My winged neighbors

The Île-de-la-Visitation nature park offers a network of paths ideal for strolling and observing species of shore birds. Together the nature parks form a vast network of protected natural areas on the Island of Montréal.

I was able to take these photos on the Île-de-la-Visitation nature park or along the Rivières-des-Prairies. These birds are all migrant species and can be observed during summer on all the shores of the Montréal island. They all left, by now, and are surely on their way or already down South.

  1. The Great Blue Heron, one of our largest, most picturesque avian migrants, stands more than 3 feet tall and is very impressive when it takes flight [wingspan around 6 feet]. It often stands motionless as it scans for prey or wades belly deep with long, deliberate steps. It may moves slowly, but the Great Blue Heron can strike like lightning to grab a fish.
  2. The Black-Crowned Night Heron is without a doubt the darling of the Île-de-la-Visitation nature park, from mid-April to mid-October. Although it is most active at night or at dusk, it is frequently observed in the open, perched on a low branch overlooking the river or keeping a lookout on the emerging rocks near the rapids during the day.
  3. The Canada Geese are fairly easy to see swimming in open water, resting near shore, or grazing on lawns. When migrating, they fly in large V-shaped flocks and can travel more than 1 000 km in one day. More and more of these grassland-adapted birds are staying put in urban and suburban areas year-round.

This summer, I also witnessed groups of 4 to 10 large vulture-like birds gliding above my home everyday. I couldn’t identify them until I was able to take a photo. After enlarging the photo on my screen, analyzing the details and doing a lot of research, I recently figured out that they are turkey vultures (with small bald heads covered in red, wrinkly skin). They move so fast that all my photos are out of focus but still I was able to recognize the head and the beak [wingspan around 6 feet].

They are not vultures per se, but they play the same ecological role, i.e. they are carrion eaters. They are excellent gliders and can be seen gliding for hours with wings fully extended (no flapping required), which is exactly what I witnessed. They are majestic gliders!

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