Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Birds so close, birds so far: Part 6 (Wisconsin)

A look at provincial and state bird checklists, and the species they have that we (Ontario) don't!

Past states/provinces are archived somewhere on this page: 


Nothing like comparing our checklist to someone else on the Great Lakes... Gives us an idea of what we're missing, or just HOW CRAZY some possibilities are... Turns out, Wisconsin has 12 species on their "official checklist" that Ontario doesn't....

White-tailed Kite
Harris Hawk
Glaucous-winged Gull
Black Turnstone
Masked Duck
Green-breasted Mango
Gray Vireo
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Macgillivray's Warbler
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Streak-backed Oriole

Not a bad list! Let's break it down.

Category 1: species we aren't going to get in Ontario due to "other" factors:

Harris Hawk

It's not happening, due to captive concerns... Their record was trapped and banded on Oct 25, 1994 -- and I guess they were happy with it. Great time of year for a vagrant, and not impossible either... But I see it being pretty tough for Ontario...

Category 2: COSMIC INSANE RARE ... when I read their checklist and say "WHAT!?"

Black Turnstone   (May 22, 1971)
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Rufous-crowned Sparrow  (Nov 25-26, 2000)
Streak-backed Oriole (early Jan for 2 weeks, 1998 - died) 

We've got dozens and dozens of species that would be waay more likely (as a new bird for Ontario) than those megas... Nicely done Wisc.... 

Category 3: CMF ... below category 2, but still nutty... 

Masked Duck  (1870)
Green-breasted Mango
Gray Vireo (Oct 3, 64)
At the very least, there is some realistic hope we will someday be graced by one of these beauties in Ontario...

Category 4: Overdue New... sure, these birds are super-rare in the fact that Ontario has never seen one... But we want one, and expect one (or more)..... 

White-tailed Kite (4 WI records)
Glaucous-winged Gull (6!!! Records.. 96, 97 (2), 05, 06, 09... we're due) 
Curve-billed Thrasher (2 overwintering records)
Macgillivray's Warbler (1 banded on May 10, 2000)

Those 4 species are easily some of the more "overdue" birds for Ontario!!!

Any predictions on the next new Ontario bird? We're "overdue" for that too! (fall 2010 was the last?)


  1. I don't get it, why are you suggesting Masked Duck and Green-breasted Mango are somehow less astonishing than the other four? Especially Black Turnstone and Brown-headed Nuthatch, both of which I think would be more likely than the other. I mean I know you'd admit any of them would be earth shattering, but I don't get your thinking on this.

    1. Hey Jacob,

      I probably should have put the Mango in the first category (this really isn't a scientific process ;) ) .. But I was going on established patterns of vagrancy... Masked Ducks have occurred in a number of states approaching Ontario, and it seems far more likely to occur than a species like Black Turnstone, which (to my limited knowledge) may be the only record for eastern North America (not recorded in Texas, Florida etc)... So the odds of getting Masked Duck seem considerably higher in Ontario than Black Turnstone! (and similar to the other species in code 2 - where they really don't move in our direction very much)..

      Even the Mango has more records in our direction (the Georgia, Texas, WI) -- as a long distance vagrant -- than the others

      But yeah, in all honesty, not a huge amount of thought goes into these ;)

    2. You mean you don't lie awake at night thinking about these things???

      Really, I get it, and fair enough explanation. But the fact I had never even heard of a mango being anything but a fruit was what caught ny attention.

  2. Forget the obvious birds. My pick - Brown-chested Martin!

  3. PS. Wisconsin with an "i" not an "o" :-)