Saturday, September 5, 2015

The 10 COOLEST birds in Ontario

In no particular order... All of these birds have the "it" factor - something that makes them stand out among the rest; even to very casual to non-birders!

Pileated Woodpecker

- A massive woodpecker
- spectacular colour/pattern
- the symbol of the Ontario Field Ornithologists
- found here year round
- has made a comeback into southern Ontario
- can be found over most of the province

Common Raven

- Largest songbird in the world
- found in nearly every part of Ontario
- has exceptional intelligence
- adapts to most environments 
- wide range of cool noises
- very social

Long-tailed Duck

- winter concentrations are a spectacle
- found near large population centres; but still largely unnoticed
- charming behaviour
- charming sounds
- spends the entire winter on the Great Lakes and doesn't seem bat an eyelash at rough water or frigid storms. 
- can dive to 200ft

Black-capped Chickadee

- charm for miles
- will eat out of your hand
- song is strongly associated with the end of winter/spring
- apparently have their own language

Sandhill Crane

- All cranes are enchanting creatures
- Ours has a heart on the top of its head
- Found throughout most of Ontario
- distinctive calls can be heard from great distances 
- they dance

Great Horned Owl

- found throughout Ontario
- apex predators
- distinctive calls
- remarkable hearing and eyesight
- start nesting in the dead of winter
- both eyes face forwards, not unlike us! (Which is why they look "wise")

Gray Jay

- a rare non-migratory passerine 
- survive the winter on food they stored the previous summer
- can raise young in the late winter; using the previously stored food
- they use sticky saliva to help store the food 
- big fluffy balls of cuteness
- will eat out of your hand

Red Knot

- the subspecies we see is endangered
- the James Bay coast of Ontario is of paramount importance to the species
- helped kick off the summer James Bay shorebird surveys
- a large percentage of the subspecies is banded (see photo)
- breeding adults are a beautiful salmon pink colour

Peregrine Falcon

- fastest creature on the planet
- recovery efforts were a great success 
- can be found in the wildest of places; AND in the most urban centres
- remarkable vision

Common Loon

- the symbol of Ontario and Canada
- calls are iconic 
- so beautiful; it's illegal to get one mounted
- unique to loons; solid/heavy bones 
- can dive to 200ft 
- surprisingly tough and aggressive at times 

Runner up: Cerulean Warbler

Agree/disagree with the list? IF you disagree, what species would you add? And why?


  1. Can't argue with many of these, Brandon, but I would like to add a couple that I am biased towards:

    Red-headed Woodpecker: very distinctive, colourful and so easily identifiable that even the novice can identify it.

    Prothonotary Warbler: not nearly as well known, but it is easily one of the most spectacular of the wood warblers, a group which is spectacular in itself.


    1. I like both of those options! I was a bit biased to species with large Ontario ranges though when making my final cut...

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  3. Love a good list. Peregrine's a no-brainer, and I like the Raven choice. But no hawk or eagle??? Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Osprey... all are "cooler" than a Chickadee. And I know it's tough to pick one, so how about Warbler sp.? I'm kind of partial to the marsh birds myself... Black Tern, American Bittern, Sora, Belted Kingfisher. Let's see a list of "The 10 least cool birds in Ontario" next.

    1. I dunno, Chickadee's are pretty cool... I think Goshawk could get the nod as well, didn't really think about it!

      10 "least cool" birds in Ontario is a great idea! I have nothing to write about, so hopefully it'll be up soon :)

  4. I'm partial to Black-backed Woodpeckers. Not sure why, just am. With the exception of Martin River Provincial Park and the Education Centre trails in North Bay I see these woodpeckers only once at each location. I think the Black-throated Blue male as the sharpest looking warbler. Warblers are my favorite family of birds.