Cape Breton Birds you might see on your travels
Sorry, you didn't make the list. We thought we would help point out some of the more unusual & interesting species you may encounter on your travels around the Island. Some are quite rare, some are only spotted if you're observant and lucky, and some may be in your own backyard. All of them are pretty spectacular in their own rights. We hope you agree. ( View the slideshow below )
Thanks for taking a look! Click the arrow pointing to the right to view the slideshow.
The CapeBreton.com Team
Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
The Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) is a small sea duck. It takes its name from Arlecchino, Arlequin in French, a colourfully dressed character in Commedia dell'arte. The eastern North American population is declining and is considered endangered. TIP: Seen in late Fall in the Louisbourg area.
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
The Great Cormorant is a large black bird, with a longish tail and yellow throat-patch. It feeds on the sea, in estuaries, and on freshwater lakes and rivers. Northern birds migrate south and winter along any coast that is well-supplied with fish. TIP: Often seen in Spring, on the edge of melting ice in the Bras d'Or Lake.
Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)
The Bohemian Waxwing travels in large, nomadic groups with a strong, direct flight. Look close for the bright yellow, black or rusty orange color on its tail feather tips and a yellow, white, red or black stripe along the wing feathers.TIP: Look for them around trees and shrubs with berries or small fruit.
Razorbills (Alca torda)
The Razorbill is a colonial seabird that only comes to land in order to breed. This agile bird chooses one partner for life and females lay only one egg per year. Razorbills nest along coastal cliffs in enclosed or slightly exposed crevices. TIP: Found nesting on Bird Island
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the smallest bird species that breeds in Eastern Canada. They have many skeletal and muscle adaptations which allow the bird great agility in flight. Muscles make up 30% of their body weight enabling the bird to fly not only forward but can hover and is the only known bird that can fly backwards.
Grey Jay (Perisoreus canadensis)
Grey Jay pairs are monogamous and remain together for their lifetime. The oldest known female Gray Jay was 16 years old, and one male was at least 14 years old.TIP: Gray Jays live where there is a strong presence of Spruce or Pine groves.
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)
The Yellow-breasted Chat is a large, shy, skulking species of Songbird, often being heard but not seen. This species occurs in areas where dense shrubby growth is common. Today, its habitat often consists of abandoned farmland and other rural areas with overgrown vegetation. Typically a rare sighting in Cape Breton.
Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia)
Adult birds are black on the head, neck, back and wings with white underparts. They do not build nests, but lay the egg directly on bare rock. This species produces a variety of harsh cackling calls at the breeding colonies, but is silent at sea.
Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica)
The Atlantic Puffin is specially adapted for life on the sea and is only tied to the land by the necessity of finding somewhere to breed. After leaving the colony at the end of the breeding season, the birds disperse across the ocean and, as far as is known, live a solitary existence. TIP: Found nesting on Bird Island
Northern (Hen) Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
The Northern Harrier is a bird of prey. This medium-sized raptor breeds on moorland, bogs, prairies, farmland coastal prairies, marshes, grasslands, swamps and other assorted open areas. The nest is built on the ground or on a mound of dirt or vegetation.
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
The Blue Jay breeds in both deciduous and coniferous forests, and is common near and in residential areas.The Blue Jay mainly feeds on nuts and seeds such as acorns, soft fruits, arthropods, and occasionally small vertebrates. TIP: Try putting a partially unhusked corn on the cob in your yard to attract a Blue Jay.
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
These birds' most prominent feature is a small cluster of bright red feathers on the wings, a feature they share with the Bohemian Waxwing. The tail is typically yellow or orange depending on diet. During courtship the male and female will sit together and pass small objects back and forth, such as flower petals or an insect.
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
The Common Pheasant is one of the world's most hunted birds; it has been introduced for that purpose to many regions. There are about 30 subspecies. While Common Pheasants are short-distance fliers, they prefer to run. If startled however, they can suddenly burst upwards at great speed, with a distinctive "whirring" wing sound.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
The Bald Eagle is an opportunistic feeder which subsists mainly on fish, which it swoops down and snatches from the water with its talons. It builds the largest nest of any North American bird. Most of the Nova Scotian breeding bald eagle population is found on Cape Breton, how could we NOT mention them!
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
The Great Blue Heron is a large wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae.
It has head-to-tail length of 36–54 in (3ft - 4.5ft) and a wingspan of 66–79 in (5ft - 6.5ft)!!!
TIP: Common near the shores of open water and in wetlands.
Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
Adults have short yellow legs and a medium thin dark bill with a yellow base. The body is dark on top with a slight purplish gloss and mainly white underneath. These birds forage on rocky coasts, picking up food by sight.
TIP: Seen in the Ingonish area in the Fall
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Best known as the Hoot Owl for its distinctive call, it goes by many other names, including Wood Owl, and Striped Owl. It has a pale face with dark rings around the eyes, a yellow beak and the only typical owl which has brown eyes; all others are yellow. A Barred Owl was photographed once in 2012 flying with a full-grown cat
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