[Ontbirds]Indigo Bunting, etc., Britannia, Ottawa

Elsa Suárez & Paul Matthews mattpau at mondenet.com
Sun Oct 9 15:59:50 EDT 2005

Yesterday (Oct 8) at lunch time I saw a very late Indigo Bunting in Britannia woods. Sibley shows the basic plumage of male Indigo and Lazuli buntings as being much like their alternate plumage, only dingier, so I originally concluded this was a female. Other sources, consulted later, suggest male basic plumage is like female plumage. I gathered from one source, though, that the moult back to alternate plumage is very protracted, so appearance during non-breeding season changes. Since there was a certain amount of blue, I now conclude my bird was a male. Because Ottawa had its first ever Lazuli Bunting last year, I considered this possibility but nothing about the bird really suggested this species over Indigo.

There was an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Lincoln's Sparrow in the same general area as the bunting. Today (Oct 9) there were a couple of rusty blackbirds on the shore of Mud Lake in Britannia.

Yesterday morning I was in Clyde Ave woods, spending a rather frustrating time trying to catch up with a very uncooperative owl, probably a long-eared. Despite my attempted stealth, I flushed him twice, getting only fleeting looks each time. After that, I didn't see him again. Fortunately there were quite a few other birds in the woods: another orange-crowned warbler, several hermit thrushes and a couple of Swainson's, a sapsucker of each sex, 5 species of sparrow including my first Tree of the fall and, surprisingly to me, a rusty blackbird. At one point a Cooper's Hawk (from the size presumably a female) soared overhead, with a crow harassing her. This morning (Oct 9) I checked these woods again, but found no owl, and indeed very few birds.

Visits to Scrivens, Ottawa Beach and Shirley's Bay yesterday were not particularly productive, but a Swamp Sparrow at the last location allowed me a rare (for me) Melospiza sweep.

In all over the past 2 days I had 8 species of warbler, including the aforementioned orange-crowned, parula, a female yellowthroat, palm and 3 black-throated blues (2 of them female), the last a species I haven't seen much this fall. I saw 3 winter wrens yesterday, each in a different location.

Sorry that the above is a bit muddled as to dates (yesterday and today). My original posting yesterday did not work.

Paul Matthews, Ottawa

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