Bird Watching Locally

The Stephenville Crossing area is a mecca for bird watchers. First identified as home to many species of birds in the book “The Birds of Newfoundland”, many of the birds mentioned, are still residents of our Stewardship area.

Undoubtedly the world’s best known “birdwatcher”, and nature artist, Roger Tory Peterson, was commissioned by the Newfoundland Government to paint the birds of Newfoundland, which he did in 1941. One of the watercolors Mr. Patterson painted was of the birds seen here. (Note the Gut Bridge in the background). The book mentions Stephenville Crossing as home to many migratory birds as well as some rare. Published in 1951, it can still be found in the Province’s Public Libraries.

There are several excellent bird watching areas in the Stephenville Crossing Stewardship Zone. In the early spring, the area around the Gut Bridge and Black Bank, which are part of the Barachois Stewardship Zone, is home to large numbers of migratory birds, for example geese, ducks, teals, and many shore birds. One of the rare species of birds who nest here is the Black headed gull. This is believed to be the only place in North America where they can be found nesting.

These gulls are seen at the Gut Bridge area, and at the mouth of Harrys River. Last spring, Terry Downey, an avid local bird watcher, counted 12 pairs. At one time they were confused with the Bonarparte gull or the Franklin gull. After closer inspection, they were officially recognized as Black Headed Gulls. They stay in the area all winter. They also lose their black head coloring in winter.

Another rare bird is the Piping Plover. The Piping Plover, was placed on the endangered species list in 1985. There were nesting pairs this year near the Gut Bridge and students were hired on a summer program to protect the nests where possible and to educate people in the area on the birds. The other species of plover seen at this area are the semipalemated plover. The plovers are migratory birds. The females leave first after young have matured, leaving the young with the male, then the males leave. They leave in August, which is early compared to other local nesting birds such as sanderlings, and greater yellow legs, who remain until October.

Also common in summer at the Black Bank area, are the Bank Swallow. They burrow into the bank for nesting. Their burrows are as deep as 3 to 4 feet. They usually nest in colonies.

In the center of town, is the Prairie Pond Habitat. Wigeons, Redwinged black birds, Swallows, Sparrows, Wilson Barrell and of course gulls are all spotted there. This year an American Coot was an uncommon visitor. A little oasis in the middle of the town, many varieties of birds can seen there everyday. This year also saw the return of an American Bittern. Bitterns were known to nest in the Pond before the backfilling occurred and it is hoped that they will make a comeback.

The old road to Stephenville at the bottom of Seal Cove, is also a spot for many interesting species of wildbirds. In the spring the yellow warblers return and the forest is alive with the sounds of their calls. This area of town is home to several species of hawks such Goshawk, Merlen, and American Kestrel(also known as the Sparrow Hawk). Bluejays, one of the birds that stay all year, are seen there in great number.

Another area that is not used as much is the trailways track at White’s Road. Just last summer a lone male Wood duck was spotted on several occasions. Robins, Bluejays, and Chickadees, are no strangers to these wooded areas.

Last but by no means least, is our own backyards. Bluejays, Chickadees, Mourning doves, different species of crows, Grackles or Starlings, as they are know locally, are always in attendance at birdfeeders. A rare sighting of a Ruby Throated Humming bird was also given this year.

Below you will find lists of the rare sightings, nesting birds, and birds that are sighted frequently in our area. The lists are PDF printable documents, that can be printed from your own computer. You will need the program Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available on most new computer systems. If you do not have Reader installed, you can easily download a free version at this link.

The town of Stephenville Crossing would like to gratefully acknowledge the invaluable help provided by Terry Downey in the preparation of the pages on our site, relating to bird watching.

To learn more about bird watching in Stephenville Crossing check out our profile page where you will meet Mr. Terry Downey, one of our resident experts. Terry also gives some great bird watching tips for beginners.

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