[Ontbirds] FW: Owen Sound Birding yesterday - NO Slaty-backed Gull. At least 1 "Green Morph" Pine Siskin

Andrew Keaveney uofgtwitcher at msn.com
Thu Mar 1 11:30:05 EST 2012

My appologies, Ontbirds did not post my email yesterday.
Hello Ontbirders.  Three of us decided to make a day out of searching for the Slaty-backed Gull yesterday in Owen Sound.  We began in the harbour at 7:50am and left the area after 4pm without a sighting.  We checked most locations around the bay.  We did not get a chance to check Wiarton's Colpoy's Bay Harbour (though I wish we had!) but we did check Meaford harbour on the way home around 5pm.  Meaford had a single 1st-winter Glaucous Gull with a couple dozen Herrings.  Owen Sound Harbour had 1 adult and 1 imm. Great Black-backed Gull but otherwise only the two regular gull species.
We met up with Peter Middleton at several points and he showed us the locations he'd seen the gull as well as the photos he had taken.  He will be submitting a report to the OBRC.  His photos were quite good.  Correct shade on mantle, tall pink tarsi and he did see the bird in flight but didn't get a photo.  It showed the correct flight markings according to him.  The bird has a black and red marking on the bill at the gony.
At Peter Middleton's feeders were a wide variety of Pine Siskins unlike any of us had every seen before.  Besides the typically plumaged birds there appeared to be many intermediate type birds with very bright yellow wing bars and tail patches (these birds were acting territorial at the feeders and chasing off drabber birds!), some of which had heavier streaking and some of which had narrower, sparser amounts.  Some of these birds were pale yellow hues below.  I found at least one individual that stood out amongst the bunch.  It was very yellow-green overall, especially on the mantle, faint streaking below, large yellow wing bars, auriculars and to some extent rest of head was a brighter yellow-green than typically seen and the tail was coloured very brightly yellow a good 3/4 of the way down with small black terminal tail tips.  A great bird.  Peter had said he'd seen a couple even brighter birds an hour or so earlier when the flock was much larger during the snow storm that passed through.  When it subsided the birds dispersed somewhat and the flock at least halved in size.
Thanks goes out to Kirk Zufelt in the Saulte for first bringing these birds into light earlier this February.  I had no idea they could be found in Ontario and have never heard mention of them till this year.  I would also not have thought to ask Peter about these if Kirk had not made that post!
My question to Ontbirders is HAVE YOU or do you know someone who has seen these birds at feeders this year or in previous years.  I am very interested to know about these extreme "green morph" birds.  The Sibley Guide to birding depicts a great example of the birds I am talking about.
Directions:  Owen Sound can be reached by going north up #10 hwy. connecting from the 410 hwy. in Brampton.  It is about a 2hr. drive from 401 and Brampton.  The gulls have been hanging out on what is left of the ice on the inner bay and channel where the Manitoulin/Bruce Peninsula ferry spends the winter.
Andrew Keaveney
Field Biologist/Ornithologist, Bird and Wildlife Guide
647-383-8894 (cell)
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world"
~ John Muir
"Live, eat, breathe birds"
~ Twitcher


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