Saturday, 30 July 2011

Crow Joke

Where does a crow go for a drink?
To the crow bar of course!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Garden Spider

Garden Spider, Araneus diadematus
This orb weaver is a very agreeable resident of our garden. It eats the remains of its web made the previous night and spins a new one each night. Flying and jumping insects are the mainstay of its diet.


Eagles soaring over
Peaks and crags.
Wilderness unspoiled.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


Monarch, Danaus plexippus
28 July 2010
We planted milkweed in our garden for the express purpose of attracting Monarchs and it has worked spectacularly. Now that the plant is in full bloom it is a magnet for this butterfly which is certainly the most well-known in North America and perhaps the world. In about a month Monarchs will begin their long migration to Mexico and the local population will be greatly increased by migrants as they stream through southern Ontario.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
This juvenile bird in transition to first basic plumage was observed at Amberley, ON on the shores of Lake Huron, on 3 October 2010. It certainly presents an unusual appearance.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk, Tamias striatus
Rarely is our backyard ever without a chipmunk or two scampering around, or filching seed from one of the bird feeders. They are friendly little creatures, very confiding and easily persuaded to feed from the hand. We enjoy their company very much.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Mallard Rescue

Rescue of Trapped Mallard Ducklings
by Karen Lichty (my sister-in-law)
21 July 2011

So off to the club we go
We round the corner and oh no....
Mama duck is loudly quacking
But wait..Peep Peep, Peep Peep, what's happening?
The little ones, where are they?
Among the rocks? Have they lost their way?
There. The dreaded grate!
How much longer can we wait?
At last! Some help is on the way.
Four strong hands, lift it up, move it away.
Mama and her little ones reunited.
Today it was the hottest day.
Poor things.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus carota
Queen Anne's Lace is ubiquitous and beautiful in southern Ontario at this time of the year and has long been one of my favourites. It is often overlooked because of its abundance but I find it truly beautiful. These two pictures were taken at West Perth Wetlands in Mitchell, ON on 23 July 2011.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus
24 May 2010
The gardens and lawns of our neighbourhood provide very desirable habitat for the Eastern Cottontail and we see them frequently. No doubt they are a bane to some gardeners but we find them quite delightful and are glad when we find them in our yard, as we did this individual. Sometimes after a hard winter it appears that their numbers crash, but they soon recover and they are a permanent part of our suburban landscape.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias
6 August 2009
This picture was taken as the bird lifted into the air along the Conestogo River in St. Jacobs, ON. One can clearly see the full complement of flight feathers as the bird powers itself into the air with a full downstroke.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Favourite Music Featuring Birds

My Ten Favourite Pieces of Music
Featuring Birds
1. The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
2. The Swan in The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens.
3. On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring by Frederick Delius.
4. The overture to The Thieving Magpie (La Gazza Ladra) by Giochino Rossini.
5. The 6th Symphony, The Pastoral, by Ludwig Von Beethoven. In the cadenza at the end of the work the nightingale, the quail and the cuckoo are featured.
6. The Swan of Tuonela by Jean Sibelius.
7. The Birds (Gli Uccelli) by Otterino Respighi.
8. The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi. In the "Summer" movement a portion is dedicated to the cuckoo, the turtle dove and the finch.
9. Birdsong (Le Chant des Oiseaux) by Clément Janequin.
10. (There'll be bluebirds over) The White Cliffs of Dover sung by Vera Lynn.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


Mallard, Anas platyrynchos
10 July 2011
This male is in eclipse plumage having been flightless for a period of weeks. Mallards, unlike most species, undergo a complete moult of flight feathers at one time and form "bachelor clubs" of flightless males. This picture, taken at Humber Bay Park East in Toronto, ON shows the characteristic head colour of the male growing back and replacing the female type colouration which prevailed during the flightless period.

Western Osprey

Western Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
12 July 2011
Ospreys have made a fine comeback after many years of being under severe threat from the insidious effects of organochlorine pesticides and other noxious chemicals. This pair is nesting along the Grand Valley Trail in Bloomingdale, ON. One picture shows nesting material being delivered to an already occupied nest; it is perhaps part of ongoing pair-bonding activity to keep the nest constantly refurbished. The second picture shows a large fish being delivered to the sitting partner.

Common Tern

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo
The graceful choreography of a Common Tern as it slices through the air while patrolling above the water in search of fish. Port Credit Waterfront, Mississauga, ON. 10 July 2011

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
We observed this individual on 19 June 2011 at the Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs, ON. It swam ashore and chewed vigorously at the stream side vegetation until it had this substantial mouthful; then it re-entered the water and swam to the opposite bank where it disappeared under the water, presumably to its den.

Eastern Garter Snake

Eastern Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis
This attractive snake is common in our area, but is seldom seen. This one was predominantly concealed and slithered away quickly. It was viewed on the Health Valley Trail in Waterloo on 5 July 2011.

Midland Painted Turtle

Midland Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta marginata
Two individuals basking in the sun on the Health Valley Trail, Waterloo on 15 July 2011.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilo glaucus, is a regular summer visitor in our backyard and has been seen consistently throughout late June until the present. The pictures show a mature male and an intermediate female. For some reason they seem to be especially attracted to our parsley plant.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Mute Swan

Mute Swans breeding at
Colonel Samuel Smith Park, Toronto, ON
For many years Mute Swan, Cygnus olor, has been a regular breeder along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Southern Ontario. These images were captured on 4 June 2005.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove
On 5 June 2005 at Colonel Samuel Smith Park in Toronto, ON this freshly hatched Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura, was observed in the nest with the remaining egg of the usual clutch of two for this species remaining to hatch.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Green Frog

Green Frog, Rana clamitans melanota
On 17 July 2011 we observed this frog calmly sitting at the side of the path on the Mill Race Trail, St. Jacobs, ON, completely undisturbed by our presence.

Chipping Sparrow host for Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird Parasitizing
Chipping Sparrow Nest
This nest of a Chipping Sparrow, Spizella passerina in an ornamental cedar in front of our house contains two eggs of the brood parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater. The egg of the host species had been ejected and the pieces are shown here. Since egg laying by the female Brown-headed Cowbird is random it is likely that two individuals laid in the same host nest. We observed the Chipping Sparrow incubating for one day on 9 July 2011, after which it abandoned the nest.

Cliff Swallow

Cliff Swallow
There is a sizeable colony of Cliff Swallows, Hirundo pyrrhonota on the walls of a restaurant at Bronte Harbour, Oakville, ON. The picture of these two nestlings peering from their nest was taken on 10 July 2011.

Red-Necked Grebe

Red-Necked Grebes at
Colonel Samuel Smith Park, Toronto, ON
10 July 2011
Two pairs of Red-necked Grebe, Podiceps grisegena, were occupying the same part of a lagoon and there was considerable hostility between them. They were constantly facing off against each other and the two photographs above show a little of the agonistic behaviour we observed.

Brown-headed Cowbird with Yellow Warbler "Parent."

Brown-headed Cowbird fledgling
being fed by Yellow Warbler
While birding at Humber Bay Park East in Toronto on 10 July 2011 we observed this young Brown-headed Cowbird, Molothrus ater (one of two) being fed by a male Yellow Warbler, Dendroica petechia. When we observed this activity we never once saw a female Yellow Warbler so we concluded that for whatever reason the male was left to satisfy these gargantuan offspring alone. It was a non-stop feeding frenzy during the time we watched with two begging, vociferous, belligerent cowbirds giving the warbler no rest.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

American Robin

American Robin, Turdus migratorius
Last year we had the good fortune to have American Robins nest in our yard. We were able to monitor the activity from the very earliest days of nest construction to the successful fledging of four offspring.
The pictures above show the sequence of events on the following dates:
1. 12 May 2010 - Adult with a beak full of nesting material.
2. 20 May 2010 - Four eggs in the nest.
3. 31 May 2010 - Four tiny hatchlings.
4. 08 June 2010 - Four well developed nestlings.
5. 07 July 2010 - A successful fledgling perched on the back of a chair.


Early Morning Serenity
at T. J. Dolan Wildlife Area, Stratford, ON
These ducklings are as big as their mother now and presented a serene image as they slowly glided by, on the Avon River, with mist rising off the water and wispy feathers floating in the air.

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow, Spizella passerina
Our backyard has been blessed during the latter part of June and on into July with several Chipping Sparrows feeding their young. The garden provides lots of cover, water and abundant food and we are seldom without several of these delightful birds to entertain us. They are quite confiding and will come right up to our feet as we sit on the patio. The pictures show a juvenile, and an adult with a juvenile on the mulch.


Bobolink, Dolichonyx oryzivorus
While birding at the West Perth Wetlands in Mitchell, ON we seemed to have strayed too close to the nest of a pair of Boblinks. The female stayed low in the grasses but the male was clearly very agitated and scolded us without ceasing until we moved farther along and presumably a safe distance from the nest.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow, Melospiza melodia
An adult with a beak full of protein to be delivered to the hungry mouths in the nest. This picture was taken at T.J. Dolan Wildlife Area, Stratford, ON.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat, Geothlypis trichas
This is a busy time of the year for small songbirds. This pair of Common Yellowthroats was industriously collecting food for their young at T.J. Dolan Wildlife Area in Stratford, ON.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.