May Species Count for Birds at Wagner Natural Area                

May species Counts are well-justified excuses to throw off the shackles of winter and celebrate the arrival of spring!
In late May, birds are at their most glorious....all are in full breeding plumage, colours galore. In the coniferous wooded areas of Wagner, it can be difficult to spot birds, so their territorial songs provide an additional means of detection.

Red-winged Blackbird
Yellow Warbler
Red-tailed Hawk
Tree Swallow

May Species Count for Birds at Wagner Natural Area, 
May 26, 2018 - by Dave Ealey

Another enjoyable count was successfully concluded around the Marl Pond Trail, out to Villeneuve field and the Old Cabin Trail, and also checking the area around the old beaver pond at the west end of the Central Field. Thanks are due to Sheila, Megan, Britney, and Mark, who accompanied me over the six hours from 6 a.m. to 12:00 noon on May 26. A record number of species (39) were identified during this year’s May count. The average number of species recorded over the past 5 years has been 30 bird species. The fine weather, ranging from partly cloudy to sunny with temperature ranging from 16 C to 19 C, probably contributed to our success at detecting these spring birds.

We posted the full details of the birds detected, including observations of breeding and other behaviour, on the eBird website https://ebird.org/canada/home under the hotspot of Wagner Bog (we’re in the process of trying to get the hotspot name updated to Wagner Natural Area!). Look for checklist https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46087356 .

Our total number of birds was 226, which is higher than all years except 2017, when we recorded 584 birds due to a large flock (480) of Franklin’s Gulls.

A list of species detected in 2018 follows below. Over the past 5 years, we’ve recorded 57 species. Once again, we found new species: Common Merganser, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Dark-eyed Junco, and Blue-headed Vireo. (The downy and hairy woodpeckers were actually detected on May 27 during the May Plant Species Count, and were the only species seen that day that were not detected on May 26.).       

For the bird count results of 2018 please click here


In addition to the rich plant life, Wagner Natural Area is home to a wide variety of fauna. Birds, amphibians and butterflies are among the best studied in the Natural Area, while the mammals also provoke considerable interest. Wagner is also noted in zoological circles as the home of an isolated population of the Western (or Boreal) Toad. Because the marl ponds are critical habitat for amphibians such as frogs and toads, please do not walk in the white marl ponds, even if they appear dry. Instead, from the boardwalk watch in the early spring for the tadpoles as they grow from little black specks on the white marl, through to attaining their adult state
Wagner’s relatively small physical area, and close proximity to large urban areas, somewhat limits the number of large mammals found in the area. White-tailed deer, coyote, beaver and even moose can be seen in the area frequently.