first push of birds?

This weekend looks sort of interesting for birding in Southern Ontario. Way too early for almost everything of course, but a small push of Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and American Robins would be nice.

 I’ll be out looking in Bruce. There is still quite a bit of snow here.. but I bet a few things will be moving. Get out there and look!

:)
Warm...


Brrr :(
NOAA 6 - 10 day outlook.. 

What' This Bird Wednesday

 Last weeks answers;

#1 - Rough-legged Hawk 

#2 - King Eider (too hard I think)

#3 - Golden Eagle 

#4 - Short-eared Owl 

#5 - Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 

#6 - Yellow-rumped Warbler 

#7 - Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye

#8 - Bohemian Waxwing

#9 - Sharp-tailed Grouse 

#10 - Northern Hawk Owl


Now something different for this weeks quiz... mega hawkwatch quiz in preparation for April... have fun.


Best viewed inlarged - birds not to scale


Spring Migration ~ so close, yet so far


  In the time before spring, migratory birds begin to grow restless on their "wintering grounds". They begin to eat more, in an attempt to add body fat that will be needed on migration. As the days grow longer, the restlessness increases, until eventually the birds take flight. Even when migratory songbirds are caged, they will still show this behaviour, fluttering towards the side of the cage in the direction they would be migrating in the wild. This phenomenon, termed zugunruhe by the german scientists who conducted studies involving small migratory songbirds in captivity. 

I believe this urge also exists in birders, although it isn't very well documented and to my knowledge lacks a name (lets call it migration anticipation). Unlike in birds, the birders aren't compelled to migrate, instead they want the experience, the immersion in migration. It lies dormant through December and January in the birders of Ontario, then, in mid February things begin to stir.  Horned Larks begin to show up on roadsides and American Crows stream northward into Ontario. During the first warm days in the later part of February, when the cardinals start singing and the snow starts melting, somethings flips in the birder's brains. They are drawn outdoors, where they begin searching for signs of migration. For the more obsessed birders, the draw may be strong enough for them to walk/drive to local patches of open water and marshes in search of the first blackbirds and ducks of the year. Most of the time there is nothing there, as it is still February and migration is weeks away. The birders begin to dream of migration, their thoughts full of Killdeer, woodcocks and meadowlarks. Then a cold snap hits, jerking them back to the harsh reality that it is indeed still winter. In the days and weeks to follow they will grow impatient, yearning for the first warm blast of air from the south, the first robins, the first blackbirds. Some years, when the cold weather persists into late March or even April, the birders grow increasing impatient. For some of those who live away from the southern Great Lakes, the urge to see birds will make them take a trip down to the Long Point or Pelee area, in serch of early migants to fulfill their cravings. 


The last few days have been gorgeous on the Peninsula, warm(ish) and sunny. This has awakened something in me, this growing "migration anticipation".  I decided to try the first skywatch of the year in my yard on Friday (19th). The sun was out and it was relatively warm (-2°C) so I wanted to see if there were any signs of migration around. At first it was quiet, and then a Bald Eagle passed overhead heading north, followed by another in 10 minutes. In the 2 hours I spent out in my yard I saw a total of 6 Bald Eagles, all adults heading north. Also present were American Crows, thought it was hard to tell if they were true migrants (wishful thinking) or simply local birds. 


- The next day (the 20th), I tried another impromptu skywatch in the yard. It was quieter than the previous day, with 3 Bald Eagles and a lone Red-tailed Hawk. Just as I was about to head inside I looked up and spotted an adult Golden Eagle soaring over... saweet! I sometimes see adult Goldens here in late February, they are among the earliest of the migrant raptors here and are always a highlight see. In the evening, calling Great Horned and Barred Owls were nice to hear.


- Today it was overcast all morning, with a damp wind out of the south. I counted 3 Bald Eagles over the yard, 2 together in late morning then a lone bird in the afternoon. Still fun to see. Later in the day two White-winged Crossbills flew over ~ my first of the year.

 

That's it for now folks! They're coming... just another few weeks



Back on the Bruce

After spending a few months down in Brant County, we arrived home on the peninsula at the beginning of the week. Our driveway had over a foot of snow in it, so the first day home was spent cleaning up the yard and unpacking. A quick walk down my road before dusk produced a Common Raven and a Northern Shrike... Classic Bruce County in the winter, hardly any birds, but the few species that are around are usually good ones.


- Tuesday was dominated by a major snowstorm, so birding was out. The only birds I noted were Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches and a Hairy Woodpecker at the feeders.


- Wednesday (this morning) was a fairly nice day weather wise, so I took a drive up the peninsula to  see what birds were around. I was hoping to turn up a Gyrfalcon as one was seen in the area earlier in the winter, but I was unsuccessful. There were some Snowy Owls around though, as well as Bald Eagles, Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks. 



I made a quick stop at the Lion’s Head Harbour, where I saw a White-winged Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser and the Harlequin Duck that had been spending the winter in the area.






On the way home I saw a Ruffed Grouse beside the road and a Red Fox being mobbed by Common Ravens.


It’s nice to be home...



What's This Bird Wednesday

 Last weeks answers;

#1 - Golden Eagle 

#2 - Common Redpoll

#3 - Western Kingbird

#4 - Cooper's Hawk and Eastern Kingbird 

#5 - Sabine's Gulls

#6 - Green-winged Teal 

#7 - Golden Eagle 

#8 - Rough-legged Hawk

#9 - Herring Gull 

#10 - Gyrfalcon


Now this weeks quiz..


#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8
#9

#10


Migration?!

This afternoon I feft like getting out for a drive, so I took a tour of a few county roads around Paris to see what I could turn up. It was a gorgeous day.. sunny and -5C... which felt nice after the cold week we’ve had here. 




Anyway long story short; there weren’t that many birds around. A flock of Snow Bunting and a few Red-tailed Hawks were some highlights. The bird of the day was Horned Lark though, I encountered 6 small groups on the gravel shoulders of the road, totaling 68 birds. 

Horrible Horned Lake digibin



Here in Ontario, Horned Larks are among the earliest migrants to arrive, with the first birds showing up in early February and numbers starting to swell near the end of the month/early March. Now yes, some do overwinter, but I’ve been driving around these roads since December and my highcount was 13 birds.... so I think it’s safe to call these migrants.

Not the most exciting thing ever.. but it lifted my spirits to see my first migrants of the year! spring is coming...

In other news I will be returning home to Bruce with my parents on the weekend, so I *should* be posting more as I\"ll be out birding again. For those wondering, my yearlist is at 80.. woot woot😅😳


What's This Bird Wednesday


Last weeks answers;
#1 - Chipping Sparrow
#2 - Cackling Geese
#3 - Harlequin Duck
#4 - Ring-billed Gull
#5 - Sanderling
#6 - Franklin’s Gull
#7 - Black Scoter and Red-breasted Mergansers
#8 - Surf Scoter and Red-breasted Mergansers
#9 - Redheads and Ruddy Ducks
#10 - American Golden-plovers

Now for this weeks quiz! Made it extra hard... (I think)




#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9






#10 for bonus pointed! Shape only!



 

What's This Bird Wednesday

 I'll put more content out soon... for now have fun with some bad photos I found!


Last weeks quiz answers;

#1 - Blue-winged Teal 

#2 - Golden-winged Warbler

#3 - hybrid Golden-winged Warbler x Blue-winged Warbler 

#4 - Blue Jays

#5 - Blackpoll Warbler

#6 - Nashville Warbler 

#7 - Nashville Warbler

#8 - Gadwall

#9 - Orange-crowned Warbler 

#10 - Ovenbird nest


Now for this weeks quiz! Guesses in the comments 


#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

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