One of Canada's Premier Birding and Nature Festivals

Spring Migration is About to Start

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Even as we look out the window and see the snowflakes drifting down or flying past, spring is on the way and soon we will be seeing birds that haven’t been here for several months. Another sure sign that spring is on the way is the posting of the Schedule of Events for the first in-person Huron Fringe Birding Festival since 2019. Check out the varied events scheduled for this two-weekend festival in May and June.

Huron Fringe Birding Festival – Schedule of Events

Registration for these events starts on April 15th as per the information on the festival website so you have some time to see what interests you in respect to birding hikes or other nature events. Chat with some of your friends and introduce them to the festival if they have never experienced the fun of going to it. As you’ll see there’s something for everyone so you can see migrating birds, find out about the world of local botany and maybe even learn how to build and properly place a bird house in your yard.

Here’s where to start for those new to the festival and you can always create an account before registration for the events opens so you’re ready to input your choices on April 15th.

Huron Fringe Birding Festival – 24th Huron Fringe Birding Festival

To the right of the “Huron Fringe Birding Festival 2022” is an arrow and by selecting it you can access leader biographies, bird species seen at previous festivals as well as the registration page, schedule of events and the sponsors that help make this festival possible with their terrific assistance.

Have some fun checking us out and put some thought into just what you want to enjoy this spring when the birds are returning from their warm winter homes through Bruce and Grey counties. Some stop here to raise their families and some head as far north as possible to find the correct habitat to start off a new generation of their species.

Already local birders have seen the first of the hardy migrants arriving in their yard to grab a snack at their feeders and put in a bit of time while they wait for the snow to melt and the bugs to emerge. Northern Cardinals are beginning to sing, and the odd American Robin is lurking in the bush watching for some bare ground to hopefully find one of the first worms to emerge as the soil thaws in the stronger sun’s rays. This week Killdeer will probably start to show up and Horned Larks are already arriving in numbers and can be seen along the edge of many country roads. Even with the snow still on the ground American Woodcock will soon be doing their “peenting” and putting on their evening aerial displays. So, while you wait for the date to register for some events get out and search out a few of these birds that are arriving this month. It will indeed give you that feeling that spring is just around the corner.

Although some of the first birds to arrive are a bit bland coloured warblers that will arrive when the bugs are out will give you that flash of colour as they flit among the branches all decked out in their spring colours. Even as I type this, I’m already getting distracted as I look out the window to see what bird just landed in the tree nearby.

Enjoy what nature has to offer these days and check out the schedule of events to be ready when the festival event registration opens on April 15th.

Written by huronfringefest

March 3, 2022 at 10:53 am

Posted in BIRDING

Winter Huron Fringe Birding Festival Edition

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Welcome to winter and the birds that decided, even at these -14 C temperatures, to stay and give us some interesting bird activity. Many of these small birds are seed eaters and will forage in the weeds that have their seed heads sticking above the snow.

American Goldfinch
Dark-eyed Junco

To give them a bit of help, seed feeders put out in the winter will give these birds a variety of food for their diets and some protein they need to keep warm. American goldfinches, Dark-eyed juncos, American Tree sparrows, Black-capped chickadees, Red-breasted and White-breasted nuthatches, Northern cardinals, Mourning doves, and other finches will entertain you if you have a feeder at this time of year. As well as the seed eaters you might also find Sharp-shinned, and Cooper’s hawks seeing the activity and coming to try for a bird snack. Bald eagles and a variety of winter ducks will also be gathering near the open water while inland Rough-legged and Red-tailed hawks as well as the odd Golden eagle, Northern shrike and possibly a Gyrfalcon visiting from the north will show up.

Golden Eagle
Northern Shrike
White morph Gyrfalcon

While these birds are keeping us entertained the Huron Fringe Birding Festival program committee has been hard at work getting all the 90 plus birding hikes organized for the 2022 festival that arrives for two 4 day weekends on May 27 to 30th and June 2 to 5th 2022. With Covid being a dynamic issue these past two years it has been difficult to know when to open the registration and post the program. This year we have delayed these initial festival milestones so the programs will be posted on March 1st and the Registration will be active on April 15th at 6:00 am. To keep updated on any changes and for added information on the 2022 festival keep this link handy and visit it a few times even before March 1st.

Huron Fringe Birding Festival – Huron Fringe Birding Festival

With the latest news from the Ontario government things are looking even more promising for a much more normal in-person festival so lets hope things keep improving in respect to Covid so we can enjoy all those migratory birds together and renew acquaintances.

Even now there are a few preparatory things you can do. Even though registration is not presently active, the registration page has links to some documents you should read beforehand in preparation for the festival. The Friends of MacGregor Point waiver can be downloaded and filled out, the “Be Safe” document can be read so you are well prepared. We also follow the OFO Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct and these can also be found to read via the links on the website.

Huron Fringe Birding Festival – Registration

The website also has links to the leader biographies so you can be familiar with faces and qualifications of the leaders you will see when the schedule of events is posted on March 1st.

Also mentioned on the website are two young leaders that will be leading a Big Day event within their “Big Year” where they are attempting to break the Ontario record for the most species seen in one year. You can follow Kiah’s blog at this link to see how this pair is doing in respect to birds they haver seen so far this year.

 Chronicles of an Ontario Birder (

It certainly looks to be a wonderful festival to welcome us back to a more normal lifestyle and at the same time enjoy these very colourful and active spring migrants as they travel through this area heading north to start new families. 

American Redstart
Kirtland’s Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler

Thank you all for staying with us during our online Festival-Lite this past year and hopefully if all keeps improving the Huron Fringe Birding Festival will once again bring birders together to enjoy a wonderful variety of programs to enhance their 2022 birding experiences. We are looking forward to seeing you at MacGregor Point Provincial Park on May 27-30th and June 2-5th to share some stories and sightings. Until then be safe and enjoy these winter birds that are presently making the winter seem just a bit shorter.

Northern Cardinal
Pine Grosbeak
Blue Jay

Written by huronfringefest

January 21, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Posted in BIRDING

Fall Migration is Always a Challenge!

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Bay-breasted Warbler in Inverhuron

Summer is slowly winding down as the temperatures cool off a bit and the length of the days diminish. Even as summer is winding down the fall migration of birds is ramping up and the challenges begin. Most of the trees still have their leaves and as the warblers dodge through the trees catching bugs eyes are straining to see where the bird is and then decide what species the drab fall bird is. The warblers as well as the shorebirds look quite different from their bright breeding colours and its always a challenge to decide just what you are looking at. It is one of the better times of the year to identify birds though as you must look at a variety of features other than just the colour to pin the species name to the bird you are watching. Field guides give you a good idea as what to look for in each non-breeding species but as well as the adults there are also new young birds coming through and some of them can be quite frustrating to identify in the quick views you have of them. In order to give you an idea if migrants are in the area, you can use the Birdcast radar to see what has been migrating over us during the night.

Live bird migration maps – BirdCast

This radar doesn’t cover Canada yet but it will give you a good idea as to roughly where the birds flying during their nocturnal trips, either in the spring or fall. Often the birds will fly right over us but if they hit a bit of rainy weather we then have a chance of having a fallout. Keep an eye on that radar 😊.

Sanderling and Ruddy Turnstone in Inverhuron

Shorebirds are usually a little easier as we have better and longer views of them to decide what they are or possibly take a photo to decide later when you have more time. Their colours are different, but their sizes, shapes, leg and beak colours are usually the same as spring birds. The only problem with shorebirds is finding a habitat and hoping some of them stop by long enough to fuel up a bit. With the drier and sunnier summer, we’ve had there are not many ponds of puddles in Bruce County to invite these birds to stop by for a bit so often you must try and identify some fly-bys as they wing their way south.

If you do get lucky enough to get a photo but can’t quite decide what bird you saw you can try Merlin Bird ID app for your phone or pad. It’s a free app and has packages now for many locations in the world so even if you are planning a trip, it will be quite useful. It also now includes identifying birds by the bird sound as well. Here’s where you can find it and then you download the bird packs you need.

Merlin Bird ID – Free, instant bird identification help and guide for thousands of birds – Identify the birds you see (

Enjoy the season as the leaves change colour and make a walk in the woods a wonderful experience while you are trying to see those birds hiding behind those very leaves. As you enjoy this season also start planning for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival in the spring. The 2022 festival is in the planning stages, and you can see more about it here.

Huron Fringe Birding Festival – Huron Fringe Birding Festival (

Looking forward to seeing you all in person next year but for now enjoy the fall migration and keep those birding skills tuned up.

Hudsonian Godwit in Oliphant

Written by huronfringefest

October 4, 2021 at 1:18 pm

Posted in BIRDING

Celebrating Birds as the Spring Migration Arrives.

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As the days of Spring move along new migrant birds are arriving from the south to start a new generation for the year. The colder weather has slowed down the migration a bit but soon it will be busy as the temperature rises and the bugs come out to breed as well. These migratory birds pick a variety of areas in Ontario and farther north to breed depending on the particular species but many travel through this area to get to their breeding grounds. The Huron Fringe Birding Festival has celebrated these birds for many years by organizing the festival to run during the last weekend in May and the first weekend in June. This event gives birders a chance to enjoy seeing the birds on organized hikes and renewing friendships made during previous years.

Due to the devastating arrival of the Covid-19 virus last year the festival had to be cancelled but this year it was decided to do something just a bit different rather than cancel the event totally. This year we have planned some virtual events for people to enjoy on the same days that the festival would have originally run. These events will run in the evenings so people can be out in the daylight hours to enjoy seeing and hearing the birds as they work their way through the Bruce and Grey County areas. The added benefit of the virtual programs means that no matter where you are in the world you can enjoy birding in your area and still tune in to hear the knowledgeable speakers that we have lined up to present on a variety of topics. Here is an overview of the festival with dates and presentations.

Registration is still required for the events as outlined in the previous photo and here is the website to register to enjoy one or all these presentations by well known and knowledgeable presenters.

Huron Fringe Birding Festival – Registration

Hopefully by 2022 we will again be able to offer in-person hikes and enjoy the days exploring the many natural areas of Bruce and Grey Counties as we enjoy the migratory birds. We will work towards that goal keeping in mind that safety and the health of our participants are the most important components of our festival. So, come join us this year online and in the coming years in person to be a part of this long running festival to Celebrate Birds.

This is also the time of year we find out who is the recipient of the Norah Toth Award. This award is presented annually to someone who has made a significant difference in Bruce or Grey Counties either through the Huron Fringe Birding Festival or due to their involvement in other local nature activities. The award was set up by the Festival Committee to honour Norah’s contributions to MacGregor Point Provincial Park and in particular to the Huron Fringe Birding Festival. Norah has been a leading figure in maintaining and building the festival since its beginning over 23 years ago.

This year the recipient of the award is John Cummings who in his own words has been birding and interested in nature since he was “knee high to a grasshopper”. He was brought up in a family that was involved in naturalist organizations and continued with this association when moving to this area. He assisted as an atlaser with the second edition of the Breeding Bird Atlas of Ontario and participated in many of the Christmas Bird Counts in the Kincardine, Walkerton and Saugeen Shores areas. He attended his first Huron Fringe Birding Festival in 2003 and being a birder and very social person became hooked on this wonderful event. It also helped that he was the winner that year of the 24-hour birding challenge the festival organized 😊. He was on the festival committee for several years and helped organize and grow the festival over his years on the committee. Many of his ideas and organizational elements brought forward when he was the chair of the committee are still used today. He was also on the board of the Friends of MacGregor Point Park from 2006 to 2014 and assisted with projects both physically and organizationally during that time.

John has been part of the Bruce Birding Club for many years and has also hosted outings from his home. He can strike up a conversation about birding or just about any other topic both with birding friends and others who stop to chat. He continues to enjoy birding and gets out whenever he can to assist with keeping nature as natural as possible. As a very worthy person of this award, we hope to see John out to more of the festival and birding club outings once things get back to a more normal post-Covid time.

It will not be long until the Festival-Lite this year begins so if you would like to enjoy some interesting presentations as well as going out to see, photograph or just enjoy the birds and nature as Spring brings the area to life again log in and register for some of the wonderful evening presentations.

Written by huronfringefest

May 11, 2021 at 12:06 pm

Posted in BIRDING

The 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite

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There are still physical limits due to Covid-19 for an in-person festival, but our “Festival Virtual-Lite” has been organized and registration is now ready to go. You can visit our website at:

Friends of MacGregor Point Park – Huron Fringe Birding Festival

and check out the seven evening presentations that have been organized for your delight.

We are excited to announce our webinars for the “Festival Virtual-Lite” which will run during our normal Festival dates of May 28 – 31 and June 3 – 6, 2021. They are scheduled for 7:00 pm on each of the following seven evenings to ensure you have the opportunity to get out birding during the day.

May 28 – Birding in Algonquin Park with Michael Runtz

May 29 – Black Bears of the Bruce Peninsula with Dr. Martyn Obbard

May 30 – Fifteen Years of Ontario Piping Plovers with Andrea Gress

May 31 – A Holistic Approach to Learning Bird Songs and Calls with Ian Shanahan

June 4 – Birders Gone Wild: 24 hour Bruce Peninsula Birdathon with Ethan Meleg

June 5 – Bird Banding at the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory with Stephane Menu

June 6 – The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas -3: Focus on the Females with Mark Peck

We are so appreciative of the continuing support of our Corporate Sponsors – Quest Nature Tours and Ontario Power Generation, and our Community Sponsors – Handy Andy Services, Hills Insurance, D. C. Johnston Realty and Super 8 Hotel. These sponsors allow us to offer the Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite at no cost to our participants.

Being able to get out in the day and safely enjoy the spring migration while having presentations to enjoy in the evening will make for an enjoyable and original approach to a Festival-Lite. We look forward to the years ahead when we can again socialize with our friends as we compare bird stories and unique birding discoveries. For now, we’ll gather in an electronic format to celebrate birds and remember just how special this time of year is.

Migration has already begun for some of our hardy feathered friends as we are welcomed in the morning with Northern cardinals, American robins, Ring-billed gulls and Mourning doves filling the previously quiet morning with their songs. Ponds (whenever the ice thaws) are full of Canada geese and a variety of dabbling and diving ducks and often several Tundra swans that are presently working their way to their breeding grounds. By May, those colourful warblers will be winging their way north feasting on the newly hatched clouds of insects that provide their travel meals. Some will stay in the area to raise their families here while others travel much farther north where food is even more abundant.

Our scheduled evening presentations will give you more of an insight into aspects of birding and nature in our area of Bruce and Grey Counties and even farther afield than that. Plan your birding time and plan your relaxing time to join with us in our 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite.

Written by huronfringefest

March 17, 2021 at 11:37 am

Posted in BIRDING

Preparing for a Festival-Lite

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As the snow is falling and the birds are trying to find enough food to make it through the winter, we can now plan ahead for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite.

Moving ahead with the 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite!

Our plans for the 2021 Festival Virtual-Lite are coming together and we are excited to give you more details about our on-line event which will run during our normal Festival dates of May 28 – 31 and June 3 – 6, 2021. 

The Huron Fringe Birding Festival Committee hopes that you will join us for our series of Webinars at the end of May! They are planned for 7:00 pm on each of the seven evenings to ensure you have the opportunity to get out birding during the day.

We have excellent presenters lined up for you – Andrea Gress, Ethan Meleg, Stephane Menu, Martyn Obbard, Mark Peck, Michael Runtz and Ian Shanahan.  They will entice you with stories about Bird Banding, Big Days, Breeding Bird Atlassing, Bird Song, Piping Plovers and Black Bears.

Details about each evenings’ presentation will be available in February. Specifics about the registration process will be available in April or before. 

We are so appreciative of the continuing support of our Corporate Sponsors – Quest Nature Tours and Ontario Power Generation, and our Community Sponsors – Handy Andy Services, Hills Insurance, D. C. Johnston Realty and Super 8 Hotel. These sponsors allow us to offer the Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-Lite at no cost to our participants. 

Stay tuned for our next update. Until then, good birding and be safe!


Norah Toth, Chair

And the Festival Committee who are committed to ensuring you have an extraordinary experience:

Margaret, Liz, Nancy, Lynne, Norah and Fred – Program Committee

BJ, Anne, Becky, Carole, Norma – the “Tent Ladies” (Registration and Volunteers)

Bob, Bruce, Fred, Norah, Doug P, Doug M – Publicity

Nancy, Kathleen, Bruce – Logistics

Arlene – Silent Auction

Marilyn – Finances

Celebrating Birds

The Huron Fringe Birding Festival is a birding and nature event which runs for two four-day weekends. The Festival is sponsored by the Friends of MacGregor Point Park.  Festival headquarters are at the Visitor Centre at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, 1593 Bruce Road 33, Port Elgin, Ontario N0H 2C5. The registrar can be reached at or 519-375-1889. or

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Our corporate sponsors: Ontario Parks / Ontario Power Generation / Quest Nature Tours / Vortex Canada / Armstrong Milling

With this news you can now plan those two weekends out with birding through the day and enjoying presentations in the evening. Hopefully, we will have good opportunities to get out to enjoy Spring and the birds that come with it if Covid-19 is more under control so we can travel a bit farther than our own yards. For now, we have to do our part to help reduce transmission of the virus by staying home and also help our yard birds make it through the winter by making sure they have some food when the snow covers up their normal supply.

Take a bit of time each day to look out the window and see if there are any birds visiting your yard. From early morning to late in the evening its surprising just what might come along to entertain you.  A break to enjoy nature always makes a day go a bit better. The days are now getting longer and soon the buds will start forming on some of the trees indicating even the plants are noticing the lengthening days.

There are presently many online events running that might interest you and keep the thoughts of spring in your mind. Our Facebook page as well as some of our naturalist group pages are good places to look to see what events might interest you now.

Recently we had an evening visitor that dropped by to see what might be coming to clean up some of the bird seeds that spilled from the feeder onto the ground. These are the times we can really appreciate the beauty that nature sometimes blesses us with.

Stay tuned for updates and enjoy your yard!!

Written by huronfringefest

January 26, 2021 at 3:41 pm

Posted in BIRDING

A New “Festival-Lite” Format

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These uncertain days of Covid have certainly changed the way our lives play out every day now. Seeing that the uncertainty might last well into next year we have decided to alter the format of the 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival. Unlike 2020’s festival which was theoretically pushed ahead a year to 2021 this one will proceed but in a very different way.

The festival has always been about celebrating birds but has also been a gathering where we meet new people and add to our knowledge of our feathered friends and other aspects of nature. Meeting new people in person presently has its hazards so that part of the festival won’t be happening until another time when its safer to do. However, keep those dates highlighted on your calendars (May 28-31 and June 3-6 2021) as we will be having evening webinars each of these days. That leaves the daytime hours for you to do your birding on your own and enjoy the amazing spring migration event as our colourful warblers and other interesting birds return. We will gather in the evenings to hear from our presenters and remember our birds from the day.

The webinars will give you a chance to relax after a busy day of birding and learn about a variety of topics from exciting speakers. The full list of speakers will be posted later when more of the format and topics to cover are finalized. There will be topics to interest everyone!

During this pandemic birding has flourished as it is one pastime that you can participate in by yourself or in small groups following the Covid protocol for distancing to prevent virus spread. My wife and I love to go for a drive and/or a walk even this time of year to see if anything new has wandered into the area lost or come south to look for food. It’s been a great fall for finches, and Snowy owls have started to show up in small numbers as well. It would be nice to be able to be with other birders to talk about what we see or have seen but for now we’ll just have to share our sightings and photos online and by email and hope next year brings some normality to our birding lives.

Make sure to check out the Huron Fringe Birding Festival website for further information on the festival as it becomes available. Friends of MacGregor Point Park – Huron Fringe Birding Festival

Enjoy your Winter birding days and we look forward to having everyone join in for our “Festival-Lite” event in the spring.

Written by huronfringefest

December 12, 2020 at 3:05 pm

Posted in BIRDING

Fall Migration is Starting as is Planning for Next Years Festival!

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Its hard to believe that summer is almost gone, and we had no Huron Fringe Birding Festival to even welcome the start of it. It has been and continues to be a very different year as well as a very different world out there. While people’s lives have changed immensely the birds continue their lives oblivious to the change. The birds migrated north in the spring and now are heading back with their new offspring to spend some time in a more southerly climate. Birding was one pastime that we could still enjoy on our own or with small groups and more people did seem to take up the activity.

As we make our way through the rest of this year planning has to be done to see if we can run the festival in 2021 with possibly new formats that fit better into the restrictions that Covid could dictate to us even next year. Stay tuned as we work through the logistics and keep May 28-31 and June 3-6 ready as we hopefully plan for our 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival.

Even with the festival being cancelled some presentations were still carried out, one of these being the Norah Toth Award presentation. The Norah Toth Award is presented annually to someone who has made a significant difference in Bruce Grey counties either through the Huron Fringe Birding Festival or due to their involvement in other local nature activities.  The award was set up by the Festival Committee to honour Norah’s contributions to MacGregor Point Provincial Park and in particular to the Huron Fringe Birding Festival. Norah has been a leading figure in maintaining and building the festival since its beginnings, over 23 years ago. This year the Huron Fringe Birding Festival Committee felt that Gwen and Dennis Lewington would be very worthy recipients of the Norah Toth Award and therefore, even though the 2020 Festival was cancelled, Dennis and Gwen were presented with their award.

Gwen and Dennis

* They have both been active and long-time volunteers in the birding community; volunteering with the Piping Plover program at Sauble Beach in the past and maintaining Eastern Bluebird nesting boxes in the Amabel/Sauble area.

* They donated property which now makes up the 51-hectare Ontario Nature Sauble Dunes Nature Reserve which sets aside unique Huron Fringe features including plants, animals, habitats and landforms.

* They have been involved with the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society for many years. Their first Eastern Bluebird nest boxes were put in place in 1982, 38 years ago.

* They continue to check 100 boxes on their Bluebird Trail and their records, which have been maintained by Gwen since the beginning, show that their boxes have fledged 3,008 Eastern Bluebirds as of early July, 2020.

* They are listed as participants in the Ontario Bird Atlasing Project from 1981 – 1985 and 2001 – 2005.

* Since 2015, they have shared their passion for the Eastern Bluebird to participants of the Huron Fringe Birding Festival.

Eastern Bluebirds

Here are some of the results that Gwen and Dennis have noted this year.


                                               BRUCE COUNTY ARE AS FOLLOWS:

                           EASTERN BLUEBIRD                  95 EGGS          83 YOUNG          78 FLEDGED

                           TREE SWALLOW                      168 EGGS         155 YOUNG         132 FLEDGED

                            HOUSE WREN                            62 EGGS          62 YOUNG          62 FLEDGED


                             THIS YEAR WE HAD 74 BOXES ON OUR TRAIL, WHICH, WITH TWO AT EACH

                             STOP, MAKES FOR 37 SITES, AS WE ALWAYS PUT 2 BOXES WITHIN 12 FEET,






                              35 YEARS.

                                                                         DENNIS & GWEN LEWINGTON

Many thanks for the time and effort these two have put into helping both the Eastern bluebirds and the Tree swallows keep their numbers increasing in this area.

During this fall migration finches have been showing up in numbers not seen for several years. Many people in this area as well as far to the south have had Evening grosbeaks at their feeders to use up their winter supply of sunflower seeds. Common redpolls as well as several Hoary redpolls have been visiting weeds along the side of many of Bruce County’s sideroads. Pine siskins and both Red and White-winged crossbills have been heard by many while zipping overhead this year.

Evening Grosbeaks

Other northern birds have arrived as many have had the good fortune of seeing the rusty undertail covert and beautiful plumage of Bohemian waxwings as they forage on the many berries that the trees grew over the summer.

Bohemian Waxwing

Before I get carried away talking about all the birds now coming through I’ll get this blog posted and see if I can give a few more details on the upcoming format for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival for 2021 in our next post.

Written by huronfringefest

November 28, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Posted in BIRDING

Spring has Arrived….Maybe!!

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As I sit and start this edition of the blog, I am watching as snowflakes whiz by the window driven by a stiff, cold, northwesterly wind. It’s hard to believe its May as we see some snow caught in the grass and the birds fluffed out and looking quite cold in the yard. I guess each year can hold its surprises, but this kind of a surprise isn’t pleasant for our migrating birds.

Although several of our expected migrants haven’t showed up in this area yet many are indeed here and are working their way north to their breeding grounds. Since we have no festival to gather bird sightings from this year, we’ll rely on eBird to let us know what has been happening in Bruce and Grey counties so far. There actually have been several interesting birds seen so far with more to come in the days ahead as May hopefully starts to warm up a bit. A Neotropic Cormorant was seen earlier in the month as it was winging its way north with its larger Double-crested cousins. Flying with the larger birds gave a great comparison to be able to see the smaller size and longer tail of the Neotropic bird. A few Northern Mockingbirds have already been seen in various locations from Kincardine all the way to Tobermory and it appears that this species is more common in this northern area at least this year. Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, American and Least bitterns have already been seen. Some of the warblers have shown up as Yellow-rumped in relatively large numbers have been migrating through trying to find a few bugs that are hiding in the cold trees. Palm, Pine, Magnolia, Northern Parula, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Black-throated Green and Black-throated Blue warblers have also been seen but there are still many other species yet to brave the cold weather and start to work their way north.

A Cinnamon Teal made a brief appearance at the Kincardine Lagoons to the thrill of a few birders that managed to see it. Many of the northern ducks have reduced in numbers here as they head to Canadas north to breed but many Bufflehead are still with us, possibly due to the cold weather we’ve been having in April and now May. Both Red-necked and Horned Grebes have been passing through dressed in their breeding colours and Common Loons by the dozens have been seen out on the lake as they work their way north. Two days ago I counted 58 visible as they foraged in the lake as they moved north.

Shorebirds are also heading north, and several species have been seen in the area at some of the few spots for them to be able to forage. With the high lake level much of the coastal habitat has changed and is more flooded. Due to the lower level of rainfall there aren’t as many ponds with suitable habitat either but still Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary, Spotted, and Pectoral Sandpipers have been seen as well as one White-Rumped. Two sightings of Long-billed Dowitchers and many sightings of Wilsons Snipe round out some of the shorebirds seen recently here so far. In the spring many of these birds don’t stop as they are in a hurry to get the best breeding grounds and start their families in the north. The fall migration will probably lead to more sightings as the birds are not in as much of a hurry at that time of year.

This time of year you just never know what might show up at your feeder, especially with the cold weather and the lack of natural food for the birds. A Lark Sparrow was seen at a feeder for a few days and a Harris Sparrow was also seen several times through the spring at another feeder.

I took a short break of a few days before continuing this blog and suddenly everything has changed. Warm weather hit with a vengeance and the warblers flew into the area in large numbers. About the same time the Huron Fringe Birding Festival would have started there have been more than 20 species of warblers seen in the area and thrushes have been migrating through in numbers. Swainson’s and Grey-cheeked were moving through and Veerys and Wood Thrushes moved in. Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, and several species of flycatchers are now common sights and sounds throughout the area. It’s amazing how quickly bird activity can change when warm weather brings out the bugs and birds busily feed in the trees as they move along.

Now as June is getting closer the migrating warbler numbers have decreased in the south of Bruce County and numbers have risen towards the more northerly sections of the county. Tree leaves have suddenly blossomed out and its getting much more difficult to have unobstructed views of the birds in trees as they sing on their territory or rush around carrying nesting material to their hidden nesting sites. This time of year the excitement and camaraderie of the festival is sorely missed as we travelled from area to area seeing what birds would show up to see and to pose for a few photos. Now the travelling is more limited and much more backyard birding is being done to comply with provincial guidelines here in Ontario. The birds have none of these limitations and are busily going about their normal spring activities as we try to enjoy them as much as possible.

Enjoy the birds and natural world as much as you can and hopefully things will return slowly to a more normal world in time for a much more normal Huron Fringe Birding Festival in 2021. Hope to see you all out again then to share some of your stories and sightings from 2020.

Written by huronfringefest

May 29, 2020 at 10:36 am

Posted in BIRDING

The 2020 Huron Fringe Birding Festival Status.

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This time of the year as the birds are returning from their warm southern wintering habitats, we are eagerly getting ready for all the spring events to welcome them back. This year is somewhat different and its different in the whole world these days. A coronavirus called COVID-19 has gotten loose in the world and is changing many peoples lives as they try and cope with the new rules and regulations meant to limit the spread of the virus. Due to the safety aspects associated with group gatherings and the timeframe of the spread of this virus the Huron Fringe Birding Festival committee has decided to cancel this year’s festival. Hopefully everyone can stay safe and we can avoid faster spread of this virus. You can see the full context of the cancellation notice here on the festival website:

Even though the festival has been cancelled for 2020 I will keep you updated as to what birds are being seen around this area. The birds will be arriving and for those who can safely get out for a walk or a drive it will be interesting to see just what is arriving and when they get here. We can share some of our sightings and experiences and try to make life for all of us as interesting as possible.

The Huron Fringe Birding Festival Facebook page has been putting out some great information and giving folks a few more tools to check out so you can do some birding on your own and still ID the birds. If you want to find out what birds you can expect to see in a certain area head to and check out the “birds in your area” selection.

In order to see what birds are being seen in a specific area anywhere in the world head off to eBird at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and check it out using the “explore” button initially. Its easy to join eBird and then you can explore what is being seen anywhere in the world without travelling outside of your house.

When you get out and see some birds you can also input that information to eBird to help provide data and also to help you keep track of what birds you’ve seen and when you saw them. Its relatively easy to sign up but does take a bit of time to get used to all the features the program provides. Here is a video provided by Justin Peter regarding how ebird works.

Now is a time to embrace technology and learn how to use all the tools that are now being provided to enhance our experiences and learn more about the birds we so much enjoy.

Presently here in Bruce County American Robins have arrived in large numbers and today there was one out gathering nesting material to get started on their first family. Often these birds have two and possibly three families in one season if the food supply is plentiful. Some of the first shorebirds have been seen recently as two Pectoral Sandpipers and one Greater Yellowlegs signal the start of the great flight north for several species of shorebirds that breed in Canadas north. Today I also noted more insects flying in the area so the colourful warblers will soon be flitting around in the trees trying to find some food to fuel their bodies as they settle in or move further north. The Eastern Bluebirds have been checking out several of the bird boxes in hopes of finding the perfect home to start a family. It is a busy time of the year as birds arrive so get out as much as safely possible to enjoy the spectacle and keep a spot open on your 2021 calendar for the Huron Fringe Birding Festival when it returns again to help satisfy your love of birding.

Written by huronfringefest

April 1, 2020 at 9:45 pm

Posted in BIRDING