading us on our once a year trip to Thornbury / Collingwood, an area which we enjoy visiting, in our quest for ducks. Thank you, for your planning, organization, and acquiring admission to the waterfowl-rich Thornbury Lagoons, which are generally closed to the public. Our emphasis was on waterfowl habitat, and we were certainly not disappointed seeing 18 different species. Land birds happened along the way, as we traveled through seven different water environments, giving us a total of 41 species for the day. It was a fun filled day, where we enjoyed each other’s company, as we discovered birds that happened to come our way.

The weather was a cool with a high of 13 C, moderate winds with mixed sun and cloud.

Also, a thank you goes to Judy who kept the bird list for us.

Areas Visited:
1) Behind Bridge’s Tavern
2) Thornbury Lagoons
3) Clendenam Dam
4) Collingwood Grain Elevators
5) Collingwood Marina
6) Princeton Shores
7) North Winds Beach

• Canada Goose (CANG)
• Mute Swan (MUSW)
• American Black Duck (ABDU)
• Mallard (MALL)
• Redhead (REDH)
• Ring-necked Duck (RNDU)
• Greater Scaup (GRSC)
• Lesser Scaup (LESC)
• White-winged Scoter (WWSC)
• Bufflehead (BUFF)
• Common Goldeneye (COGO)
• Hooded Merganser (HOME)
• Common Merganser (COME)
• Ruddy Duck (RUDU)
• Common Loon (COLO)
• Horned Grebe (HOGR)
• Red-necked Grebe (RNGR)
• Double-crested Cormorant (DCCO)
• Great Blue Heron (GBHE)
• Great Egret (GREG)
• Possible Cooper’s Hawk (COHA)
• Red-tailed Hawk (RTHA)
• American Coot (AMCO)
• Greater Yellowlegs (GRYE)
• Bonaparte’s Gull (BOGU)
• Ring-billed Gull (RBGU)
. Herring Gull
• Great Black-backed Gull (GBBG)
• Rock Pigeon (ROPI)
• Mourning Dove (MODO)
• Belted Kingfisher (BEKI)
• Blue Jay (BLJA)
• American Crow (AMCR)
• Common Raven (CORA)
• Black-capped Chickadee (BCCH)
• American Robin (AMRO)
• European Starling (EUST)
• Dark-eyed Junco (DEJU)
• Northern Cardinal (NOCA)
• American Goldfinch (AMGO)
• House Sparrow (HOSP)
41 Species seen.

Red headed woodpecker

Click on image to enlarge

Brian and Sarah Robin report, “We’ve had an adult Red-headed woodpecker visiting our feeders (near Desboro) since at least May 19th, and it’s quickly established itself as the backyard bird-feeder boss. It looks like some juvenile brown feathers remain on its face and some wishful thinking has us believing it’s the juvenile that visited us last October.”