Grey-Bruce Bird Checklist

Grey-Bruce Bird Records Committee Report

Have you ever wondered just how many species of birds have been recorded in Grey & Bruce Counties? Or how many species breed here? How many species are found here only in the winter? Or only during spring or fall migration? Of the 36 species of warblers that have been found in the two Counties, how many stay to nest here? Well, you don’t have to search the ‘net or refer to numerous field guides for the answers to these questions. This information can all be found in the newly updated 2020 Checklist of the Birds of Grey & Bruce.

In 2012, the Owen Sound Field Naturalists Board appointed Dave Fidler to the task of updating the old 1998 Checklist. He revived the Grey-Bruce Bird Records Committee with reps from the OSFN (Peter Middleton, Lynne Richardson), the Huron Fringe Field Naturalists (James Turland) and the Saugeen Field Naturalists (Jerry Asling). This group produced a new Checklist updated to 2013, adding 21 new species to the total species found in the two counties.

Dave Fidler resigned from the Committee in 2016, and Peter Middleton stepped in as Chair. Michael Butler, representing the bird-rich Bruce Peninsula, and Gerrard McNaughton representing the southerly area of the counties, were welcome additions to the Committee.

The last few years have seen the Committee review numerous records of birds rarely found in Grey-Bruce, add 10 new species, revise the taxonomic order of the list to match the current eBird/AOU order, change the status of various species (e.g, from single sightings to more frequent sightings, non-breeding to breeding, etc), and added new status categories including ‘Species at Risk’ and Extirpated/Extinct. A note regarding the Birding Code of Ethics has been added given the ever-increasing popularity of birding and bird photography and the sensitivity of our feathered friends to disturbance. The Committee also decided to revise the Checklist from the previous 8-page cardstock format to a single (2-sided) page that can be posted on the Club’s website and easily downloaded.

One species was removed from the Checklist – Thayer’s Gull, which was considered a separate species until 2017. It is now considered a subspecies of Iceland Gull. And there is one less warbler than there was in the 2013 Checklist – Yellow-breasted Chat is now considered a separate species. These ‘splits’ and ‘lumps’ happen from time to time as our knowledge of the genetic makeup of bird species grows.

There is a lot of information packed into this little one-page checklist!

Ten species have been newly recorded in the two counties since 2013, bringing the total list of birds recorded in Grey-Bruce to 349 species:

  1. Common Eider
  2. Eurasian Dotterel (a Canadian first!)
  3. Reddish Egret (an Ontario first!)
  4. Mississippi Kite
  5. Lewis’s Woodpecker
  6. Cave Swallow
  7. Rock Wren
  8. Golden-crowned Sparrow
  9. Nelson’s Sparrow
  10. Spotted Towhee

The Committee will continue to meet annually to review new records and keep the checklist up to date. Reporting forms can be downloaded from and submitted to the OSFN website (www.osfn.ca) or any member of the Checklist Committee. The Committee is particularly interested in reports on birds not found on the new checklist, or any species noted as C or A (Casual, ie: vagrant/rare, or Accidental). Already, three more species new to Grey-Bruce are currently pending review, including the amazing Canada-second Scott’s Oriole, and these will soon be added to the Checklist.

The Checklist has been posted on the OSFN website. Check it out! Download a copy for your next excursion. Go birding! Enjoy!

Lynne Richardson
on behalf of the Grey-Bruce Bird Records Committee

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