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Compendium of Rare Bird Visits to Nova Scotia

April 05, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

This post is a compendium of rare bird visits to Nova Scotia that I have personally recorded. This compendium does not include all my photos of rare birds but only those that have identifiable photographs. Rare birds are those that do not visit annually or are new to the province. Currently there is no rare bird reporting mechanism in Nova Scotia. There are local circles of people who do not distribute sightings province wide but share information only within their own groups. The existing Rare Bird Reports, disseminated by Cornell Labs, is a cluster of annual regular visiting birds or uncommon birds.

Some of the photographs herein are crummy but one gets what one gets and more often than not the bird is distant and photographs are severe crops.

Bean Goose

This goose was a provincial newbie. It hung about a golf course but alas was not motivated to migrate so probably perished when the colder weather arrived.

Crested Caracara

This is the national bird of Mexico. I have seen the bird in three different locations. 

Eurasian Kestrel 

This extreme rarity is a visitor from Europe and Asia and is much larger than our continental kestrel.


This is another extremely rare European and North Atlantic visitor. It was very cooperative as it wintered successfully with the assistance of a crab apple tree.

Greylag Goose

This example of a very rare Eurasian goose is believed to the first confirmed wild bird to visit Nova Scotia although pot-bellied likely domestic kin have been reported at other times.

Ivory Gull

A few visitors from scattered arctic breeding colonies have appeared in Nova Scotia. It is without doubt the best looking gull I have seen. DSC_3300DSC_3300

Lewis's Woodpecker

This is an extremely rare visitor from our Canadian west coast, a shirt distant migrant usually.

Little Egret

This egret is easily confused with the Snowy Egret or juvenile Little Blue Heron at a distance.


Loggerhead Shrike

I found this bird during the early morning. Thankfully it was calling, an ear splitting screech.  It remained in this area for about 36 hours and was confirmed by others. I have blown up this photo and with a lot of editing the bird can be identified as a Loggerhead Shrike.

Louisiana Waterthrush 


This is a mega rare bird with some variants confused with the more common Northern Waterthrush. As always, photograph and then examine the diagnostic details.

Mountain Bluebird

I never did find my socks after first seeing this bird in southern Manitoba. This Nova Scotia example stayed near a motel on the south shore for several weeks.

Northern Lapwing

This is another one of my many birds that only showed itself before sunrise. I had good equipment and a tripod but alas the distance and poor light compromised the images.

Northern Wheatear

I have seen this northern breeding thrush several times including a sighting of three together but none posed for me so its the old story of cropping and enlarging.

Painted Bunting

This is only my second Nova Scotia sighting of this bird. The first one was an overwintering female photographed through a window.

Pink-footed Goose 

I've encountered and photographed this goose three times.


I've only encountered this European thrush once in twenty years in Nova Scotia. This bird was severely harassed by Nova Scotia birders and photographers.

Spotted Towhee

This is another mega rare western visitor. It stayed for most of the winter at one location where feeder food was plentiful.

Western Reef Heron

I actually chased this bird in Newfoundland unsuccessfully and then it shows up in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, I used a mirror based catadioptric lens. I learned my lesson on that trip and I have never used that type of optic again. 

This was the first confirmed visit to Nova Scotia, although as always what isn't seen isn't reported.

The next two photographs were with a conventional optic, all glass. 

White-faced Ibis

Interestingly when I lived in Manitoba the White-faced Ibis was the common bird whereas the Glossy Ibis was the rare bird, opposite to Nova Scotia.

Red-headed Woodpecker

This woodpecker is in decline in the New England states and Nova Scotia. My example does not have its marvelous all red head formed yet.

Marbled Godwit

Black-necked Stilt

Kentucky Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler