Quinte Area Bird Report

Terry Sprague tsprague at kos.net
Sun Feb 22 19:56:12 EST 2004

for Sunday, February 22, 2004

The big news this past week is actually bad news. The BOREAL CHICKADEE that
had been reported coming to a Rednersville area feeder since before
Christmas is, in fact, only a BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE. Because of the washed
out appearance of this individual and other disturbing characteristics, I
asked former Algonquin Park naturalist Ron Tozer to have a look at the
photographs, who also shared our concerns with well known birder Ron
Pittaway. Both agree that the bold white edges of the secondaries suggested
a black-capped since it lacked the plain grey wings of the Boreal. Reduced
pigments caused the washed out appearance, even resulting in the usual black
cap fading to a brown shade. The fact the bird was coming to a sunflower
seed feeder aroused even further suspicion, as boreals rarely frequent
feeders. If there is any comfort to be had from this misidentification it is
in the knowledge that this problem has arisen before. A bird similar to this
was seen in Edmonton about 20 years ago. It was identified as a gray-headed
chickadee. Birders came from near and far to add this bird to their life
list. Some even bought the observer dinner in celebration of the new lifer
on their lists. It, too, turned out to be a black-capped chickadee.
Photographs of the misidentified boreal chickadee will remain on my website
at www.naturestuff.net for another day or two, before being ignominiously
removed.To err is human, to forgive divine.

Now on to real birds. It was a rather slow week in Prince Edward County and
surrounding area. Even a RING-NECKED PHEASANT, seen near Warkworth during
the week, was likely an escapee from a local pheasant farm. More credible
was a SNOWY OWL, seen near the east end of Belleville early in the week, one
of only about three that have turned up this winter in the Quinte area.

There were close to 100 AMERICAN ROBINS along South Big Island Road
yesterday. Approximately 50 were tallied near the junction of Massassauga
Road and Sunrise Drive on Monday, where a flock of 50 CEDAR WAXWINGS turned
up, along with at least 9 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS.

An incredible 9 adult BALD EAGLES were on Timber Island on Tuesday. This
island off the shore of Prince Edward Point was one of the last strongholds
of the bald eagle before its decline in the early 1950s. Also on Tuesday, a
female eider, likely a COMMON EIDER, judging by colouration and head shape,
was seen at Prince Edward Point and a GLAUCOUS GULL flew by the Point on
Thursday. Today, a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL showed up at the end of Duetta
Road. The Point also hosted 50 REDHEADS as well as about 100 scaup.

Waterfowl counts made along the Prince Edward Bay and Lake Ontario
shorelines during the week, indicate that the spring migration of waterfowl
may very well be under way. From Point Petre to Long Point, an estimated
40,965 ducks were counted, compared to a previous high of 26,000 birds.
Nearly all of Prince Edward Bay was frozen early in the week due to the cold
snap last weekend and nearly no winds to move the ice. Many areas from Long
Point to Point Petre were also frozen quite far out from shore concentrating
birds in a few holes near Brewer's Lane and Soup Harbour. However, warm
weather in recent days combined with high winds has once again opened up
Prince Edward Bay and most of the south shore of the county. Larger numbers
of GREATER SCAUP and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS continued to be seen throughout
the week, either a function of migration or just redistribution of those
birds already on Lake Ontario.

The wintering TURKEY VULTURES in Prince Edward County continue to be seen
off and on in various parts of the county. There were four over Shannon Road
and Ridge Road on Thursday, and an individual near the Sandbanks dunes on
Monday. There was an EASTERN BLUEBIRD seen near Rose's Crossroad today.
Patronage at bird feeders remained stable during the week with highs of 50
COMMON REDPOLLS reported from a Stirling area feeder, and both HOUSE FINCHES
and MOURNING DOVES numbering about 60 each at a Maitland Avenue feeder on
the north side of Belleville. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was reported from Stirling,
and RED-TAILED HAWKS and SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS were seen on Maitland Avenue.
NORTHERN SHRIKES turned up during the week at Dainard Road, Long Point Road,
Ridge Road as well as Stirling.

Other good sightings during the week included a CAROLINA WREN at a feeder
near Warkworth, two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS at a Bloomfield feeder, and
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS at Sandbanks and along Ridge Road. The small flock of
WILD TURKEYS on Gomorrah Road was still there every day this past week, and
there were about 15 today in a field along Sidney Street, north of
Belleville. Other sightings to come in during the week were a PILEATED
WOODPECKER on Ridge Road and a COMMON RAVEN being chased by COMMON CROWS at

And that's it for this week from Prince Edward County and the Quinte area.
Our thanks to Albert Boisvert, Teresa Taylor, Lloyd Paul, Stephanie Collins,
Fred Helleiner, John & Donn Legate, Judy Bell, Donald McClure, Thomas Rymes,
Agneta Sand, Michael Schummer, Todd Sherstone and Chris Heffernan for their
contributions to this week's report. This report also appears weekly on the
Birding page at www.naturestuff.net . This report will be updated by 8:00
p.m. on Sunday, February 29th. Bird sightings must be in by 6:00 p.m. Sunday
evening to be included in the next report. Good winter birding.

Terry Sprague
Picton, Ontario
tsprague at kos.net

"Terry Sprague" <tsprague at kos.net>

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