BIRDWATCH YEAR IN REVIEW: 2021, an excellent year for bird watching in the Upper Ottawa Valley


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With the passage of 2021, it is once again time for my year-end bird report. Locally we had a great year for birding with 12 rare birds and at least 12 rare bird sightings throughout the year.


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Unlike January and February 2020, the number of migratory birds from the north at our feeders was exceptional, with a large number of red sappers, wandering grosbeaks and pines, slate juncos, American tree sparrows and northern waxwings. . There have also been several reports of Barred Owls and Snowy Owls, as well as a Short-eared Owl and Saw-whet Owl. Other highlights include sighting two rare Northern Hawk Owls and one rare Great Gray Owl.

Additionally, during the first two months of the year, two other rare bird species were located: a rare Red-bellied Woodpecker (January 8) and two Carolina Wren (February 1). In addition, a rare boreal tit has been found in our area.

In early March, the last of the northern migrants arrived, including a major flood of Red and White-winged Crossbills, mostly in the Algonquin Park area. By mid-March the weather had become unusually warm. This triggered the spring migration which continued until May with the first wave and a few spring birds from the second wave. There was a report of a rare bird and it was a scarlet duck found on Lake Muskrat (March 14).

In May, the spring migration continued until mid-June with the final arrival of the second and third waves of spring and summer birds. These included songbirds, warblers, thrushes, and flycatchers. The first ruby-throated hummingbird arrival was reported by Sandy Lesco on May 5th.

In mid-May, several Brent Geese and Red Ducks were seen in the Lac Dore area, as well as a few rare Trumpeter Swans. Several interesting shorebirds have also been sighted, mainly at Pembroke Marina, including a rare Willet and Red Knot. Other rare birds were also sighted during this time, including a whistling swan (May 12), a northern mockingbird (May 17) and a sedge wren.


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Summer is generally an off-peak time for birding. By mid-June, there were five rare white pelicans on Golden Lake, one yellow-headed blackbird (Match Island) and another Northern Mockingbird (Petawawa). In late July and August, there were several reports of black crowned night herons, particularly in Micksburg Marsh, and one report of a rare Dickcissel near Algonquin College.

The fall season has started slowly in terms of bird activity. The fall migration of our summer birds continued in an orderly fashion until the end of November. Shorebird activity was fairly active in September with reports of Baird’s Sandpiper, Sanderling, Great and Little Knights, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plovers and a rare large flock of Hudsonian Godwits. at the Pembroke Marina on September 22.

During October and November, some of the late fall and winter migrants began to arrive, including Slate Juncos, American Pipits, Snow Buntings, Fox Buntings, White-crowned Buntings. , Rusty Blackbirds, Ruby Crowned Kinglets and many more. Other interesting sightings included more whistling swans, red-necked grebes, white-winged scoters, and snowy owls. There were also several rare gulls located at the marina on October 29, such as Icelandic gulls, black-backed gulls, and black-backed gulls.

In December, the Pembroke Area Field Naturalists successfully held their two Christmas Bird Counts; Pembroke’s results will be released in January.


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Despite the COVID pandemic with all its tribulations and restrictions, 2021 has been an exceptional year for birds. Thanks to all the bird watchers and photographers who made this report possible. Hopefully 2022 will be even better.

The next event for the Pembroke area field naturalists is the mid-winter waterfowl count which will take place in early January. If you are interested in participating in this count, please contact Rob Cunningham, event coordinator, at

My wife Pat and I wish you all a Happy New Year. In the meantime, stay safe.

Please contact me with your bird sightings at 613-735-4430 or email me at For more information, upcoming events, or other nature links just search the Pembroke Area Naturalists website or like us on Facebook.



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