Thursday, 13 October 2011

Why I love fall

The mid to late autumn is probably my favorite time of year to go birding in Ontario for many reasons. First of all, the oppressing heat and mosquitoes from the summer is long behind us. Secondly, raptor, shorebird, and passerine migration is still in full swing. Third of all, this is a really good time of year to find semi-rare birds in southern Ontario such as Pomarine Jaegers, Greater White-fronted and Ross's Geese, Hudsonian Godwits, and Nelson's Sparrows. But the main reason I love birding in the fall is the sheer number of mega-rarities that occur!

Don't get me wrong - the celebrated migration in May is phenomenal, but there is something to be said for all the vagrants that seem to occur with each passing weather system in the autumn. Rare flycatchers and sparrows tend to be the theme during the autumn. The maritime provinces are already doing a great job, with Lark Sparrows reported EVERYWHERE. Illinois has its first Green-tailed Towhee in about a decade (see photo here:)

Wheatears are another species that are in the news. Incredibly, Prince Edward Island had not only it's first provincial record of Northern Wheatear this week, but also its second! A few others have been showing up in the maritimes, and Pennsylvania had one too (photos here).
Oh, and PEI had its first Fork-tailed Flycatcher this week too.

So why am I writing this post?
Crazy weather systems are one of the biggest factors that spead rarities across the continent. A nice one is coming up from the west, with 25-40 km/h south or southwest winds being forecast for Friday through Tuesday in much of Ontario. I know I'll be out birding this weekend - who knows what will show up!

One of these would be nice...

Black-throated Sparrow - August 30, 2009 (Port Burwell, ON)


  1. Josh, thanks for the link to my Northern Wheatear photos! Sweet blog! I look forward to reading regularly.

  2. Josh, great writeup on the upsides of fall birding. I love the label as well - Crazy bird thoughts!!! LOL. Good luck this weekend if you make it out to Comber.