Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN Nature Notebook Sighting

The following report and photos were received by the MVFN Nature Notebook mailbox on January 20, 2019. A Red-bellied Woodpecker was observed locally in the Halpenny area on January 12, 2019. Photos and report sent in by Gerard Rumleskie. This is quite a rare sighting for our area, with only one of these birds seen on the Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count this year, and that was a record for the count. Thank you for sending in this sighting!


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MVFN Nature Notebook

As the fall migration continues, some birds are still easily seen, while others still require careful observation and patience to catch sight of and to identify.

Observations of ducks, geese and other birds continues in the area and at sites such as the new MVFN Mike McPhail Bird Viewing Shelter just outside the town of Almonte, ON. Local birders are recording and submitting sightings of species and numbers to E-bird and other sites and agencies.

These beautiful mallards, female and male birds, were in the Mississippi River, at a site easily seen from the Mississippi Riverwalk Trail in Almonte, and photographed by Michel Gauthier.

A Lincoln’s Sparrow noticed in a thicket; Michel Gauthier: “. . .  on the 1st of October, along the fence at the bird viewing shelter. It shows how birds can easily become invisible.”

Later in October even flocks of small birds, such as these Redpolls (Acanthis flammea), can be easily overlooked in leafy trees, but become obvious and easier to examine more closely as they settle in large groups on bare branches alongside the open field behind the MVFNs Mike McPhail Bird Viewing Shelter near Almonte, ON.

Sometimes a spotting scope or camera zoom helps when trying to identify birds, such as this Long-tailed Duck and a Lesser Scaup seen at the Almonte Lagoons and photographed from the Mike McPhail Bird Viewing Shelter. Michel Gauthier: “The long-tailed duck is a rare sighting at the lagoon, although plentiful on the Ottawa River. This one is a stray. It hangs around with the 20 or so lesser scaups that are currently at the lagoon.”




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Nature Notebook Sighting

The following sighting was received October 31, 2018. Sent in by Howard Robinson:

“This afternoon we heard the familiar old car horn calls from Clayton Lake . . .  we had a good sighting of a Trumpeter Swan family with three cygnets.  Looking further along the far shore we saw several groupings of Trumpeter Swans for a total of seventeen.  Maybe they will stick around for a few days.”

Howard was able to snap these “long distance” photos of the swans.

NOTE: Photos of local natural history interest may be sent to or sent to MVFN’s Facebook page.

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MVFN Nature Notebook Sighting

Click here for information about MVFN Nature Notebook and sending in recent local sightings

“We’ve been very fortunate in the last couple of days to have a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks at our feeders. It is such a wonderful treat to see these magnificent birds and hear their soft calls!! I can only hope they stay for a while. The last time we saw them on our property was in June 2017. When I lived in Quebec, in the 80’s, I used to get about 100 of these beautiful birds in my backyard. Their noise would wake me up in the morning. Unfortunately, now, when we see a few of them, it’s a rare event.”

Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids, October 23, 2018

The following photos of female and male Evening Grosbeaks are by Lise Balthazar and Nat Capitanio








A species of special concern in Ontario

NOTE: Evening Grosbeaks (Coccothraustes vespertinus) were added to the Species at Risk in Ontario list in August 2018. Status: Special Concern. “Special Concern” means the species lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered or threatened, but may become threatened or endangered due to a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

Information from Ontario Species at Risk in Ontario (

What you can do:

Report a sighting of an endangered animal or plant to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful.

Bird Studies Canada is working to advance the understanding, appreciation and conservation of wild birds and their habitat in Ontario and elsewhere; for more information on how you can help, visit:

As with all wildlife, don’t disturb or harass the birds or nesting sites. Be respectful and observe from a distance.

Identified Threats:

Potential threats to the Evening Grosbeak include habitat loss and degradation from forestry practices, chemical measures to control Spruce Budworm populations and climate change impacts. Collisions with vehicles while flying over roads or ingesting salt along roadsides and hitting windows near bird feeders have also been identified as threats.

It is thought that the decline in populations since the 1970s is correlated with the 25-40 year natural cycle of the Spruce Budworm.


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