Monday, 23 December 2013

Ice storm impacts on birds

The recent ice storm across eastern Canada has been pretty impressive, making for some really nice scenery with all that build up of ice on everything
View from my desk
Near Kingston we have about 1+cm of ice on most surfaces
All that ice is making for many of power outages and broken branches/trees but it is also tough on birds. Raptors might have trouble getting food underneath the hard crust of ice but it also impacts many other birds in lots of ways.

Mourning Doves are relative newcomers to Ontario from further south. They're not very well adapted for our winter conditions and you often see them with missing toenails due to frost bite. At my feeders many Mourning Doves have damaged tails from the ice:

Are you seeing impacts to birds/wildlife from the storm?

edit: here's the Kitchener CBC results for Mourning Dove:


  1. Way more geese and robins flying over than I've seen in winter before - presumably looking for berries/grass that isn't coated in ice.

  2. If you have access to the seventy-nine years of K-W CBCs, it would be interesting to compare the totals over the years.

  3. Hi again Mike: I am not sure what is implied by the term "relative newcomer." When Taverner's book "Birds of Eastern Canada" was published in 1919 (almost 100 years ago) Mourning Dove was already described as "a strong and thriving race." To repeat my earlier comment it would be interesting to see the numbers for this species over all the years of the K-W CBC; indeed the combined totals for southern Ontario CBCs,

    1. Hi David, thanks for the suggestion. I added in a graph showing Mourning Dove counts per year on the Kitchener CBC. You can't exactly compare all years because effort has changed significantly (and I only have effort data for the last 10 years), but I think the general trend is evident.

      As a "relative newcomer" I was meaning roughly in the past century - only a blink of the eye really. I was just trying to make people aware that Mourning Doves certainly weren't always a part of the birds here, especially in the winter.

  4. The morning after the storm we found a Red-tailed Hawk in our tree. I don't know how long she may have already been perched there but we watched her for about 20 minutes. She was doing a lot of preening, shaking out of feathers, and simply holding her wings out - we assumed she was trying to get rid of some ice. Soon she attracted a crowd of watchers, so she began flying short distances from tree to tree. She seemed unable to fly very high, but I don't think she was in serious distress. Eventually she disappeared from our sight. Our neighbourhood in Riverdale managed to reach high enough temperatures over the next 24 hours that the ice melted off most of the trees so hopefully she was ok!

    -kris ito, toronto