January 16, 2017

White pelican

This is from our 2011 trip to Texas.

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
American White Pelicans cooperate when feeding. Sometimes, large groups gather in wetlands. They coordinate their swimming to drive schooling fish toward the shallows. The pelicans can then easily scoop up these corralled fish from the water.

January 15, 2017

Lesser Scaup

A female lesser scaup doing a wing flap/stretch/water shake.

Aythya affinis
Lesser Scaup chicks are capable of diving under water on their hatching day, but they are too buoyant to stay under for more than just a moment. By the time they are 5 to 7 weeks old they are able to dive for 2-25 seconds and swim underwater for 15-18 meters (50-60 ft).

January 13, 2017

Four and Twenty Blackbirds....and a few of their friends.

Near Comber Ontario,Jan 13/17
Went to see the yellow headed blackbirds,which we did.
They were in a mixed flock of thousands of cowbirds,starlings and house sparrows.
This is a small portion of the flock.

And here is one of the stars of the show hiding in plain sight.

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus 

January 11, 2017

Winter vulture.

Went looking for a black vulture at Port Stanley, Ontario.
Didn't see it but we did see 8+ turkey vultures.
Had to do a bunch of editing as it was against a bright sky.


Cathartes aura
It is unique among our vultures in that it finds carrion by smell as well as by sight. When threatened, it defends itself by vomiting powerful stomach acids.

January 10, 2017

Female Ruddy Duck at Erieau.

Spotted this bird at Erieau, Ontario.
Also had canvasback,bufflehead,lesser scaup,red breasted merganser and coots.

Oxyura jamaicensis

Ruddy Ducks lay big, white, pebbly-textured eggs—the largest of all duck eggs relative to body size. Energetically expensive to produce, the eggs hatch into well-developed ducklings that require only a short period of care.

January 09, 2017

Field sparrow

Usually a summer visitor to the yard and pond this field sparrow showed up on January 6/2017.
It took advantage of the corn we put out for the cardinals and other ground feeders.

Spizella pusilla

In winter Field Sparrows may form mixed feeding flocks with other species, including White-throated and Song Sparrows. Smaller and less aggressive than other sparrows, Field Sparrows are usually at the bottom of the dominance hierarchy in these mixed flocks. Their subordinate role means that they may have to take extra risks to gain access to food, such as returning to a feeding site first after a predator has flushed the flock.

January 07, 2017

Hermit thrush

An unusual, for us, winter visitor to our heated water bowl.

A hermit thrush showed up today and had a long drink from our outdoor heated water bowl.
The bowl may be the only liquid water, other than Lake Erie, right now.
Small birds don't seem to like going on the shore, probably too exposed.
Catharus guttatus
In spring, the Hermit Thrush eats mainly insects such as beetles, caterpillars, bees, ants, wasps, and flies. They also occasionally eat small amphibians and reptiles. In the winter, they change their diet to eat more fruit, including wild berries.