With a relatively mild winter on our hands, at least in comparison to other years, we have been treated to a great deal less snowfall and sub-zero temperatures. In addition to these obvious factors, we have also been treated to seeing some new species in our area as well as noticing more and more migratory birds sticking it out for the winter such as the American Robin.
With this in mind, we took a look at some data on Ebird to find out what else we might be seeing a little more of this winter as opposed to most other winter seasons. One group of birds, that are always exciting to spot are those of large raptors such as hawks. We have heard many reports of hawk sightings in the area, as the winter season is a great time to catch a glimpse of one perched up in a barren tree.
These fairly large hawks usually miss us all together in north eastern Ontario, but with the temperatures this year, there seems to be a fair bit of sightings here in the greater Ottawa area. You can usually catch these beautiful birds perched atop fence posts, utility posts and the very tops of tall trees, scanning for their next meal.
A summer resident that we typically lose in the winter months is the colourful American Kestrel. North America’s littlest falcons can be found in open areas, roadsides and perched atop telephone wires, often noted to be ‘pumping’ their tails in what appears to be an effort to remain balanced. Data on eBird.org indicates that there has been quite a bit of activity in the Ottawa area between December of 2015 and February of 2016, with a lot of the activity being recorded in our neck of the woods – west of the city.
These hawks spend their summers in our area and in the southern regions of Ontario as they find a mate and breed. During the winter months, however, they migrate into the United States, with some even heading into Central America for the winter seasons. Although sightings are relatively low in the eastern portion of the province so far this winter, there were sightings recorded in the Westport and area just north of Kingston, Ontario.