Nature Observations from the Conservancy – Spring 2022
JUNE 20, 2022
IN FAUNA CONSERVANCY
BY JUSTIN TAUS
Hearing the loud and persistent call of the Red-winged Blackbird in March is one of the first signs that spring is just around the corner in southern Quebec. Soon after, the arrival of Common Grackles, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Fox Sparrows and other species confirm that spring migration is well underway.
One of the first to arrive at our conservancy this year was the Northern Pintail. This species is considered to be an ‘eager breeder’, and often arrives at its breeding grounds just as the ice starts to break up.
New species at the reserve
We observed two species for the first time this spring. A pair of Blue-winged Teal spent a few days on our lake in May. These ducks are long-distance migrants, with some individuals travelling as far as South America in the winter.
We also saw our first Purple Finch. Although not a rare species, we’ve always been more likely to encounter the similar-looking House finch here at the reserve.
Other Notable Observations
Birds of prey are no strangers to the Ruisseau-Robert Nature Conservancy, but the small American Kestrel was one species that we had only seen on a few occasions until recently. This spring we were delighted to notice two individuals hunting over our fields on several occasions, which may indicate that they are nesting nearby.
As usual, our nest boxes are predominantly occupied by Tree Swallows.
Another species that we had seen in the past but that are present in greater numbers this year is the Brown Thrasher. These birds have a repertoire of over 1000 song types and can even imitate the calls of other bird species!
In late April and early May it was the warblers’ turn to arrive in large numbers. Several species were observed, with the Yellow Warbler, Palm Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warbler and the Magnolia Warbler being the most common.
Spring is synonymous with the return of colour and this also applies to some of the birds we have the privilege to see. Wood Ducks in their beautiful breeding plumage returned in April and in May we were excited to spot a bright-red male Scarlet Tanager. These amazing birds also migrate great distances and can spend their winters as far south as Bolivia!
Lastly, Bobolinks, a species listed as ‘threatened’ by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), have begun nesting in security and tranquility at the reserve.
As we head into summer we look forward to sharing more sightings with you later this year!
Justin Taus is on the Caregiver team at Fauna Foundation. Justin holds degrees in both Education and Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where he specialized in photojournalism. He has reported from diverse regions of the world including the Amazon rainforest, the savannahs of Eastern Africa and the Alaskan Arctic. He has produced content for organizations like the Wildlife Conservation Society and the International League of Conservation Photographers as well as media outlets including Outdoor Photographer magazine, Vice and the CBC. Justin has been photographing the wildlife at Fauna since 2017.