Friday, May 23, 2014

May 23,2014 Lesser Black-backed Gull at Pembroke, Ontario

On May 21st while birding at the Pembroke Marina I observed and photographed a 3rd year Lesser Black-backed Gull resting with Ring-billed Gulls on the break wall of the marina. The Lesser black-backed Gull is very rare in Renfrew County and most records are from the fall months. The first record for Ontario was found in the Ottawa area during November 1971. This species had increased big time over the last 4 decades but recently the number of sightings have dropped off. During the past decade I had counts up to 20+ individuals along the Ottawa River. The decline may be tied to the changes in dumping practices at local land fill sites. Nowadays there is little food available for the gulls due to the green bin. The days off see 1000's of gulls at local landfill sites appear to gone. As a result the number of gulls in our region has decline significantly.
Good birding,

Lesser Black-backed Gull 

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull 

May 22,2014 Red-headed Woopeckers at Constance Bay

Hi Everyone

At least one Red-headed Woodpecker has returned to the old burn site at Constance Bay. On May 17th I heard and observed a very vocal adult as it perched high in one of the few remaining dead trees. These woodepckers have successfully bred at this site since first being discovered by my dad in late May/early June 2002. The habitat has     changed significantly  since the fire during the mid 1990's and most of the dead trees have fallen and the area has been filled in with new growth. If you are going to look for these birds please refrain from using playback, all you need is some patience! 
I was back again on May 22nd and the same bird was still very vocal as it was successfully flycatching for a high perch. 
Good birding,

 Please review OFO's Ethical Birding Principles

Directions: Constance Bay: RHWP: From Ottawa travel west bound on Hwy. 417 to the March Rd./Eagleson Road and exit right onto March Rd. Follow to Dunrobin Road and turn right continuing northwest through Woodlawn. At the hill turn right onto Constance Bay Rd following it for approx. 1.5 km. Turn left on Allbirch Road and drive 1.3 km to the " T " intersection. Turn left
on Bishop Davis Drive and then right on Bayview Drive. Follow Bayview Drive to Ritchie St. Turn right and go a short distance to Whistler Rd. Turn left and drive .3 km and watch for a gate on the right. The trail through the burn area is opposite the gate. Parking is limited. 

Red-headed Woodpecker

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 20, 2014 Late lingering Snowy Owls in eastern Ontario

After the most amazing winter for Snowy Owls we are still seeing late lingering individuals in eastern Ontario. After 40+ years of birding I recorded my first ever May Snowy Owl for the Ottawa -Gatineau district on May 1st. Since then no sightings but on May 20th I observed two individuals while driving to Pembroke, one was in the Fitzroy Harbour area and another along Highway 17 west of Cobden. It will be interesting to see if any over summer in the region.
Good birding,

Late ingering Snowy Owls continue to be reported in eastern Ontario.

Snowy Owl 

Snowy Owl 

May 18,2014 Little Gull flock found on Lake Deschenes

While birding along the Ottawa River I observed a first year Little Gull in a small group of Bonaparte's Gulls off Britannia Pier. Later during the morning the number of  Little Gulls had grown to 6-7 1st year birds and 2 adult birds. The first record of Little Gull for the Ottawa-Gatineau district was found in June 1975 and over the past four decades there have been 40+ records. The majority of sightings have fallen between the latter part of May to mid June mainly along the Ottawa River between Britannia and Shirley's Bay and there are a few fall sightings. This represents the largest flock ever recorded in the Ottawa-Gatineau district. The previous high count was 5 on May 17,1987 along the ottawa river at Deschenes Rapids. 
Good birding, 

The Little Gulls spent most of their time off Britannoa Pier and dick Bell Park. At one point I watched a flock of 1st years birds flying out over Lake Deschenes. I was able to digiscope them along with a few Bonapate's Gulls once them settled on the water. 

May 15,2014 White-eyed Vireo at Shirley's Bay

Hi Everyone
While going to check on the Bald eagle nest at Shirley's Bay I heard and briefly saw an adult White-eyed Vireo near the gate entrance to the  Rifle Range. The vireo sang a number of times as it slowly moved south and disappeared. The White-eyed Vireo is a very rare visitor to eastern Ontario and most records are from the fall season. The Bald Eagles are doing well and have two young. This is the third consecutive year that the eagles have nested
Good birding,

Directions: Shirley's Bay: From Ottawa take Hwy. 417 west to the Moodie Drive exit and turn north (right) on Moodie Drive and continue to Carling Ave. Turn left at Carling Ave. and follow Carling to Rifle Road. Turn right (north) on Rifle Rd. Park at the lot at the end (boat launch). Walk back to the road, and continue through the gate on the Department of National Defense property. There is a trail on your right (clearly marked with vehicle "No Entry" signs) which heads into the woods, and, eventually to the causeway. There is lots of POISON IVY along the causeway.

OFFICE BEFORE ENTERING THE SHIRLEY'S BAY AREA-- Call (613) 991-5740 and request permission to visit the causeway area for birding.

Bald Eagles continue to successfully nest at Shirley's Bay. 

May 14,2014 Local birding: Britannia Conservation Area

Hi Ontbirders

The birding today, May 14th was excellent in the Ottawa area with a large number of migrant warblers and other land birds in various woodlots around the city. At the Britannia Conservation Area-Mud Lake there were 20 species of warblers including 1 Orange-crowned Warbler, 10+ Northern Parula, 450+ Yellow -rumped Warbler, 40 Yellow Warbler, 30 American Redstart, 7 Black-throated Blue Warbler, and smaller numbers of Bay-breasted, Pine, Palm, Magnolia, Canada, Wilson, Blackburnian and other species. Numerous vireos including 3 Philadelphia Vireo, 15 Warbling Vireo, 6 Red-eyed Vireo and 3 Bobolink flew over and 500+ Cedar Waxwing were observed. A Northern Mockingbird was found south of the BOCA along the bike path. Over the village of Britannia a loose flock of 100+ Chimney Swift were observed feeding high in the sky. A Yellow-throated Vireo was observed in a small wood lot off Island Park Drive and the Ottawa River Parkway. Lots of activity!
Good birding,

Directions: The Britannia Conservation Area-Mud Lake is located north of Carling Ave at Richmond Road. Follow Britannia Road north to Cassels Road and turn right.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

March 1-3,2014 Birding the Tapichalaca and Copalinga areas in southern Ecuador.

Hi Everyone

On our first morning we were rain out but the hummingbird feeders keep us busy with Long-tailed Sylph, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Amethyst-throated and Flame-throated Sunangels, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Collared Inca, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, and Speckled Hummingbird. It was a challenge identifying all these hummers and remembering their names! 
Our last early morning outing in the Tapichalaca Reserve started with a visit  to the now famous Jocotoco Antpitta feeder. This species was first discovered in the late 1990's and has been a major attraction for birders from all over the world. After a short wait the Jocotoco Antpitta arrived for its feeding of worms. At one point there were 3 antpittas, 2 adults and one young. 
The following morning at Copalinga we birded along a trail in the Bombuscaro sector of the Podocarpus National Park and had an amazing variety of hard to find birds starting with Amazonian Umbrellabird, Black-streaked Puffinbird and Lanceolated Monklet among other species. During the afternoon at the Copalinga Lodge  the feeders and property were active with many species including Violet-fronted Brilliant, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Orange-billed Sparrow, Silver-beaked Tanager, Spotted Tanager, Green Honeyeater and even a male Blackburnian Warbler. The highlight was a female Spangled Coquette! 

Good birding,

Jocotoco Antpitta

female Spangled Coquette 

Black-streaked Puffbird

male Powerful Woodpecker 

male Green Honeyeater 

Common Tody-Flycatcher 

male Blackburnian Warbler 

Violet-headed Hummingbird 


Amazonian Umbrellabird

Lanceolated Monklet

More Ecuador birding February 27-28,2014

Hi Everyone

The birding continues to be exciting with lots of new species including Golden-plumed Parakeet, Pacific Parrotlet, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Flame-throated Sunangel, Red-crested Cotinga, and Barred Fruiteater. We covered a variety of areas including Sozoranga, Utuana reserve, Catamayo Valley, and the Cajanuma sector of Podocarpus National Park. Everyday is full of new families of birds, habatits, and great birding experiences!   

Good birding,

Amethyst-throated Sunangel

Long-tailed Sylph

Flame-throated Sunangel 

Barred Fruiteater 

Golden-plumed Parakeet 

Western Slaty-Antshrike

Scarlet-crowned Parakeet

White-winged Becard

White-tailed Jay 

Plumbeous-backed Thrush 

Pacific Parrotlett

Southern Yellow Grosbeak 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Birding southern Ecuador February 21-26,2014

Hi Everyone

Arrived in Ecuador  from the cold and wintry north on February 21st. We spent the first night in Guayaquil before heading to Umbrellabird Lodge for a few nights. Lots of great birding and amazing hummingbird activity. At the Umbrellabird Lodge there were 5 feeders that were filled 7 times a day to feed the 300+ hummers that fed daily. At one time there were over 150+ hummingbirds feeding at one time!  
On February 25th we worked our way to Urraca Lodge. Another excellent area for birding with lots of new birds including Tombes Sparrow, Tombes Hummingbird, Western Peruvian Screech-Owl, Slaty Becard, and Blackish-headed Spinetail. Tomorrow will be more new birds! 

Good birding,

A feeding frenzy of hummingbirds! 

Violet-bellied Hummingbird 

Green Thorntail line up for a feed.

Black Vulture 

Bat Falcon 

female Green Thorntail 

White-necked Jacobin 

Green-crowned Brilliant and Green Thorntail feeding.

West Peruvian Screech-Owl 

Spectacled Owl 

White-cheeked Pintail 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 20,2014 Website updated

Hi everyone
I've finally had my website updated which includes both Spring birding courses and the Spring specialty trips along with my 2014 tour schedule. If you are interested in any courses or outings please register on line. Looking forward to another great spring of birding!

Bruce Di Labio

February 18,2014 More Snowy Owls at night, Perth to Kanata.

While driving back home from Presqu'ile today I observed 5 Snowy Owls hunting at dusk and afterwards between Perth and Kanata. One was in the Perth area, one near Carleton Place, one along Hwy.7 and 2 in the Kanata area. All but one of the owls were sitting on telephone poles. This winter is the first time I've seen numbers of Snowy Owl's hunting at night.  

At dusk a Snowy Owl perches on a church steeple in  the Perth area. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Algonquin College Birding Course in Pembroke,Ontario

Course: GEN7204
Experience a fun, yet educational introduction to birdwatching. Focus on how to identify birds by sight and song and how to use a field guide, optical equipment and familiarize yourself with the 200+ species that occur in the Ottawa Valley in the spring. Time permitting some birding in the area may be possible.
Notes: Course dates are Apr. 29, 30, and May 20, 21. Instructor: Bruce Di Labio
Read more about your instructor at

 Apr 29/30 - May 21/22
Tue, Wed
6:30pm - 9:30pm
For complete details and to register online,

To register by phone, call 613-735-4700 ext. 2735

February 16,2014 Local birding around Carp.

I birded the Carp-Kinburn and Constance Bay area this afternoon and came across a few interesting species. Along Donald B. Munro Drive and Old Coach Road a small mixed flock of 12 Horned Lark, 15 Snow Bunting and 4 Lapland Longspur were feeding along the shoulder of the road. They also flushed and flew out in a field and landed in an area that had fresh manure. 
 A couple of Common Raven were observed flying over and acting if spring was in the air! The most interesting observation was an adult Northern Goshawk flying over Thomas Dolan Parkway near Carp Road. This species was once an almost regular sight in the woodland areas back in the 1970's but have decreased in numbers since the mid 1980's. 

Good birding,

A female Hairy Woodpecker sorts through sunflower seeds at a feeder.

A flock of Snow Bunting hunker down trying to  avoid the strong northwest winds. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 14,2014 Snowy Owls hunting at night in Kanata. Really not a surprise!

In general owls continue to dominate the birding scene in eastern Ontario and the Outaouais region. Over this past weekend a total of 8 species were recorded with the Snowy Owl still the top attraction. Most reports came from the regular winter sites including just south of the Ottawa Airport. One interesting fact that I wasn't really aware of is that these typically diurnal owls are hunting at night too. I observed my first Snowy Owl during the daylight hours in the winter of 1969/70. 
Over the years, I only experienced this bird feeding during the day and never considered looking for them at night. On February 7 at 7:00pm I counted 3 along Terry Fox Drive and Huntmar Road as they were perched on telephone poles. Again on February 9 at 11:30pm 
2 were hunting in the area of the Canadian Tire Centre. This evening Ben and I again observed 3 Snowy Owls hunting near the Canadian Tire Centre at between 9:30-11:30pm. 
 I must conclude that since these owls inhabit the arctic during their breeding season and some do spend their winters north, it only makes sense that they must hunt 24/7 if need be!  One of the most fascinating aspects of birding is that no matter how many years you've studied birds you're always learning something new! 

Good birding,

During the 1970's and 1980's I regularly went out owling at night
but never observed a Snowy Owl. 

 I found a small number of Snowy Owl hunting at night this winter and finally realized this diurnal owl hunts at night like any other nocturnal owl species. 

February 13,2014 Birding Deschenes Rapids to Constance Bay

At Deschenes Rapids I observed 1 female Long-tailed Duck, 1 male Barrow's Goldeneye, 2 Bufflehead and a small number of common Goldeneye. Didn't relocate either the Red-necked Grebes, Horned Grebe or recently observed and photographed White-winged Scoter. 
The numbers of Snowy owls continue to increase in the Ottawa-Gatineau district and eastern Ontario. Today I birded along the Ottawa River from Deschenes Rapids to Constance Bay checking the mainly frozen river. I observed 5 Snowy Owls sitting out on the ice,  far off shore. The individuals at Deschenes Rapids are possibly hunting water birds at night but not sure what these owls can find out on the vast expanses of ice.
An early February survey along the same area netted a total of 14 Snowy Owls!

Good birding,

Numerous Snowy Owls have been sighted sitting on the ice both above and below Deschenes Rapids and along the frozen river to Constance Bay.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 11,2014 A nice surprise in my yard this morning!

Hi Everyone
While outside this morning I heard a small group of agatated  Black-capped Chickadee around a cavity in our front yard maple. As I checked out the mob scene I finally saw the reason, a gray morph Eastern Screech-Owl was in the cavity. The chickadees continued to mob the owl and a White-breasted Nuthatch and a downy woodpecker jion in too. After a while the birds appearred to lose interest and carried on feeding at my nearby feeders. The screech-owl stayed all day and finally departed at dusk. 

Good birding,

A roosting Eastern Screech-Owl  in my front yard in Carp.

As the morning warmed up the screech-owl came out of the cavity to sun bath. 

Towards dusk it was finally alert and open its eyes. 

Just before leaving for the night it started looking around the area.