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Field Guides Tour Report
Newfoundland & Nova Scotia 2017
Jul 2, 2017 to Jul 12, 2017
Chris Benesh & Cory Gregory

This view from Signal Hill in St. John's was a beautiful way to start a fun tour through Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Summer in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia: seafood, puffins, gorgeous vistas, breeding warblers, and, of course, lots of gannets… this tour had it all! Chris and I were happy to share the above perks with a fun bunch of birders for another successful tour of a few of Canada’s finest Atlantic provinces.

We met in St. John’s under a gray sky, but thankfully the weather cleared out and we remained extremely lucky in terms of weather. Our first day of birding took us to some urban spots like Kenny’s Pond where we enjoyed crippling views of a male Tufted Duck trying to blend in with the Mallards (by taking a snooze, apparently). We continued out to Blackhead and Cape Spear where we chanced into a singing Gray-cheeked Thrush, enjoyed some views of whales offshore, found some Pine Grosbeaks high in a spruce, and saw our first gannets flying by offshore. The boat trip out of Bay Bulls gave us our first taste of seabirds and folks had great looks at the quintessential Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, and even a Thick-billed Murre trying to pretend it was a Common Murre.

The following morning proved to be gorgeous and we enjoyed an early vista atop Signal Hill in St. John’s first thing. Mundy Pond hosted a Black-headed Gull, Bidgood Park in Goulds provided us with Wilson’s Snipe and Wilson’s Warbler, and the trails at La Manche Provincial Park gave us our first taste of Northern Waterthrush, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Black-and-white Warbler, and many others. We ended the day in Trepassey to the sounds of a Greater Yellowlegs calling from a wetland nearby.

We started out the next morning birding towards Cape Race where we saw a few shorebirds, an out-of-place Mourning Dove, and some spectacular scenery before coming back for breakfast. The road out to Cape Pine, cutting through the tundra, delivered some highlights including Caribou and an amazing Willow Ptarmigan encounter! We then headed through St. Vincent’s where the Northern Gannets put on a spectacular show of diving and the Arctic Terns were floating overhead. We ended in Placentia where even an urban stop netted us a cooperative Boreal Chickadee.

Certainly one of the highlights of the tour came when we visited Cape St. Mary’s, where we witnessed the thousands of Northern Gannets nesting on the rock spires right offshore. The sight and sound of the gannets was truly incredible, but nature outdid itself when we watched from above as Humpback Whales swam underneath us in full view, a Razorbill filled the view in our scopes, and the warm morning put the Savannah Sparrows and American Pipits in full song. Eventually, it was time to leave Newfoundland and board the ferry towards Nova Scotia. Birding from the deck of the ferry was fun and we added some seabirds like Sooty Shearwaters and even a couple of Leach’s Storm-Petrels.

Once we docked and unloaded the ferry the following morning, it was off to bird at the Morien Bar where we encountered the coastal subspecies of Nelson’s Sparrow and we found another Black-headed Gull. Point Aconi delivered a scope view of Great Cormorant before we followed the scenic Cabot Trail up to Pleasant Bay, our home for the next couple of days. We spent those days exploring areas of Cape Breton Highlands National Park including various trails and roadside birding stops. We explored bogs where the sounds of Lincoln’s Sparrows and Common Yellowthroats were persistent and we even bumped into a couple of specialized bog species like Palm Warblers and Alder Flycatcher. One of the highlights of our stay in the highlands was a boat trip out of Pleasant Bay where we came face-to-face with the summering Long-finned Pilot Whales.

The following day found us with Cape Breton in our rear-view mirrors as we drove south into new territory. A quick stop in Cheticamp provided our only Surf Scoter of the trip and Pomquet Beach Park was a fun stop where we watched a family of Piping Plovers scurrying along on the beach. We ended at Liscombe Lodge where a Mink scampered along the rocks and Purple Finches were commonplace at the feeders.

We knew we were in for a treat at Liscombe Lodge when early the next morning we ventured off on foot and promptly found a stunning male Black-backed Woodpecker! The lush Waternish Road area was a whole new world, and we picked up loads of new goodies like Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Evening Grosbeaks, Winter Wrens, and even a Veery. The highlight for many was a cooperative Black-billed Cuckoo that we not only saw, but watched through the scope as it sang!

After it was all said and done, we think this trip was a great success, and Chris and I want to thank you for making this a memorable trip through some of Canada’s spectacular Atlantic provinces. A major thanks goes out to Roy and Joanne for their patience and expert driving. Until we meet again, safe travels and good birding!


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis) – This species was certainly not as common as we're used to elsewhere. Our first came in Nova Scotia shortly after we exited the ferry.
WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa) – It wasn't until the last couple of days of the tour that we caught up to this attractive duck near Waternish Road in Nova Scotia.
AMERICAN BLACK DUCK (Anas rubripes) – This northeastern dabbler was fairly common in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. We had our first good looks in St. John's at Kenny's Pond and Mundy Pond.
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos) – Not nearly as common as the previous species, our only "mostly-clean" one came on our first day in St. John's at Kenny's Pond. Many of the other dabblers were "yuck ducks" of questionable lineage.
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta) – Our second day of birding in St. John's netted us this long-necked dabbler at Mundy Pond.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis) – Our only encounter with this duck, the smallest dabbler in the world, was at Mundy Pond in St. John's.

This Tufted Duck in St. John's had made friends and decided to spend the summer instead of migrating back to Europe where the species is usually found. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris) – A few of these handsome divers were spotted in a roadside pond near Trepassey as we neared our hotel.
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula) – What a way to start our first day of birding! Although this Old World species will overwinter most years in St. John's in low numbers, it's not common for them to spend all summer too! We saw ours at Kenny's Pond in St. John's.
GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila) – In the same genus as the previous two species, this diving duck is a common winter visitor to St. John's. However, it's uncommon for them to oversummer which is what that solo bird at Kenny's Pond was doing.
COMMON EIDER (DRESSER'S) (Somateria mollissima dresseri) – This chunky seaduck was first spotted at Cape Pine, a distant female-type bird. We would go on to see more in Nova Scotia at the Louisbourg Lighthouse.
SURF SCOTER (Melanitta perspicillata) – We all had scope views of this uncommon seaduck at Chéticamp in Nova Scotia during a fortuitous bathroom stop.
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER (NORTH AMERICAN) (Melanitta fusca deglandi) – Some VERY distant scoters near Cape Race turned out to be this species. However, the views were hardly satisfying.
HOODED MERGANSER (Lophodytes cucullatus) – The small town of Churchville in Nova Scotia hosted this uncommon diver alongside some American Black Ducks, both near the pond where we saw the Sora.

We had a fabulous morning on the tundra near Cape Pine where we found Caribou and this Willow Ptarmigan. Photo by participant Mona Gardner.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
RING-NECKED PHEASANT (Phasianus colchicus) – We heard a pheasant or two on our final day of birding as we birded the fields northeast of Halifax. [I]
RUFFED GROUSE (Bonasa umbellus) – Waternish Road north of Liscombe Lodge in Nova Scotia turned out to be fairly reliable for this woodland species. We even encountered a female defending her chicks with an odd, wailing call.
SPRUCE GROUSE (Falcipennis canadensis) – Never before had I seen this uncommon and tricky-to-find species dust-bathing on the side of a busy highway! Chris's sharp eyes picked it out as we passed by and, lucky for us, the grouse seemed content as we all got scope views from down the road.
WILLOW PTARMIGAN (Lagopus lagopus) – Success! We found this tundra-dwelling "chicken" during a morning drive out to Cape Pine. Not only did we see it, we saw it exceptionally well as it flew in and even vocalized on the wing.
Gaviidae (Loons)
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer) – We saw this iconic diver most days, both on ponds and lakes as well as in our pockets on the dollar coins.
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
NORTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialis) – This cold-water tubenose was seen on our first full day of birding on the boat trip and then again several times from the ferry crossing to Nova Scotia (both in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia waters).
SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea) – This soot-colored seabird turned out to be the most common shearwater of the trip. We first saw them as we seawatched from the ferry in Newfoundland waters but we would go on to see another fly past our boat when offshore of Pleasant Bay.

The Northern Gannets, captured here nicely by participant Mona Gardner, were a major highlight when we visited Cape St. Mary's in Newfoundland.

Hydrobatidae (Storm-Petrels)
LEACH'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) – A few early-risers saw this dark seabird flapping through the wave troughs from the ferry as we approached Nova Scotia.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus) – The spectacle of the gannets at Cape St. Mary's is almost too hard to take in! We enjoyed a jaw-dropping visit to this breeding colony where we enjoyed seeing these Atlantic specialists up close and personal. A common species along the oceanfront, these were seen on all but our final two days of birding. [N]
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo) – We finally caught up with this specialty of the northeast at Point Aconi on our first day of birding in Nova Scotia. The extended white on the face and the large size were helpful ID marks.
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus) – This was the common and default cormorant on tour. We had nice comparison looks between this and the previous species on the rocks at Point Aconi.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – We spotted a few of these large, common herons throughout the tour. As it so happens, many of our sightings were of birds in flight like the one at the Benjie's Lake Trail at Cape Breton.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – This large, fish-eating bird of prey was spied a few times including one on a nest near the Liscombe Lodge. Although hard to spot, we eventually saw a chick's wing extend up from within the nest! [N]

This Merlin, a species of falcon, was surveying the tundra hoping to find a tasty morsel to chase down. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus cyaneus) – Coursing low and slow over weedy and grassy habitats, this raptor was seen most days on tour in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
NORTHERN GOSHAWK (Accipiter gentilis) – This large accipiter did a speedy fly-over at the Liscombe Lodge on our final day of birding. Unfortunately, not many of us got on the bird before it slipped away.
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) – After a quick sighting here and there, this majestic species finally became more common and we eventually had nice looks at many adults and youngsters.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis) – It wasn't until our final day of birding in Nova Scotia that we found this classic buteo in flight. Built for soaring, this species has broad wings and a short tail.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
SORA (Porzana carolina) – This sneaky rail was finally spotted in a roadside marsh in Churchville on our final day of birding. This can be a tough bird to see!

On a broader scale, the number of Northern Gannets at Cape St. Mary's was astounding. We got to see and hear these magnificent seabirds at close range. Photo by participant Mona Gardner.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus) – Pale-backed to match the pale sand, this uncommon and endangered shorebird was seen (with chicks!) at Pomquet Beach Park near Antigonish in Nova Scotia.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus) – The name is relative... this is still a pretty long-billed species! We spotted a few of these shorebirds at Morien Bar on our first day of birding in Nova Scotia.
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata) – Remember when we "did good at Bidgood"? This shorebird was calling as it circled over the marshy habitat at Bidgood Park in Goulds.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – This tail-pumping shorebird was spotted (ha, get it?) only a few times at places like Cape Race and a few rocky stream-crossings.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – A tall and lanky shorebird, this species breeds in Newfoundland and we heard a very defensive one giving alarm calls near our hotel in Trepassey. We would go on to see more including one in Renews that flew up from the beach.
WILLET (EASTERN) (Tringa semipalmata semipalmata) – The only subspecies of Willet that breeds along the Eastern Seaboard is the "Eastern" variety (T. s. semipalmata). This subspecies migrates out of the US completely during the winter whereas the "Western" variety does not.
Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)
COMMON MURRE (Uria aalge) – An abundant seabird that we saw plenty of along the coasts. This was the most common alcid on the cliffs at Cape St. Mary's as well.
THICK-BILLED MURRE (Uria lomvia) – Always outnumbered by the previous species, this darker-black murre has a fine white line running down the side of the bill. We had scope views of some on the cliffs at Cape St. Mary's where that was visible.
RAZORBILL (Alca torda) – This is another widespread alcid that we encountered on our boat trip out of Newfoundland as well as a solo bird on the cliffs at Cape St. Mary's.

One of the highlights of the trip was watching the many Atlantic Puffins as they added personality to the offshore areas. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

BLACK GUILLEMOT (Cepphus grylle) – A dapper species, this mostly black alcid has bright white wing patches and brilliant red legs. Tending to stick close to shore, these were seen on the water from the ferry as well as from many other seawatching locations.
ATLANTIC PUFFIN (Fratercula arctica) – Voted as one of the highlights of the tour by many folks, these "sea clowns" put on great shows for us from various boat rides and seawatches. It's hard not to fall in love with these distinctive alcids.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (Rissa tridactyla) – Named onomatopoeically for its call, this seabird species turned out to be quite abundant on tour. We even enjoyed scope views of the little, white fluffball chicks in their cliffside nests at Cape St. Mary's.
BONAPARTE'S GULL (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) – We spotted a few of these small and uncommon gulls at the Morien Bar on our first day in Nova Scotia. Their bills are never reddish unlike the following species.
BLACK-HEADED GULL (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) – Very few of these breed in North America but Newfoundland is one place that they do! Although typically more common in the winter, there was one at Mundy Pond in St. John's and then another at Morien Bar in Nova Scotia. Both were notable sightings!
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis) – Although not as common as the Herring Gulls, we spotted this smaller, 3-year gull species on most days.
HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) – The abundant and default gull on most of our days. In fact, this was the only gull species we saw every day on tour.

One of the surprise finds in Newfoundland was this Caspian Tern sitting on a rock near Renews. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus marinus) – Almost as numerous as the previous species, this beast of a bird is the largest gull species in the world and is a formidable predator. They were common in many habitats but especially along coastlines.
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – This large tern sitting on a rock was a complete surprise for us as we birded along the beach in Renews.
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – Seen on most days, this was our default tern at many oceanside locations.
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea) – Although usually outnumbered by the previous species, we had many fun encounters with this long-tailed and buoyant flyer. Compared with the previous species, the legs are shorter and darker red, the bill is smaller and darker red (lacking the black tip), and the tail extends beyond the wingtips (when sitting).

We had chances to compare Common Terns with the similar Arctic Terns several times. Here's one of the latter that flew by to check us out. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Common in urban areas. [I]
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura) – We had an odd encounter with a sad-looking dove at Cape Race but that was just the first one. We would see many more once we crossed over into Nova Scotia.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) – Wow, talk about a tour highlight! We chanced into this rare species along Waternish Road in Nova Scotia on one of our last days. Not only did we get to hear it vocalizing, we watched it through scopes at point blank distances. The reddish eye-ring was especially evident. A truly fantastic encounter.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – Once we crossed over into Nova Scotia, we tallied this tiny but energetic species daily. The feeders at the Midtrail Motel in Pleasant Bay were especially reliable.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon) – Although never abundant, we had several sightings of this fish-catcher in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Black-billed Cuckoos can be hard to find even in the core of their range. However, we chanced into this beauty and everyone enjoyed watching it sing quietly from the shadows. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)
YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus varius) – We snagged this handsome woodpecker just in the nick of time on our last day of birding in the Waternish Road area.
DOWNY WOODPECKER (Picoides pubescens) – This tiny woodpecker was heard and seen a few times in Nova Scotia but was never abundant.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Picoides villosus) – The larger cousin of the previous species, this woodpecker was heard along the Lone Shieling Trail in Nova Scotia.
BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER (Picoides arcticus) – We had a great encounter with this uncommon woodpecker of the northern coniferous forests at Liscombe Lodge in Nova Scotia. Like the Three-toed Woodpecker, this species only 3 toes on each foot.
NORTHERN FLICKER (Colaptes auratus) – This common woodpecker species was spotted several times both in Newfoundland and in Nova Scotia. As one would expect this far east, all of the flickers we saw were of the "Yellow-shafted" variety.
PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus) – We had a fortuitous flyover of this gigantic woodpecker while birding the Liscombe Lodge grounds one morning.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius) – Only one or two of these small falcons were spotted on tour including a sighting at Benjie's Lake Trail on Cape Breton.

One of the quintessential northern woodpeckers is the Black-backed Woodpecker. I'll never forget watching this fascinating species face-to-face near the Liscombe Lodge. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

MERLIN (Falco columbarius) – A bird-catching specialist, this falcon was first seen as we approached Trepassey in Newfoundland. We would go on to see two more in Nova Scotia including one carrying prey.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens) – We only reached the range of this flycatcher during the southern portions of tour. As is typical of pewees, we heard it more than we saw it.
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) – Of all the empids in the east, this species is the most yellowish. Although easy to hear, they were a little harder to see. Our first good looks came from La Manche Provincial Park.
ALDER FLYCATCHER (Empidonax alnorum) – We managed looks of a really riled up bird at a roadside bog on Sinclair Lake Road north of Liscombe Lodge.
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus) – A denizen of deciduous woodlands, this small empid darted around above us on the Lone Shieling Trail in Nova Scotia.
EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus) – A rare bird for this tour, this sharply-marked flycatcher was spotted on our last day near the Churchville marsh.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius) – Formerly part of the Solitary Vireo complex, this northern species was seen and heard many times once we made it to Nova Scotia. The bold white spectacles around the eyes are a helpful ID mark.
RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus) – Like the previous species, we had several encounters with this familiar vireo once we crossed over to Nova Scotia.

While in Newfoundland, we enjoyed the wheezy song of this Boreal Chickadee near Placentia. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
GRAY JAY (Perisoreus canadensis) – Our only sighting of this jay, which is the national bird of Canada, came from the top of a spruce near Renews in Newfoundland.
BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata) – A common and familiar backyard bird that we encountered almost every day.
AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos) – Smaller than the following species, crows never soar like ravens. We tallied this species every day of tour.
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax) – A common bird on tour that we managed to detect daily.
Alaudidae (Larks)
HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris) – We found a few of these on the road out to Cape Pine in Newfoundland but they never perched for very long before taking to the air again.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) – This blue-backed and white-bellied species was our most common swallow on tour and we tallied some almost every day.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – We started seeing this graceful flyer after we crossed over into Nova Scotia. We tallied them from open areas every day from that point on.
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (Poecile atricapillus) – A favorite in backyards everywhere, this familiar species was found in many habitats in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
BOREAL CHICKADEE (Poecile hudsonicus) – This boreal specialist sounds like a wheezy version of the previous species. We had outstanding looks of a couple of these targets on Castle Creek Road in Placentia.

This iceberg near Renews was a nice sighting (although we couldn't find it in the checklist!). Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis) – Not as numerous as I expected them to be, this conifer-loving species was found only 3x in Nova Scotia.
Certhiidae (Treecreepers)
BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana) – Try as we might, we never pulled one of these out into view. However, we clearly heard it singing from the conifers. [*]
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
WINTER WREN (Troglodytes hiemalis hiemalis) – How such a tiny bird can make such a loud noise is a bit of a mystery! We heard many of these but it wasn't until one teed up on a spruce at the Liscombe Lodge that we actually saw one.
Regulidae (Kinglets)
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus satrapa) – Wow, what a show this little guy put on for us; he came screaming in with his crest fully showing. Dixie picked this as one of her favorite sightings.
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula) – We encountered this tiny species several times in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Nova Scotia. Specifically, we found them along the Skyline Trail as well as the Benjie's Lake Trail.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
VEERY (Catharus fuscescens) – A rare bird for this tour, we managed to relocate one near Waternish Road on our final morning of birding. Getting a good view, however, was a challenge!

Here's our group seawatching from Cape Spear on a gorgeous morning! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH (Catharus minimus) – The sighting of this species along the road to Blackhead on Day 1 was actually one of the rarest sightings of tour. Populations of this species have declined dramatically in the past decade.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – We managed views of this buffy thrush (complete with buffy spectacles) during the last couple of days in Nova Scotia. Specifically, the Waternish Road area proved to be a reliable location as well as the Liscombe Lodge grounds.
HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus) – This was a common thrush that we encountered daily once we found ourselves in Nova Scotia. In fact, the ethereal song was a mainstay during our time at Liscombe Lodge.
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius) – A common and familiar species that we saw daily in a variety of habitats.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) – This introduced species was seen every day of tour, especially in urban areas. [I]
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens) – A couple of these were singing on the wing high above the grassy hillsides of Cape St. Mary's. In fact, each of the places we chanced into this species were Capes: Cape Spear, Cape St. Mary's, and Cape Pine.
Bombycillidae (Waxwings)
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum) – Although seen many different times on tour, the best looks were at Bidgood Park in Goulds where a few perched in beautiful light.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla) – This streaky warbler was first seen near the stream along the Lone Shieling Trail. We would hear their chanty songs many more times including the Waternish Road area in Nova Scotia.
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – We had an amazing encounter with this warbler on our second day of birding in Newfoundland; the trail at La Manche Provincial Park hosted several including one that perched out in the open giving everyone scope views.
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Our first glimpses of this limb-creeping specialist came from the trail at La Manche Provincial Park. In the end, we saw this familiar warbler on about half of our days on tour.

More nuthatch in behavior than warbler, the Black-and-white Warbler was a fairly common species throughout the tour. This particular one was photographed by guide Cory Gregory at La Manche Provincial Park.

NASHVILLE WARBLER (Oreothlypis ruficapilla) – It took a little bit of focused effort but we eventually caught up to this species in Cape Breton Highlands National Park where the trailhead of Benjie's Lake Trail did the trick.
MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia) – I'll not soon forget the incredible experience we had with that singing individual that sat out in the open for all to see! Not only did we get to watch it through binoculars, it stayed for everyone to get frame-filling views through the scope.
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas) – We connected with this masked warbler on a daily basis after we crossed over into Nova Scotia. Our first came from the Bog Trail at Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – When you hear a high and squeaky warbler that you can't figure out, it's probably one of these. This warbler was seen on most of our days in Nova Scotia including several along the Lone Shieling Trail.
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana) – We heard our first on the grounds of Liscombe Lodge one morning but it wasn't until birding the Waternish Road area that they really started coming out of the woodwork.
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia) – Our first maggie came from the Louisbourg Lighthouse promptly after we arrived in Nova Scotia. It turns out that they would be seen daily from that point on.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – We saw a few eye-popping males in Cape Breton Highlands National Park on trails such as the MacIntosh Brook Trail and the Benjie's Lake Trail. What a nice looking bird!
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – This species, a familiar one to many of us from North America, was one of our most common warblers on tour.

The show that this Mourning Warbler put on for all of us was spectacular. Not only did it show itself nicely, but it sat in the open as it sang... minute after minute. Scope views were had by all. Wow! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – A rare species on this itinerary, this handsome warbler was a target in the Waternish Road area where we found two individuals.
BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata) – Unlike many of the warblers we encountered, this northern species was seen only in Newfoundland. Actually, this may have been the first warbler we encountered; we found a couple on our first day in the Blackhead area.
PALM WARBLER (YELLOW) (Setophaga palmarum hypochrysea) – We found this northern, bog-loving warbler at Sinclair Lake Road in Nova Scotia.
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata) – A common and widespread species that we saw nearly every day.
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – A sharply-dressed warbler that we encountered late in the tour at locations like Liscombe Lodge, Sinclair Lake Road, and Waternish Road.
CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis) – It's hard to go wrong with the likes of this necklace-wearing warbler. Our only sighting came from Waternish Road late in the tour.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – Bidgood Park in Goulds provided us with our only look at this black-capped warbler.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
NELSON'S SPARROW (ATLANTIC COAST) (Ammodramus nelsoni subvirgatus) – The coastal subvirgatus subspecies of this sparrow is rather dull but that didn't stop us from enjoying a few at Morien Bar on our first day in Nova Scotia. One particular bird came right up and perched nicely on top of a bush.
FOX SPARROW (RED) (Passerella iliaca iliaca) – This large and richly-colored sparrow was fairly common in Newfoundland where we saw them at spots like Blackhead and Bidgood Park. A gifted songster, more were heard than seen.

One of the signs that you're in a northern forest is the presence of Pine Grosbeaks. We saw this beauty our first day near St. John's. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

DARK-EYED JUNCO (SLATE-COLORED) (Junco hyemalis hyemalis) – A widespread and common species that we tallied every day.
WHITE-THROATED SPARROW (Zonotrichia albicollis) – The song of this attractive sparrow is a quintessential sound of the north woods. Lucky for us, we enjoyed them in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis) – This is another sparrow that was widespread and fairly common. The walk out to the colony at Cape St. Mary's hosted about ten of these short-tailed sparrows and their raspy songs were a common sound.
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia) – Although fairly common, this wasn't the most noticeable sparrow on tour. Still, we heard plenty and saw quite a few in a variety of scrubby habitats.
LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii) – Our best luck with this bog-loving species came from Cape Breton Highlands National Park where a few were singing from the Bog Trail and Skyline Trail.
SWAMP SPARROW (Melospiza georgiana) – The rich and rolling trill of this attractive sparrow was a common sound early in the tour at locations like Cape Spear and Bidgood Park.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – This uncommon species was a nice snag on Waternish Road in Nova Scotia. Although the male we saw wasn't particularly eye-popping, he was still attractive! Kate picked this as one of her favorite sightings of the trip.

The tour had a fun selection of marine mammals as well! The most common of the whale species we saw was the Humpback Whale. Here's a photo by guide Chris Benesh of one below us at Cape St. Mary's.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – You may have noticed that this species was absent until we reached Nova Scotia! We would eventually catch up to several around various marshes and grasslands during the last couple of days.
COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula) – A widespread species that we tallied both in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
PINE GROSBEAK (Pinicola enucleator) – This northern finch popped into view near Blackhead on our first day around St. John's. We saw just a few more at La Manche Provincial Park and near Renews.
PURPLE FINCH (Haemorhous purpureus) – It was hard to focus on our good food at Liscombe Lodge with the local hoard of finches attending the feeders just outside the window!
RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra) – The crossbills we saw at the feeders in Renews were the Newfoundland-endemic Type 8 birds. Toby picked these finches as one of her favorites.
COMMON REDPOLL (Acanthis flammea) – This little finch was quite a surprise find at the feeders in Renews! Not a species seen on this tour before, this was one of the rarest sightings from our time in Newfoundland.
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus) – A relative of the following species, these brown and yellow finches were never abundant. Our best views were at the feeders at Liscombe Lodge in Nova Scotia.
AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (Spinus tristis) – This common yellowish species was the only finch we tallied every day.
EVENING GROSBEAK (Coccothraustes vespertinus) – A few of these uncommon finches were seen in the Waternish Road area in Nova Scotia towards the end of the tour. Any day with an Evening Grosbeak is a good day!
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – A familiar and widespread introduced species that was seen most often in urban areas. [I]

The Long-finned Pilot Whales offshore at Pleasant Bay were quite curious! We found several pods and this particular one came up for closer looks. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

SNOWSHOE HARE (Lepus americanus) – We saw several of these along roadsides in Nova Scotia during the latter half of the tour. When they bounced away, we could see the white on their feet and bellies.
PLAIN EASTERN CHIPMUNK (Tamias striatus) – There was only one sighting on tour, a quick look in Nova Scotia on the second to last day.
RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) – Seen daily in Nova Scotia but none in Newfoundland.
LONG-FINNED PILOT WHALE (Globicephala melas) – Our boat trip out of Pleasant Bay gave us up close and personal looks at this fascinating and highly social species! Despite the name, this is actually a species of dolphin.
COMMON MINKE WHALE (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) – Our only looks of this baleen species came from our very first day of birding near St. John's.
FIN WHALE (Balaenoptera physalus) – A distant whale seen on the ferry crossing was this species, the second-largest species of animal on the planet.
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae) – We were fortunate to have many chances to see and study this widespread whale. One particular encounter from Cape St. Mary's was especially neat; we got to watch with a bird's-eye view as one slowly worked the offshore areas, visible to us even though it was under water.

This female Gray Seal was having all sorts of fun being the one atop the rock! We saw these a few times including at Cape St. Mary's and this one offshore from Pleasant Bay. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

AMERICAN MINK (Mustela vison) – One of these was seen scampering along some riverside rocks very briefly at Liscombe Lodge in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately it was out of view before long.
HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina) – A few of these widespread seals were seen on our second and third days in Newfoundland but no further sightings after that.
GRAY SEAL (Halichoerus grypus) – Who can forget the female that was teed-up on a rock and looking mighty pleased about it during our Pleasant Bay boat trip! Our first sightings, however, came from Cape St. Mary's where we were able to find some distant ones with the scope.
MOOSE (Alces alces) – With a final tally of 5 different Moose, our sightings of this iconic species ranged from one in the middle of a lake to a mother/calf combo during one of our hikes.
CARIBOU (Rangifer tarandus caribou) – You know you're up north and on tundra when you see this species alongside ptarmigan! Our drive out to Cape Pine provided both of those sightings.
GREEN FROG (Lithobates clamitans) – Although this tour isn't known for its herp diversity, we did enjoy scope views (yes, we scoped the frogs) from a roadside bog.


Totals for the tour: 130 bird taxa and 12 mammal taxa