Showing posts from 2017

Dark eyed junco, Rondeau Provincial Park.

The cold snowy weather is continuing in our area.
Lots of birds are coming in to our feeders and to the seed we put on the ground.

Junco hyemalis

Juncos are the "snowbirds" of the middle latitudes. Over most of the eastern United States, they appear as winter sets in and then retreat northward each spring. Some juncos in the Appalachian Mountains remain there all year round, breeding at the higher elevations. These residents have shorter wings than the migrants that join them each winter. Longer wings are better suited to flying long distances, a pattern commonly noted among other studies of migratory vs. resident species.
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Tufted titmouse, Rondeau Provincial Park, Dec 2017.

Another of the snow birds that showed up after the big snowfall. Lots of birds in the white pine in the yard.
Baeolophus bicolor
Tufted Titmice hoard food in fall and winter, a behavior 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.
source -…/Tufted_Titmouse/lifehistory

Rusty blackbird in the snow.

A few rusties showed up in the yard this week along with red-wings, grackles, and starlings.

Euphagus carolinus

Rusty Blackbird is one of North America’s most rapidly declining species. The population has plunged an estimated 85-99 percent over the past forty years and scientists are completely puzzled as to what is the cause. They are relatively uncommon denizens of wooded swamps, breeding in the boreal forest and wintering in the eastern U.S. In winter, they travel in small flocks and are identified by their distinctive rusty featheredges and pallid yellow eyes.
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Tree sparrow

Bitterly cold after the snow on Christmas.
Keeping the feeders full for all the birds and a little corn on the ground for various mammals that wander through. American tree sparrow, in a tree.
Spizelloides arborea
Misleadingly named by European settlers reminded of Eurasian Tree Sparrows back home, American Tree Sparrows are ground birds. They forage on the ground, nest on the ground, and breed primarily in scrubby areas at or above the treeline.
source -…/American_Tree_S…/lifehistory

Triangular body shape, with deep rear end. - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Descripition of a sora by the LAb.
Isn't that dangerous close to saying you've got a big butt?

As usual we saw this one from the pontoon boat.

Porzana carolina

Not a snowy owl

If I knew how to photoshop this would be a snowy owl.

We will all have to settle for a herring gull.
I think I'm the only one who doesn't have a snowy photo this year.

Larus argentatus 
Herring Gulls prefer drinking freshwater, but they'll drink seawater when they must. Special glands located over the eyes allow them to excrete the salt that would otherwise dehydrate most animals, including us. The salty excretion can be seen dripping out of their nostrils and off the ends of their bills.

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During the Christmas Bird Count at Rondeau Provincial Park last Sunday Anne and I came across an unusual sight.

A cormorant walking down a snow covered road.

There was a left over beach towel in the car so I grabbed it and started stalking the bird.
There I was running through snow drifts waving a summer towel trying to catch a bird that walks like a penguin.

It outran me. 


It was walking in the general direction of Lake Erie and when we came back past the area about 30 minutes later the bird was gone. Hope it made it to the water.

Northen cardinal.

We saw this cardinal sitting on a branch over a small open stream while looking for a snipe that had been seen in the area.

Cardinalis cardinalis 
Only a few female North American songbirds sing, but the female Northern Cardinal does, and often while sitting on the nest. This may give the male information about when to bring food to the nest. A mated pair shares song phrases, but the female may sing a longer and slightly more complex song than the male.
source -…/Northern_Cardin…/lifehistory

Deer at the feeder

Therrrrre back. White tailed deer started coming in to the feeders to scrounge for any seeds left on the ground. Looks like the jays left a little corn. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Pied-billed grebe, Erieau, Ontario, Dec 14, 2017

After the storm yesterday I took advantage of the clear but cold weather to do a little birding.
Not a lot around but I did find 4 pied billed grebes at the marina. Podilymbus podiceps 
When in danger, Pied-billed Grebes sometimes make a dramatic “crash-dive” to get away. A crash-diving grebe pushes its body down with its wings thrust outward. Its tail and head disappears last, while the bird kicks water several feet into the air.
source -…/Pied-billed_Gre…/lifehistory
Long eared owl, Rondeau Provincial Park, Dec 12, 2017.

Thanks to local birders Steve and Aaron Charbonneau for the heads up about this owl. It moved trees when mobbed by blue jays but stayed in the immediate area.
Asio otus The hoot of the male Long-eared Owl can sometimes be heard up to 1 kilometer (0.7 mi) away. source -

Brown thrasher

Editing 100's of photos from the spring and summer.
This brown thrasher was a regular at the pond.

Toxostoma rufum
Both males and females help incubate the eggs and feed the young. Nestlings sometimes leave the nest fully feathered within nine days of hatching—earlier than either of their smaller relatives, the Northern Mockingbird and Gray Catbird. Shrubby habitats are popular hideouts for nest predators, which may explain why the thrashers fledge so quickly for birds of their size.

Cedar waxwing

When you are looking for a rarity keep your eyes open for other things.
Spotted cedar waxwings while chasing the Townsend's warbler.
Bombycilla cedrorum
Because they eat so much fruit, Cedar Waxwings occasionally become intoxicated or even die when they run across overripe berries that have started to ferment and produce alcohol.
source -…/Cedar_Waxwing/lifehistory

A summer reminder.

Ovenbird at Rondeau Provincial Park.
Usually down low skulking in the vegetation, this one popped up and into the open for a minute.

Seiurus aurocapilla The Ovenbird gets its name from its covered nest. The dome and side entrance make it resemble a Dutch oven.

Super moon

A supermoon is a full moon or a new moon that approximately coincides with the closest distance that the Moon reaches to Earth in its elliptic orbit, resulting in a larger-than-usual apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth.

Prothonotary warbler

Winter is staring us in the face, so a little bit of spring glory.
Prothonotary warbler, May 11, Rondeau Provincial Park.
Protonotaria citrea
Most warblers nest either on the ground, in shrubs, or in trees, but the Prothonotary Warbler and the Lucy's Warbler build their nests in holes in standing dead trees. They may also use nest boxes when available.

Black throated green warbler

Black throated green warbler at the pond Sept 2, 2017.
I will have to close the pond soon due to freezing temperatures.
Setophaga virens
The male Black-throated Green Warbler sings persistently during the breeding season. One individual was observed singing 466 songs in one hour.
source -…/Black-throated_…/lifehistory

Ducks, ducks and more ducks.

This is the only time of year I can get decent waterfowl photos so here's another one. Redhead duck on Rondeau Bay, Nov 2017.
Aythya americana Many ducks lay some of their eggs in other birds’ nests (a strategy known as “brood parasitism”), but female Redheads are perhaps tops in this department. Their targets include other Redheads as well as Mallard, Canvasback, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, American Wigeon—even Northern Harrier. source -

The bird that doesn't want to be photographed.

Townsend's warbler, Rondeau Provincial Park, Nov 2017. This rarity has been around for several weeks and I keep trying to get a good photo.
To say the least, it isn't cooperating.
Up high and /or far away.
Setophaga townsendi
A bird of the Pacific Northwest, the Townsend's Warbler nests in coniferous forests from Alaska to Oregon. It winters in two distinct areas: in a narrow strip along the Pacific Coast, and in Mexico and Central America.

Female Red-breasted merganser on Rondeau Bay.

Yet another of the ducks we saw last Tuesday.

Mergus serrator The Red-breasted Merganser breeds farther north and winters farther south than the other American mergansers.


Another of the ducks we saw while out and about on Tuesday.
It was riding the waves on Rondeau Bay.
Anas strepera 
We don’t tend to think of ducks as pirates, but Gadwall often snatch food from diving ducks as they surface. This widespread, adaptable duck has dramatically increased in numbers in North America since the 1980s.
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Doing the Hokey Pokey.

Spotted this American Coot in a drainage ditch, seems he know the hokey pokey.
"Now put your right foot in Your right foot out Right foot in Then you shake it all about"
Fulica americana Although it swims like a duck, the American Coot does not have webbed feet like a duck. Instead, each one of the coot’s long toes has broad lobes of skin that help it kick through the water. The broad lobes fold back each time the bird lifts its foot, so it doesn’t impede walking on dry land, though it supports the bird’s weight on mucky ground. source -

At the salad bar

A number of ducks were in  a small cove at the shore due to big waves on the bay.
There was a group of wigeon that stayed reasonably close to shore giving me a photo op.

Anas americana

The American Wigeon's short bill enables it to exert more force at the bill tip than other dabbling ducks, thus permitting efficient dislodging and plucking of vegetation.
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I'll just hde behind this grass.

We have a lot of deer coming into the yard at this time of year.
There is a deer herd reduction happening just now and the deer seem to know they are safe around the cottages.

At one time there were 900 deer in the park. The environment can handle approximately 60.

My cat knows how to read.

As soon as it was out of the box Crash decided this was a cat spa.

American bittern.

Why American Bitterns are hard to find.
Mostly they hide along the edges of a marshy area and blend into the reeds. They will sway with the wind so they move like the reeds.

Great horned owl in the rain.

Taken at the  Canadian Raptor Conservancy facility on  a rainy day.

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.
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Two of more than 40 horned grebes we saw Oct 26 while boating on Rondeau Bay..
We tend to see them during spring and fall.

Podiceps auritus
A sleeping or resting Horned Grebe puts its neck on its back with its head off to one side and facing forward. It keeps one foot tucked up under a wing and uses the other one to maneuver in the water. Having one foot up under a wing makes it float with one "high" side and one "low" side.
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American white pelican.

A rare visitor in our area on Lake Erie.
We followed up on a rare bird posting and were lucky enough to find the bird within minutes of arriving.
Long distance shots until the bird flew up and went west over Lake Erie.

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos Pelican chicks can crawl by 1 to 2 weeks of age. By 3 weeks they can walk with their body off the ground and can swim as soon as they can get to water. Older chicks move up to running, then running with flapping their wings, and by the age of 9 to 10 weeks, they can fly. source -

White throated sparrow.

One of several sparrow species that visited the yard this fall. White Throated Sparrow. Zonotrichia albicollis.
White-throated Sparrows stay near the ground, scratching through leaves in search of food, often in flocks. You may see them low in bushes as well, particularly in spring when they eat fresh buds. White-throated Sparrows sing their distinctive songs frequently, even in winter. source -

Blanding's turtle.

The turtles were out in good numbers grabbing a few rays when we were out on the boat the other day.
Since then the weather has turned, bir waves and cold temperatures so they are probably gone for the year.
I think it looks very prehistoric poking out of the weeds. Emydoidea blandingii
This species hibernates in the soft bottoms of water bodies. Particularly in the spring, the Blanding’s turtle basks on rocks, logs or substrates in sunny locations.

What acorn?

They are busy running
 around the yard gathering up all the acorns that are falling.

Tamias striatus

Great blue heon

Great Blue heron fly by while making its lovely call.
It is a lovely combination of a gronk, gag, and some one choking. For a recording go to
Ardea herodias The oldest recorded Great Blue Heron was found in Texas when it was at least 24 years, 6 months old source -

Blowin in the wind

Milkweed pods.

Native milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) are essential for monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) caterpillars and support a diversity of pollinators with their abundant nectar.

He was a good friend of mine.

Bullfrogs breed later than most other frogs, usually from mid-June to late July on warm, humid or rainy nights. The egg masses may contain up to 20,000 eggs and, when first laid, spread out over the surface of the water. Bullfrog tadpoles, which grow for up to three years before changing into frogs, eat suspended matter, organic debris, algae, plant tissue and small aquatic invertebrates.
source -…/repti…/american_bullfrog.php

Weather forecast- morning showers.

Chestnut sided warbler, Rondeau Provincial Park.
Setophaga pensylvanica 
On the wintering grounds in Central America the Chestnut-sided Warbler joins in mixed-species foraging flocks with the resident antwrens and tropical warblers. An individual warbler will return to the same area in subsequent years, joining back up with the same foraging flock it associated with the year before.
Source -…/Chestnut-sided_…/lifehistory

Ruddy duck

This duck reminds me of he bath time rubber ducky with its cocked tail and relatively large head. I think this bird was injured as it didn't climb of the mound and swim/fly away. It is duck hunting season.
Oxyura jamaicensis
Ruddy Ducks lay big, white, pebbly-textured eggs—the largest of all duck eggs relative to body size. Energetically expensive to produce, the eggs hatch into well-developed ducklings that require only a short period of care. source -

Birds of the pond series.

Lots of birds still coming to the pond including this Eastern Towhee.
Pipilo erythrophthalmus Eastern Towhees tend to be pretty solitary, and they use a number of threat displays to tell other towhees they’re not welcome. You may see contentious males lift, spread, or droop one or both wings, fan their tails, or flick their tails to show off the white spots at the corners. Studies have shown that male towhees tend to defend territories many times larger than needed simply to provide food. source -

Pied-billed grebe

This close and no closer.
It is always a challenge to try to figure out what the comfort zone of an animal is.
Ideally I try to get a photo without disturbing the subject.
We came a little too close for comfort with this pied-billed grebe.
Podilymbus podiceps
Part bird, part submarine, the Pied-billed Grebe is common across much of North America. These small brown birds have unusually thick bills that turn silver and black in summer. These expert divers inhabit sluggish rivers, freshwater marshes, lakes, and estuaries. They use their chunky bills to kill and eat large crustaceans along with a great variety of fish, amphibians, insects, and other invertebrates. Rarely seen in flight and often hidden amid vegetation, Pied-billed Grebes announce their presence with loud, far-reaching calls.
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Juvenile Yellow Bellied Sapsucker.

This young sapsucker came to the pond for a minute then left without drinking or bathing.
Probably had something to do with the 3 blue jays that came in squawking loudly.
Sphyrapicus varius 
The sapwells made by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers attract hummingbirds, which also feed off the sap flowing from the tree. In some parts of Canada, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds rely so much on sapwells that they time their spring migration with the arrival of sapsuckers. Other birds as well as bats and porcupines also visit sapsucker sapwells.
source -…/Yellow-bellied_…/lifehistory

Rusty Blackbird.

Another photo from the pontoon boat. Normally we see groupings or rusty blackbirds, this day just one. It's a start.
Euphagus carolinus Like most members of the blackbird family, the Rusty Blackbird undergoes only one molt per year. The change in appearance between winter and summer results from the rust-colored feather tips of "winter plumage" wearing off and leaving behind the smooth black or gray "breeding plumage." source -