fall raptor migration on the Bruce

The last few weeks have been.. interesting.. for weather on the peninsula. The day after Halloween I woke up to what felt like a winter day, -10°C and snow covering the ground. I thought this snow would melt within a few days and we'd be back to more "normal" fall like conditions, but here we are almost 3 weeks later and it's still snow. This week is forecasted to be in the +s for temperature, so maybe the ground will come back...

  These conditions haven't exactly been ideal for one of my favorite birding activities in the fall..  hawkwatching. 4 out of the last 18 days have been "good" for raptor migration at my place, with north wind and sunny/overcast sky. Although there weren't as many raptors as anticipated, I still enjoyed a few productive days. Highlights for me were the 2 Golden Eagles and a great view of a Northern Goshawk.

My totals for species/numbers for my yard hawkwatch (October 20-November 16th) are below;
2 Golden Eagles
14 Northern Harriers
18 Sharp-shinned Hawks
3 Cooper's Hawks
1 Northern Goshawk
16 Bald Eagles
11 Rough-legged Hawks
26 Red-tailed Hawks
2 Peregrine Falcons
3 American Kestrals
96 raptors total.

Some pictures below
- Bald Eagle

- Bald Eagle

- Eagle of baldness 

- Golden Eagle 

- super distant Golden Eagle if you have a bit of imagination 

- Sharp-shinned Hawk

- Northern Goshawk

- Northern Goshawk again 

- Rough-legged Hawk

- Northern Harrier

- Peregrine Falcon


 I'm going to stick some owls in this post too, as the last few weeks have been pretty good for me. I hear Eastern Screech-owls & Barred Owls calling some nights here, however they are always too far away for photos. The neighbourhood Great Horned Owl has been hanging around in my area for the last week and I've seen it hunting a few times, which was cool to watch. It comes out right after dusk and isn't that close, so good photos aren't possible..
- Great Horned Owl (iPhone picture)


 In late October Northern Saw-whet Owl sightings were beginning to pop up in southern Ontario at banding stations, so I decided to try and get one at my house one calm evening. I played saw-whet calls for a bit, then scanned the trees around me with a flashlight. After repeating this a few times I caught some eyeshine in my light. One had flown in right beside me! I snapped a quick photo then called it quits for the night so I didn't bug the owl anymore. Northern Saw-whet Owls are rare breeder on the peninsula and the birds we get are mainly migrants coming south from the boreal forest.
- Northern Saw-whet Owl


 Another migrating owl that shows up around this time of year is the Short-eared Owl. Short-eareds are the night equivalent of Northern Harriers and hunt in the same open areas. It's a bird that I've wanted in Bruce for a long time, so when Zane spotted one in North Bruce I was itching to chase. I hitched a ride up with Bob & Anna-marie one evening and after a few minutes of searching I spotted it flying in it's moth-like flight beside the highway. We enjoyed watching it hunt for a few minutes before it disappeared behind an adjacent treeline.
- Short-eared Owl


- Short-eared Owl hunting 

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