Jul 062018

Flocking provides many benefits but questions remain

“How early in the year it begins to be late” Henry David Thoreau

Nature plays a cruel joke on us in early July. Just as summer is getting started, intimations of autumn can already be seen. One such sign is the formation of flocks in some birds. In the city, large congregations of European starlings will soon be roosting in shade trees and advertising their presence by their clamorous calls and frequent flights from one tree to the next. In local wetlands, red‑winged blackbirds are flocking up and, by mid‑July, swallows will start to congregate on wires, especially around farms.

Swallows on wire in post-breeding flock – Wikimedia

A flock of ring-billed and Bonaparte’s gulls at Hillman Marsh near Point Pelee National Park – Drew Monkman









Advantages of flocking

Flocking confers a number of advantages to birds. First, there is safety in numbers. By flocking together, the chance of any one individual being killed by a predator is lower than if the bird was by itself. With so many eyes watching, it is likely that at least some of the flock members will spot an approaching predator while other birds are busy feeding, sleeping or simply looking in the wrong direction. When predators attack a flock, they try to single out a bird on the edge of the group to pursue. However, once in flight, most flocks change shape constantly and both expand and contract in size. This makes it very difficult for the predator to remain focused on one bird. There is also evidence that it may be physically dangerous for a predator ‑ which may not be that much larger than the prey species it’s pursuing ‑ to dive into the middle of a fast flying mass of birds.

Flocking can also provide better access to food. After spending the night together in a communal roost, it is thought that birds gain information about good feeding resources by following older, more experienced individuals when they fly off to feed. This becomes especially important in the fall when food is erratically distributed and cooler weather, along with the demands of the approaching southward migration, mean energy requirements are higher.

Scientists have often wondered why older birds would want to share food information and potentially end up eating less themselves. It appears there is a worthwhile trade-off. In several species, it has been shown that older birds, being more dominant, actually appropriate the safest, most central locations in the roost while the younger, weaker birds are relegated to the edges. This exposes the less dominant birds to a greater danger of predation. The arrangement is advantageous for both groups ‑ older and stronger birds allow their weaker brethren to bear the brunt of predation while younger and weaker birds get to follow the others to good foraging sites.

Flocking also enables birds to expend less energy in flight. When the lead bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the birds behind. Each bird (except the leader) is flying in the up wash from the wing of the bird in front. This enables the flock to use less energy and reduces fatigue.

Mobbing and pishing

Although not technically flocks, birds will also congregate together to attack, chase or simply pester a predator. This is usually done to protect offspring. Known as ‘mobbing’, the behaviour includes flying around the intruder, dive bombing and calling or squawking loudly. The loud alarm calls also serve to summon nearby individuals to join the attack and drive the predator away. Mobbing is especially noticeable in crows, which can often be seen and heard pestering a cat, fox, owl or other predator.

A crow harrassing a Red-tailed Hawk in Peterborough – Helen and Larry Keller








Although mobbing may involve some risks, there are obviously benefits. All of the birds in the mob increase their chances of survival and reproduction. An individual on its own, however, would stand little chance against a predator. There is also research showing that crows may even place sentinels in trees to watch for possible predators. This is done so that other nearby crows can safely feed on the ground. When the sentinels start calling loudly, the feeding crows will either fly off or begin to mob the intruder. Don Finigan of Peterborough told me recently about a fox that makes regular visits to his yard to hunt squirrels. Each time, the fox’s arrival is announced by the raucous displeasure of the crows.

The mobbing reflex on the part of some birds explains the effectiveness of a birding technique known as ‘pishing’. It is used to bring birds in closer for better views. The raspy, rough quality of the pish sound birders make is similar to the alarm or scolding calls of small songbirds such as chickadees. Scientists believe that birds interpret the sound as that of another bird that has discovered a predator and is recruiting help. An alternative explanation is that some species of birds are simply curious and have evolved to investigate unknown noises.

To pish, choose a place where there is already some bird activity such as the calls of chickadees. Place yourself close to some trees or shrubs where the birds you attract can land. Pucker your lips and make a loud, forceful “shhhh” sound, while tacking a “p” on at the beginning: “Pshhhh, Pshhhh, Pshhhh”. Make sure the sound is shrill and strident. Do it in a sequence of three, repeating the se­quence two or three times. At first, you’ll probably need to pish fairly loudly, but you can lower the volume once the birds get closer. Continue pishing for at least a couple of minutes after the first birds appear. This will give other species that may be present a chance to make their way towards you. Chickadees and nuthatches are especially receptive to the pishing sound, but other species like warblers, wrens, finches and sparrows will usually approach as well.

Quite often, the birds that are attracted by pishing are actually feeding together in loose flocks. For example, chickadees that glean insects from leaves, bark and punky wood are often found in the company of nuthatches, woodpeckers, kinglets and warblers that are searching for similar – but usually not identical – food items. Having more individuals searching for food increases the likelihood that a rich feeding patch will be located and food-poor areas can be avoided. Individuals probably also learn about new food sources from other species. In one study, titmice were observed visiting a site where a woodpecker was pecking at bark. It quickly began foraging in the same place. Mixed-flocks are most common outside of the breeding season.


By mid‑July, most Red-winged blackbirds have finished breeding. Males lose their intolerance of one another and form feeding flocks, which roost together at night. Initially, these flocks are small and include only the adults and young of local breeding populations. However, as summer advances, these smaller roosts will begin to break up and much larger flocks form. A mixing of different species occurs, too, with common grackles and European starlings often joining in with the red-wings. The roosts are often cattail marshes, thick stands of alders or even upland woodlots.

A flock of Red-winged Blackbirds over a Kansas field – Bob Webster









Starlings and crows

For city dwellers, starlings and crows are usually the most noticeable roosting species during the summer months. Large deciduous shade trees are the preferred roosting sites. Thousands of starlings may occupy a given stand of trees and will sometimes return each night until the leaves drop. As sunset approaches, the birds start arriving in the vicinity of the roost and perch in nearby trees, often making frequent, noisy flights from one tree to another. This activity, known as staging, goes on for about half an hour before they actually settle into the roost trees. For nearby residents, the noise and commotion can be irritating to say the least.

Watching a flock of starlings take flight and then change directions simultaneously is fascinating. How does the group manage to turn and maneuver, almost as a single unit? As it turns out, the behaviour does not depend on the actions of any one “leader” but is rather a property of the group itself. The maneuvering of the flock, known as a murmuration, is determined by the second‑to‑second decisions of individual birds as they respond to what seven – yes, exactly seven – of their flock neighbours are doing. When one bird changes speed or direction, its seven closest neighbours do the same. In this way, the information spreads almost instantaneously across the flock. Google “flight of the starlings” to see a beautiful video of a murmuration filmed in the Netherlands.

A murmuration of European starlings over Minsmere in the United Kingdom – photo by Airwolfhound









Crows, too, often congregate in the hundreds or even thousands to sleep in communal roosts. An hour or two before darkness, they start flying to peripheral congregation sites, located close to the overnight roosting spot. There is usually a lot of noise-making, chasing, and general squabbling that goes on at these sites. Then, right at dark, the crows move on to their nearby final destination.

What to watch for this week

Young frogs are transforming into adults and leaving their natal ponds. Watch for tiny (less than one centimetre in length) wood frogs, spring peepers and American toads on moist areas of the forest floor from July through September. In backyards and parks, listen for the buzzy, electric song of the first dog-day cicadas of the summer.



Jul 212016

The nesting families of Merlins we’ve enjoyed at the Little Lake Cemetery has expanded with a nest we saw in spring seeming to be in the yard of a house near Little Lake (if not on Crescent Street, then Ware or a Lock Street backyard). Breeding was successful, but we could never tell how many were in the family. Until tonight (July 20). The two juveniles are getting flying and hunting lessons with lots of vocalizations as they zoom across Princess and Ware Street backyards and rooftops. Around 8 p.m., it gets busy and tonight we were treated to them resting in a backyard tree in various numbers until dinner came and they huddled together to share.

With some more comings and goings and the constant adjustments of one of the young ones who seems a bit clumsy, eventually all four settled in at dusk to enjoy the concert music wafting over from Del Crary Park. As fans of the Peregrine Falcons nesting in our former neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, we couldn’t be happier having these four in our front yard.

Pat Maitland,  Princess Street (east of Lock St.), Peterborough

Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Adult female Merlin (Karl Egressy)

Merlin family (1) - Pat Maitland

Merlin family (3) – Pat Maitland

Merlin family (2) - Pat Maitland

Merlin family (2) – Pat Maitland

Merlin family (3) - Pat Maitland

Merlin family (1) – Pat Maitland

Jul 122016

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) (1)
– Reported Jul 11, 2016 07:20 by Iain Rayner
– Ptbo – Water St., Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Adult perched on snag overhanging river near W end of London St. footbridge. Quite far from my vantage point but with binos I could clearly make out squat shape, pale grey sides/front and black back. 4th year in a row BCNH has showed up at this location at this time of year.”

Black-crowned Night-Heron (American) (Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli) (1)
– Reported Jul 11, 2016 08:35 by Luke Berg
– Peterborough-Quaker Park – West side of London Street Footbridge, Peterborough, Ontario
– Media: 2 Photos
– Comments: “Continuing adult found this morning by Iain Rayner. Originally it was very hard to see as it foraged in the dense vegetation around the west end of the bridge but it flew up onto an exposed perch about 50 north of the bridge on the West Bank of the river, giving excellent views. It was still there when I left but it may return to the shoreline to feed.”

Black-crowned Night-Heron - Wikimedia

Black-crowned Night-Heron – Wikimedia

Black-crowned Night Heron - Drew Monkman

Black-crowned Night Heron – Drew Monkman

Jul 102016

Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) (1)
– Reported Jul 09, 2016 14:07 by Iain Rayner
– Bensfort Road Landfill, Peterborough, Ontario
– Media: 3 Photos
– Comments: “Was doing a dump run earlier in the day and briefly thought I saw a Dowitcher flying around chasing KILL or vice versa. Returned in the afternoon with gear to confirm and found adult or 1st summer(retaining significant amount of non-breeding coverts) bird in pond. Completely at a loss in regard to subspecies but should probably try to assign it to subspecies even though I have hardly any experience with Dowitchers. Going with what I think may be the rarer griseus as oppose to hendersoni because not much cinnamon beyond legs and heavy spotting on foreneck and breast. Have photos will post.”

Short-billed Dowitchers - Blenheim Sewage Lagoon - May 12, 2016  Drew Monkman

Short-billed Dowitchers – Blenheim Sewage Lagoon – May 12, 2016 Drew Monkman

Jul 082016

It has been so interesting over the last few years observing the Osprey along with other parts of nature, and how they are changing as the next generation comes to life. For the last 3 years we have had a young Osprey, which sits on top of our cedar tree and takes the easy way to catch fish. He simply drops down to the water, catches an unsuspecting fish, and off he goes with his catch! I got some pictures this evening. What an amazing planet we live on!

Derry Fairweather

Upper Buckhorn Lake

Young Osprey with fish - July 2016 - Derry Fairweather

Departing with his catch – July 2016 – Derry Fairweather

Young Osprey - July 2016 - Derry Fairweather

Young Osprey watching for fish from  top of cedar – July 2016 – Derry Fairweather

Jul 072016

Cannot believe it! For 3 years in a row, Stanley, my campsite Ring-billed Gull has returned. He comes when called by name, sits with me on my deck when I read a book, and allows no other gulls on my site. Aerial combats are sometime breathtaking. And remember the fishing tale I told you last year? He sure is a one of a kind!!

Took this picture of him (?) on June 21. How close up do you dare to get!  Note the red eyes. The red disappears during the summer, along with the red colour at the corners of the mouth (gape).

Barb Evett, Woodland Campsite, Lakehurst, ON

Note: See July 6, 2015 for the amazing fishing tale that involves Stanley.

Stanley, the Ring-billed Gull - Barb Evett

Stanley, the Ring-billed Gull – Barb Evett

Close-up of Ring-billed Gull nicknamed Stanley - note red on eyes, beak - June 2016 - Barb Evett

Close-up of Ring-billed Gull nicknamed Stanley – note red on eyes, beak – June 2016 – Barb Evett

Jul 062016

MAY 17, 2016: “After a prior absence of 81 years, this is the second consecutive year that a
pair of Piping Plovers has initiated nesting on the Canadian shore of Lake
Ontario in the Greater Toronto Area. Yesterday, I confirmed that the female of
a pair of Piping Plovers present at Darlington Provincial Park for the past
week had laid their first egg in a nest there. The female bird from this pair
is banded and is known to originate from a nest in Michigan. The male bird is
also banded and is known to be one of the birds that fledged from a nest at
Wasaga Beach last summer.

The location of the nest has been shared with the recovery team for the Piping Plover of the Canadian Wildlife
Service and further protection of this nest (territory perimeter fencing,
do not enter signage, no dogs allowed signage, a predator exclosure, nest
surveillance, etc.) has already been established under the joint auspices of
the Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and
Ontario Parks. The posted signage warns that fines may be charged for those who
do not obey the posted access restrictions.

Those wishing to come and view the birds are encouraged to do so, but please
also remember that this is one of the rarest breeding birds in Ontario, and
this Endangered Species is only now just trying to establish a new “beachhead”
on Lake Ontario, where continued success might serve to provide range extension
to other suitable beaches on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The nesting area on
the Darlington Beach is clearly cordoned off with a roped perimeter fence with
Piping Plover “Do Not Enter” signage. The predator exclosure over the nest is
about in the middle of the cordoned area. Observers are requested to view the
birds from outside the far west or east ends of the cordoned territory only. A
section of the south perimeter allows observers to walk along the shoreline,
but clear signage has been erected asking observers not to stop adjacent to the
exclosure for observations, but to use this merely as a passage to enable
access to both ends of the beach.

In an era when so many of our birds are
showing alarming declines, this is an enormously encouraging and novel
conservation success story being written one Ontario beach at a time.
Particularly after the unfortunate nest failure on Toronto’s Hanlan’s Point
last summer, let’s hope
that we can do everything possible to help ensure that this pair of Piping
Plovers has a successful nesting season here at Darlington in 2016.

Very soon, in conjunction with the local natural history clubs like the Durham
Region Field Naturalists and the Pickering Naturalists, a coordinated volunteer
Piping Plover stewardship group will be organized. Those interested in
volunteering time to monitor this nest are welcome to contact me [
glenn_co…@hotmail.com ] and I will introduce you to the plover watch
coordination team.

Darlington Provincial Park can be accessed by exiting Hwy 401 at exit 425
(Courtice Road) and taking Courtice Road south to the first right turn (west)
onto Darlington Park Road where you can follow the signs to the provincial park
entrance gate. Upon entrance to the park, follow the signage from here to the
beach on Lake Ontario at the southeast corner of McLaughlin Bay.

Glenn Coady, Ontbirds


JUNE 22: “I’ve been to Darlington several times to see the nesting Piping Plovers. One nest produced 4 chicks on June 17 or 18. One is lost, the other 3 are very active. Roaming about without too much parental supervision at times – including their first trip to the water’s edge on their own. When danger threatens the parents call and the chicks either shelter beneath one parent or freeze on the spot and squat low. The other nest is still in process. I got a few shots showing a bird on the next with two of four eggs visible, 2 chicks hiding with mom, and a couple of chick shots.

JULY 2:  “The young in the first nest were banded a couple of days ago at age 14 days or so and will be flying in another two weeks. They still have some down and need feathers to fly. They are half the size of the adults. They roam the beach from the first nest area down to the 2nd nest. The 2nd nest hatched 4 young about 2 days ago. The young are at the ball of fluff stage. They roam the 2nd nest area. The male from the 2nd nest area appears to have disappeared 2 days ago. The mom is on her own with 4 young. There are 20 or more Piping Plover chicks at Wasaga beach and one nest I believe at Presquile Provincial Park. They are not reporting any more on Ont Birds because they don’t want too many people showing up.”

Greg Piasetzki, Toronto

Mom w 2 Chicks - June 2016 - Darlington - Greg Piasetzki

Mom w 2 Chicks – June 2016 – Darlington – Greg Piasetzki

Piping Plover chick - June 2016 - Darlington - Greg Piasetzki

Piping Plover chick – June 2016 – Darlington – Greg Piasetzki

PP On Nest- June 2016 - Darlington - Greg Piasetzki

Piping Plover On Nest- June 2016 – Darlington – Greg Piasetzki

Jul 062016

We always have one or two pairs of American Crows around, so nothing special in that. I really don’t know how many constitutes a murder of crows but most unusually this morning (12 June) we had eight on the ground in our grassy riverside area – all very sleek, pristine, busy and inquisitive – and an unprecedented number within the last ten years. At one point five or six were jockeying for position on a moss-covered rock as seen in my rather poor photos (hyperactivity meets slow shutter speed!) so perhaps there was a bit of juvenile behaviour on show. Could we be seeing a single brood, I wonder – less of a murder, more of a family?

Peter Armstrong, Warsaw

Note:  Crows can have up nine young and, given the mid-June date, I think they could have been this year’s young. Crows often stay together in year-round family groups that consist of the breeding pair and offspring from the past two years. The whole family cooperates to raise young. (Source: All About Birds) D.M.

American Crows(2) June 12, 2016 - Peter Armstrong

American Crows(2) June 12, 2016 – Peter Armstrong

Jun 302016

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida) (2)
– Reported Jun 29, 2016 09:47 by Donald Sutherland
– Jones Quarter Line at Bland Line, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “Known location, two-part buzz and three-part buzz”

Clay-colored Sparrow - WM

Clay-colored Sparrow – Despite the photo, this species is rarely seen at feeders! Wikimedia


Jun 262016

Here is a photo of 2 Sandhill Cranes that I photographed on Saturday, June 18. They were on the west side of Northeys Road between the 13th & 14th lines of Selwyn Township, west of Young’s Point. These are the only Sandhill Cranes I have seen in this region

Roy T. Bowles

Sandhill Cranes - Northey Road - Selwyn Twsp - June 18, 2016 - Roy Bowles

Sandhill Cranes – Northeys Road – Selwyn Twsp – June 18, 2016 – Roy Bowles

Jun 252016

I recently photographed this Spotted Sandpiper feeding along the southern shore of Wolf Island Provincial Park by Black Duck Bay on Lower Buckhorn Lake.

Robin Blake

Spotted Sandpiper 1 - Lower Buckhorn L. - June 2016 -  Robin Blake

Spotted Sandpiper – Lower Buckhorn Lake – June 2016 – Robin Blake

Spotted Sandpiper with dragonfly nymph in beak - Lower Buckhorn Lake - June  2016 -  Robin Blake

Spotted Sandpiper with dragonfly nymph in beak – Lower Buckhorn Lake – June 2016 – Robin Blake


Jun 252016

The Spring 2016 swift watches gave us some really interesting numbers.  The peak was on May 17 when Dan Williams saw 123 enter the roost. A Merlin was seen by several people harassing the swifts and keeping them from getting into the roosts. Heavy rain before normal roost time seemed to make them enter early. Thanks for your help.
I have sent in the following data to SwiftWatch Ontario at Bird Studies Canada.  Observers all across the range of the Chimney Swift in Canada will have made observations on most of these same dates so it will be interesting to see the BSC report in a few months time.
See below the table for the eBird checklists for these visits.

Chimney Swift Roost Observations for Chimney at Peterborough at 311 George St. N.

Date: May 9
Start time: 7:54
Finish time: 8:50
Observer: Chris Risley
Number entering main roost: 66
Total entering all roosts and seen: 68

Start time:
Finish time:
Number entering main roost:
Total entering all roosts and seen:

Here are the eBird checklists if you want to learn more about any of the roost counts.
May 9: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S29562432
May 13   http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S29680047
May 17  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S29757618
May 21  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S29827573
May 25  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S29914902
May 29  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30051053
June 2  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30050964
June 6  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S30114387
June 10  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30173022
June 14  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30244387

Jun 062016

Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) (3)
– Reported Jun 01, 2016 20:16 by Iain Rayner
– Peterborough–Fairbairn Street wetland, Peterborough, Ontario

Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) (1)
– Reported Jun 05, 2016 10:58 by Donald Sutherland
– Lang-Hastings Trail–Technology Dr to CR 35, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “calling spontaneously”

Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) (1)
– Reported Jun 05, 2016 14:25 by Chris Risley
– Centre Line between 5th and 6th Lines, Peterborough, Ontario
– Comments: “on west side of road; flew to south from field up over farm house and barn and then landed in field to south of farm house;”

Least Bittern - Wikimedia

Least Bittern – Wikimedia

Blue-winged Teal - Wikimedia

Blue-winged Teal – Wikimedia

Upland Sandpiper by Greg Piasetzki

Upland Sandpiper by Greg Piasetzki

Jun 042016

Just an update related to my earlier Whooping Crane sighting.  I met a fellow from the MNR who, on Friday May 20, saw a Whooping Crane spiraling above the Beer Store in Peterborough (two weeks to the day after my sighting). His name is Scott Poser.

Also there are two nesting pairs of Bald Eagles on Buckhorn lake. One on Joe’s Island and one on Flat Island. The eagles moved to Joe’s Island 2 or 3 years ago, then a new pair took over Flat Island just this spring. The two nests are about 1 kilometre from each other. There may be more in the area, I haven’t been out on the lake yet. Those are just the nests that I can see from my house.

David Beaucage Johnson

Note: This makes for at least five Bald Eagle nests in the Kawarthas, including nests on Stony, Katchewanooka and the Trent River. I suspect there are more. D.M.

Whooping Crane in flight - Wikimedia

Whooping Crane in flight – Wikimedia

Bald Eagle nest on Stony Lake (photo by Jeff Jones)

Bald Eagle nest on Stony Lake (photo by Jeff Jones)

Jun 022016

There is a Common Loon nesting on the Otonabee River, just south of Lakefield and quite close to shore. I’ve seen her there for the last week or so.

Jacob Rodenburg, Peterborough

Nesting loon on Otonabee River - May 31, 2016 - Jacob Rodenburg

Nesting loon on Otonabee River – May 31, 2016 – Jacob Rodenburg

Jun 022016

On May 30th, Al Sippel and I were on Boyd Island, a Kawartha Land Trust property located near Bobcaygeon on Pigeon Lake. We had 2 pure Golden-winged Warblers (seen well) & two other presumed Golden-wings (heard only).

Warren Dunlop, Peterborough

Golden-winged Warbler - Brendan-Boyd-

Golden-winged Warbler singing – Brendan-Boyd-

Aerial View of Boyd Island - Kawartha Land Trust

Aerial View of Boyd Island – Kawartha Land Trust

Male Golden-winged Warbler - Karl Egressy

Male Golden-winged Warbler – Karl Egressy


Jun 012016

May 31, 2016 @ 10 AM
Location: Woodland Campsite wetland, Lakehurst, ON
A pair of Trumpeter Swans were sighted in the wetlands feeding  We usually only see the migratory swans in the fall, so this is a first. One swan had a visible tag – J07. Maybe they have set up a nest in the area? Heard them calling for a couple of days, so they have been lingering.

Barb Evett


Trumpeter Swans - May 2016 - Barb Evett

Trumpeter Swans – May 2016 – Barb Evett

Jun 012016

Here are some comments that Bill Snowden, a retired horticulturalist, sent along regarding concern expressed by Rob Tonus about Yellow-bellied Sapsucker drillings in his mountain-ash. Rob’s response to Bill’s comments are included below.

When the Yellow-beliied Sapsucker taps mountain-ash, it will sometimes enlarge the holes daily to keep the sap running. This can be a problem since the tree can lose valuable nutrients, and the wound may get infected causing serious damage. Even drilling a series holes around the circumference can do serious damage if they are close together and girdling occurs. Unfortunately,  if the sapsucker finds a tree that is a good bleeder, it will return each year, re-tap, and possibly do more damage, usually in the same area.  If a protective coat of tree emulsion is put over the damaged area, the birds usually just move to a new area on the same tree.

On the road allowance at my property in Ennismore, two mountain-ashes were planted with birch and pussy willow. Over the past five years, only one of the mountain-ash has been taped repeatedly. The run of sap usually dries up by the end of June. It is interesting to watch the antics of the breeding pair, and I enjoy the continual drumming of the male. Both male and female come to the wound and drink repeatedly during the day. These trees are all European mountain-ash and the species is not a cultivar. Some of the cultivars are not visited by sapsuckers. The two trees mentioned produce good fruit but are not eaten by the birds though the parent tree is usually stripped by American Robins and Cedar Waxwings by late August. There must be a preference in taste.

Bill Snowden, Ennismore

I’m not too concerned about sapsucker damage to my tree, since they have been making holes on this tree for longer than the 15 years that we’ve lived here on the edge of Peterborough. However, the holes in a couple of locations are larger than they normally are, so I was a bit worried about excess sap flow or the introduction of fungi. I’ll just have to see how this pans out. I might cover up some of them with the emulsion Bill Snowden recommends. I find it a thrill to have lunch or dinner at the table nearby and hear that squeaky noise the bird makes when it arrives at the tree. And yes, the waxwings love the fruit – the flocks arrive in the fall and strip the tree bare in a couple of days. We certainly have chosen a great city – Peterborough – to move to!

Rob Tonus, Peterborough

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Paul Anderson)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Paul Anderson)

Sapsucker holes in mountain-ash - Rob Tonus

Sapsucker holes in mountain-ash – Rob Tonus



May 292016

Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) (1)
– Reported May 26, 2016 20:15 by Matthew Tobey
– Fleming Forest, Peterborough, Ontario
– Media: 1 Photo

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris) (1)
– Reported May 27, 2016 07:47 by Joshua D. Vandermeulen
– CA–ON–PETE–Havelock–study site (2015), Peterborough, Ontario

Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera) (1)
– Reported May 27, 2016 08:24 by Daniel Williams
– KLT Ingleton-Wells Property, Peterborough, Ontario

Olive-sided Flycatcher - Wikimedia

Olive-sided Flycatcher – Wikimedia

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - Wikimedia

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – Wikimedia

Blue-winged Warbler - Wikimedia

Blue-winged Warbler – Wikimedia

May 262016

I heard and saw the first Bobolinks May 10 and managed some photos more recently. The males perch right on the tip of an apple tree branch to sing.  I’ve also included pictures of two cormorants on one of their favourite perches on the river just south of Lakefield near the entrance to the Greenhouse garden centre on May 21.

Gwen Forsyth, Lakefield

Bobolink (male) - Gwen Forsyth

Bobolink (male) – Gwen Forsyth

Double-crested Cormorant - May 2016 - Gwen Forsyth

Double-crested Cormorant – May 2016 – Gwen Forsyth

Double-crested Cormorants in tree - May 2016 - Gwen Forsyth

Double-crested Cormorants in tree – May 2016 – Gwen Forsyth

May 222016

On the morning of May 17 on roads west of Highway 7A, there were abundant Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, two Brown Thrashers, Savannah Sparrows, Eastern Kingbirds, Tree Swallows, and several Baltimore Orioles together in a shrub.

Enid Mallory

Eastern Meadowlark - Karl Egressy

Eastern Meadowlark – Karl Egressy

Brown Thrasher  - Ken Thomas WM

Brown Thrasher – Ken Thomas