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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.