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AVIAN INFLUENZA — Kingston Field Naturalists Survey February 10/11 2024

Members of the KFN and other observers were asked to send in information about carcasses they saw over the February 10/11 weekend, to try and ascertain how widespread Avian Flu was in the Kingston region. – They were asked not to approach carcasses closely: the survey was only interested the prevalence or absence of carcasses, and was not trying to collect detailed information.

The observations received are copied below, with minimal editing. – They indicate that although Avian Influenza has had a major impact in the Invista – Lake Ontario Park – Elevator Bay area, it is essentially confined to that area. The reports indicated that there were either “no dead geese”, or just one or two, in Collins Bay and Reddendale, around the Collins Bay Penitentiary, in Doug Fluhrer Park and the Inner Harbour, or on Wolfe Island and Howe Island.

These observations have been arranged in an approximate geographical sequence:

  1. From west to east across the Kingston area
  2. Then heading north from Kingston
  3. Additional reports from nearby areas.

1. From West to East Across the Kingston Area

I examined sections of shoreline along the North Channel of Lake Ontario between Amherstview and Bath on Saturday Feb10 (11:30am – 3:30 pm) and found no dead birds. Locations were at Fairfield Park, Harewood Bay (east of Nicholson Pt), Parrots Bay (at MTO Park), park fronting former Millhaven factory, mouth of Millhaven Creek, MTO park between Millhaven and Bath, Loyalist Cove Marina, and Finkle Park boat launch.

I have seen no carcasses on the ice drifting into Collins Bay, or on the shoreline, over the last week.

I work at the Collins Bay prison and I have not noticed any carcasses on the front or side lawn this week. Plenty of live geese foraging on the grass though. I have been keeping an eye out, considering the proximity to Cataraqui Bay.

I live on Old Front Road. I have worried for days about the geese, ducks, and swans, but have seen no carcasses or ill water birds yesterday or Saturday. I drive almost daily along Front Road and King Street, stopping at the hospital. Bird behaviour in the past two weeks has been odd. The Invista front yard (fronting on Front Road) was absolutely packed with geese, more than I’ve ever seen on the lawn, in the week of January 22. Elevator Bay was frozen at that time, and the Invista lawn was snow covered. The bay in front of our house had geese, swans, and rafts of bay ducks. We’ve lived here 37 years, and have rarely seen so many bay ducks. Sometimes ranging from Everitt Point to Salmon Island. I did see a goose obviously hit by a car right where Front Road becomes King Street. That was right after the first alarm about possible avian flu. It is highly unusual to see a smucked goose on the road. Then there were days, in the 10 days or so after that, when there were no geese in sight anywhere.and perhaps five swans in sight of our house. 

There was one dead Canada Goose in Crerar Park, Reddendale, this weekend and one carcass on the beach last Friday.

Saturday afternoon along Big Sand Bay I saw 10–9 along one side and then another washed up on the sandy beach (see screenshot below–the wonky rectangle and the dot). 3 had been picked over a little by other predators, but generally all looked to be in the very early stages of decay. I saw none along the sandy shore but it looks like there has been an ATV along there and another walker suggested it had been by to collect dead geese.

Sunday I noted three dead CAGO and two noticeably ill all in or around the Invista Lagoon. Others in Cataraqui Bay looked okay.

The City of Kingston’s Public Works Department has picked up approximately 100 geese from “Lake Ontario Park –  Elevator Bay – along the water front from Point Pleasant to the Bath House on King Street”, since February 1st but none from other City parks. I have heard that approximately 50 carcasses were also removed by Invista from their shoreline, and about 44 geese were taken to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Refuge where they were euthanized.

At 4pm Saturday I walked the entire shoreline of Lake Ontario Park and Providence Care all the way to the Olympic Harbour, and there were no dead birds along the shoreline. However, on Friday there were still about a half dozen dead geese on the ice in Cataraqui Bay,

I observed 2 dead Canada Geese this morning  on the shore of Lake Ontario at Lake Ontario Park/City of Kingston.  

I walked and took pictures Saturday from the boat slip at Ontario Park along King Street through the Condos at Commadores Cove along King Street to Dupont 409 to the pond at the electric plant not a good day. I also looked into the pond across the road from Cataraqui Bay/Elevator Bay, Possible dead bald eagle near the big tree off King Street in Cataraqui Bay. There are still two dead geese from last week, and six dead geese in the shallow water in the pond. Between the condos 1000 and 1098 condos there is a single dead goose, new in the past three days on the little beach off King Street. Locations marked.  On map. Summary ten dead geese in the bay one on shore line. Possible dead duck under pier possible dead eagle of King Street.

Saturday – There are at least 15 dead CAGO either floating or on the ice pack at Cataraqui Bay. No sign of other dead species.

On Thursday ( Feb 8) afternoon we walked the waterfront path from Gord Downie Pier to Richardson Beach. There were no carcasses and no geese on shore.  There was one lone Canada Goose paddling about a little ways out from shore.

We walked the waterfront from the foot of Albert street to the woollen mill Saturday afternoon.  We did not see many geese.  There was a goose at the waterfront behind the Shipyards apartments on Ontario street that was maybe acting odd.  It was alone and letting people, dogs, etc get right up to it.  But no clear seizing, stumbling, etc so maybe just habituated. The only otherr geese we saw were in Doug fluhrer park near the marina.  They were feeding on land and all appeared well.  

Regarding your avian flu survey: we found a dead Crow in our driveway on York St in downtown Kingston Saturday morning.

Saturday – I was walking along the Inner Harbour and saw no dead geese.

Saturday – So far I have heard nothing about dead geese in the Inner Harbour.

I’m at Doug Fluhrer park almost every day, and saw some geese returning to the park in the last four or so days.  I saw ten Sunday, and no carcasses.   The geese also seemed to be behaving completely normally, and no sign of sickness.

WOLFE ISLAND – Lotsa C. geese here but no dead ones.

On Wolfe Island Sunday and recorded 2367 CAGO and no dead nor ill ones were noted.

I counted about 300 CAGO at the Howe Island foot ferry at lunch Saturday and they all seemed healthy. Many ducks as well and  all seemed well. No illness and no dead ones noted.

Sunday – There was a very large flock of Canada geese on the eastern shoreline of Howe Island near the small ferry dock. I estimate 75 or more geese. No dead birds or carcasses were seen

I was out Saturday morning birding in the east end. AtTreasure Island a variety of birds, including about 65 Canada Geese. At Howe Island Ferry (west) mainland location about 750 Canada Geese and a few Mallards. At both locations, I didn’t see any dead or distressed birds.

2. Going North

Geese present Saturday in open water / on ice on Colonel By Lake before the weir / locks, with no carcasses visible.

I’ve been checking the waterfowl at Lower Brewers Locks pretty much daily for the past week. There have been quite a few Canada Geese and Mute Swans there but no sign of any sick or dead birds as far as I can tell. I did see what looked like a Canada Goose being eaten by a Bald Eagle on the ice in the middle of Colonel By Lake this afternoon. However, with 8 (!) Bald Eagles  sitting together and not a single Canada Goose nearby, I’m betting that it was a natural death.

3. Further Afield

I took a drive this morning (Saturday 0800).  I drove west on Bath Road from Amherstview.  Between Jim Snow Drive andMillhaven there are two areas to pull off the road on the north side.  The first is a large area where many people walk dogs.  It is posted as private but we mostly ignore those signs. Just west is a smaller “park”.  Between the two parks is a small bay.  In the bay I stopped to look at 3 mute swans and noticed a gull feeding on a goose carcass.  I checked the shoreline in that small area with my binoculars and could not see any other dead birds.  

My partner & I have seen five dead Canada Geese in and along the Moira River in Belleville. On Friday Feb 2 we observed two dead geese floating at the mouth of the river and then a third goose on the east bank of the river close to the Wellness Centre. Friday Feb 9th we saw one dead goose on the shoreline of Victoria Park at the mouth of the river and then a second carcass just north of the Lott Dam — which incidentally was being scavenged by a gull and was ripped open.

Prince Edward County – On Wed a dead Coopers hawk was found at 94 Walmsley Rd near Milford. I reported it to Guelph and they have requested the carcass. That process is underway. There have been reports of dead mergansers at the ferry – on Fb – Bald Eagles foraging on them.

The future seems quite uncertain!

One or two dead geese” in different areas could be described as “hardly any”, or as “many more than are usually found dead at this time of year”.

There have been several reports of gulls, eagles, etc. feeding on carcasses, and it is very likely that these birds will become infected with avian influenza. Experience with poultry indicates that the incubation period (between infection and manifestations of disease) can vary widely between 2 days and 3 weeks, and death may then occur within a few hours to a few days.

Many thanks to Anne, Barb, Barrie, Chantel, Chris, Christine, Cheryl, Eugene, Gavin, Glenn, James, Jan, Jean, John, Karen, Kathy, Kevin, Leslie, Lori, Mary, Paul, Peter, Phil, Phillida, the Public Works Department, two Richards, Sandy Pines, Sharon, and two Susans for sharing their responses and observations.

I think it would be very useful to try and continue monitoring what is happening. If people repeat their observations next weekend and send them to me, I will produce another summary and post it on the KFN website.

Chris Hargreaves (he/him)

Chair: Kingston Field Naturalists’ Conservation Committee


The KFL&A Health Unit has advised that:
If handling sick or dead wild birds is unavoidable, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends wearing gloves and avoiding contact with blood, body fluids and feces. Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 per cent alcohol. Residents who find dead birds on private property are advised to double-bag bird carcasses and consult their municipality for disposal instructions. Dead birds found on municipal property can be reported to the local municipality for pick-up. Dead or sick bird sightings can also be reported to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative using their online reporting tool or by calling 1-866-673-4781. For more information on avian influenza, visit: kflaph.ca/AvianInfluenza

Header image: Photo by Charles Jackson on Unsplash