by Rudolf Koes
photo: Peter Taylor
Since the last report on bird sightings in the Spring Issue of Nature Manitoba News (Vol.8; No.2), much time has passed and a lot of birds have been spotted. After the spate of tardy birds reported in December, winter turned rather quiet. A few of the lingerers managed to survive into spring, amongst them an American White Pelican at Lockport, an American Black Duck at Winnipeg, at least two or three Townsend’s Solitaires in Winnipeg and the Spotted Towhee, seen by many, at Warren. “Northern” owls were rather scarce, with the exception of Snowy Owls, which were present in fair numbers.
A mild spell in March brought in many early migrants, including a Cackling Goose at Windygates on the 6th (Luc Blanchette), a Herring Gull at Winnipeg also on the 6th (Andy Courcelles), a Ross’s Goose at Windygates on the 13th (David Charrière, Luc Blanchette, et al.), an American Woodcock near Elma on the 13th (Steve Bossenmaier), an American Coot at Whitewater Lake on the 20th (Colyn Blyth, Gillian Richards) and a Song Sparrow at McArthur Falls on the 27th (Peter Taylor, Anita Drabyk). The Greater White-fronted Goose migration through southern Manitoba was quite remarkable for its high numbers, which included 450 just west of Morris on March 24 (Garry Budyk, John Weier), 500+ at Whitewater Lake on March 29 (Robert Parsons) and 825+ at Grosse Isle on April 20 (Rudolf Koes, Garry Budyk). Conversely, Snow Geese were virtually absent from the southeast. The spring hawk migration was a lacklustre affair, both at Windygates and at St. Adolphe, and several observers have commented on the seemingly low numbers of Red-tailed Hawks on territory since that time.
Peter Taylor and his Nature Manitoba birding group found seven Red-throated Loons near Great Falls on May 7. Other rarities during the spring included a Eurasian Wigeon near Riverton on April 21-22 (Joanne Smith), a Great Black-backed Gull at the Brandon dump on April 22 (Cal Cuthbert), a Green Heron at Hodgson on May 15 (Joanne Smith) and Summer Tanagers at Winnipeg (Red Clarke) and near Roblin (fide Christian Artuso) in mid-May.
Late in May a Black-necked Stilt was located northwest of Whitewater Lake (Robb Nickel et al.); subsequent searches revealed a pair with young in June and July. Also rare in the southwest were a Western Wood-Pewee at Oak Lake from late May on (Ward Christianson, Marlene Waldron) and a hybrid male Eastern Bluebird x Mountain Bluebird on June 25 (Rudolf Koes, Peter Taylor). Donna Martin photographed a Lesser Black-backed Gull at the PR 227 dump on June 7. A Yellow-breasted Chat found in the Lauder Sandhills on June 15-16 (Ken De Smet) apparently did not linger. On the other hand, a male Lazuli Bunting at Kildonan Park lingered from June 3 for at least a week and was seen and photographed by many (Liz & Brian Cieszynski). Trumpeter Swans continue their “invasion” of the province and recent sightings, presumably of this species, include sizeable flocks: 14 on May 28 near St. Labre (Robert Parsons), 23 at Pinawa on June 7 (Keith Reid) and about 12 near Beausejour on June 9 (Gerald Machnee).
The first two weeks of June in Churchill delivered the usual array of local breeders and migrants to those lucky enough to be present, but the period also brought numerous unexpected species. Little Gulls peaked at 10+ and for the first time since 2006 a Ross’s Gull was seen, on June 13 (Bruce Di Labio). Di Labio also located American White Pelicans, a Black-billed Magpie and a Least Flycatcher during that time. A Say’s Phoebe at Cape Merry from June 8 to (at least) 11 was another rarity (Rhonda Reid). Rudolf Koes and his Churchill Northern Studies Centre group found an equally-rare Red-breasted Nuthatch on June 14.
A pair of Field Sparrows found near Souris in mid-June was still present in early July (Ken De Smet). Lark Buntings have been rare for many years, as conditions in the southwest are too wet for their liking, so sightings of two birds near Lyleton around May 18 (Robb Nickel et al.) and one bird just south of Spruce Woods Provincial Park on July 2 (Richard Wiebe) were noteworthy. Other rarities were an “Audubon’s” (Yellow-rumped) Warbler in the Morden area June 23 and July 1 (Paul Goossen) and a Dickcissel near Melita on July 9 (Christian Artuso, Tim Poole). A White-winged Dove near Dufresne from July 8 to 12 (Gerry & Doreen Hays, John Hays) was about the ninth record for this species in Manitoba. Interestingly, this is the same location where one was seen in 2011!
Note: Only initial observers are listed.