This Northern Gannet is in juvenile
plumage. Full juvenile plumage is held until March when the first
molt begins. Gannets take several years to acquire adult plumage.
Almost all gannets seen on Lake Ontario are inexperienced wandering
juveniles that funnel down the St Lawrence River into Lake Ontario.
There are January and February records of Northern Gannets on Lake
Ontario. Burlington, Ontario on 22 November 2017.
Many of the gannets seen on Lake Ontario tend to circle the west end
of the lake before disappearing. Curry (2006) reports the latest
Hamilton record on 14 January 1950 by George North. James (ROM 1991)
mentions “early February” as the latest occurrence in the province.
A few gannets appear to follow the Niagara River to Lake Erie and
they are exceptional farther south and west. There are records of
grounded gannets apparently trying to escape the Great Lakes.
minority of gannets go up the Ottawa River from the St Lawrence. A
juvenile west of Ottawa was grounded in a farm field with domestic
white geese, suggesting that it was attracted by their adult
gannet-like appearance (Bruce Di Labio pers. comm.).