Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

November 29, 2010

Pine Siskins are back!

It hit approximately +7c this afternoon and the sun was shining. A wonderful day for the second last day of November I must say!

I got home from work and right after I got the coffee on, took Meadow outside to enjoy this fantastic afternoon. She's gotten a little fussy when it comes to weather over the past couple years. I remember when she was 2 years old and it could be -30c outside and she'd join me outside at 1am to fill the feeders for the morning visitors and have a blast the whole time out there. Nowadays (she's 7), she just isn't so keen on cooler weather.

There's quite a few birds buzzing around this afternoon. A pair of Cardinals, one Downy Woodpecker, a Blue Jay, four Chickadees, probably a dozen Finches (Gold and House) and those darn Pigeons.

In the mix of all the sounds, I heard a different sound, and one I have not heard in a couple years. Instantly I knew what it was (Pine Siskin) but wanted a visual to be absolutely positively certain. And sure enough, about 10 minutes later of me standing quite still, I had my visual ID of two Pine Siskins buzzing around the back of the yard amongst the Gold and House Finches.

Pine Siskins are a part of the Finch family; but we seldom see them in the Toronto area. I know little of these birds and have only had them one other winter season since doing the backyard bird feeding thing going almost a decade ago. They call it an "irruption" when they spread out this far and even further; flying in from the Boreal Forests. It's something about a mix between a population explosion and a shortage of food (little rain this past spring/summer and high heat to blame) in their more common areas. I also think they know when a bad winter is coming because the last time I saw them, that winter was a doozy, and we had a lot of snow.

So, while I am excited about their return and I do hope they hang around the yard for the season; I have my fears on old man winter getting nasty on us since the past one had so little snow. Really I don't mind the snow but the drive to and from work across that Hwy 401 is a scary one in bad weather. If I could stay home on such days, no problem.

Today I only saw two. My peak the last time this species was here brought 12 to 15 at a time and maybe more. They love nyjer seed much like the other Finches do, so I best be well stocked, and have extra feeders out. I do recall them enjoying the black oil sunflower also.

So, welcome back little Pine Siskins! May you enjoy your stay on Bernice Crescent!

The Pine Siskin is the bird on the top left perch of this feeder. They have some similar markings on their backside much like the American Goldfinch with the yellow wing bars but are very streaky and much more brown with little yellow tints as you can see in this photo (sides and tail).

November 9, 2010

The National Bird of Canada would be?

This topic has been floating around a good part of this year... Canada should have a national bird and what should it be?

The Canadian Raptor Conservancy started a petition back in the summer and are trying to collect 200,000 signatures to present to the government on this subject.

Here are our provincial birds along with some other countries national birds...

- Common Loon : provincial bird of Ontario
- Snowy Owl : provincial bird of Quebec
- Great Horned Owl : provincial bird of Alberta
- Great Grey Owl : provincial bird of Manitoba
- Steller’s Jay : provincial bird of British Columbia
- Black-capped Chickadee : provincial bird of New Brunswick
- Atlantic Puffin : provincial bird of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Osprey : provincial bird of Nova Scotia
- Blue Jay : provincial bird of Prince Edward Island
- Sharp-tailed Grouse : provincial bird of Saskatchewan
- Gyr Falcon : territorial bird of the Northwest Territories
- Rock Ptarmigan : territorial bird of Nunavut
- Common Raven : territorial bird of Yukon
- Bald Eagle : national bird of the United States of America
- Golden Eagle : national bird of Russia
- Crested Caracara : national bird of Mexico

So, trying to exclude those choices above; what do you think would be a great choice for Canada as a whole? Suggestions so far include the Red Tailed Hawk, the Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Common Loon, Short Beaked Crow, Rock Dove (common Pigeon), Great Blue Heron, Snow Goose, Snowy Owl, and the Grey Jay (Whiskey Jack).

I would rule out Common Loon and Snowy Owl immediately as they are provincial birds for Ontario and Quebec already. I won't even get into the whole Harry Potter craze and how his Owl is a Snowy Owl bit.

Whoever suggested the Rock Dove (common Pigeon) must have been kidding. I mean seriously. Nothing against Pigeons, they are a source of entertainment in city parks but not much more than that. They are everywhere, and no offence to Pigeon admirers out there... but they are a nuisance overall. I don't categorize Mourning Doves in the same class as a Pigeon; but even a Mourning Dove would not make my list of the possible National Bird of Canada. Gentle and peaceful creatures as they may be, much like Canadians in general; they don't seem like a bird to represent a country.

The Snow Goose would also be cut from my list. It's bad enough how much of our southern friends have this idea about Canada as it is... throwing the Snow Goose as our National Bird would just add to the stereotype of Canada being a snow and ice covered land, and a place not to venture to unless one wishes to freeze to death, stay in an igloo and possibly get eaten by a Polar Bear.

The Short-Beaked Crow could be a possibility. It is a highly intelligent creature. It's brain size to body size is one of the largest in the world of birds. We'd like to think of ourselves as an intelligent bunch. Would the superstitious approve? I don't know how many times in my life I have heard someone tell me they have seen the presence of a Crow and a loved one (family or friend) soon dies.

Now, how about the Great Blue Heron? A majestic creature by all means. A rather prehistoric looking one as well (not that it matters). But, in my personal opinion, the Heron, to me, represents a water bird (Herons live by lakes and ponds). It would be more suited to be a provincial bird for one of our coastal provinces.

I would feel the same going for the Trumpeter Swan. A bird of water should not represent a land mass being Canada.

So, as the list winds down we have the Gray Jay as another possibility. It seems Gray Jays can be found in almost every province across Canada. I have never seen a Gray Jay. My problem with this choice is it's size. It's not a very large bird. Something to represent our country should be on the larger scale of a bird species. An ideal candidate to represent a province but not a country.

How about the Canada Goose? It's a large bird. Everybody knows what a Canada Goose is. Everybody must have seen one. Even our American friends know what a Canada Goose is. That Goose has Canada in it's name... it's perfect! I would agree with that choice, and I did, right up until some conversing with the fellow at the Canadian Raptor Conservancy. He sold me on eliminating this choice. Why? Well, what is the National Bird of the United States of America? The Bald Eagle. Do you know what one of the main choices of diet be for the Bald Eagle? If you said "Canada Goose", you are most certainly correct. Do we really want our National Bird of Canada to be the one that the United States National Bird consumes on a regular basis? I don't think it's a matter of choice/preference for the Bald Eagle to pick on the Canada Goose... it's probably more due to the over abundance of Canada Geese available.

So, this leaves us with my last option that comes to mind. The Red Tailed Hawk. A larger scale of bird. It is a bird that is respected. It is a bird that can be found in every one of our provinces. It is a bird that has no natural enemies.

A graceful flying bird but one not to be messed with.

What do you think? I think this may very well be the perfect choice for our country.

For more information on this, simply Google the topic National Bird of Canada or visit the Canadian Raptor Conservancy's website here

Lastly, please note, I borrowed all images via Google. I do have pics of most of these birds noted that I have taken myself but are either just not clear enough or lost in the 1000's of images within the computer.