Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

June 25, 2009

Song Sparrows

The last couple months, since I started some migratory bird walks and searches... I've become even more familiar with Song Sparrows than ever before.

So many times in the past I would hear one of their more popular songs and would try to figure out who was singing it. This year, more than a few I have come into close range with and have been able to sit and watch them sing away without a care in the world. Such beautiful noises from such a small creature.

I took these photos on our vacation recently. I really like the one above, because that is how I remember them... head right up, mouth wide open and those notes just pouring out so softly. The one below, I think it was at a point where he grew tired of me taking his photo over and over again. The spot on his chest is almost a sure sign you are looking at a Song Sparrow... very few others have it.

They are ground feeders so you will unlikely have them feeding from a bird feeder but will be hopping below. They enjoy a variety of seeds, live insects and small bits of certain fruits (berries).

If you ever see one, chances are you heard him first... please take the time out and enjoy his song. Click on the link below for some samples of a Song Sparrow...

June 19, 2009

Carden Plain... WoW!

Thursday June 18th had us going up to the Carden Plain area which is up past Sutton and near the town of Kirkfield. The weather sure wasn't looking promising, even as we got in the van shortly after 7am. It was agreed that we were going unless a monsoon, hurricane or tornado struck.

Carden Plain is deemed an important area for birds and over 200 species migrate and nest to this very large piece of land. I must add that this area is not a conservation area; it is all privately owned land. There are small roads you follow and can easily view birds about the fields and forests. Very few vehicles travel these roads so it's not too big of a deal to pull over and get out to have a look. Most of the properties are fenced and signed, asking the curious to please respect their property and not tread on it. You should make yourself aware of what "Poison Ivy" looks like as it grows in abundance in the area and much of it is right off the side of the road.

We spent over 9 hours in the area and most of it was along one lengthy stretch of road. My last count had me seeing 32 species of birds and more than half were all new to me. Binoculars sure helped my experience as the camera couldn't get everything and many of the birds do not co-operate in allowing me to photograph them by staying still or moving in close. The dark skies of the day didn't help my lighting situation. I got so many silohuettes of birds missing their colors.

The species list for us included Eastern Meadowlark, Boblink, numerous Eastern Bluebirds, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow Warblers, Chestnut Sided Warbler, Common Yellow-Throat, Savannah Sparrows, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, Turkey Vultures, American Gold Finches, Common Snipe, Red Wing Black Birds, Brown Headed Cowbirds, Clay Colored Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue Jays, Phoebes, Northern Flicker, Upland Sandpiper, Gray Catbird, House Wrens, Grouse, Blue Heron, Black Capped Chickadees, Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Common Grackles, Ruby Throated Hummingbird, and a massive Osprey nest. I have a number of mystery birds too, even in pics and have yet to identify. Lastly we saw a pure black bird, about the size of a RWBB but it had no markings of any sort... just black black black, be it beak, wings, crest, breast, back, whatever. It was too far off to get a shot.

I now would like to share some of the photos I got, showing the birds I saw... and I plan to make Carden Plain a yearly, if not more, visit. It's not that far off from Toronto.

Enjoy! Clicking on the individual photo should blow it up to a very large size for better viewing.

The Brown Thrasher!

A pair of Eastern Bluebirds

Great Crested Flycatcher

Yellow Warbler

Common Snipe

Gray Catbird

Male Boblink

Savannah Sparrow

Upland Sandpiper

Osprey and nest... the male wasn't impressed with me getting out of the van to take their picture. I am just glad he didn't swoop down and tear my face off. They nest right on top of a light pole at the side of the highway... wow!

Next time I do plan on a search for the Loggerhead Shrike. A small bird of prey who has unique ways of killing since it does not have talons. It will eat small birds but also grasshoppers and larger insects. Here is a photo is one that I did not take. They are a rare species of bird with declining numbers.

June 17, 2009

Bye Bye Birdy-s!"

I can't believe it! After weeks of excitement and anticipation with this pair of nesting Black Capped Chickadees and knowing their babies hatched AND us waiting to see the whole family at some point...

we go away for an over-night, leaving around 10:30am Sunday morning and returning around 6pm Monday, everybody got up and left the nest in that span of time.

I so wish we saw something, anything, but it was not to be.

I am thankful for what I witnessed over the weeks from watching the parents choose this nest box, to building the nest by bringing bits of twigs, grass bits and whatever else to it, from the long silent wait to the increasing noises of the babies and watching the parents bring the constant flow of food for their young. It was more than I had ever witnessed before so that alone was an experience.

We felt a moment of worry when we did not see the parents upon our arrival home, another moment of worry with not hearing the babies within. The mind wandered with some crazy thoughts and I even looked about the property for any casualties but none were to be found. Our best guess is they fledged and moved off to the woods close by to join the other Chickadee families with the abundance of natural food sources.

I'd like to think that another pair will return next spring; and maybe we will be fortunate enough to see the babies emerge?

I must add, as you can see from the photos, is that I just had to open up the nest box the following day. I had to see what was within. I was impressed at the neat little, well packed nest. I was unsure what to think of the two eggs still laying there... infertile.

I wonder how many they had?

So, as the title says "Bye Bye Birdy-s!" Hope to see you next spring!

One of my favorite photos I got of the Daddy Chickadee.

Momma Chickadee scoping out the grounds, as she did many times a day. Thanks for the memories!

June 11, 2009

Keep your eyes open in your journey...

Well, it's the second week of June and I am on vacation for two weeks. We went to Port Credit the other day to Snug Harbor for lunch and a walk along the boardwalk. A lot of Ducks, Swans, Swallows, Grackles, Red Wing Blackbirds, Cormorants, Terns and Gulls could be seen.

My biggest surprise was when we passed these flowering bushes and I happened to notice some fuzzy creatures sitting atop of them... we believe them to be baby Red Wing Blackbirds. The two of them sat very quietly, looking up to the sky, and probably waiting for the parents to return with lunch. We had a slight encounter with a very angry male RWBB in the same area; just happy he didn't get physical with us.

Once again it pays to be a little more attentive in our journeys as you never know what you just might see...

Check it out!

Here is baby number one...

Here is baby number two...

Another one of baby number two...

Momma Mallard Duck and her babies sunning on a rock just off the dock...

June 6, 2009

Death of a Feathered Friend...

Now I took no pleasure in taking this picture but I had to. I have never been this close to an American Goldfinch! Of course this is no way I want to see one of the many backyard birds that I love so dearly... to be dead in my hands. It was just so weird how it happened and it makes me think about our own existence here on Earth. One minute you are here and in a flash you are gone.

I went out back around 8pm Friday night to put a bit of Safflower in the feeders for the Cardinals. They normally are the last birds here in the evening, just before dusk.

There were Goldfinches on the nyjer feeder, a couple on the fence, and everything was fine. I did my thing, head back to the house and I notice a male Goldfinch in the garden, bright as the sun, dead in the soil. He wasn't there minutes earlier... because there is no way I could miss him. He was in the vegetable garden, where it's all clean (no plants yet), lots of rich dark soil and manure. I thought I saw something fall in the garden when I was at the back and now I am thinking it was him.

I guess it was his time to go? The other birds payed no attention to what had just happened, they continued to eat and do their thing. Death is a natural occurrence and I guess since it wasn't something as tragic as murder by a cat or other predator... they accepted it. It was so fast too! I've come across sick and injured birds in my days and most take some time to pass on if that is their fate.

I picked him up, he was so warm and soft but lifeless. His eyes were closed. I admired the beauty of him and his plumage and took notice to no signs of injury on him or ill appearance. I then placed him in soil again, got a shovel, dug a deep hole, said a silent prayer and buried him in the ground.

I felt a moment of sadness but accepted what had happened and was happy to be there and give him a burial, sending him back to the Earth, where we all eventually go...

June 2, 2009

My First Indigo Bunting Sighting!

On Sunday May 31, 2009... I saw my first Indigo Bunting ever, up at my friend's place in King City, Ontario. There are reports of them closer to my home than her place but I have yet to see any. Angie and I kept our eyes open for them at Rattray Marsh the other week with no luck (though some other birders saw 3 moments before).

Now I will have to get Angie up to my friend's place sometime this summer to catch a glimpse. I actually saw 2 males a number of times at her feeders. Awesome!