The Orioles have long left, and we haven’t see a Hummingbird for well over a week. Obviously they have all left for good reason.
Reading an article on woodpeckers, the author referred to a Pileated woodpecker as a “Logcock”. That was a term I had never heard and it got me thinking. How many birds do I know that have nicknames?
A decade ago, we would visit Niagara-on-the-Lake for a glimpse of these species, and marvel that their ranges just barely reached into the southernmost bits of Ontario.
Take the Christmas Bird Count season as an example. Any time between mid December and early January, alarms are waking birders up very early in the morning.
I must clarify something. I am not a Birder – I am just a Bird Watcher! What’s the difference?
It can really be an exciting time of the year, especially if you live by a lake as we do, for you never know from one day to the next, what species of bird will appear on the lake.
Although we do have many different species of birds visit us all winter long, we can always depend on three species to stay around our property year-round: White breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped chickadee and one other favourite, especially in the winter, The Mourning Dove.
American Robins are members of the Thrush family, which also includes Eastern Bluebirds, and like other members of the family they are one of the first of our backyard birds to set up house and raise a family. In just a few days after their arrival back in our area from their migration, the nest building begins. Some individuals will build in the same location as long as they live and then other members of the family will continue the tradition. The bracket attaching a coach light to our house has been a nesting location for Robins since we built the house many years ago. A pair of Robins may have three different broods each year, raising 3-5 young in each brood. Females incubate the eggs for about 14 days. Both parents will feed the young.
Although it is a member of the same family, the Gray Jay is nowhere near as raucous as the Blue Jay or Crow. They tend to be very friendly and tame, and will sit, with feathers all puffed up quietly in nearby trees soaking in the warmth of the winter afternoon sun, affording one some wonderful photographic opportunities. They will readily accept peanuts and other seeds from an open hand. Algonquin Park campers know this bird as a camp robber, snatching food off a table or even from a pot on an outdoor stove.
Although the occasional Red-breasted is identified during our local Christmas Bird count, we seldom see them in our vicinity as their preferred habitat is a coniferous forest and we live in an area forested with a mix of deciduous and conifer trees. Most of my encounters and all my photographs of these diminutive little hustlers have been taken in Algonquin Park, where they abound in the conifers and the abundant food supply they offer.
Smaller than the common white- breasted nuthatch, and bearing a rufous coloured breast and a black stripe along the eye line, they along with black- capped chickadees and gray jays, are very much candidates for those much sought after photographic images of birds feeding out of an open hand, filled with various seeds.