April 29, 2017

Just another red-headed woodpecker shot.

You will have to put up with more red headed woodpecker photos.
We had 3 in the yard today and they were not playing well.
I figure two are males and are trying to figure out who is dominant.
That photo is for another day.

Melanerpes erythrocephalus

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

April 28, 2017

Yellow-headed blackbird.

We went to Mitchell's Bay on Lake St. Clair to look for the yellow-headed blackbirds that were being seen.
They were exactly where they were reported to be.
Birders know that is not necessarily the case, birds have wings and they use them.

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus

The male Yellow-headed Blackbird defends a small territory of prime nesting reeds. He may attract up to eight females to nest within his area. The male helps feed nestlings, but usually only in the first nest established in his territory. The other females have to feed their young all by themselves.

April 27, 2017

Birthday Bird.

I particularly like red-headed woodpeckers and this one came in to wish me a happy 70th.
Shot through the Wonderful Wildlife Window.

Melanerpes erythrocephalus.

The Red-headed Woodpecker has many nicknames, including half-a-shirt, shirt-tail bird, jellycoat, flag bird, and the flying checker-board.

April 26, 2017

I crown you King of the Jays.

Take about getting your feathers ruffled!
This jay had his back to the wind creating a feathered crown.

Cyanocitta cristata .

Thousands of Blue Jays migrate in flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coasts, but much about their migration remains a mystery. Some are present throughout winter in all parts of their range. Young jays may be more likely to migrate than adults, but many adults also migrate. Some individual jays migrate south one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year. No one has worked out why they migrate when they do.

Catch of the day.

Went to the shorebird cell at Hillman Marsh to see what was around.
The closest birds were horned grebes. Several popped up with fish while we were there.

Podiceps auritus

Like most grebes, the small chicks of the Horned Grebe frequently ride on the backs of their swimming parents. The young ride between the wings on the parent's back, and may even go underwater with them during dives.

April 24, 2017

Season of the Owl

Another Great Horned Owl shot.
This one shows why it is called a horned owl.

Bubo virginianus

Great Horned Owls are fierce predators that can take large prey, including raptors such as Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons, and other owls. They also eat much smaller items such as rodents, frogs, and scorpions.

Ruby-crowned kinglet.


Spotted this one foraging in the flowers. Usually the flit so fast they are hard to photograph, not that this one was easy.
Regulus calendula
The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a tiny bird that lays a very large clutch of eggs—there can be up to 12 in a single nest. Although the eggs themselves weigh only about a fiftieth of an ounce, an entire clutch can weigh as much as the female herself.

April 22, 2017

Rose breasted grosbeak.

A few new birds in the area including this Rose breasted grosbeak. Rondeau Provincial Park.

Pheucticus ludovicianus
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks build such flimsy nests that eggs are often visible from below through the nest bottom.

April 21, 2017

Just sittin in the grass.

This killdeer sat in the grass and ignored me as I drove by, usually the skitter away.
Being as he cooperated I took his picture.

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.

A well-known denizen of dry habitats, the Killdeer is actually a proficient swimmer. Adults swim well in swift-flowing water, and chicks can swim across small streams.

April 20, 2017

Male purple finch, Rondeau Provincial Park, April 19, 2017.


We have had 7 or 8 purple finches, both male and female in the yard for a few days.
Significantly different than house finches.

Haemorhous purpureus
The Purple Finch uses its big beak and tongue to crush seeds and extract the nut. They do a similar trick to get at nectar without eating an entire flower, and also to get to a seed buried inside a fleshy fruit.

April 19, 2017

Eastern towhee.

We more often hear the call than see the bird.
This one was in the front yard and I managed to open the door and get a few photos.

Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Eastern Towhees are common victims of the parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird. Female cowbirds lay eggs in towhee nests, then leave the birds to raise their cowbird young. In some areas cowbirds lay eggs in more than half of all towhee nests. Towhees, unlike some other birds, show no ability to recognize or remove the imposter’s eggs. Female cowbirds typically take out a towhee egg when laying their own, making the swap still harder to notice.

April 18, 2017

Great horned owl, adult.
This is one of the adults watching over the chick I posted yesterday.

Probably 90 feet up in the tree.

April 17, 2017

Great horned owl.

Great Horned Owl chick, London Ontario, April 17, 2017
A well known owl near downtown London.
The chicks fledged yesterday and we just saw the one plus an adult.
Bubo virginianus
Great Horned Owls have large eyes, pupils that open widely in the dark, and retinas containing many rod cells for excellent night vision. Their eyes don’t move in their sockets, but they can swivel their heads more than 180 degrees to look in any direction. They also have sensitive hearing, thanks in part to facial disc feathers that direct sound waves to their ears.

April 16, 2017

Serendipity

Serendipity - the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

A Lowl or possibly a owlamb.
One of those weird images you only see once you have it on the computer screen.
Take a close look at the lamb's face.

April 14, 2017

Tree swallows at Point Pelee National Park.

We went with friends down to Pelee and walked out to the tip that isn't there anymore. It comes and goes depending on what Mother Nature is up to.
Not a big selection of birds but we had good looks at what we found.

Tachycineta bicolor
Migrating and wintering Tree Swallows can form enormous flocks numbering in the hundreds of thousands. They gather about an hour before sunset and form a dense cloud above a roost site (such as a cattail marsh or grove of small trees), swirling around like a living tornado. With each pass, more birds drop down until they are all settled on the roost.

April 12, 2017

Dance like nobody's watching.

American woodcock was standing in the middle of the road and then he started walking.

He could give chickens a lesson.
video

Scolopax minor
The woodcock is also known as the timberdoodle, Labrador twister, night partridge, and bog sucker.

April 10, 2017

Nest building.

Spotted this black capped chickadee and its partner excavating a hole in this stump today.
Hope it stays active so I can follow it through the season.

Poecile atricapillus

The Black-Capped Chickadee hides seeds and other food items to eat later. Each item is placed in a different spot and the chickadee can remember thousands of hiding places.

April 09, 2017

White footed mouse.

We saw this one in the dune habitat at Rondeau. It didn't seem concerned about us.

They are not agricultural pests, and they are important ecologically because owls, weasels, snakes, and many other predators eat them. Individuals may live several years in captivity, but an almost complete turnover occurs annually in wild populations. In some places they carry the tick that transmits Lyme disease.
source - Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

April 06, 2017

Vesper Sparrow

This is the first good look at this sparrow and the first time I was able to photograph it.
Rather non descript or to use the technical birding term it is a Little Brown Job or LBJ.
Not to be confused with Lady Bird Johnson.

Thanks to Allen Woodliffe who told me where the sparrows were. 

Pooecetes gramineus

The Vesper Sparrow responds quickly to changes in habitat; it is often the first species to occupy reclaimed mine sites and abandon old farm fields as they return to forest.

April 05, 2017

Spring birding

Went out looking for birds today and decided to check the area where we have seen snowy owls.
No owl but there was a nice selection of ducks and grebes and a LOON.
We like loons.

Gavia immer

Loons swallow most of their prey underwater. The loon has sharp, rearward-pointing projections on the roof of its mouth and tongue that help it keep a firm hold on slippery fish.
Migrating loons have been clocked flying at speeds more than 70 mph.

April 04, 2017

A sound of spring.

Frogs are calling in large numbers these days.
One one boardwalk I watch 7 or 8 in one pond as they called.
The circular wave patterns gave away the location of the frogs.

Frogs have a tympanic membrane, or tympanum. This is the circular patch of skin directly behind its eye  is what is commonly called its eardrum.
The tympanum transmits sound waves to the middle and inner ear, allowing the frog to hear both in the air and below the water.

The frogs I was watching bulged the air sacks on the side of the neck to make sound. Others have throat sacks but the principal is the same.

April 03, 2017

Common Goldeneye

From a few years ago.
Goldeneye are a diving duck that travel long distances underwater.
I caught this one as it came back to the surface.

No extra details, internet is slower than dial up. Anyone remember dial up? 2400baud?

April 02, 2017

April 01, 2017

Orange bellied Euphonia, Ecuador, March 2016

So many colourful birds that you don't know which way to look first.

Euphonia xanthogaster

The Orange-bellied Euphonia is usually found in pairs or small groups, and typically feeds relatively low above the ground.

March 30, 2017

Coming soon to a migration near you.

Black throated blue warbler from warmer times.
In a month or so the spring migration should be on.

Taken in our yard at the little pond.

Setophaga caerulescens.

The sexes of the Black-throated Blue Warbler look so different that they were originally described as two different species.

March 29, 2017

Golden Crowned Kinglet.

The jet fighters of little birds. They move so fast from branch to branch it is hared to get a good photo.
I've said before it is like trying to get a photo of popcorn in the act of popping.

Same fast movement.

Regulus satrapa

The tiny Golden-crowned Kinglet is hardier than it looks, routinely wintering in areas where nighttime temperatures can fall below –40° Fahrenheit, which happens to be -40 Celsius.
It is the only point where the two different scales meet.

March 27, 2017

Eagle at the pond.

Another of the raptors we were able to photograph free flying at the Canadian Raptor Conservancy.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus 

The largest Bald Eagle nest on record, in St. Petersburg, Florida, was 2.9 meters in diameter and 6.1 meters tall. Another famous nest—in Vermilion, Ohio—was shaped like a wine glass and weighed almost two metric tons. It was used for 34 years until the tree blew down.

March 26, 2017

Great horned owl

Went with a group of photographers to the Canadian Raptor Conservancy for a raptor photo shoot.
One of the birds was a great horned owl.


The weather was miserable, raining and cold, the light was less than desireable, but the birds were great. The spots are rain drops.

Bubo virginianus

Even though the female Great Horned Owl is larger than her mate, the male has a larger voice box and a deeper voice. Pairs often call together, with audible differences in pitch.

March 23, 2017

Chickadee

Not a large selection of birds this time of year, so I take what I can get.
This chickadee was good enough to pose for me.

Poecile atricapillus

According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, every autumn Black-capped Chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and environment even with their tiny brains.
Not sure how they figured that out.

March 22, 2017

Childrens games.

Did you ever play goose,goose,duck, when you were a kid?
This is goose,goose,swan.

Tundra swan,snow goose,Canada goose.

March 20, 2017

An audible evening.

Anne and I went for a walk this evening to listen for woodcock.

Not only did we hear woodcock we also had, robins,cardinals,wild turkeys,tundra swans, Canadian geese and coyotes joining in the evening song.
A bonus was a great horned owl flying by.

We did see woodcock doing their display flights.

This is an older photo as there was no opportunity to get a shot this evening.

Welcome back Spring.

Scolopax minor
Wouldn’t it be useful to have eyes in the back of your head? American Woodcocks come close—their large eyes are positioned high and near the back of their skull. This arrangement lets them keep watch for danger in the sky while they have their heads down probing in the soil for food.

March 16, 2017

Tundra swans, Rondeau Provincial Park, March 16, 2017


I came across a flock of over 1,000 tundra swans today just outside of Rondeau Provincial Park.
They were flying over the road making a cacophony of sound.

Many were flying low and just clearing a cedar hedge row. These are not cropped.
One still had dirt on its face from foraging in the corn stubble.


Cygnus columbianus
Based on banding records, the oldest known Tundra Swan was a female and at least 23 years, 7 months old when she was identified by her band in the wild, in Ohio. She had been banded in the same state.

March 14, 2017

Metallic green Tanager.

Yet another tanager from Ecuador.

Tangara labradorides
Their diet consists almost entirely of arthropods and fruits. Metallic-green Tanagers are usually found in pairs or small groups and often join flocks consisting of multiple tanager

March 13, 2017

The invasion

Grackles, redwings and starlings have been mobbing our feeders for two weeks.
I don't begrudge them the food but nothing else can come in when they are there.

Quiscalus quiscula

Common Grackles are resourceful foragers. They sometimes follow plows to catch invertebrates and mice, wade into water to catch small fish, pick leeches off the legs of turtles, steal worms from American Robins, raid nests, and kill and eat adult birds.

March 09, 2017

Wind and waves.

Had some big southwest winds yesterday. The waves were breaking over the steel breakwaters a few miles from our place.
We were fine as we were on the leeward side.


March 08, 2017

Leucistic.

Not sure if I Posted this before.
It is a leucistic chipmunk that Anne and I saw in London, Ontario 10 years ago.

Tamias striatus
Though you may see chipmunks around each other, they are not social animals. They like to keep to themselves and only interact during mating season, which is in the spring.

They are most active at dusk and dawn. Chipmunks spend most of their days foraging. A single chipmunk can gather up to 165 acorns in a day

March 07, 2017

Picking berries

About 50 Cedar Waxwings were in the trees at the Rondeau Provincial Park Campground a few days ago.

They tore through the juniper and cedars stripping the berries.
A few minutes later they were gone.

Bombycilla cedrorum 


The Cedar Waxwing is one of the few North American birds that specializes in eating fruit. It can survive on fruit alone for several months. Brown-headed Cowbirds that are raised in Cedar Waxwing nests typically don’t survive, in part because the cowbird chicks can’t develop on such a high-fruit diet.

March 06, 2017

Buff-tailed Coronet

Buff-tailed Coronet
Another Ecuadorian hummingbird seen at Tandayapa.

Boissonneaua flavescens

They hold on to flowers when feeding and hold their wings up in a V while doing so.

March 05, 2017

The season of the owl.

It seems everyone is posting great horned owls this time of year
So I decided I would put up my photo, just to be social.
The location of this bird was published in the local paper but the exact location of the nest was not.

Bubo virginianus

Great Horned Owls are fierce predators that can take large prey, including raptors such as Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons, and other owls. They also eat much smaller items such as rodents, frogs, and scorpions.

March 02, 2017

Sword billed hummingbird

One of the more unusual birds we saw in Ecuador was the sword-billed hummingbird.

Ensifera ensifera

This is the only bird species with a bill length that exceeds the body length. When seen perched, the species usually holds its bill quite upright, presumably because of balance issues stemming from this long and relatively heavy structure. -source Cornell Lab of

March 01, 2017

Northern cardinal

With the pond opening up we are getting more birds coming in for baths and drinks.
This cardinal looks like it is climbing uphill but is just standing on a slanted stick.

Cardinalis cardinalis
The oldest recorded Northern Cardinal was a female, and was 15 years, 9 months old when she was found in Pennsylvania.

February 28, 2017

Short eared owl

Earlier this year there were a number of short eared owls in Essex County.
This is one of several hundred photos I took of the birds.

Asio flammeus

As suggested by their wide global distribution, Short-eared Owls can travel long distances over vast expanses of ocean. Witnesses have reported seeing these owls descending on ships hundreds of miles from land. source- Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

February 27, 2017

The pond is starting up again.

The water flow isn't on but the little pond is open and this red-winged blackbird was having a wonderful time having a bath.


In February.
In Canada.

Agelaius phoeniceus

Male Red-winged Blackbirds fiercely defend their territories during the breeding season, spending more than a quarter of daylight hours in territory defense. He chases other males out of the territory and attacks nest predators, sometimes going after much larger animals, including horses and people.

February 25, 2017

Boreal Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee, Algonquin Provincial Park, Feb 23, 2017
The rain stopped and the fog lessened enough for me to get this shot of a boreal chickadee. A lifer for both Anne and me.

Poecile hudsonicus
The oldest recorded Boreal Chickadee was at least 5 years, 4 months, when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Nova Scotia.

February 24, 2017

Pine Martin

We went to Algonquin Provincial Park and the weather was terrible.
Heavy fog, downpours and poor lighting.

Regardless we had a good time and got one life bird and one life mammal.
The mammal was the pine marten, a shy yet curious animal that are agile climbers and spend much of their time in trees, where they prey on squirrels and chipmunks.

Martes Americana