Whimbrel Watch at TOC

Since the early 20th century, Toronto ornithologists have noted the impressive spring migration of Whimbrel past the city’s waterfront within a narrow time frame between 22 and 27 May. In some years, as much as one-quarter of the entire eastern North American population passes along the Lake Ontario shoreline. Afforded protection by the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1917, the Whimbrel population rebounded from intense market hunting in the 19th century. However, recently we learned that the population has undergone a 50% reduction over the past 20 years.

Recognizing the need to standardize procedures for recording the numbers of Whimbrel, in 2009 the Toronto Ornithological Club (TOC) established the Whimbrel Migration Watch at Colonel Samuel Smith Park on the Toronto Waterfront. In the same year, TOC partnered with The Center for Conservation Biology in Virginia, USA, a research organization that placed satellite transmitters and radio transmitters on Whimbrel in order to track their migration. Toronto is an important monitoring location with 10 of 38 radio tagged birds in Georgia and Virginia detected in 2009 at Colonel Samuel Smith Park, and in 2010 a Whimbrel with a satellite transmitter was seen and photographed at Tommy Thompson Park (Leslie Street Spit).

We have learned a tremendous amount about Whimbrel migration by following the epic journeys of tagged Whimbrel from wintering areas in the Caribbean and South America to spring staging areas in Virginia and Georgia, then over Toronto and the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay Lowlands and the MacKenzie River Delta in the Yukon.

Every May, Whimbrel watchers arrive at Colonel Sam Smith Park as the sun rises and scan Lake Ontario for flocks of vocal Whimbrel, their trilling calls often heard before they are seen. Mornings are best because Whimbrel depart the US East Coast the evening before, fly all night and arrive on the north shore of Lake Ontario in the morning. We hope you will join us to watch Whimbrels as they migrate to their northern breeding grounds.

Newsletter ArticlesTop

To access these articles go to the Library page and double click on the image of the Newsletter concerned.


Whimbrel Watch June 2009 page 10


Migration Ecology of Whimbrel April 2010 page 11

Hudsonian Curlew Day May 2010 Front page photo of Whimbrel, page 3

To Catch a Whimbrel September 2010 page 3

TOC Whimbrel Count September 2010 page 5

Overview of Whimbrel Study September 2010 page 6

Tagged Whimbrel September 2010 page 9


Hope Returns to Delmarva Peninsula May 2011 page 6

Satellite Tagged Whimbrel Update October 2011 page 8

Hunting in Guadeloupe October 2011 page 9


Toronto Whimbrel Migration Count Spring September 2012 page 6