Birding in the Winter
Many thanks to guest blogger Carlos Barbery for the following post. Check out Carlos’ impressive bio below!
Even though it is cold in winter I still like to go birding because you never know what you will find. One fun part of winter birding is the Christmas Bird counts.
This was our third year taking part in the Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count. It wasn’t that cold but it was windy and it snowed and then that turned to freezing rain. My mom and sister and I looked at the area that we had been given for the count ahead of time and planned where we would go. This was the first time that we were doing the count in our neighbourhood. This made it easy to plan because we knew all the places to find certain birds because we bird there all the time.
We started the count at the forest at the end of Pine Street where we went to get more typical species of the Pine Forest such as: the Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pileated Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Common Raven. Then we walked along the streets to find birds at bird feeders and in the trees. We were able to find American Goldfinch, Common Redpoll, Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, European Starling and Rock Pigeon. While we were watching the Rock Pigeons a ŉMerlin appeared and chased them. We didn’t see whether it caught one. We headed over to a forest east of Hemlock Street where we normally see lots of finches near the feeders of the houses that back onto the forest. We were able to find House Finches, Common Redpolls, a Hoary Redpoll and American Goldfinches. We also found Mourning Doves, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers and Northern Cardinals. They are all regularly seen there. We were very lucky to find the Carolina Wren, a southern species. Most of the Ottawa River was frozen over by our area but there was some open water so we went down to the river to check for birds. We didn’t find too many, a Common Goldeneye, a Great Black-backed Gull and several Ring-billed Gulls but we did find this muskrat along the edge of the river.
It may be cold but it is not boring. You are able to see the nests of birds because there are no leaves hiding them.
Last spring we found a Cedar Waxwing nest but it was difficult to see because it was well hidden in a Buckthorn bush. Here is a nest that we found low to the ground just next to the bike path trail.
We could also see these nests on Conroy Island. They are mostly Double-crested Cormorant nests but just last year it was confirmed that Great Egrets are nesting on this island too. We took this picture of the nests and it wasn’t until we enlarged the picture on our computer that we saw something else.
Bio: Carlos Barbery is a 12-year-old birder who has been watching birds since he was five-years-old. He has been actively involved the past few years in three different Christmas Bird Counts in Ottawa, Dunrobin and Algonquin Park. He participates in several Citizen Science Projects, including Feederwatch, the Great Backyard Bird Count and Nestwatch and actively logs his bird sightings in eBird. He is a member of the Ottawa Field Naturalist’s Macoun Club and has served as its president. In 2012 he was thrilled to be able to receive a scholarship to attend an Art and Nature workshop at the Cornell Lab of Orthithology where he was, amongst other activities, able to view their vast collection of bird specimens and view original artwork by Louis Agassiz Fuertes. He continued to add to his list of volunteer activities last year when he helped with the Spring Migration Monitoring Program and Saw-Whet Owl banding at Innis point Bird Observatory and is looking forward to adding two more activites to his volunteer list this year: Marsh Monitoring and Owl Surveying.