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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bird Walk @ Jack Pine Trail, Ottawa, March 15th.

Tony Beck hand-feeding the Black-capped Chickadee

What an amazing day!
Bright sunshine with blue skies, and spring migration all around us, hiking along the Jack Pine Trail today revealed many species, like  Black-capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, Hairy and Downy Woodpecker, just to mention a few.
Canada Geese were frequently flying over head, and Redwinged Blackbirds were busy claiming their new found territory.
After completing the trail and getting our fill of hand-feeding the smaller birds, we went to the Burnside Pit.
There we saw about 600 Canada Geese, and a good mix of about 800 Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls resting on the ice.
Tony spotted 3 Glaucous Gulls and a Cackling Goose.
A couple of Red-tailed Hawks were perched looking at all the incoming traffic of Gulls and Geese.
To end the excursion we went to the Hilda Feeder at Shirley’s Bay.
There we saw a wonderful mix of Common Redpoll, American Tree Sparrow and Red-winged Blackbirds.
In all this chaotic activity at the feeder, Tony spotted 3 Hoary Redpolls and a Leucistic Common Redpoll for us all to photograph.

Spring migration is all around us!

Day list 15th March 2011:
  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. American Crow
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Rock Pigeon
  5. Ring-billed Gull
  6. European Starling
  7. Redwinged Blackbird
  8. Redtailed Hawk
  9. Blue Jay
  10. Mourning Dove
  11. American Robin
  12. Common Raven
  13. House Sparrow
  14. Herring Gull
  15. Black-capped Chickadee
  16. White-breasted Nuthatch
  17. American Tree Sparrow
  18. Dark-eyed Junco
  19. Mallard
  20. Hairy Woodpecker
  21. Great Black-backed Gull
  22. Downy Woodpecker
  23. Common Redpoll / Leucistic
  24. Hoary Redpoll
  25. Palliated Woodpecker
  26. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  27. Brown Creeper
  28. Glaucous Gull
  29. Cackling Goose
Leucistic Common Redpoll - Photo courtesy of Bill Bowman

Excursion Organized by Tony Beck - Always An Adventure


  1. Great recap, Nina, sounds like it was a sweet day indeed. I certainly wish I could have been there! One question about the leucistic redpoll: what makes it decidedly leucistic rather than just a pale individual? I ask because I know redpolls are highly variable in terms of colouring, and I photographed one last month that was significantly paler than the one pictured above, which I thought was leucistic. Just wondering if there is a rough rule for differentiating between leucism and birds who are just pale as a result of variation. Thanks!


  2. Hi Jen, thank you for your interest in this.
    From what I understand Common Redpolls never gets this pale - normally. Yes, they can get very pale, but not this much. The bird shows all signs of being leucistic as it is missing all the streaking and details, and has no pigments.
    Tony will tell you all about it (as the explanation is quite long I understand..) next time we go birding together. :o)

  3. On a normal Common Redpoll, there is a strong contrast between the streaks and the white ground colour of their plumage. On this bird, the streaks are there. But, they are more a light buffy colour, almost invisible against the white ground colour. This is typical leucism.
    Even though the feathers on this bird are heavily worn, you would expect to see some contrast in the plumage. Even a Hoary Redpoll shows more plumage contrast.
    In some extreme cases, feathers can become bleached, worn and abraded. However, this bird appears relatively intact.
    Here are a couple of good links: 1)