January 31, 2017

January 30, 2017

Snow geese

Snow geese at the Ridgetown sewage lagoon, Jan 30/17
Went back with Anne and the flew off shortly after we got there.

Chen caerulescens
Females forage up to 18 hours a day once they arrive at breeding grounds, but eat little once they begin incubating the eggs.

January 29, 2017

Snowy owl.

We had not found a snowy owl in our usual search areas until today.
We went a little further afield and saw 5 in a small area.
This one was nice enough to sit on a telephone pole beside the road.

Bubo scandiacus
Unlike most owls, Snowy Owls are diurnal, extremely so. They’ll hunt at all hours during the continuous daylight of an Arctic summer. And they may eat more than 1,600 lemmings in a single year.

January 27, 2017

Rufous motmot

Taken in Ecuador near Tandayapa,
A regular visitor to the feeders at the lodge where we stayed.

Baryphthengus martii

The Rufous Motmot prefers humid lowland and hill forest where it consumes a large variety of food items ranging from various fruits to invertebrates and even small vertebrates, sometimes in the company of army ants. When foraging, it is a typical low energy specialist sitting quietly on a shaded horizontal branch for long periods of time from which it suddenly darts out after passing insects.

January 26, 2017

White-winged Brush-finch

The internet is a wonderful thing at times.


I had been through our field guide many times trying to identify this bird.
A facebook group called Facebook Birders came to the rescue.
Seen at Tandayapa March 2016

January 25, 2017

Canada warbler

It seemed exotic to see a Canada warbler south of the equator.
We are so used to thinking of them as "our" warblers when in fact, they are long distance migrants.

Cardellina canadensis
Not much is known about the mating system of the Canada Warbler, but it appears to be monogamous. The observation of male-female pairs in Panama during fall and spring migration suggests that the pair may stay together year round.

January 24, 2017

And that's why it called the long-tailed duck.


A quick shot as a male long-tail dove in the clear water of Lake Ontario.

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.

January 21, 2017

Redhead duck, female, Erieau, Ont. Jan 21, 2017

The sun came out for a while and the temperature neared 50 degrees with little wind.
A chance to get out for a walk and see a few birds.

Aythya americana Courting male Redheads perform a gymnastic “head throw” display, bending nearly in half with the neck bent far over the back until the head touches the tail. The bird then snaps its neck forward while giving a loud, catlike mee-ow call.

January 20, 2017

Turquoise jay



Turquoise jay, Quito, Pichincha Province, Ecuador. March 2016

I had misidentified this bird. As noted it turns out to be a turquoise jay.
I used to think our fall warblers were a challenge, they are easy compared to all the bird species we saw in Ecuador.

Thanks Beto Matheus for helping out.
Cyanolyca turcosa

 Omnivorous, but the diet is poorly known. Presumably primarily eats insects.

January 19, 2017

Long-tailed duck.

Went on a field trip to the Hamilton area looking for ducks that we don't see down our way.
Such as this long tailed duck. I think I took about 340 of these birds. You will be seeing more of them.
This is one of them

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.

January 18, 2017

Black capped tanager,Tandayapa,Ecuador,March 2016


One of 40 species of tanager we saw in Ecuador.

Turns out that what I thought was a beryl spangled tanager was actually a black capped tanager.

Black-capped Tanagers (Tangara heinei) are vividly-colored tropical birds that occur from Venezuela to Ecuador. This monotypic species is primarily found in montane forest edges, at forest clearings (natural as well as man-made), and in tall second-growth forest. Black-capped Tanagers often occur in pairs and sometimes in mixed-species flocks, foraging in bushes and trees for insects and fruit.

January 17, 2017

January 16, 2017

White pelican

This is from our 2011 trip to Texas.

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
American White Pelicans cooperate when feeding. Sometimes, large groups gather in wetlands. They coordinate their swimming to drive schooling fish toward the shallows. The pelicans can then easily scoop up these corralled fish from the water.

January 15, 2017

Lesser Scaup

A female lesser scaup doing a wing flap/stretch/water shake.

Aythya affinis
Lesser Scaup chicks are capable of diving under water on their hatching day, but they are too buoyant to stay under for more than just a moment. By the time they are 5 to 7 weeks old they are able to dive for 2-25 seconds and swim underwater for 15-18 meters (50-60 ft).

January 13, 2017

Four and Twenty Blackbirds....and a few of their friends.

Near Comber Ontario,Jan 13/17
Went to see the yellow headed blackbirds,which we did.
They were in a mixed flock of thousands of cowbirds,starlings and house sparrows.
This is a small portion of the flock.

And here is one of the stars of the show hiding in plain sight.

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus 

January 11, 2017

Winter vulture.

Went looking for a black vulture at Port Stanley, Ontario.
Didn't see it but we did see 8+ turkey vultures.
Had to do a bunch of editing as it was against a bright sky.


Cathartes aura
It is unique among our vultures in that it finds carrion by smell as well as by sight. When threatened, it defends itself by vomiting powerful stomach acids.

January 10, 2017

Female Ruddy Duck at Erieau.

Spotted this bird at Erieau, Ontario.
Also had canvasback,bufflehead,lesser scaup,red breasted merganser and coots.

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.

January 09, 2017

Field sparrow

Usually a summer visitor to the yard and pond this field sparrow showed up on January 6/2017.
It took advantage of the corn we put out for the cardinals and other ground feeders.

Spizella pusilla

In winter Field Sparrows may form mixed feeding flocks with other species, including White-throated and Song Sparrows. Smaller and less aggressive than other sparrows, Field Sparrows are usually at the bottom of the dominance hierarchy in these mixed flocks. Their subordinate role means that they may have to take extra risks to gain access to food, such as returning to a feeding site first after a predator has flushed the flock.

January 07, 2017

Hermit thrush

An unusual, for us, winter visitor to our heated water bowl.

A hermit thrush showed up today and had a long drink from our outdoor heated water bowl.
The bowl may be the only liquid water, other than Lake Erie, right now.
Small birds don't seem to like going on the shore, probably too exposed.
Catharus guttatus
In spring, the Hermit Thrush eats mainly insects such as beetles, caterpillars, bees, ants, wasps, and flies. They also occasionally eat small amphibians and reptiles. In the winter, they change their diet to eat more fruit, including wild berries.

January 04, 2017

On a cold and blustery day...


A small opening in the ice on Rondeau Bay resulted in two tundra swans coming close to shore.
The wind was strong causing waves in the small open area.

Cygnus columbianus
Tundra Swans wintering in Chesapeake Bay feed almost exclusively on clams that they dislodge from the mud. But it can be challenging to enjoy a peaceful meal: often the swan has to fend off a Ring-billed, Herring, or Greater Black-backed gull that swoops in to grab a clam from the swan’s bill—a successful tactic in about half of these “kleptoparasitic” encounters.

January 03, 2017

Andean ruddy duck.

Another photo from our Ecuador trip.

While on the short boat trip we saw Andean ruddy ducks which look pretty much the same as out ruddy ducks in North America.
The chicks were a real treat.

Can you tell that it's the slow season and I have a chance to go through last year's photos?

Oxyura ferruginea

January 02, 2017

Reed boat.

While we were in Ecuador in March 2016 we went on a side trip to Otavalo and the indigenous market there.

On the way we went on a short bird watching boat excursion.
We saw several new species and this reed boat tied to the dock.
We didn't see any in use on the lake but it was interesting nevertheless.

January 01, 2017

A polar plunge


We spotted this muskrat taking a swim on Dec 28. So far it has been a mild winter and they have good insulation, but still....

Ondatra zibethicus
A muskrat s basically a large field mouse that has adapted to life in and around water
They have specially evolved teeth that protrude ahead of the cheeks and lips that can be closed behind them, permitting it to chew on stems and roots under water "with its mouth closed"