Loggerhead Shrike on the Carden Alvar on 27 May 2011. 

On Friday 27 May, Eleanor Beagan and I scouted Carden Alvar for the OFO trip on Sunday. We were sad to learn that there are only 6 to 8 pairs of Loggerhead Shrikes in the Carden Alvar area this year, despite the release of 76 captive-bred birds last summer and a successful breeding season in 2010. There appears to be unoccupied suitable habitat in southern Ontario including Carden, strongly suggesting causes of the decline are on migration or the wintering grounds or both. This spring has been colder and wetter than normal with reduced numbers of insect prey, which may be an additional stressor for the birds. However, in most years Loggerhead Shrikes have high productivity in Carden.



Some of the severe winter storms in the southeast this past winter could have caused a reduction in the numbers of Loggerhead Shrikes returning to Ontario this spring. Photo: Loggerhead Shrike perched on a flowering hawthorn bush on the Carden Alvar on 27 May 2011.


In Carden, look for Loggerhead Shrikes in pastures being grazed by cattle and dotted with hawthorn bushes. 27 May 2011.


Bobolinks were singing and easy to see despite the cool wet weather. Wylie Road on 27 May 2011


Golden-winged Warbler on Wylie Road on 27 May 2011


Olive-sided Flycatcher on Wylie Road on 27 May 2011


Virginia Rail was calling on 29 May 2011


Art's Ranch sign is north of the Sedge Wren Marsh on Wyle Road. It is a part of Windmill Ranch and was named by the former owner, Art Hawtin. This property, purchased by The Nature Conservancy of Canada with help from its partners, is now owned by Ontario Parks and will be included in the new Carden Alvar Provincial Park.


Carden Alvar Birding Guide - by Ron Pittaway