Winter Birds

Sharp-shinned Hawk © Pat Bumstead

Birdwatchers are people who enjoy a challenge, and birding Canada in the winter definitely qualifies!

Winter birds may be few and far between in places, but the joy of spotting one after trudging through the snow for hours is more than worth the effort.

Besides, there are none of those annoying leaves getting in the way of your view.

For those hardy birders who want to tackle Canada in the winter, we’ve prepared a list of winter birds that huddle through our northern climate.

As always when dealing with birds, this list is not a definitive one but is just meant to be a rough guide. And to prove that yes, we really do have birds in the winter!

Water Birds

  • There are now year round resident populations of Canada Geese and Mallards.
  • Eider ducks – Common & King
  • Scoters – Black, White-winged & Surf
  • Ducks – Harlequin & Longtailed
  • Goldeneyes – Common & Barrows
  • Mergansers – Common & Hooded
  • Murres – Common & Thick-billed
  • Razorbill
  • Guillemots – Black & Pigeon
  • Murrelets – Marbled & Ancient
  • Auklets – Cassin’s & Rhinocerous
  • Puffin, Atlantic

Birds of Prey

  • Eagles – Bald & Golden
  • Hawks – Sharp-shinned & Merlin,
  • Falcons – Peregrine, Gryfalcon & Northern Goshawk
  • Owls – Great-horned, Barred, Great Grey, Snowy, Northern Pygmy, Saw-whet, Northern Hawk & Boreal

Game Birds

  • Partridge, Grey
  • Pheasant, Ring-necked
  • Grouse – Ruffed, Spruce, Blue, Sharp-tailed & Sage
  • Turkey, Wild
  • Ptarmigan – White-tailed, Rock & Willow
  • Dove, Rock (Common Pigeon)

Perching Birds

  • Woodpeckers – Northern Flicker, Downy, Hairy, Three-toed, Black-backed & Pileated
  • Shrike, Northern
  • Jays – Blue, Grey, Stellars & Clarke’s Nutcracker
  • Magpie, Black-billed
  • Raven, Common
  • Crow, American
  • Lark, Horned
  • Chickadees – Black-capped, Mountain, Chestnut-backed, Boreal, Grey-headed
  • Creeper, Brown
  • Nuthatches – White-breasted, Red-breasted, Pygmy
  • Wren, Winter
  • Dipper, American
  • Kinglet, Golden-crowned
  • Thrushes – Varied & American Robin
  • Starling, European
  • Waxwing – Bohemian & Cedar
  • Sparrows – Song, Dark-eyed Junco, Snow Bunting, House
  • Cardinal, Northern
  • Finches – House, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Common Redpoll, Hoary Redpoll, Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak

3 Responses to Winter Birds

  1. Jill Bartley says:

    I would suggest different styles of feeders. Tube feeders with peanuts, sunflower seed, niger, or mixed seed–no corn on an open platform feeder for jays and grosbeaks, hanging feeders with millet, or small mixed feed. Tube feeders with niger seed for goldfinch. Saffron seed is also popular. Also whole peanuts will attract birds–good luck

  2. Pat Bumstead says:

    Hmmm. This is a puzzler, for sure. Black-oil sunflower is the best all round bird food, and chickadees and nuthatches love it. They are also quick enough to dash to the feeder when the jays and grosbeaks aren’t looking, grab one and take off again. Neither of those little birds stay at a feeder more than a few seconds. I’ve never had anything that ate cracked corn (except rabbits), and chickadees are seed eaters so they aren’t interested in corn or peanut butter. Woodpeckers love peanut butter smeared onto tree bark though. Suet blocks are also great for woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees in the winter. None of these birds will eat on the ground though.

    One thing I can think of is your feeder placement. These small birds like very close cover, so if your seed feeder is stuck out in the middle of the yard, for example, they would be hesitant to visit. It’s best if feeders are placed less than 3m to a shrub or tree so they can make a quick food grab, then flit back to safety. Perhaps another, smaller feeder containing only black-oil seeds placed in another location would help.

    It’s also a good idea to feed birds year round, instead of just during the winter months. This way they get used to a good supply of food at all times, and will hang around more often. I cut back on a lot of bird food during the summer months, but always have black oil on offer, and a yard full of birds all year.

    Let me know how things go and we’ll get this figured out. If anyone else has any suggestions, please leave a comment!

  3. Ken & Murielle LeJeune says:

    We live in North Western Ontario. Our location is Vermilion Bay. North on the Red lake 105 hwy 50deg8′-15″ north, 93deg 14′ 11″ west. We bought our place 4 yrs ago. The reason I am writing is the lack of birds that we should be seeing but we’re not. Since we’ve been here we have put out feed every winter (black oil sunflower seed, crack corn, peanut butter) but we haven’t seen a chickadee, nut hatch’s. I walk our dog down our drive way where I put seed along the drive way to see if I could attract something. But still nothing. the only thing that has been in our feeder is blue jays, gray jays, an the odd grosbeak (evening, pine). I’ve lived close to the city where I was able to attract more birds. in the summer I also rarely see the chickadee or nuthatch.I am not sure what the problem is but looking for answers.

    Thanks . Ken & Murielle

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