1 March, 2024

First migratory birds

Exceptionally warm temperatures await us this weekend, and for several days to come. While our research projects will start in almost 2 months’ time, the birds aren’t waiting. The first black birds and raptors are already on the move in southern Quebec. At this time of year, you should be able to spot some Bald Eagles, while Red-winged Blackbirds should be starting to sing. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a Golden Eagle.

Other species should also be on the move, waiting for the first lakes to be freed of ice. This is the case of the Anatidae, particularly the Brant (photo). This species is commonly observed in our region, the North Shore, from March to June, whereas it is generally only seen on the move in southern Quebec.

Different migratory routes

Have you ever noticed that some birds are only seen during one of the two migratory periods? Like the Brant, the Arctic Tern (photo) can be seen in large numbers in spring, from late May to early June, on its way to its nesting grounds.

The St. Lawrence then becomes a particularly important migratory stopover, allowing it to gorge itself on energy and continue on its way. Coming straight from Antarctica, there’s no time to lose once on the nesting site to find a territory and lay eggs.

Another hot summer ahead

Despite the long-awaited arrival of the first migrants, there are reasons to be concerned about observed and predicted weather conditions. Indeed, while the snow cover is particularly thin on the North Shore, so is the ice cover. Unless things change over the next few weeks, we can expect a dry spring, and therefore an increased risk of forest fires. Indeed, the months of March to August are forecast to be excessively warm (+1 to +3°C) across Canada according to the North American MultiModel Ensemble (NMME) this year. Thanks to its position on the edge of the boreal forest, the Tadoussac Bird Observatory is able to monitor and document the effect of these climatic conditions on boreal birds through its annual monitoring programs.