Nov 282018
 
  • Again this year, there are many Snowy Owls in the Lindsay area, especially between Oakwood and Little Britain. On several occasions, as many as three have been seen in the same field. Carl Welbourn, Kawartha Camera Club

    Snowy Owl – Nov. 29, 2018 – Lindsay area – Carl Welbourn

    Snowy Owl 2 – Nov. 29, 2018 – Carl Welbourn

     

  • Today, November 29, I had an American Kestrel turn up at my house in Campbellford and was able to get a picture of it eating a vole.  Donald Munro

  • On Friday, November 23 about 8:30 am a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks, maybe 6-8, were flitting about one of the our feeders. It’s been at least 8 years since I’ve seen these magnificent birds. After a few minutes, the group flew next door so I wasn’t able to get a really good view, but two returned and remained a while so I was rewarded, glued to my binoculars. I do hope they stay around. Stephenie Armstrong, Warsaw

    Male Evening Grosbeak – Wikimedia

    Female Evening Grosbeak – photo by Jeff Keller

 

  • I had a female Red-bellied Woodpecker and two female Pine Grosbeaks in my yard today. She was eating crab apples. Donald Munro, Campbellford

Female Red-belllied Woodpecker eating crabapple – November 2018 – Donald Munro

 

  • Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) (3)
    – Reported Nov 22, 2018 08:00 by Iain Rayner
    – Trent Rowing club, Peterborough, Ontario
    Map:
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50125087
    – Comments: “3 frosty coloured 1st winter birds seen at same time on dump pile. Frosty, pale primaries, same size as HERG, round heads and all dark bills.”

 

  • Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) (1)
    – Reported Nov 22, 2018 11:45 by Dave Milsom
    – Peterborough–Trent University Canal Nature Area, Peterborough, Ontario
    Map:
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50128298
    – Media: 1 Photo
    – Comments: “continuing 1st-year bird”

 

  • Jake Lake (Apsley, Peterborough County) Common Loon Survey 2018       (click on image to read)

Jack Lake 2018 Common Loon Survey (from Steven Kerr, Jack Lake Association)

  • Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) (1)
    – Reported Nov 19, 2018 12:20 by Robert Walker Ormston
    – Peterborough–Rotary Park & Walkway, Peterborough, Ontario
    Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.3128468,-78.313466&ll=44.3128468,-78.313466
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50054347
    – Comments: “Most of the birds seen on list seen harassing this owl. Sitting close to the top of a white pine in a stand of white pine. A number of birds were around a fairly small area of the stand making agitated calls. Went to investigate and found owl after about 5 minutes.small pale and light brown owl lacking “ears” about 8to 10 meters up tree”

    Saw-whet Owl banding – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
    – Reported Nov 18, 2018 14:33 by Donald A. Sutherland
    – Peterborough Regional Health Centre, Peterborough CA-ON (44.3001,-78.3470), Peterborough, Ontario
    Map:
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50047143
    – Comments: “perched atop tower on roof of PRHC”

 

  • Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) (1)
    – Reported Nov 18, 2018 10:25 by Iain Rayner
    – Trent Rowing club, Peterborough, Ontario
    Map:
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50023765
    – Comments: “Continuing 1st year”

    Iceland Gull (Crossley Guide) First winter bird is lower left. Some are browner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) (1)
    – Reported Nov 18, 2018 15:35 by Luke Berg
    – Otonabee River–Nassau Mills Dam to Lock 22, Peterborough, Ontario
    Map:
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S50031280
    – Comments: “Continuing bird flying up river at the rowing club. Seen earlier around 11:30 as well. ”

    Glaucous Gull (adult) – Wikimedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • We’ve seen a male Red-bellied Woodpecker eating suet from our feeder twice in the last two weeks. We live 2 km south of Trent University. Gorgeous bird! Doug Sadler’s book “Our Heritage of Birds – Peterborough County in the Kawarthas” – copyright 1983, lists this bird as a rare occasional visitor, this being the northern edge of its range. I’m wondering how frequently they are being seen here now. Is their range moving north because of climate change? Liz Sine                           N.B. Red-bellied Woodpeckers have actually become rather common in recent years. They are being seen all over the County, even on the Shield and right in Peterborough. I believe we saw six on last year’s Christmas Bird Count. Climate change most likely plays a role in the expansion northward of this southern species.

    Red-bellied Woodpecker – Lynde Creek, Whitby- Photo by Brian Crangle

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Update on Pat Edward’s Baltimore Oriole (see Nov. 7 below) The last we saw of the oriole was Tues., Nov. 13th. We headed up north very early in the morning on the bitter cold day – Wed. the 14th so we didn’t put out his feeder as it would have froze. We hung the feeder out again the following day (Nov. 15th) when we were back but we never saw him. It was very cold then as well. We did take a couple of pictures as he would show up early in the morning and if my husband didn’t have his feeder out, he would go to the sunflower one about 4′ away which we found very unusual. As soon as Kevin put out the oriole feeder, he would be there right away!! He must have gone to the feeder the last week I would say at least 50X a day.  It was such a treat to see him – he gave us lots of enjoyment and we just hope he survived that bitter weather. Pat Edwards, Ennismore

    Baltimore Oriole – Nov. 12, 2018 – Ennismore – Pat Edwards

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) (1)
    – Reported Nov 17, 2018 11:05 by Erica Nol
    – Douro 5th Line, Peterborough, Ontario
    Map:
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S49995989
    – Comments: “continuing bird; in trees 50 m north of dead end on Douro 5th Line; white wing patches in flight”

    Northern Mockingbird – Gord Mallory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Today, November 17, I had 24+ Evening Grosbeaks at feeder 733 Ford Crescent in Cavan. Long time since I saw them last. Great sight. Ken Rumble

male Evening Grosbeak (Gord Belyea)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I thought you might be interested (I’m watching the birds more closely today, November 16, as they are looking for food as the snow falls heavily) that I just saw a White-crowned Sparrow trying to eat at the sunflower feeder, but he couldn’t get a perch. Must be a migrant trying to get to better weather! Jane Bremner, Douro-Dummer

White-crowned Sparrow – Mike Barker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) (1)
    – Reported Nov 16, 2018 08:30 by Mike V.A. Burrell
    – Peterborough–Robinson Place, Peterborough, Ontario
    – Map: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&z=13&q=44.3032345,-78.31786&ll=44.3032345,-78.31786
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S49968782
    – Comments: “adult sitting on very top of south tower.”

    Peregrine Falcon (Wikimedia photo)

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) (1)
    – Reported Nov 14, 2018 09:50 by Ben Taylor
    – Trent Rowing Club, Peterborough, Ontario
    Map:
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S49933377
    – Comments: “Continuing bird with tan streaking and small. all-dark bill. Slightly smaller than the GLGU.
  • Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) (1)
    – Reported Nov 14, 2018 09:50 by Ben Taylor
    – Trent Rowing Club, Peterborough, Ontario
    Map:
    – Checklist: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S49933377
    – Comments: “Continuing bird. Juvenile with long bi-coloured bill.”
  • On November 15, I had both a male and female Pine Grosbeak in my crab apple tree. A Pileated Woodpecker has also been coming to the tree. Donald Munroe, Campbellford

    Male Pine Grosbeak eating crab apples – Don Munroe – November 15, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I can’t believe how busy my yard has been the last couple of weeks. Today, November 14, I had 15 species, including a female Pine Grosbeak eating crab apples, a Northern Flicker, my first American Tree Sparrow of the year, a Purple Finch and a late White-throated Sparrow. This is better than summer! In the last two weeks I have had 20 species, including 12+ Common Redpolls on November 9. That same day, I also had 3 Pine Grosbeaks feeding in my crab apple.  I could clearly see the dirty yellow, orange/brown head and rump and the wing bars. The one bird’s rump had a bit of red. I think it was an immature male and the others were females. Sue Paradisis, Peterborough

American Tree Sparrow (Karl Egressy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • On November 8, I had 3 Evening Grosbeaks eating seeds with the chickadees. I bought very inexpensive feeders from the dollar store. They are green plastic trays hung by chains. The birds can fly in or perch on sides – even the woodpeckers.

 

  • This past spring and summer I had 3 pairs of Baltimore Orioles. I put grape jelly in an oriole feeder and my hummingbird feeders, the glass style with yellow ant block. I removed the yellow plastic and using sugar and water the orioles came to feed over and over again. When you remove yellow plastic ant block, all the birds join in with hummingbirds, woodpeckers and chickadees. As well my robin arrived this spring for the third year now. He comes to the deck rail and looks in the patio door for raisins. He just loves them! Esther Ross, Islandview Drive Bailieboro

 

  • I had removed all my oriole/hummingbird feeders in September after which I had not seen either of those birds around. The last week in October, we saw a male Baltimore oriole flying by.  I spotted it one day on our lilac tree so I made up some feed for him and put up the feeder where it always has been.  Within an hour, it had been discovered!  We bring the feeder in at dusk so the raccoons don’t get it as they have in the past. As of November 7, it has been here 10 days at the feeder, probably well over 30x a day.  We love seeing it and I’ve enclosed a couple of pictures. It has crossed my mind however, whether I should be feeding it, as it should have left to go south for warmer temperatures and I would hate the thought of it dying.  Pat Edwards, Ennismore  N.B. I think it’s fine to feed the bird, especially given the cold conditions. It may leave on its own or possibly try to stay all winter. This has happened in the past! Pat Edwards, Ennismore 

Baltimore Oriole – Ennismore – November 7, 2018 – Pat-Edwards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • On November 7, three Trumpeter Swans flew over my house at 10:30 am west of causeway on #7 highway, Omemee. Gavin Hunter

    A pair of Trumpeter Swans on the Pigeon River – February 25, 2017 – Karen Cooper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • On November 4, I had 8 Evening Grosbeaks show up in my yard. They didn’t stay long as the platform feeders had been cleaned out by the earlier birds.
    Sue Paradisis, Peterborough

 

  • Jack Lake 2018 Turtle Observations (Steve Kerr)

Thirty-three individuals reported turtle sightings from the Jack Lake area in 2018.  Ninety-one turtles, comprised of four different species.

Blanding’s Turtle – 7
Midland Painted Turtle – 43
Northern Map Turtle – 6
Snapping Turtle – 34

Blanding’s Turtle – Rick Stankiewicz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 192017
 

Bird numbers and diversity at feeders at feeders depends on wild seed abundance

If you’ve been paying attention to coniferous trees this fall, you’ve probably noticed the abundance of cones on many species. Cedars and spruce, for example, have produced an especially heavy crop. The quantity of seed on sugar maples, too, is of epic proportions, most likely in response to last summer’s drought. In fact, the maples put so much energy into manufacturing seeds that the leaves on many trees never grew to their normal size.

The relative abundance of seed has a ripple effect on other species, as well. For instance, it goes a long way to telling us what birds are most likely to keep us company in the coming months. Anyone who feeds or watches birds knows that the relative abundance and diversity of species varies widely from one winter to the next. Last year, for example, thousands of robins overwintered in the Kawarthas. This was largely due to an abundance of wild grape. American goldfinches and purple finches were also very common. Other species, such as pine siskins, were almost completely absent.

The fluctuation in winter bird abundance is most noticeable in a group known as winter or northern finches. The term is used to describe highly nomadic species like redpolls, siskins, purple finches and pine grosbeaks, all of which belong to the Fringillidae family. Some winters, they don’t show up at all, while other years there are so many that they empty your feeder in only a day or two.

Northern finches move south – or sometimes east or west – in late fall when there is a shortage of seeds in their breeding range, which extends across Canada’s boreal forest. Seeds come in many forms. These include berries (e.g., mountain-ash), catkins (e.g., birch) and cones (e.g., spruce). In the case of cones, the seeds are located under the scales. The key seeds affecting finch movements are those of white and yellow birches, alders, American mountain-ashes, pines and spruces. If seed crops are good in the boreal forest, the birds usually stay put. If food is lacking, they will sometimes fly thousands of kilometres to find it. Whether they actually choose to spend the winter in central Ontario and the Kawarthas depends mainly on the abundance of seed crops here.

Since the fall of 1999, Ron Pittaway of the Ontario Field Ornithologists has prepared an annual forecast of what winter finch species are most likely to make an appearance in southern and central Ontario during the coming fall and winter. The forecast is based on information he collects on the relative abundance of seed crops in the boreal forest. According to Pittaway, cone crops across northeastern North America are of bumper proportions this year – maybe the best in a decade or more. Given the amount of food available, this should be a banner winter to see cone-loving species such as pine siskins and both white-winged and red crossbills. The big question, however, is whether these birds will concentrate in only some areas or be spread out across the entire northeast.

Finch forecasts

1. Pine Siskins – Siskins should be common in the Kawarthas this winter, drawn here primarily by the abundant cone crops on spruce. They will almost certainly turn up at nyger seed feeders, as well.

2. Common Redpoll – Redpolls, too, are likely to put in an appearance. The birch and alder seed crops on which they depend are below average in northern Ontario, so they won’t be hanging around. However, this southbound movement may be slowed or stopped as soon as they discover adequate food supplies. If redpolls do make it to the Kawarthas, good local birch seed crops and an abundance of weedy fields should keep them here. You can also expect them at your nyger seed feeder. If a flock of redpolls graces your backyard, watch for small numbers of hoary redpolls. They tend to be larger, paler and smaller-billed than common redpolls.

3. Crossbills – Thanks to the crossed tips of the upper and lower mandibles of their bill,   crossbills are able to specialize in removing seeds from beneath the scales of conifer cones. Red crossbills prefer pine cones, while white-winged crossbills are attracted mostly to spruce, tamarack and hemlock. There should be a good showing of red crossbills in central Ontario in the coming weeks and months. In fact, many will probably take time to breed, despite the snow and cold. Both species of crossbills are able to nest at any time of the year if food is abundant. Watch for streaked juvenile birds.

Red crossbills are of particular interest to scientists who study evolution. Research suggests that there are nine or ten discrete populations, each of which specializes in a different conifer species. They do not interbreed and may represent different species. Careful examination shows differences in body size and in the length of the bill tip (degree of “crossing”). Most types are impossible to identify, however, without analyzing recordings of their flight calls. Matt Young, a researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, is studying red crossbills and needs your help. He is asking people to use their smartphone to record the birds’ flight calls and to send him the recordings at may6@cornell.edu He will then identify which of the populations the birds belong to and let you know.

White-winged crossbills move east and west like a pendulum across North America, searching for bumper cone crops. Large numbers have already arrived in parts of the northeast, where they’ve been gorging on spruce seeds. There’s a good possibility that they will also turn up in the Kawarthas, too, and probably right here in Peterborough. Watch and listen for their loud trilling songs given from tree tops and during circular, slow-flapping display flights. Algonquin Park, however, is usually the best place to see these birds. Both red and white-winged are often observed right on Highway 60, where they glean grit and salt from winter road maintenance operations. Unfortunately, crossbills rarely come to feeders.

4. Pine Grosbeak – Most pine grosbeaks will probably stay put this winter, since the mountain-ash berry crop is abundant across the north. A few might get south to Algonquin Park, but they are unlikely to turn up in the Kawarthas. When they do make an incursion into central Ontario, they usually found feeding on European mountain-ash and ornamental crabapples. Considered the most beautiful of the boreal finches, pine grosbeaks can be surprisingly tame.

5. Evening Grosbeak – Most evening grosbeaks are expected to remain in the north this winter. However, you can usually see grosbeaks by checking out the feeders at the Visitor Centre in Algonquin Park. In 2016, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) declared the evening grosbeak as a species of Special Concern due to worrisome population declines.

6. Purple finch – Most purple finches will stay north this winter, thanks to the heavy seed crops on conifers and mountain-ashes. They usually appear at my feeder in early fall, but this year I’ve haven’t seen any. An easy way to tell purple finches from look-alike house finches is by checking the tip of the tail; the former has a distinctly notched or slightly forked tail, whereas the house finch’s tail is squared off. Both species prefer black oil sunflower seeds at feeders.

Non-finch species

1. Blue Jay – Thanks to a good crop of acorns, beechnuts and hazelnuts, large numbers of blue jays will probably remain in the Kawarthas this fall and winter. I am already noticing above-average numbers.

2. Red-breasted nuthatch: Like many of the finches, this species depends primarily on conifer seeds. Pittaway is therefore predicting large numbers in central Ontario this winter. This was certainly the case on Thanksgiving weekend at Big Gull Lake, south of Bon Echo Provincial Park. Red-breasted nuthatches were by far the most common bird.

3. Bohemian waxwing: Most bohemians should stay in the north, because of the large berry crop on American mountain-ash. That being said, we almost always see at least a few flocks of this species in the Kawarthas every winter. This may be partly due to the local abundance of European buckthorn, a non-native shrub that produces a large berry crop every year. Bohemian waxwings are also attracted to European mountain-ash and ornamental crabapples.

4. American robins:  Although not part of Pittaway’s forecast, I suspect that robin numbers will be low this winter, given the poor crop of wild grape. Last year, thousands of robins overwintered here and gorged themselves primarily on abundant wild grapes.

The best way to stay on top of bird movements across Ontario is to subscribe to Ontbirds. You will receive a daily digest of sightings. Sign up at ontbirds.ca/mailman/listinfo/birdalert_ontbirds.ca To follow what’s happening locally, I recommend using eBird. When you go to the website, click on “Explore Data” and then “Explore a Region”. Type in “Peterborough, Ontario”. Choose “Current Year” and then click on “Set”. You will see an up-to-date list of all species seen in the area. By clicking on “Species Name”, the birds will appear in the same order as in your field guide. By clicking on the date, you will see where the bird was seen, along with other species observed at the same location.

Project FeederWatch

If you feed birds, you can support research and conservation by taking part in Project FeederWatch. Simply count the kinds and numbers of birds at your feeder, and then submit your observations. This information helps scientists study winter bird populations. To register, go to birdscanada.org/volunteer/pfw/ or call Bird Studies Canada at 1-888-448-2473.

 

 

 

 

Feb 072015
 

Yesterday, we saw our first White-tailed Deer, six healthy looking animals checking out the bird feeders as they crossed our property, heading for the river. In the eight years we have been here, we have regularly seen groups of deer throughout the winter months, often with higher numbers, but this winter, until yesterday, we had only seen the tracks of a lone deer, with what looked like a Coyote’s track following the same route. Since we haven’t had heavy snowfalls, possibly the deer have been staying within the wooded areas of Warsaw Caves rather than touring their regular deer yard. However, last winter was a hard one for the deer, so I am wondering whether their numbers might be down. I think I have read that a female can re-absorb the fetus if she is malnourished due to a difficult winter. Then there is the possibility of an increased population of Coyotes taking their toll on the deer. Have any of your correspondence noted any decline in the local deer population? (NOTE: No, I have not heard of any decline. D.M.)

Back in December, I wrote to you with news that we had 21 Common Redpolls on or below our niger seed feeders. Since then, the numbers have climbed somewhat, varying between 25 and 45, but today, February 6, we counted at least 60. Some of the birds have also shown an interest in our large turning circle after it was gritted, possibly eating some of the gritting mixture, though I don’t know what part of the mix is attracting them.

Some winters we’ve had high numbers of goldfinches, other years the Pine Siskins, but this year, for us, is definitely the winter of the redpolls.

Stephenie Armstrong

Common Redpoll - male - Tim Dyson

Common Redpoll – male – Tim Dyson

White-tailed Deer -Karl Egressy

White-tailed Deer -Karl Egressy

Dec 102014
 

On December 7, we had 21 Common Redpolls on or below the niger seed feeder, along with one lone American Goldfinch. Recently, we’ve only seen a few goldfinches and Pine Siskins, so possibly this will be the winter of the redpolls, as was suggested in the Examiner.

Stephenie and Peter Armstrong, Warsaw

Common Redpoll - male - Tim Dyson

Common Redpoll – male – Tim Dyson

Oct 132014
 

Yesterday, (the 12th of October), while walking a road north of Belmont Lake, a small flock of eight Common Redpolls flew overhead. I pished them down onto a fencerow, where they stayed for a short time before flying off again. I checked Ron Pittaway`s 2014 Winter Finch Forecast on the Ontario Field Ornithologists site, and yes, he says we should expect to see them this year. So, I guess it has begun.

There have been many White-crowned Sparrows around for more than a week now, with a smaller number of White-throated Sparrows. I can`t remember seeing so many White-crowneds before, and in such large groups either – 30 to 40 together in some cases.

After a dry spell of about a week, I just saw my 211th Monarch (see photo below) of 2014 a few days ago.
After seeing only 32 during all of 2013, I am happy to see that for now at least, their numbers seem to be way up from last year`s dismal showing.

I have not kept as busy of late, watching the autumn raptor migration as I was back in September, but will soon report the few highlights since my last raptor posting.

Tim Dyson
Cordova Mines

(Notes:  Fred Ford of Oshawa also reports Common Redpolls. They have been coming to his feeder since October 8. A few small flocks of another winter finch, the Pine Siskin, have also been seen locally in the past week. Like Tim Dyson, I also had a late Monarch butterfly. I saw mine on Oct. 11. – D. Monkman)

Common Redpoll - male - Tim Dyson

Common Redpoll – male – Tim Dyson

Monarch # 211 - 2014 - Tim Dyson

Monarch # 211 – 2014 – Tim Dyson