Saturday, January 18, 2014


Further to my post about 400 in Ontario, a real goal of mine is to see 500 species in Canada in my lifetime. This will require a few trips here and there to pick up breeders as well as chasing some rarities! Ideally to do this I would live in either southwest BC or southern Ontario to be in the best position for rarity-twitching. Here's the breakdown for that - note I don't have any actual plans for these species...

Current list: 429

Group 1: the Breeders - species that breed in some part of Canada but could possibly be easier elsewhere (wintering grounds?)

Sooty Grouse
White-tailed Ptarmigan
Rock Ptarmigan
Greater Sage-Grouse - may be extirpated in the near future?
Yellow-billed Loon
Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel
Whooping Crane
Common Ringed-Plover - would require a trip up to Nunavut unless I twitched one in NF or something...
Mountain Plover
Ivory Gull
Ross's Gull
Thick-billed Murre
Cassin's Auklet
Ancient Murrelet
Tufted Puffin
Horned Puffin
Spotted Owl
Western Screech-Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Northern Hawk Owl
Burrowing Owl
Red-breasted Sapsucker
White-headed Woodpecker
Cordilleran Flycatcher
Hutton's Vireo
Gray-headed Chickadee - would require a specialty trip just for this
Northern Wheatear
Bicknell's Thrush - if this is even a valid species
Smith's Longspur
McCown's Longspur
Lark Bunting
Golden-crowned Sparrow

Most of these can be seen on a few trips - southern BC in May, southern Alberta in June and Cape Breton/Newfoundland in June. Some would require a bit more effort and trips at different times of the year to get but I think that almost all of these would be guaranteed somewhere along the way (maybe not Common Ringed-Plover or Gray-headed Chickadee). Excluding those two species would leave me at 462. There are also a number of pelagic species that are fairly regular, even if they don't breed:

Black-footed Albatross
Flesh-footed Shearwater
Short-tailed Shearwater
Pink-footed Shearwater
Buller's Shearwater
Great Skua

One really good trip off of BC in September and some luck in the Bay of Fundy in late fall would turn up all of those, leaving me at 468. Then it's down to the vagrants (and some regular wintering species). The ones that are on my list of 'regulars' are:

Emperor Goose
Short-tailed Albatross
Laysan Albatross
Brown Pelican
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Pacific Golden-Plover
Rock Sandpiper
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Elegant Tern
Tropical Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Western Scrub-Jay
Eastern Yellow Wagtail
Blue Grosbeak
Great-tailed Grackle

Getting all of those would leave me sitting at 485, meaning I would still need 15 really good rarities to hit the 500 mark. Some of these will no doubt overlap with the ones I have outlined in my Ontario post, but since this includes all of Canada there is always the possibility of Asian vagrants on Haida Gwaii, European strays in Newfoundland, weird pelagics off British Columbia or Nova Scotia, hurricane birds, etc, etc. The Canada Big Year record is apparently 444 - I think 450 is a real possiblity for someone with enough time and money (and luck).

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