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
This colourful warbler is a Northern Parula. It was inspecting each set of blooms and picking out insects.
This Yellow-rumped Warbler was one of four checking out the tree tops.
Not Every Small Bird is a Warbler Even If It Has Bright Plumage
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.
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
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.)
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
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.
An Occasional Rarity, Like This Evening Grosbeak in Mississauga, Makes for an Exciting Morning
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
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.
Have you been having a wet slow start to spring? Please share any cheering sightings with a comment.