Ontario – Day 1 (Jan 14): Amherst Owl Woods

Red-tailed Hawk - Amherst Owl Woods

On January 14, we left home early, bound for a long weekend of birding in Ontario. The six-hour drive sped by and soon we had arrived at the ferry dock for transport to our first and most anticipated location of the trip: The Amherst Island Owl Woods! We met our guide, Kurt, at the dock, and we were soon on our way to the island.

The 15 minute ferry ride was rather uneventful and we had soon arrived at our destination. While driving down the entrance road, we spotted a number of Red-tailed Hawks and one Rough-legged. It was then on to the owls. On our way in, we stopped to “hand feed” (no seed) a group of tame Black-capped Chickadees.

And just three minutes later, we were looking at our #1 target of the trip, BOREAL OWL!!


Boreal Owl

Another look at this incredible bird

We were speechless and awed by this breathtaking owl and spent a long while enjoying this bird. The success we had with the Boreal Owl set the tone for the entire trip!

Soon, Kurt’s incredible skill came in handy once again, when he pulled out a well-hidden Northern Saw-whet Owl in a dense grove of pines.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

But why stop there?? Less then ten minutes later, we were looking at a Long-eared Owl, our third owl of the trip!!

Long-eared Owl

In just under one hour we had seen three species of owl, including Boreal. On our way out, an adult Northern Shrike flew in and proceeded to give great looks.

Northern Shrike

The day just kept getting better and better! Our incredible success at the Owl Woods, filtered into our success on the rest of the island. The hour and a half we spent driving the the fields was rewarded by 10 Rough-legged Hawks and 1 Short-eared Owl.

Short-eared Owl

Another look at the Short-eared

On our way out, we found a Common Redpoll visiting a feeder near the ferry dock.

Amherst Island at Dusk

An incredible day! Much thanks goes to Kurt Hennige, whom without, we probably wouldn’t have seen many of the spectacular birds.


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10 Responses to Ontario – Day 1 (Jan 14): Amherst Owl Woods

  1. Wow! That’s Amazing! On the CYBC field trip we had three owls in a very short time too- Great Horned, Saw-whet, and Long-eared. But- Boreal-Boreal Owl conquers all. Hope to here more about your trip soon!

    – Brendan

  2. Betsy Hermann says:

    Hi Alex,

    The Owl photographs are so beautiful. What an incredible day you had birding. Felt like I was with you. Thanks for sharing your birding knowledge and those bird pics.

    I keep looking for the Barred Owl we had in the yard last year, but she/he just hasn’t appeared. With all the little birds at the feeder and on the suet, I don’t think the owl is keeping his home close by.

    Keep warm. Heard you folks got as much snow last week as we did in Rangeley. The skiing and snowshoeing are great. We rarely miss a day of playing in the snow. A Ruffed Grouse flew up in front of me out of the snow and scared me half to death while snowshoeing. That’s one of my favorite birds too!



  3. Eamon C says:

    I read the title and immediately thought “He probably saw boreal owl, and one-upped our young birder trip.” Sure enough, you saw one more owl than us, and added a Boreal too.

    I’m very jealous, but that’s still really awesome.


    • Alex Burdo says:


      That sounded like a really great trip, especially because you had Brian the “Owl Whisperer” along!
      Boreal Owl is a hard bird not to get jealous over, but I know you’ll see one. Here’s to a young birder’s trip to Amherst Island!!


  4. Dave says:

    I’m already loving reliving these memories. Awesome trip, and great blog post. Can’t wait to see the rest!

    When are we going back?

  5. Deanna says:

    What a wonderful travelogue–beautiful scenery and wonderful shots of such beautiful owls. A most enjoyable way to spend a morning! You are so fortunate to have been able to see these beautiful birds in the wild. Awaiting your next blog!

  6. Hi there. You have had great luck in spotting Owls!! Congrats, beautiful pictures. I live in Toronto, and this past Sunday, my wife, Jean, and I came upon a Barred Owl in Rouge National Park, near Markham, Ontario. This was the second time in six weeks that we have come upon, and filmed, an owl out in the wilds. The first was a Saw-Whet Owl. Prior to these two sightings, we had never seen an owl in its natural habitat. Needless to say, it has been an exciting six weeks. Our pictures and video of the Barred Owl sighting are posted on our blog at: http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-barred-owl-sighting-markham-ontario/

    Our pictures and video of the Saw-Whet Owl sighting are at: http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-northern-saw-whet-owl-sighting/

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