June 30, 2014

Red-throated loon.





One of the researchers at Rondeau Provincial Park mentioned there was a red-throated loon near the point of the park.

We took the pontoon down and found the bird where they said it would be.














Always nice when a rare bird is actually where it was the previous day.
We do get an occasional red-throated loon however it is unusual to have one in breeding plumage.












Gavia stellata

The smallest of the loons, the Red-throated Loon breeds at high latitudes in North America and Eurasia. It is distinctive among loons not only in size, but also in behaviour, vocalizations, locomotion, and other aspects of life history.

The Red-throated Loon, unlike other loons, does not need to patter on the water's surface on a long takeoff, but rather can take flight directly from land if necessary.
Unlike other loons, the Red-throated Loon does not carry its young on its back.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

June 27, 2014

On the move.

This map turtle was on the move, probably looking for a nesting site although I didn't check to see if it was a female.



The northern map turtle is named for the markings on its shell, which look like the contour lines on a topographical map.


Graptemys geographica

Northern map turtles inhabit large rivers and lakes with slow-moving water and a soft bottom. They require high-quality water that supports the female’s mollusc prey.

Female northern map turtles may take more than 10 years to reach maturity. They nest from June through July and lay a single clutch of up to 17 eggs. They hatch in the fall, and in some cases the hatchlings overwinter in the nest. The incubation temperature of the eggs determines the gender of the hatchlings.

source -
Ontario Nature.

June 25, 2014

The sword master.


There are bully birds that chase other away from feeders and birdbaths.
Grackles and bluejays are repeat offenders.

There aren't many that will take on a red-bellied woopecker. His sharp, long pointed bill makes him a master at fending off other birds.
Once he's on a feeder he can readily stab at any bully that comes close.

This is a male with the red forehead, cap, and nape.

Melanerpes carolinus

You may occasionally see a Red-bellied Woodpecker flying quickly and erratically through the forest, abruptly changing direction, alighting for an instant and immediately taking off again, keeping up a quick chatter of calls. Scientists categorize this odd behavior as a type of play that probably helps young birds practice the evasive action they may one day need.

The oldest known Red-bellied Woodpecker was 12 years 1 month old.

source- Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

June 24, 2014


This is the time of year we see adult birds feeding their young.



So far we have seen robins,grackles,downey woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers and  these hairy woodpeckers feeding their young.
The young have nice new,crisp feathers and the adults are looking bedraggled.



Suet and grapes seem to be the favourites.

Picoides villosus

Hairy Woodpeckers sometimes follow Pileated Woodpeckers, and sometimes appears when it hears the heavy sounds of a pileated excavating. As the pileated moves on, the Hairy Woodpecker investigates the deep holes, taking insects the pileated missed.

The oldest known Hairy Woodpecker lived to be 15 years 11 months old

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

June 23, 2014

The ghost in the web.

Perhaps not the world wide web but a web none the less.


Can you see the skull face in the lower portion of the web?
I don't know what type of spider made the web but mother nature added a little fluff from nearby cottonwoods.

June 22, 2014

Ninja raccoon


I think all racoons take ninja training.



They can access high places without difficulty, squeeze through small spaces like ghosts and get into locked containers as if they had can openers.

This one was raiding the suet then the grapes. When I went our to chase him off, he sneered at me and slowly sauntered away.
Racoons really know how to saunter.

Procyon lotor

Raccoons in the northern parts of their range gorge themselves in spring and summer to store up body fat. They then spend much of the winter asleep in a den. There are six other species of raccoons, in addition to the familiar northern (North American) raccoon. Most other species live on tropical islands.

June 18, 2014

Out on a limb.


After a 3 week absence the red-headed woodpeckers are coming back to our yard and the empty lot next door.


I find them striking in their simplicity,red, black and white.

Melanerpes erythrocephalus

The Red-headed Woodpecker is one of only four North American woodpeckers known to store food, and it is the only one known to cover the stored food with wood or bark. It hides insects and seeds in cracks in wood, under bark, in fenceposts, and under roof shingles. Grasshoppers are regularly stored alive, but wedged into crevices so tightly that they cannot escape.

Pleistocene-age fossils of Red-headed Woodpeckers—up to 2 million years old—have been unearthed in Florida, Virginia, and Illinois.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

June 17, 2014

Waiting room.


This is a spiny soft shelled turtle that we saw yesterday.














It was probably waiting to come up on the beach to lay its eggs.
They tend to be shy at the best of times so it was unusual for it to swim in beside the boat.

Look closely and you can see the water rolling off its shell.












Apalone spinifera

The spiny softshell has a leathery shell lacking bony plates, and some say this turtle resembles a pancake with legs.

The spiny softshell is currently listed as Threatened under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007 and Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act. The species has also been designated as a Specially Protected Reptile under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

June 16, 2014

Guarding the nest.


This small yellow warbler was staying close to the nest but wasn't very comfortable with us taking photos.


We took a few shots then moved away so the bird could relax.

This nest is highly visible but most people walk right on by.

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.

June 13, 2014


We saw these odd looking birds while we were in Spain last year.
This is a male who was sitting at the top of a tall tree and calling.
The latin name is recorded below. I think it sounds like a new age band. Up-upa e-pops.

Upupa epops


Breeds in farming areas and open, grazed country.
Spends much time on the ground, and needs some short grass or bare areas for feeding.

Source - Birds of Europe.

June 12, 2014

The nest builder


We were told about a rookery of great egrets in Norfolk Virginia.



The directions included the standard " you can't miss it".
In this case it was true, at least 50 nests in several trees with an amazing number of egrets flying around.

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.

June 10, 2014

Chipmunk plays the blues.


I know it is hard to seee but, if you look really closely you should be able to make out the tiny harmonica that he is playing.




Very soft, haunting music of nature is his specialty.

Next time you are outside listen for him.


He says he was inspired by Thelonious Monk.

June 09, 2014

All in the family.


Another photo of the red-necked grebes we went to see last week.



This is a family portrait including both parents and the four chicks.
We were some what concerned about the smallest of the chicks as it didn't seem to be getting any of the food the adults were bringing.
The three larger chicks reject a rather large fish, possibly they were already full.
The small one took his time and managed to get it down.

Podiceps grisegena

June 08, 2014

Enthusiasm.


Intense and eager enjoyment or interest.




This blue jay was splashing away with total abandon for over a minute in our small water feature in the yard.

Cyanocitta cristata

Large crested songbird with broad, rounded tail. Blue Jays are smaller than crows, larger than robins.

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

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

source- Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

June 05, 2014

Well, that makes everything clear.


Clearly this sign was not well thought out.
They used fuzzy logic on this one.



I don't know if this is a family name or a marketing ploy but I give them full marks either way.

Seen in Hamilton, Ont near the Ikea store.

Nap time.


This is a red-necked grebe, a favourite of country music fans, that we saw on a road trip yesterday.



They are nesting along the waterfront in Toronto.

Two of the chicks wore themselves out and took a break on mom's back.

I took over 400 shots so you will be seeing more of the grebes in the near future.

Podiceps grisegena

Like other grebes, the Red-necked Grebe ingests large quantities of its own feathers. Feathers remain in the bird's stomach. The function of feathers in the stomach is unknown. One hypothesis suggests that the feathers help protect the lower digestive tract from bones and other hard, indigestible material.

The Red-necked Grebe migrates over land strictly at night. It sometimes migrates over water or along coasts by day, in large flocks.

source- Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

June 03, 2014

All puffed up.


This male yellow warbler puffed up like this 3 times in under a minute.




I assume it was some sort of aggressive display to scare off any competitors.

Setophaga petechia

Yellow Warblers are small, evenly proportioned songbirds with medium-length tails and rounded heads. For a warbler, the straight, thin bill is relatively large.

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.

June 02, 2014

Another LBJ


LBJ is a techie term that birders use to describe" little brown job", normally a sparrow.
As they fly by in a blur they can be very difficult to identify.



This is a Savannah sparrow a medium sized sparrow that has a head that looks to small for its body.

One identifier is the yellow patch on the face in front of the eye.

Passerculus sandwichensis

Raising young is hard work: a female Savannah Sparrow must gather 10 times her weight in food to feed herself and her young during the 8 days they are in the nest.
The oldest known wild Savannah Sparrow was at least 6 years, 10 months old.

source- Cornell Lab of Ornithology

June 01, 2014