Baby, it's cold outside!
Lame intro, I know, but quite true. We've had many days of some serious wind chill factors lately, eh. I enjoy winter. For a wildlife lover such as myself, there is much to see in the city at this time of year that isn't seen through the other seasons. Like what? Lots of different Ducks. I never took notice until a couple Februarys ago when Angie and I noticed Buffleheads down in Port Credit. I blogged about them a while ago... see here
A new one for me this season, although it was just a few weeks before winter, was a couple pairs of Hooded Mergansers. This one sure stands out in the mix of Gadwalls. I don't know much about these guys other than they are cool looking!
A long list can be made of all the water fowl that show up in the GTA every winter including Hooded, Common and Red Breasted Mergansers, Buffleheads, Long-tailed Ducks, Red-heads and a number more that escape me right now. Capturing shore birds with the camera isn't easy as many stay far out on the water. Enjoying them through binoculars if fine by me, just got to dress for the frigid wind temperatures along the lakeshore. It still amazes me that with many of these Ducks, this is their "summer home" as they move a lot further north in our warmer months.
Here's a few of my better photos of the Ducks this winter...
A male Long-tailed Duck
A pair of Buffleheads
Another first for me this year... a Northern Pintail mixed in with some Mallards.
I think they are around the city more than just the winter, but I have never seen one before. What a beautiful Duck!
Perhaps it's just me but I think I have seen a lot more Swans through the winter too! So far it's just been Mute Swans. I do hope to see some Trumpeter Swans like I did last year. Here's a beautiful Mute Swan.
Another first for us this winter is the American Coot!
At home, I have had more Finches this winter than what I have ever seen. Some days I have counted over thirty American Goldfinches. Along with them, I have had over one dozen Pine Siskins present. It's a good thing I have four nyjer feeders for them to eat from.
Here's eight Pine Siskins at the one tube feeder. I guess it's been 3 winters since I last saw them here. So, this was a treat for me to have them despite the amount of nyjer I am going through this year.
The same feeder with as many, and some, American Goldfinches.
A pair of Blue Jays have stuck it out with us this winter. As well as a pair of Northern Cardinals, and one extra male. I am disappointed to only see this many Cardinals. In previous winters I saw 12 out back, which had 9 males and 3 females. A spectacular sight for sure! A lot of Dark-eyed Juncos arrived again this winter (another wintering bird for us). And, happy to say a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches also returned for the winter. No White-breasted Nuthatches for me this year though... unfortunately (I love those guys). Two pairs of Downy Woodpeckers some days. Half a dozen, maybe more, Black-capped Chickadees. A few Mourning Doves as well. What is surprising is that all the House Sparrows have disappeared. Strange since this is one of the most common birds around. The Pigeon population has taken a huge hit this winter in my backyard as 5 Hawks have been using this spot as their hunting ground once the snow arrived. 2 Red-tails, 1 Sharp-shin, 1 Coopers and the last one being a stumper for me... a toss up between a Sharp-shin and a Coopers Hawk. Both Hawks look almost identical, and size is the biggest difference. But when males are smaller than females, and a Sharpie is smaller than a Coopers; a female Sharpie and a male Coopers could be very close in size. I plan to do a blog about the Raptors that have been around here the last few months soon.
Here are some backyard pics of my feathered friends...
I thought this accidental shot of a Blue Jay and Cardinal was pretty cool.
I love my Cardinals... but the female has been very elusive this year.
The Mourning Doves make life seem so peaceful, even on frigid days, like the day I got this, it was -22c with the winds. But he sleeps the afternoon away.
Funny how the smaller birds are so much bolder than the bigger birds. Like this Red-breasted Nuthatch who often seems fearless.
The Chickadees have been a welcomed addition to the yard, and more come every year since we had that successful nest of them 2 years ago. Downys are great, a pair eat in front of the kitchen window every day.
One of the yard terrors. This is the Sharp-shin. Like I said, the smaller they are, the bolder they are. This guy isn't much bigger than a Blue Jay but he will stand his branch even with me out there. The bigger Hawks take off as soon as they see me.
This Coopers Hawk has been showing up every couple days the last couple months. She'll sit out in the open in the apple trees, hide in my neighbour's cedars, or sit in this really tall tree about 5 doors over from me. Quite a sight to behold yet so many don't even notice this massive bird.
I will be back soon, as I have a few stories to share, that are sitting in my head. I hope everybody has been making the best of this winter.