Early May Migrants Brighten Up Cold Wet Spring in Southern Ontario

We’ve set some records for rain and possibly for lack of sunshine during the last two weeks of April and first week of May 2017 here in the Greater Toronto Area, GTA, in Ontario. It’s been great for getting me to do my housework but it’s made it hard to see any spring migrating birds — if any have even braved moving up into Ontario. So I’ve gone out rambling any time its not raining searching for warblers and thrushes.

The First Warblers of Spring at Lakeside Park and Riverwood in Mississauga

Photo of Black and White Warbler May 3 on NaturalCrooksDotCom
This Black and White Warbler fit the colour scheme of the month so far!

Photo of Nashville Warbler Wrong End May 3 on NaturalCrooksDotCom
As usual, I see most of my warblers from the wrong end. This is a Nashville Warbler if you want to memorize under tail plumage patterns!

Photo of Northern Parula Pyramid with Maple Blossoms May 3 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

This colourful warbler is a Northern Parula. It was inspecting each set of blooms and picking out insects.

Photo of Yellow Rumped Warbler May 3 Maple Flowers on NaturalCrooksDotCom

This Yellow-rumped Warbler was one of four checking out the tree tops.

Photo of Yellow Warbler May 6 on NaturalCrooksDotCom
This Yellow Warbler took a break from chasing the other males away and started looking for insects.

Not Every Small Bird is a Warbler Even If It Has Bright Plumage

Photo of American Goldfinch May 6 on NaturalCrooksDotCom
American Goldfinches are just as bright as the warblers even though they often have stayed all winter right here in Mississauga.

Photo of Red Breasted Nuthatch May 3 Maple Blossoms on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Like the Parula, this Red-breasted Nuthatch was inspecting the blossoms. It may be a migrant or it may be a year-round resident as we have both in Mississauga.

Photo of Ruby Crowned Kinglet May 3 Peeking on NaturalCrooksDotCom

This Ruby-crowned Kinglet was working its way through the shrubs. I’ve seen more individual Kinglets than any other type of bird bird (except Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds) so far this spring.

Spring Sparrows Look Brighter and Crisper But Are Just as Skulky

Photo of White Throated Sparrow Arched May 3 On NaturalCrooksDotCom

This White-throated Sparrow is about to dive off its perch and follow its friends. I often see these sparrows moving through in large groups. Sometimes, like today, they all move on together flying “single file” after each other like a conga line. It makes it easier for me to count the group as they each fly across in front of me one at a time. (There were 11 is this line.)

Photo of White Crowned Sparrow in Honeysuckle on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Several White-crowned Sparrows also emerged briefly from the honeysuckle thickets to search for food in the grassy edges of the path at Lakeside Park.

Migrating Bigger Birds Are Easier to Spot — Or They Should Be

Photo of Brown Thrasher Brush Pile May 3 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

Brown Thrashers are good at staying unseen even though they are roughly robin-sized. Here one inspects me through a tangle of burdock and goldenrod before going back to flipping aside leaves in its hunt for food.

Photo of Thrush Puddle on NaturalCrooksDotCom
This Thrush was standing under the branches of a Dogwood and checking for interesting bits in the puddle. Normally, that area is totally dry.

An Occasional Rarity, Like This Evening Grosbeak in Mississauga, Makes for an Exciting Morning

Photo of Evening Grosbeak Female May 3 On NaturalCrooksDotCom

I once discovered a male Wood Duck and later a female Northern Shoveler in unexpected spots by taking a photo of every bird I see. I knew there was something odd about this “goldfinch” when I was looking at it through my lens but I wasn’t sure what was wrong. It was black and white and yellow and had the thick sturdy bill of a non-warbler. All the local American Goldfinches were moulting, so odd patterns are common. But the face was pure grey, not green at all, and the nape was bright yellow. And the bill was pale not orange. And the wing bars were more splodges of white. I took my photos and turned to the next bird, a Northern Parula, and left it till I got home to review.

Once home, I realized it really wasn’t a goldfinch. With that big beak, that only left a few choices. I checked what an Evening Grosbeak looks like and sure enough it was a female. I didn’t believe it, though, since they are not common at this time of year in Mississauga. So I asked the Hamilton field naturalist birding community and the OutdoorOntario.net bird id reviewers for their opinion. They confirmed it is a Grosbeak.

Cool ! I don’t usually find “rarities” so it made my day.

Someone’s Got To Eat All of These Surplus Migrants

Photo of Coopers Hawk May 6 on NaturalCrooksDotCom

This Coopers Hawk may consider trying to catch some of the birds I saw. When I was watching it, though, the Red-winged Blackbird was chasing after it, although admittedly it was staying a good distance back just in case.

Related Reading

Join In
Have you been having a wet slow start to spring? Please share any cheering sightings with a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *