Showing posts from February, 2014

Armoured division

Armoured division, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. his is a nine-banded armadillo that we saw in Texas.
I thought you might appreciate a break from birds and/or winter.The one thing that tells everyone they are looking at an armadillo is the roly-poly shell with what are called "armoured" bands. The number of bands depends on the species. The pleated look of most armadillos is made of these hardened, overlapping sections. Although the bands are tough like fingernails, the shell is flexible, with softer skin that expands and contracts between the bands.

Armadillos also have long claws for digging and foraging for food. Their peg-shaped teeth crunch through the bodies of insects, an armadillo's favourite food.

Armadillo is Spanish for little armoured thing.
Part of the armadillo's family name Dasypodidae, “dasypus,” is Greek for rabbit.

The nine-banded armadillo has four identical pups in every litter.

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte's Gull, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. The English name of the Bonaparte's Gull honours Charles Lucien Bonaparte, who made important contributions to American ornithology while an active member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia during the 1820s. The scientific name philadelphia was given in 1815 by the describer of the species, George Ord of Philadelphia, presumably because he collected his specimen there.

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

Chroicocephalus philadelphia

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

looking in the mirror

looking in the mirror, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Two downeys landed on the suet feeder at the same time, resulting in a standoff.
Picoides pubescens

In winter Downy Woodpeckers are frequent members of mixed species flocks. Advantages of flocking include having to spend less time watching out for predators and better luck finding food from having other birds around.
Downy Woodpeckers have been discovered nesting inside the walls of buildings.
The oldest known Downy Woodpecker lived to be at least 11 years 11 months old.

Punk Rocker Duck

Punk Rocker Duck, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We were in Windsor Sunday at the mouth of the Detroit river and there were a number of duck species and several bald eagles.
This male red-breasted merganser looked like a punk rocker with the wind blowing his crest

Mergus serrator

A large diving duck with a long thin bill, the Red-breasted Merganser is found in large lakes, rivers and the ocean. It prefers salt water more than the other two species of merganser.

A frosty bed

A frosty bed, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This yearling white-tailed deer appears to be without a parent.
It comes to clean up under our feeders with several other yearlings.
During the day it will settle down for a rest about 10 feet from the feeders.
He wants to be first in line when we fill them.
Odocoileus virginianus


Junco, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Dark-eyed Juncos are neat, even flashy little sparrows that flit about forest floors of the western mountains and Canada, then flood the rest of North America for winter.
This one was on the fence at the visitor centre at Rondeau Provincial Park.
The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow with a rounded head, a short, stout bill and a fairly long, conspicuous tail.
They are ground feeders who hop around looking for seeds.
Junco hyemalis
The oldest recorded Dark-eyed Junco was 11 years 4 months old.

Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We saw this bird a t a marsh in Spain. It was gathering nesting material.
It is very similar to the common gallinule we see in North America.
It has long toes that make it possible for the bird to walk on floating vegetation and soft mud.

Callinula chloropus.

The North American bird is Gallinula galeata

Red[legged partridge

Red[legged partridge, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. On our trip to Spain last May we saw a red-legged partridge at the roadside.
Usually they run away from danger rather than flying.
As they are considered to be a game bird hiding in the grass and bushes is probably safer than making yourself a target in the air.

While looking for information on this bird I kept coming across recipes and hunting instructions.
Alectoris rufa

Who are you?

Who are you?, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Your not one of my humans.
Why are you here?
When are you leaving?

My son's cat Bella didn't like all the people descending on her home. She spent most of her time hiding under the bed.

The day after

The day after, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. My son Steve, got married on Saturday.
While getting ready for the ceremony he showed us the t-shirt he was planning on wearing on sunday.

Congratulations to Heather and Steve.

A road less travelled

A road less travelled, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This has been a hard winter at Rondeau.
The snow keeps coming and the temperatures stay well below freezing.
Being a natural area they don't like to use salt to clear the roads due to the damage it causes.
Of course being this cold salt wouldn't work any way. Below -13c it doesn't work.

Nature brought it and nature will take it away.
In the mean time just drive carefully and watch out for turkeys flying down from the trees.
They can ruin your day if they come through your windshield.

All that glitters

All that glitters, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We had another hoar frost today, perhaps the -20c (-4F) temperature had something to do with it.

The birds were swarming our feeders, desperate for a morning feed.

This is an American Tree Sparrow.

Spizella arborea

American Tree Sparrows need to take in about 30 percent of their body weight in food and a similar percentage in water each day. A full day's fasting is usually a death sentence. Their body temperature drops and they lose nearly a fifth of their weight in that short time.

The longevity record among banded American Tree Sparrows is 10 years 9 months.

Source - The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Brown creeper

Brown creeper, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. A good job of camouflage lets the creeper blend into the bark as it searches for food.
I rarely get close enough for a photo as the dart up and around trees probing the bark for insects.

Certhia americana

The Brown Creeper builds a hammock-like nest behind a loosened flap of bark on a dead or dying tree. It wasn’t until 1879 that naturalists discovered this unique nesting strategy.

The oldest Brown Creeper on record was at least 4 years, 5 months old and lived in Illinois.

Charlie Brown's Christmas Wreath


Up, up and away

Up, up and away, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Think spring, it is one day closer.
These are tulip trees, sometimes called yellow poplar.
These three are located on the Tulip Tree Trail in Rondeau Provincial Park.
They aren't the largest specimens in the park but I like the grouping.
They can grow to over a 100 feet tall(35meters)
Tulip-tree's flowers provide abundant nectar to bees, while the seeds feed squirrels, birds, rabbits, and deer. Deer and rabbits browse on saplings and young trees.
Liriodendron tulipifera

American Falls

American Falls, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This is a view of the American Falls at Niagara.
The ice builds up in the winter and this year there is more ice than usual.
With the sun starting to go down we saw a small rainbow as well.

....and that's why they call it a long-tailed duck.

....and that's why they call it a long-tailed duck., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. When we were birding along the Welland canal we saw long-tailed ducks, both male and female.
It seemed that every time I tried for a photo they would dive.
At least this time I lucked out and got a shot of its tail.

Clangula hyemalis
The Long-tailed Duck is one of the deepest diving ducks, and can dive as deep as 60 meters (200 feet) to forage.
Of all diving ducks, the Long-tailed Duck spends the most time under water relative to time on the surface. When it is foraging it is submerged three to four times as much as it is on top of the water.

American kestrel

American kestrel, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This is the first time I've been able to get a decent photo of a kestrel.
They tend to be easily spooked and don't let you get close.

We were in Port Weller birding along the eastern end of the Welland Canal. The canal joins Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, by-passing Niagara Falls.
Lots of ducks, robins, starlings and the kestrel.

Falco sparverius
It can be tough being one of the smallest birds of prey. Despite their fierce lifestyle, American Kestrels end up as prey for larger birds such as Northern Goshawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Barn Owls, American Crows, and Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, as well as rat snakes, corn snakes, and even fire ants.
Kestrels hide surplus kills in grass clumps, tree roots, bushes, fence posts, tree limbs, and cavities, to save the food for lean times or to hide it from thieves.

Walking the plank

Walking the plank, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Arrrrgh matey, off yous go.

After a small leak in the roof we were having the drywall repaired.
The contractor left a large plank on top of the fridge enclosure overnight.
As the contractor walked out the door, Oz was already up on the plank checking things out.
He is scratching the plank.

The edge of oblivion

The edge of oblivion, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. 167 ft (51 m) before you hit the ice at the bottom of Niagara Falls.

This is the edge of the falls a few feet from the Canadian edge of Horseshoe Falls.

People have been going over the edge in barrels, some survived and others didn't.

On October 24, 1901 Annie Taylor was the first person to conquer the falls in a barrel. After climbing inside her airtight wooden barrel, the air pressure was compressed to 30 p.s.i. with a bicycle pump.

On July 25th 1911Bobby Leach plunged over the Falls in a steel barrel. Bobby broke both kneecaps and his jaw during his daring event. Years later while touring in New Zealand, Bobby slipped on an orange peel and died from complications due to gangrene.

I think I'll stay on terra firma.

HEY!! Turn up the thermostat!

HEY!! Turn up the thermostat!, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This angry bird is a tufted titmouse and I think he has had enough of winter.
He was at the feeders at the visitor centre at Rondeau Provincial Park.
He seemed to appreciate the peanuts but not the ice.

Baeolophus bicolor
Tufted Titmice hoard food in fall and winter, a behaviour they share with many of their relatives, including the chickadees and tits. Titmice take advantage of a bird feeder’s bounty by storing many of the seeds they get. Usually, the storage sites are within 130 feet of the feeder. The birds take only one seed per trip and usually shell the seeds before hiding them.
The oldest known wild Tufted Titmouse lived to be 13 years 3 months old.

Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

February in Canada, eh.

February in Canada, eh., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Lots of complaints about the cold and the snow around here,

It's winter in Canada, what did you expect, oranges?