April 30, 2014

No gas required.


Last week we were headed to Virginia to bird the Great Dismal Swamp.
On the way we saw this 6 horse team working a field outside of Columbus Ohio.



Not sure what function the drag unit was doing, maybe just breaking the soil in preparation for ploughing.
I believe this is Amish country.
Not often we get to see things done the old way.

Can you imagine how his knees feel at the end of the day?

April 29, 2014


Prothonotary warblers are a rare sight in Canada. They only occur in southern Ontario close to Lake Erie.



Recently we were in Virginia at The Great Dismal Swamp and there were prothonotarys all over.
In one short stretch of path we had 6 males chasing each other and displaying on territory.
One mans common bird is another mans rarity.

Protonotaria citrea

The Prothonotary Warbler is one of only two warbler species that nest in cavities. (Lucy's Warbler is the other.)

The name "Prothonotary" refers to clerks in the Roman Catholic church, whose robes were bright yellow.

Synchronized nest building


We saw these egrets at a rookery in Norfolk Virginia. The nesting site is at the curb of a busy road and  is in someones front yard.


We counted at least 50 nests in the tree.

There was a steady stream of birds coming in with small branches and twigs.

Ardea alba.

 The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America. Audubon was founded to protect birds from being killed for their feathers.

The oldest known Great Egret was 22 years, 10 months old and was banded in Ohio.

April 28, 2014

Royal Tern


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



We saw this one on the gulf coast in Texas.
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.

Thalasseus maximus

April 21, 2014


Hard to believe that this was done with a chain saw.


Recently they held Care-apolosa in the country near here.

Dozens of artisan/competitors worked for 5 days to produce some amazing pieces which were auctioned off the Sunday.
I was interested in this piece until the price went north of $700.

The most expensive piece I saw auctioned went for $2,500, with several in the $2,000 range.
When I left only about 1/3 of the pieces had been sold.

April 20, 2014


This is a male house that is starting to show his spring colour.


Usually there are several birds in the basket but he was peckish and drove everyone else away.

Haemorhous mexicanus

The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years.
The oldest known House Finch was 11 years, 7 months old.

April 19, 2014

Explosion imminent.




If he stuffs much more into those cheek pouches he gonna explode.















This chipmunk was helping himself to the corn we put out for ground feeding birds.
He was being greedy and was trying to eat the entire pile by himself.

Tamius striatus

During winter, chipmunks mostly stay in their burrows. They wake up every few days or weeks to snack from their stored food. That means they don't hibernate.

April 17, 2014


The killdeer with his red eye ring looks like he took a red eye flight to get back to Canada.



Charadrius vociferus

Killdeer get their name from the shrill, wailing kill-deer call they give so often. Eighteenth-century naturalists also noticed how noisy Killdeer are, giving them names such as the Chattering Plover and the Noisy Plover.
The oldest known Killdeer was 10 years 11 months old.

April 16, 2014


Our first yard warbler of the year and also the first time I've been able to get a photo of one.



He showed up around 4 o'clock on a very cool spring afternoon. He went to the feeder we put out to attract the yellow-throated warbler that has been coming for the last 3 years.
Not  a rarity but still a great bird to start the spring migration.

Setophaga pinus

The Pine Warbler is the only warbler that eats large quantities of seeds, primarily those of pines. This seed-eating ability means Pine Warblers sometimes visit bird feeders, unlike almost all other warblers.

The oldest recorded Pine Warbler was a 6-year old bird captured in Massachusetts in 1932.

April 15, 2014


Those few nice days, that was summer. Hope you enjoyed it.



This is the small water feature we have in our yard. It was looking like spring yesterday.
When I got up this morning winter had returned.

April 14, 2014


A buoyant, large-headed duck that abruptly vanishes and resurfaces as it feeds, the tiny Bufflehead spends winters bobbing in bays, estuaries, reservoirs, and lakes. Males are striking black-and white from a distance. A closer look at the head shows glossy green and purple setting off the striking white patch.


Bufflehead nest in old woodpecker holes, particularly those made by Northern Flickers, in the forests of northern North America.

Bucephala albeola

Source Cornell Lab or Ornithology

April 13, 2014

Feline Diorama


Instead of playing in the box, Ozzie thought outside the box and made himself into a living diorama.
Usually he is content to sleep in the box or use it as an attack base for surprising Crash. 

April 10, 2014


Depending on the light the head of a male mallard can be an iridescent purple or a brilliant green. 
I don't know if this is due to cross breeding or if it is a natural variation in colour. It could just be the physics of light refraction, I'm not sure.
If any one knows the reason please let me know.


If you look closely you will see the black tail curl.

These aren't the same bird but they were side by side.

Anas platyrhynchos

Ducks are strong fliers; migrating flocks of Mallards have been estimated traveling at 55 miles per hour.The standard duck’s quack is the sound of a female Mallard. Males don’t quack; they make a quieter, rasping sound.

April 09, 2014

Low clearance


We were out birdwatching when we noticed 4 little pigs, inflation three aren't enough now a days, poking around in a muddy field. If you look closely you can see mud on her snout.



They seemed to be having a good time pushing the mud with their noses.

Obviously they are some sort of pot bellied pig with very low ground clearance.

Once they saw us watching them they hurried back home.

April 08, 2014


The living vacuum cleaner is at it again.



Corn on the sidewalk for the cardinals and jays is sucked up in a hurry.
There is more browse available to the deer now but a few still come to the yard.

 Odocoileus virginianus

White-tailed deer are herbivores, leisurely grazing on most available plant foods. Their stomachs allow them to digest a varied diet, including leaves, twigs, fruits and nuts, grass, corn, alfalfa, and even lichens and other fungi.

April 07, 2014


This male long tailed duck kept tipping forward to lift his rear up out of the water.
I am guessing it was a breeding display to show off his long tail feathers to their best advantage.
If any one out there knows differently please let me know.



Clangula hyemalis

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.

April 06, 2014


At High Island Texas, which isn't an island, there is a rookery where roseate spoonbills and great egrets nest.



There is a viewing area that is close to the nests and you can get good looks and photos.

High Island is the surface expression of a salt dome at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.

Platalea ajaja

A bizarre wading bird of the southern coasts, the Roseate Spoonbill uses its odd bill to strain small food items out of the water. Its bright pink coloring leads many Florida tourists to think they have seen a flamingo.

April 05, 2014

Soft landing




There was a mixture of swans at Lasalle Marine in Burlington the other day.
Mutes, tundra and trumpeter swans were all in the same area. I was hoping to get a three species shot but it didn't work out.

Cygnus olor

The black knob at the base of the male Mute Swan's bill swells during the breeding season and becomes noticeably larger than the female's. The rest of the year the difference between the sexes is not obvious.

Cygnus olor

The black knob at the base of the male Mute Swan's bill swells during the breeding season and becomes noticeably larger than the female's. The rest of the year the difference between the sexes is not obvious.

April 03, 2014

He had a head when I triggered the shutter.


Really he did. It is a ringed bill gull and it is a little hard to id without seeing its ringed bill.



Larus delawarensis

Ring-billed Gulls near Tampa Bay, Florida, became accustomed to feasting on garbage at an open landfill site. Then, in 1983, operators replaced the dumping grounds with closed incinerators. The thwarted scavengers found themselves another open dump, but the pattern continues all across the gull's range. When waste-management practices shift from open landfills to closed incinerators, gull numbers often drop.