Showing posts from 2013

Let's talk spring

Let's talk spring, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Enough winter for now.
This is the bloom of the tulip tree,and is native to the deciduous forest of eastern North America which extends into Canada in southwestern Ontario in the region called the Carolinian zone or Carolinian Canada, which is where we live.
It can grow to over 100 feet tall and in excess of 5 feet in diameter.
The wood of tulip-tree is commercially valuable and is used to make furniture, musical instruments, plywood, and pulp. Some Aboriginal peoples and early European settlers hollowed out the large, straight trunks to make canoes, and the roots were used medicinally.
Liriodendron tulipifera

Horned lark

Horned lark, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This is a clearer photo of one of the horned larks I saw the other day.
The tufted feathers make up the "horns".

Scientific stuff -
Eremophila alpestris

Interesting stuff -The only true lark native to North America, the Horned Lark is a common, widespread bird of open country.
Adult Horned Larks eat primarily weed and grass seeds, but they feed insects to their young.

Cruising the beach

Cruising the beach, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. There was a lot of activity along the beach after a day of heavy surf, well actually waves here on the Great Lakes.
There were at least three bald eagles moving back and forth along with a good number of the large gulls.
I went down to see if I could get a few photos.
This immature bald eagle came up off the beach and circled out over Lake Erie before flying off.
We get eagles regularly bur seldom within camera range.

Scientific stuff
Haliaeetus leucocephalus
The Bald Eagle dwarfs most other raptors, including the Turkey Vulture and Red-tailed Hawk. It has a heavy body, large head, and long, hooked bill. In flight, a Bald Eagle holds its broad wings flat like a board.

Had Benjamin Franklin prevailed, the U.S. emblem might have been the Wild Turkey. In 1784, Franklin disparaged the national bird’s thieving tendencies and its vulnerability to harassment by small birds. "For my own part,” he wrote, “I wish the Bald Eagle had not been ch…

Horned lark and the snow bunting.

Horned lark and the snow bunting., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. I could get either the lark or the bunting in focus, just not both.
I tried resetting from a single spot focus to a multiple focus but, of course, the birds flew before I was ready.
There was a large mixed flock of about 200-300 birds near our place.

Scientific stuff
Eremophila alpestris (horned lark)
Adult Horned Larks eat primarily weed and grass seeds, but they feed insects to their young.

Plectrophenax nivalis (snow bunting)
The male Snow Bunting returns to its high Arctic breeding grounds in early April, when temperatures can still dip as low as -30° C (-22° F) and snow still covers most of the ground. The female does not return until four to six weeks later.

Merry Christmas (view to see the message)

Merry Christmas (view to see the message), a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We three kings of avian are
Migrant birds who travel afar.
Fluff and feather, snowy weather,
Pooping on yonder car.

What did you expect from a birder.

(Verse sent to me by a friend, original source unknown. I'm not that creative.)

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas.

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Anne is almost finished her Christmas baking, a sure sign that Christmas can't be too far away.
I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Looking for a free lunch

Looking for a free lunch, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This small opossum was scrounging under the bird feeders in search of a free lunch.
The temperatures were above freezing today which probably encouraged him to come out.
They are omnivores and they eat insects, snails, rodents, berries, fruit, grasses, leaves, carrion, snakes, bird and waterfowl eggs, corn and all other vegetables.
This photo was taken through the Wonderful Wildlife Window.

Scientific stuff
Didelphis virginiana
They are North America's only marsupial (female has a pouch) mammal.
A female can bear up to 14 young and when they are born the entire litter can fit onto a teaspoon.
Opossums are active year round and do not hibernate; however during extreme weather they may stay in dens for weeks at a time using up stored body fats.

Out the kitchen window

Out the kitchen window, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Anne looked out the window and spotted this buck in the yard.
He was looking at two does who were off to the left.
That's our pontoon boat covered with the big blue tarp.

Photo by Anne.
Odocoileus virginianus

Blue on blue

Blue on blue, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. I was surprised at how clear this photo was considering I took it through the Wonderful Wildlife Window which I haven't cleaned recently.
We have a regular parade of birds into our feeders particularly in the winter.

Scientific stuff
Cyanocitta cristata
The pigment in Blue Jay feathers is melanin, which is brown. The blue colour is caused by scattering light through modified cells on the surface of the feather barbs.

The black bridle across the face, nape, and throat varies extensively and may help Blue Jays recognize one another.

The oldest known wild, banded Blue Jay lived to be at least 17 years 6 months old.

and stretch...

and stretch..., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. and take a break.
Exercise class at Rondeau can be vigorous.

This white tailed deer was browsing the lowest branches of a willow tree in our yard. It stretched as far as it could to get hold of a thin hanging branch and eventually tore a piece off.
We had 7 deer in the yard this afternoon.
Scientific stuff
Odocoileus virginianus
Its diet consists mostly of green plants, nuts, and in the winter, wood vegetation.
The white-tailed deer can make vertical leaps of over two and a half metres and horizontal leaps of nine metres — that’s almost as long as a school bus.

Hiding in plain sight

Hiding in plain sight, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Ozzie was hiding in the bag so Crash couldn't see him. Ozzie was planning a sneak attack but it didn't work for some reason.

The Living Room

The Living Room, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This is at my sisters house. I have always liked this room. It has a working fireplace and has 12 foot ceilings.
It is always bright and airy and whenever possible there are fresh cut flowers.

The vegitarians

The vegitarians, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. They certainly enjoyed eating anything green in our yard.
I'm not sure what type of caterpillars they are but one day the were not there and the next they were everywhere.


Cruising., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. The garbage men of the sky have such an effortless soaring ability.
They can hang in the breeze without a flap of the wing.
They can handle heavy winds with there wings raised in a v shape, wobbling in circles to utilize the wind currents.

Turkey vultures rock. Can't say that of most birds.

Scientific stuff
Cathartes aura

The Turkey Vulture uses its sense of smell to locate carrion. The part of its brain responsible for processing smells is particularly large, compared to other birds. Its heightened ability to detect odours—it can detect just a few parts per trillion—allows it to find dead animals below a forest canopy.

If looks could kill.

If looks could kill., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. The stare alone could get him lunch.

This Cooper's hawk was sitting in the large cottonwood at the back of our yard staring at the bird feeders.
For some unknown reason all the little birds left when it arrived.

Photo taken through the Wonderful Wildlife Window.

Scientific stuff
Accipiter cooperii
Among the bird world’s most skillful fliers, Cooper’s Hawks are common woodland hawks that tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds.

Dashing through vegetation to catch birds is a dangerous lifestyle. In a study of more than 300 Cooper’s Hawk skeletons, 23 percent showed old, healed-over fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the furcula, or wishbone.

A Cooper's Hawk captures a bird with its feet and kills it by repeated squeezing. Falcons tend to kill their prey by biting it, but Cooper’s Hawks hold their catch away from the body until it dies. They’ve even been known to drown thei…

Remember summer

Remember summer, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. It doesn't seem that long ago but looking at this it seems like forever.
The kids jump off the end and then use the ladder, in the snow bank, to get out and do it again.

Winter - Bah humbug.

Come with me to the Casbah

Come with me to the Casbah, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. A look straight out of an old movie.

Archilochus colubris
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird beats its wings about 53 times a second.

The extremely short legs of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird prevent it from walking or hopping. The best it can do is shuffle along a perch. Nevertheless, it scratches its head and neck by raising its foot up and over its wing.

Everyone needs one of these.

Everyone needs one of these., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Only a few weeks to Christmas people.
I know you have a hard to buy for person on your list.
I can almost guarantee they don't have one of these.
Not sure why you would need one but someone, somewhere thought it was a good idea, it even uses recycled bags.

Red and pink

Red and pink, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Or so they say.
Being partially colour blind -red-green, there are times I don't see what you do.
Now with this bright red cardinal and very pink grapefruit I can see the same thing you do.

Come on in, the waters fine.

Come on in, the waters fine., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Just watch our for the gator lurking in the duck weed.
We saw this alligator in Texas at a state park. He was in what looked like an old watering trough
Scientific stuff
Alligator mississippiensis

The largest American alligator ever reported was supposedly 19.8 ft (6 m) long, although there are doubts about the claim.

Hatchlings are 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) long with yellow and black stripes. Juveniles, which are on the menu for dozens of predators, including birds, raccoons, bobcats, and even other alligators, usually stay with their mothers for about two years.


Reflection, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Not really but this pair of male redheaded ducks were doing a synchronized swimming routine.
I think this is one of the more striking waterfowl and their name matchers their appearance making id easier.

Scientific stuff
Aythya americana
Medium-sized duck.Rounded head.Bill blue with black tip.Male with bright red head, gray back, and black chest and rear end.

The Redhead is known to lay eggs in the nests of other Redheads, at least 10 other duck species, and even nests of the American Bittern and Northern Harrier. Many parasiticallly laid eggs fail to hatch.

By the numbers

By the numbers, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This is a nightmare for accountants and overly organized people.
Looks like random number generation to me.

Sure is a lot of tomatoes.

Nice salad, what's the main course.

Nice salad, what's the main course., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Cracked corn perhaps? Lettuce? Sweet peas?

We have several deer that show up, usually early morning or late evening, to clean up under our bird feeders.

White tailed deer -Odocoileus virginianus
White-tailed deer, the smallest members of the North American deer family
"White-tailed” refers to the white underside of the deer’s tail, which it displays and wags when it senses danger.

Photo taken through the Wonderful Wildlife Window.

I know there is a bird around here somewhere.

I know there is a bird around here somewhere., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. I heard you talking about it. Something about a troglodyte.
Even I know that's a wren.
So, where is it?

Our house guest has discovered birds in a big way. Soul Patch sits in the window and watches birds at the feeders.
Now it seems he is reading birding magazines.

That will never hold water.

That will never hold water., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. I'm afraid it is hoopless, it is beyond repair.
I wonder how old the barrel was and what it was originally used for? Dry goods or liquids. Or, perhaps monkeys.

10 miles

10 miles, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We headed out today to see a rare bird at Fort Erie/Buffalo which is a 3 1/2 hour drive away.
It was clear with a blue sky.
About an hour done the road we started seeing snow on the ground followed by snow squalls.
In a 16 kilometer - 10 mile - stretch we went from clear to blizzard conditions.
The two lanes were down to one, heavily rutted, limited visibility and 45-50 km speeds (25-30 mph)
We turned around and came home to clear roads and sunny skies.
What a difference a few kilometres can make.
The storm was mainly lake effect snow.
Photo by Anne, I was busy driving.

Is he still out there?

Is he still out there?, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. My son and his wife are on vacation and their new kitten, Soul Patch, is visiting.
He isn't too sure about Ozzie, Crash is ok as he ignores the kitten. but Oz wants to play.
Unfortunately there is a significant size difference which is making the kitten a little nervous.
Soul Patch likes to hide under the bed and come out when the coast is clear.
You can't see the patch on his chin in this shot.

Just because you can...

Just because you can..., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. ...doesn't mean you should.
This is one of those things that I wonder about.
People have different abilities but, just because you can do something doesn't mean it is a good idea or necessary.

A perfect example is Celine Dion. She can hold a note and warble it for what seems to be forever.
Stop already!!

This fellow seemed to be having fun looking back from where he came, perhaps he is into history, but I'm not sure it is a good idea.


Taunting, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. A chipmunk was sitting right outside the window taunting the boys.
They ran from window to window following the little critter but, somehow, they could never catch it.

You can just make out our small water feature in the upper right. It isn't large but it does bring in a lot of birds and an occasional chipmunk.

This is the Wonderful Wildlife Window.

Missing lunch

Missing lunch, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This yellow warbler isn't paying much attention to the free lunch right under his feet.
We had a major midge (insect thingy) hatch and there was food all over the yard.
You can tell it is a male by the bold red stripes on his breast.

Scientific stuff
Setophaga petechia
The nests of the Yellow Warbler are frequently parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird. The warbler often builds a new nest directly on top of the parasitized one, sometimes resulting in nests with up to six tiers.
Life can be dangerous for a small bird. Yellow Warblers have occasionally been found caught in the strands of an orb weaver spider’s web.

The carrot bill

The carrot bill, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. The Caspian tern is one of the easier birds to id, with its large, thick, and brilliant coral red bill.

Hydroprogne caspia

The Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world.

Young Caspian Terns appear to have a difficult time learning to catch fish efficiently. They stay with their parents for long periods of time, and are fed by them even on the wintering grounds. Many young terns do not return to the nesting grounds for several years, remaining instead on the wintering areas.
The oldest known wild Caspian Tern lived to be more than 26 years old. Average life span of Great Lakes Caspian Terns is estimated to be 12 years.

Mirror image?

Mirror image?, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Is he looking in the mirror while taking his bath?
Perhaps there are two of them?

We had numerous yellow warblers come into our little water feature in the yard for their afternoon baths.

At one point we had 5 warblers in the pond.
Other visitors included chipping sparrows, cedar waxwings, goldfinches and a cat bird.

Yellow Warbler
Setophaga petechia

The nests of the Yellow Warbler are frequently parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird. The warbler often builds a new nest directly on top of the parasitized one, sometimes resulting in nests with up to six tiers.

The oldest-known Yellow Warbler was banded in New York in 2001 and then caught again (and re-released) in 2011, also in New York. It was at least 11 years old at the time.

diving gulls

diving gulls, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Normally turns dive under the water to feed but this time it was gulls.
I haven't seen this type of behaviour before.
They looked like northern gannets diving for food.

Bonaparte's Gull
Chroicocephalus philadelphia

The Bonaparte's Gull is the only gull that regularly nests in trees.

During the breeding season, the Bonaparte's Gull feeds mainly on insects, often catching them on the wing.

Unusual grass

Unusual grass, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. If you read the sign you might question what type of sod they sell.
Have a good weekend.

Oh what a tangled web we weave,

Oh what a tangled web we weave,, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. When first we practise to deceive!
I don't know my spiders but generally I like them.
The are like snakes, if you have them you don't have something else that is probably more annoying/harmful.

And why the sea is boiling hot --

And why the sea is boiling hot --, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. and wether pigs have wings.

This was the scene on erie Lake Erie this morning.
A sudden cold snap, and snow, resulted in the lake being warmer than the air.

During the winter months, fog will form when humid air moves over a cold surface. Winter fog is more common around bodies of water and is sometimes called lake effect fog.

Here's looking at you, kid.

Here's looking at you, kid., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. When a vulture is staring at me I always think it is assessing my health.
Who needs doctors?

Scientific stuff
Cathartes aura
A turkey vulture's heightened ability to detect odours—it can detect just a few parts per trillion—allows it to find dead animals below a forest canopy.

The word vulture likely comes from the Latin vellere, which means to pluck or tear. Its scientific name, Cathartes aura, is far more pleasant. It means either “golden purifier” or “purifying breeze.”

Gravity imposes

Gravity imposes, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Up, up and back down.
We saw this human cannon ball a few years ago at a county fair.


Candelabra, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Half the bulbs are not turned on.

I think this is a type of prickly pear cactus. We saw them with red or yellow flowers.
We have a yellow variety in southern Ontario, probably the very edge of their range.
The Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa) is what we get.
While looking for information on the plant I came across this entry -
How to Eat Prickly Pear Cactus

The answer is obvious - very carefully.

Odd fact - like all true cactus species, prickly pears are native only to the Western hemisphere

Butcher bird

Butcher bird, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This northern shrike was being seen the last few days on the Marsh Trail at Rondeau Provincial Park.
I had the opportunity to get down the trail and got to see the bird.
It feeds on small birds, mammals, and insects, sometimes impaling them on spines or barbed wire fences.
Scientific stuff
Lanius excubitor
The Northern Shrike, like other shrikes, kills more prey, if it can, than it can immediately eat or feed to nestlings. Such behavior was characterized by early observers as "wanton killing," but the Northern Shrike stores excess prey to eat later. Storing food is an adaptation for surviving periods of food scarcity.
The Latin species name of the Northern Shrike, Lanius excubitor, means "Butcher watchman."

Wait for me, wait for me,

Wait for me, wait for me,, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. While going along one of the trails at Rondeau Provincial Park we came across a flock of turkeys.
As we got closer they moved away but one lagged behind.
When it realized it was separated from its fellows it half flew, half ran to catch up.

Scientific stuff
Meleagris gallopavo
The Wild Turkey and the Muscovy Duck are the only two domesticated birds native to the New World.
When they need to, Turkeys can swim by tucking their wings in close, spreading their tails, and kicking.

Shared resource.

Shared resource., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Both need a place to haul out and bask. Only one log in the pond.
Fortunately the turtles seem to be too large to be considered food by the alligator.

Soul Patch

Soul Patch, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. My sons new cat has a little spot on his chin reminiscent of a soul patch, hence the name.

He also has a tiny moustache.

I like the rug design that looks like a huge tail.

Ok. It's official. I'm confused.

Ok. It's official. I'm confused., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Down with one way streets? Crush the white line?
It's one way but come on in, you are only going one way?
This is a sign we saw in Barcelona, it looked legitimate but I'm sure it was altered.
Don't know what the new meaning is but it was eye catching.

Any guess?

Does he remind you of Mr. Burns?

Does he remind you of Mr. Burns?, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Personally, I don't watch the Simpsons, but my kids used to and I would catch little bits of the program.
This Royal tern reminds me of the character.

Scientific stuff -
Thalasseus maximus
A large, orange-billed tern, the Royal Tern is found only along ocean beaches.

The Royal Tern makes its nest scrape on the ground on low-lying islands. The pair defecates directly on the nest rim, perhaps to reinforce the nest against flooding. After a few weeks, the nest rim hardens.

Young Royal Terns leave the nest scrape within one day after hatching and congregate together in a group known as a crèche. Eventually all of the chicks in a colony come to the crèche, which can have thousands of chicks ranging in age from two to 35 days old.

A pair of Royal Terns will feed only their own chick, and manage to find it in the crowd, probably by recognizing its call.

I hate ties.

I hate ties., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Working isn't so bad but why do I have to wear a tie.

This is how I felt for 30 years while working for banks.
I've told my wife if she buries me in a tie, I will come back and haunt her.

Canada goose-
Branta canadensis

Some migratory populations of the Canada Goose are not going as far south in the winter as they used to. This northward range shift has been attributed to changes in farm practices that makes waste grain more available in fall and winter, as well as changes in hunting pressure and changes in weatherThe oldest known wild Canada Goose was 30 years 4 months old.

Don't fence me in.

Don't fence me in., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We saw this fellow in Texas a few years back.
Seemed to have a regional song that sounded a lot like -
"Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don't fence me in"

Scientific stuff.

Melospiza melodia
Song Sparrows walk or hop on the ground and flit or hop through branches, grass, and weeds. Song Sparrows stay low and forage secretively, but males come to exposed perches, including limbs of small trees, to sing. The oldest known Song Sparrow lived to be 11 years, 4 months old

The wedding was out of this world.

The wedding was out of this world., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. No horse drawn carriages for this couple.
Not sure why, but when I saw this I thought of Michael Jackson.

We saw this at a junky type of store in north western Ohio a few years ago.
A recent trip back to the area revealed that the store was gone and so was the rocket wedding.

On the hunt

On the hunt, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This black crowned night heron forgot to check the time and was out hunting in the middle of the day.
We watched him from across a drainage ditch using the car as a blind( hide for my European friends).
He was successful and had sushi for lunch.
Adults are light-gray birds with a neatly defined black back and black crown. Immatures are brown with large white spots on the wings and blurry streaks on the underparts. Adults have all-black bills; immatures have yellow-and-black bills.

Scientific stuff -
Nycticorax nycticorax

Scientists find it easy, if a bit smelly and messy, to study the diet of young Black-crowned Night-Herons—the nestlings often disgorge their stomach contents when approached.

Young Black-crowned Night-Herons leave the nest at the age of 1 month but cannot fly until they are 6 weeks old. They move through the vegetation on foot, joining up in foraging flocks at night.

Ok, how does he get up thre?

Ok, how does he get up there?, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Short legs, no ladder, so just how does he get up onto the pilings.
Turtles aren't known for their jumping abilities, so how does he do it?
I know how he gets down, I've seen him do it. He leans to the side and goes plop.
I haven't seen him go up, levitation perhaps?

Map turtle -
Graptemys geographica