Set back from the Severn River, this 12 hectare (30acre) property was donated to the Couchiching Conservancy was donated in 2001 by the family of Ross Butler in his memory. The protection of this land was a long held dream for Ross. Together with surrounding Crown land, it will help to ensure that cottage country always has the wildlife that makes it so special.
Song sparrows usually arrive back in our region while there is still snow on the ground. Two individuals arrived at our property on March 22 this year. If you are brave enough to sleep with your bedroom window open just a little, he will serenade you with his song as he cracks the early morning quiet, at first light.
A member of the very large family of Sparrows, often referred to by birders as “little brown jobs” or LBJ’s, Song Sparrows are one of the most widespread bird species having a number of sub species. They nest in most every region of Ontario.
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.
The waterways associated with the village of Washago have seen development pressure over the past several decades. However, a relatively large block of natural habitat is still intact in the area bounded by Riverdale Drive, between the Green River and Cooper’s Falls Road. This area includes a diversity of ecological communities typical of the southern Shield, as well as habitat for several species at risk.
Seven American States have claimed the Northern Cardinal as, State Bird! Many sports teams have been named after it, producing some creative logos; images of cardinals appear on just about anything that can be sold! The bird is a marketer’s dream!
Named after the scarlet vestments worn by Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church, we live in the Northern Cardinal’s northerly range. Few of these beauties are found much north of here. I remember even in the Toronto area when they were very scarce, as they are primarily a Southern bird. Today, Cardinals are fairly common birds in Southern and South Central Ontario.
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.
There are only a handful of birds that captivate us to such an extent that we wear clothing, drink from china cups, wear jewelry and purchase paintings and other items adorned with its image.
Hummingbirds have to be positioned near the top of that list!
Weighing in at between .1-.3 ounces (2.5-8gms), the Ruby throated hummingbird is one of the world’s smallest birds.
The Hummingbird family comprises 320 species in the Americas, but only the Ruby-throated nest in Ontario In some of the southern states as many as 125 species have been recorded. The greatest concentration of hummingbirds is, as expected, in tropical countries.
So far this winter our region has been spared the near-record snowfalls and bitter cold of previous winters. It is still a challenge for us humans to get around and go about our daily business. But consider how much more difficult it can be for our feathered friends who must tough it out through the harsh and unforgiving winter.