The Observatory is open for the Spring Banding mid-April to May 31. Banding takes place for 6 hours each day starting at dawn.
Nets are not opened if it is raining or too windy. The best time to visit the Observatory is in the mornings.
The Observatory closes for the summer on May 31.
The National Wildlife Area is an excellent place to bird even when the Observatory is not open. Trails around the Observatory and Prince Edward Point are open all year.
Prince Edward County also offers great birding with many trails and habitats to explore (MAPS and DIRECTIONS
Join us for the many events of the SPRING BIRDING FESTIVAL - May 12-21, 2018
May 11 - May 17
Migration is now in full swing with warblers everywhere; 29 species have been seen so far in the National Wildlife Area with only Connecticut and Hooded missing from the list of expected ones, (but we'll take any others as well). The 15th saw the first really big fall of birds this spring with 25 species of warbler present including a Yellow-breasted Chat that was singing (albeit briefly) at Traverse in the evening.The rain arrived just at dawn and continued all morning and there had been a lot of birds moving on the radar all night. Both the banding area and Traverse had birds everywhere, most common where Black-throated Blue, Cape May, Bay-breasted, Myrtle, Chestnut-sided and Yellow. The observatory area alone had 25 Black-throated Blues between the buildings and the start of the nets. Lots of Wilson's were present at Traverse and the first Canadas arrived. Also present were 15+ Scarlet Tanagers and several Orchard Orioles. A Common Nighthawk was found near the net lanes sitting on an exposed branch. A female Cerulean Warbler was photographed at Traverse on the 17th and the first Blackpoll Warbler was found on the 16th. The Harlequin Ducks are occasionally seen, but are usually well out next to Timber Island. The 16th saw a House Sparrow banded and it was still present the next day. Indigo Buntings are being found more easily with some areas having 2-3 males present at a time. Swainsion's Thrush and Veery are staring to show but not in any numbers yet. All the common vireos are now easily found and the flycatchers are now coming in with Pewee's, Least, Traill's and Kingbirds calling everywhere. A Pileated Woodpecker flew over on the 13th and a Red-headed Woodpecker was found at Traverse the same day. The first Black-billed Cuckoo was seen on the 15th and Peregrines have been seen on several occasions. The suspected breeding of Common Ravens in the NWA was confirmed on the 17th when a nest with a bird standing on it was found on one of the cliff faces; this is a new nesting record for the NWA. If you haven't sponsored anyone at the Observatory for this years Birdathon its not too late! Sponsor one of our great teams listed on the Home Page.
This week 132 species were observed at the Observatory with over 700 birds banded. We have now banded 84 species for the spring with more to come.
May 4 - May 10
Bird of the week, and probably of the spring, was a fly-over SWALLOW-TAILED KITE on the 5th; it is new for the Kingston area - I think this will be hard to beat. It was seen by all 6 observers who were present aty the time. The Harlequin Ducks were found on the 8th and 9th and may have been present earlier but those were the first days where it was flat calm. They were out towards Timber Island. A Carolina Wren was present and singing on the 5th/6th and a Lesser Black-backed Gull was seen on the 8th. The first two flocks of Brant of the season flew past on the 8th and up to 10 Surf Scoter were present on the 8th/9th. An adult Pergrine Falcon flew over the Obs on the 7th, Hummers appeared on the 5th and can be seen daily now and a Red-bellied Woodpecker was seen twice. Flycatchers are starting to show up with Eastern Wood Pewee, Great-crested Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher and Eastern Kingbirds all being seen regularly. A Yellow-throated Vireo was found in the nets on the 9th and is only the fourth one ever banded in the spring. Veery, Swainson's and Wood Thrushes are now being seen and an American Pipit was found on the 10th. 24 species of warbler have been seen so far with Myrtle Warbler and Yellow Warbler being the predominant species both in the bushes and in the nets. A Cerulean Warbler was seen at Traverse on the 9th. Orioles are providing nice flashes of colour with several visiting the hummingbird feeders in the last few days. The three Black Vultures graced the point again
Species totals (Wed May 9 - 111; Thu May 10 - 90), Banding so far over 2000 birds of 72 species (top species, Am. Goldfinch, Myrtle Warbler, GK and RC Kinglet)
April 27-May 3
As the days have started to warm up more species are beginning to appear albeit in only small numbers so far. 11 species of warbler were seen this week but some species that are to be expected by now are still missing. Long-tailed Ducks are starting to disappear with just over a 1000 being seen on the better days, 4500 Bonaperte's Gulls were seen off of the lighthouse on Sunday; that day also saw a reasonable spring movement of raptors with 8 species seen including several Red-tailed Hawks and a small movement of Broad-winged Hawks, an immature Northern Goshawk was seen heading west as well. The following day several Red-shouldered Hawks were seen but the highlight was 3 Black Vultures that were flying just over the trees at the obs and is a record high count for here. Sandhill Cranes were calling on the 27th and the first Spotted Sandpiper showed up on the 1st. Caspian Terns arrived on the 28th and a Rock Pigeon put in its almost annual appearance on the 1st. An early Eastern Whip-poor-will was flushed off the road on the 28th and a Chimney Swift flew over on the 1st. The 28th saw the first Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Waterthrush and House Wrens of the season. Wednesday saw a push of migrants with new species such as Nashville, Yellow, Magnolia, Cape May and Black-throated Green Warblers all appearing around the point. Also seen were Wood Thrush, Veery, Eastern Kingbird, White-crowned Sparrows, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole and Least Flycatcher. A Black-throated Blue Warbler was seen on May 3rd
Slowly but surely, winter has been losing its grip on the point. The 21st saw the first day with the winds abating and warmer weather which allowed some birds to start to trickle in; the banding total for the day was 79, mostly Goldfinches and Cowbirds, but Hermit Thrush was new for the spring as was a singing Brown Thrasher and 12 Golden-crowned Kinglets were banded. The next day a Pine Siskin was found in the nets as were 34 Golden-crowned Kinglets; however, it was not until the following day that the first main movement of the spring was to take place and 246 birds were banded. The majority were Golden-crowned Kinglets with 103 banded; the first Ruby-crowned Kinglets appeared with 32 being banded. Also arriving that day were the sparrows with Swamp Sparrow (3), White-throated Sparrow (9), Fox Sparrow (3), Field Sparrow (1) and Chipping Sparrow (2). The next day, the 24th, fewer in general were present but at least 160 Yellow-shafted Flickers were present with one tree holding 14 at once; they were passing in ones and twos all morning. Two Flicker Intergrades were banded. Swallow numbers are building up with several Cliffs around the lighthouse and Observatory. Barn Swallows finally arrived on the 26th and 2 Purple Martins can usually be seen around the Observatory. Three Great Egrets have been putting in an appearance and either flying over the Observatory or being seen around the harbour area. Pine Warblers can occasionally be seen and heard.
Well what can we say - for most of the week it was cold, icy, wet, and don't forget, in the bushes - mostly birdless. With these current conditions its not too surprising that few birds were moving; however, a few migrants have started to trickle in. Brown Creepers have been seen almost every day and a few GC Kinglets are being found. A Fox Sparrow was seen on the 13th as were a Tree Swallow, the first Cliff Swallow and 2 Northern Rough-winged Swallows. A few Bonaparte's Gulls are loafing offshore and the odd different duck such as Northern Shoveller or Goldeneye can can occasionally be found. An early Purple Martin seen flying around the martin house on the the 14th probably had second thoughts about arriving first as it hasn't been seen again. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are being seen drilling holes in the trees: must be spring. A Chipping Sparrow was seen on the 19th. Birding should pick up in the next few days now that the temperatures are rising.
Species Observed: (18 species banded)
Common Loon Double-crested Cormorant Turkey Vulture Canada Goose
Am. Wideon Mallard Northern Shoveler Am. Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup White-winged Scoter Long-tailed Duck Bufflehead
C. Goldeneye Common Merganser Red-br. Merganser S. S. Hawk
Am Kestrel Merlin Ruffed Grouse Wild Turkey
Wilson's Snipe Am Woodcock Bonaparte’s Gull Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull Gr. BB Gull Mourning Dove Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Y.S. Flicker Eastern Phoebe Blue Jay American Crow
C. Raven Tree Swallow Cliff Swallow N. Rough-winged Swallow
Purple Martin Black-capped Chickadee White-breasted Nuthatch Brown Creeper
Winter Wren Golden-crowned Kinglet American Robin European Starling
Cedar Waxing Myrtle Warbler Eastern Towhee Chipping Sparrow
Fox Sparrow Song Sparrow White-throated Sparrow Slate-coloured Junco
Northern Cardinal Red-winged Blackbird Rusty Blackbird Common Grackle
Br.-Headed Cowbird Purple Finch House Finch American Goldfinch
Saturday and Sunday were mainly days of setting up the nets but there can always be a surprise out there if your lucky such as the Black Vulture that flew over with 11 Turkey Vultures. Very few migrants are moving yet but two Northern Shoveler flew past on Monday, a House Sparrow has been seen or heard on three dates and Eastern Phoebes have been present every day. A Snowy Owl was seen on Monday evening at the start of the gravel road. Eight Green-winged Teal were in the harbour on Tuesday, a fairly high number for recent years. Also that day, the first Towhee was seen and a White-throated Sparrow sang briefly. Wednesday saw firsts in the way of Brown Creeper, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Winter Wren, Myrtle Warbler and Purple Finch. The rain held off on Thursday and the first Tree Swallow and Savannah Sparrow arrived. A Belted Kingfisher also flew over calling. Banding has been quiet with just 73 birds of 16 species being caught.
Common Loon Double-crested Cormorant Turkey Vulture Canada Goose Mute Swan
Wood Duck Mallard Northern Shoveler American Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup White-winged Scoter Long-tailed Duck Bufflehead Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser Red-br. Merganser Merlin Ruffed Grouse Wild Turkey
Wilson's Snipe Bonaparte’s Gull Ring-billed Gull Herring Gull Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Downy Woodpecker Eastern Phoebe Blue Jay
American Crow Tree Swallow Black-capped Chickadee White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper Winter Wren Golden-crowned Kinglet American Robin
European Starling Myrtle Warbler Eastern Towhee American Tree Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow Song Sparrow White-throated Sparrow Slate-coloured Junco
Northern Cardinal Red-winged Blackbird Common Grackle Brown-headed Cowbird
Purple Finch American Goldfinch House Sparrow Black Vulture
Bring a jacket in case of rain or extra layers - weather can be very different down at the Observatory and the lake can make it cooler.Wear close-toed shoes or hiking boots.
Mosquitoes are sometimes a problem - repellent may be useful but don't use it around the birds (i.e. at the nets or in the banding lab).
Long sleeves and long pants are recommended - a few places have poison ivy and there have been reports of ticks. Stay on paths and do a tick check after visiting the Point
Binoculars, if you have them, are useful for seeing birds in their habitat
While visitors are encouraged to observe the banding operations, please stay away from the mist nets in the net lanes. Only trained volunteers are allowed to extract birds from the nets. You can view the birds up close at the banding lab as they are banded.
On very busy days, when the bander and scribe have a lot of birds to process, there should be no talking in the lab. They are always more than willing to answer questions, but the birds come first, and they need to focus on their work. So watch, but please don’t talk or interrupt.
Overnight camping and campfires are not permitted in the National Wildlife Area.
Toilets are available, but there is no drinking water on site.
Please respect the habitat and vegetation by staying on the road or trails.
Enjoy the birds!
Blue-winged Warbler (Photo © Bruce Parker)