Photographing birds in Ontario and Quebec

I enjoy photographing birds, and been having increasing luck doing so with my new 70-200mm lens. I think it might be a good project to collect images of birds that congregate around Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal, use them as photos of the day, and identify their species.

It can be a project a bit like collecting the Oxford colleges, though it is obviously much more open-ended.

A few I have shot with the new lens:

  1. Species unknown – near the Rideau Canal locks
  2. Rock Pigeons (Columba livia) – on Somerset
  3. Species unknown – Kensington Market area, Toronto
  4. Species unknown, possibly a House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) – Victoria University, Toronto

Can anyone put a name to the unknowns above? I will try to come up with some new bird photos during the next week or so.

P.S. Has anyone tried the Canon 1.4X or 2.0X teleconverters? Does either work with the f/4 70-200mm zoom (I remember the box saying the lens is compatible with them). Do the focusing and metering systems still work properly, despite the lost 1-2 f-stops?

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

10 thoughts on “Photographing birds in Ontario and Quebec”

  1. Some neat bird links my friend Antonia sent me:

    Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: Bird identifier (for UK)

    The Internet Bird Collection: Species Search (for North America)

    Prokect FeederWatch: Backyard Bird-Feeding Resources

    BIRDNET provides information for and about ornithology, the scientific study of birds. The site serves professional ornithologists and the general public. BIRDNET is provided by the Ornithological Council, a public information organization established and supported by eleven Western Hemisphere ornithological societies.

    Society of Canadian Ornithologists: Links about Canadian ornithology

    The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds

    flickr: Field Guide: Birds of the World

    VIREO is a library of ornithological photographs founded within The Academy of Natural Sciences in 1979 to provide the research and educational community with fine bird photographs, and to provide a scientifically-curated collection to commercial users.

  2. 1. Looks like a gray warbler – hard to say without hearing their song… Though from the lack of colouring it could be a female (normally the males have the brighter colours…)… definitely the shape of a warbler.

    3. A starling…

    4. Indeed it is a house sparrow…

    If you want to photograph birds, go to Mud Lake near Britannia Bay Park here in Ottawa (easily accessible via the Ottawa River bike path), it is a birder’s mecca (over 100 species of birds in the small area)… and the odds are very good you will also come across at least one, and probably multiple fellow photographers. Having went this past weekend I saw someone with a D3 and 500mm F4 Nikkor… The thing was a beast (not to mention its a $8-10k lens!) I also saw a black crested night heron, very cool.

  3. These are all very common birds, though I suppose that’s what everyone starts out with.

  4. One of those appears to be an adult Blue-gray gnatcatcher (Looks rather similar to the Blackcap I for the first time a few weeks ago in my front garden , but that isn’t an American (continental) bird. I checked using the Whatbird three clicks identifier at but I’m still uncertain. Unlike the wikipedia shot, even their shots of adults didn’t look close enough to yours. I’ve tried to find the gray warbler online. The black-throated one doesn’t look like your shot at all (not even the female) and the other one doesn’t have a range in your area (NZ). I’d be interested if BuddyRich could point to an image and info on the bird he meant online.

    If in Europe, I’d have said the last was a Eurasian tree sparrow rather than a house sparrow owing to the browner cap but it appears that the introduced species hasn’t spread far from Missouri.

  5. I meant the black throated gray warbler… which is decidedly different than Milan’s photo. I thought the bird in the photo was smaller than it must gave been, as I can now identify it, thanks to the wife to be…

    I described the photo to her and she immediately thought it was a catbird… when I had a chance to show her the photo she said it definitely was… then went and got out her well worn Peterson field guide (en français no less) and we found it, moqueur chat… (a gray catbird specifically, Dumetella carolinensis )…

    Interestingly enough, its a common enough bird but your photo doesn’t show the part where a rust-coloured patch, sometimes, but not always, is under the tail feathers. Perhaps that is what was stumping the online identifier? Take that fancy internet identification site!

    Once again though, the song (if you can call its shriek that) would be a dead give away. It was called a catbird for a reason! ;-)

  6. I recently got a Canon macro lens – the 100mm f/2.8L IS macro. I am hoping to put up some bird photos shot with it, though it is usually hard to get close enough to birds to use such a short lens.

    These shots of an American kestrel show what you can do with an animal that is willing to let you get close.

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