A compendium of resources on birding in general and birding in the Kingston area.
Erwin Batalla has selected 120 species commonly seen in the region and pictures from Phil Harvey are illustrating them. All images were taken in the Kingston 50-km circle. We hope that this simplified guide will encourage you to observe birds during the Spring migration.
The KFN Bird Checklist includes all species of birds for which there have been confirmed sightings within the Kingston Circle. No matter how hard you look you are unlikely to find another Thick-billed Murre or Yellow-nosed Albatross, much less a Passenger Pigeon or Eskimo Curlew. The new Kingston 250 Checklist (click the link above to download) lists the birds that are likely to be seen annually in the Circle. The list is intended as a resource for birders and also as a challenge. At least one person has managed to see 250 species within the Circle in a single year. Who will be the next?
eBird – an outstanding source of information about local and worldwide birding. Use the Explore/Species tab to learn about specific species, and Explore/Regions to learn what’s being seen locally. (hint: our region is Frontenac County).
Xeno-Canto – Database of bird songs and calls from around the world.
Ontario Birds – a Facebook site showcasing birds bird photography in Ontario. (requires Facebook account. Search for the page and send a request to join the group).
Birding Sites in the Kingston Area
A list of the most popular sites in the area to find birds can be found at the Birding Hotspots page.
Rare Bird Alerts
Every migration season there are a few birds that head off in the wrong direction and show up in our area, providing birders with the opportunity to see provincial rarities – birds that shouldn’t normally be here. These range from regular overshoots like Lark and Harris’s Sparrows, to the once-in-a-lifetime Thick-billed Murre that floated around Kingston Harbour for a few days.
In the old days you had to know the right people to hear about these rarities, but in the Web 2.0 era there are a number of resources that birders can use to find out if they need to drop their plans and rush off to see something special.
This rare bird list-serve is run by the Ontario Field Ornithologists. It provides email alerts for birds that are rare in Ontario, and is subscribed to at this site: https://ontbirds.ca/list/birdalert.ontbirds.ca . You do not need to be an OFO member to subscribe.
Ontbirds was once the go-to site for bird alerts but it is gradually being superseded by Discord and eBird.
The Ontario Birds Discord Server is a message-based service with regional rare bird alerts and discussion channels for all parts of Ontario. It is becoming the default app for sharing rare bird information. To use Discord you install the Discord app on your mobile device, and then go to this site to join up – https://discord.gg/EXJ5S9e. The app is not as intuitive and user-friendly as one would wish so be prepared for a bit of frustration getting it set up properly. To avoid being pinged with an endless stream of messages we recommend you start out with only the alerts from the #kingston-study-area channel active.
eBird users can set up two types of email alert: rare birds for a certain area, and needs alerts. In either case these are set up by going to your My eBird page and looking for Alerts on the left sidebar. For rare bird alerts enter the area you are interested in – e.g. Frontenac County – and subscribe. Once you are subscribed you can fine tune the reports so they come to your email account daily or hourly.
Needs alerts are notifications about birds in a particular area that you have not yet seen. They are subscribed to in the same manner as rare bird alerts. Enter the county and then decide whether to tick the box labelled “this year only”. If you tick this box you will only receive reports on birds you haven’t seen this year. This is the setting typically used by year-listers. If you are new to the area or new to birding you could leave the box unticked, in which case you will be alerted to birds that you have never seen in that area. This setting is more appropriate for people looking for new life birds (“lifers”) or new birds for their life list in the chosen area.
Note that eBird alerts do not distinguish between “rare” and “rare at this time of year.” So be prepared to receive lots of alerts about very common birds if they arrive unexpectedly early in the migration season, stay later in the year than usual, or show up at a site where they are not normally seen.