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Birding during a Niagara winter

There have been fewer numbers of the birds that usually appear in the winter compared to last year.

Most winters we have become used to fairly large numbers of migratory waterfowl at the mouth of the Niagara River, but this year has been an anomaly.

Where we usually see lots of the greater scaup, white-winged scoter ducks, mergansers and smaller numbers of the odd waterfowl, it just hasn’t happened so far. In the water off Ball’s Beach, Nelson Park, the marina basin and along the shore toward Navy Hall several species have been noted, but usually only one or two horned grebe, red-throated loon, three American coots, etc. The larger numbers of diving ducks have simply not appeared yet. I’m assuming that the milder winter we have had so far is the primary cause.

Further afield  in the rural areas of the town, there are large number of starlings which appear to be attracting the usual predators, hawks, merlins and the beautiful small falcon, the American kestrel.

I’ve witnessed several murmurations of starlings as they move like a cloud through the air landing for brief periods on trees or the ground before lifting en masse to the sky. At times you can even spot the predator that is the cause of this action flying in among the clouds of starling or on the ground with a capture.

Backyard feeders in town also continue to attract the non-migratory birds and we are treated daily to finches, sparrows, cardinals and blue jays.

Sometimes large numbers of robins gather in a smaller area and actively feed on whatever is left in trees. It can be quite busy overhead.

Well, we will have to see what the next few months will bring us to see bird wise. With the prediction of an early spring we may be seeing  hummingbirds arrive earlier than usual. Already, we’re seeing turkey vultures several weeks ahead of their usual time of arrival.