This Smew represents the 3rd record for the province (pending acceptance), with an additional bird which hasn't been submitted to the OBRC. The 1st and 2nd records were from the Niagara River (Feb 21-Mar 30, 1960), and Normandale (Long Point) (Dec 9-10, 1973). There's also a record from Mountsberg on April 15, 1982 of an adult male, though unfortunately it wasn't documented.
A Snowy Owl was also present, sitting on the break wall. As I was just about to head out, Tyler Hoar stopped in. In the back of his car he had a dead bird....lo and behold a dead Barn Owl!!! Pretty sad, I guess one flew into and hit a window, only a few km west of the Whitby Harbour. Tyler was just about to drop it off at the ROM.
|dead Barn Owl - found near Whitby Harbour circa Dec. 23, 2011|
I've really been wondering the last few years how many Barn Owl's are REALLY present throughout the province.There's no question in my mind that they're a very rare bird, and the fact that they're hard to survey for makes them challenging to observe. Brandon Holden and I did our own surveys for them in the Rondeau-Chatham area in 2009 and found 1 bird (June 30), though we weren't able to turn it up again in subsequent trips down there. I think some good areas to look for them would be all of Essex county, Lake St. Clair area, Rondeau, along Hwy. 3 (from Wheatley to Blenheim), all of Niagara and the east end Haldimand county.