Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chickadee Update

Black-capped Chickadees
in the nest
29 June 2013

    Here is the latest picture of the baby chickadees rapidly developing inside their tea kettle nest box. Pretty soon we'll be looking for them to leave its safety and venture forth into the world.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

House Sparrow Bathing

House Sparrow Passer domesticus Bathing
29 June 2013

    It is sometimes hard to believe that other than for the feather-cleaning necessity of bathing, birds do not simply enjoy a bath in the same way that we do. This female House Sparrow returned time and again to splash in our bird bath, far beyond what was required for feather maintenance it seemed to me. It appeared simply to delight in splashing in the water in the bright sunshine of a late June day.

Northern Cardinal Eating Caterpillar

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Eating Caterpillar
29 June 2013

    Studies of the diet of the Northern Cardinal reveal that the food habits of cardinals change throughout the year. During the colder months, roughly from November through April, vegetable material comprises about 75% of all food eaten. During the warmer months, from May through October, animal material makes up a significant component of the diet of this species, peaking in July at about 65%. 
    This male was seen devouring a caterpillar on the fence in our yard this morning. It was a fearsome looking specimen and the cardinal banged it around quite a bit to subdue it before consuming it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Black-capped Chickadee Young

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
Young in Nest
26 June 2013

    Not the greatest pictures to be sure, but we wanted to record an image as quickly as possible and close up the nest box. As you can see "our" chickadee chicks are developing well and emergent feather tracts are clearly visible. For at least two days the parents have been delivering sunflower seed hearts along with the normal protein fare to their young. It won't be long before these young birds fledge.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
City View Park, Burlington, ON
23 June 2013

    There were many Tree Swallows with recently fledged young swooping over the meadows and catching the rich supply of aerial insects. Many of the young would simply perch in a tree or on a fence row and wait for the adults to deliver food. It is quite amazing to watch the skill of the adults as they zoom in and deliver an insect to their offspring barely slowing down in the process. Based on my observation these young birds will be well provisioned for their first migration to be undertaken in a couple of months.

                             Adult and young on a fence


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Noteworthy Quotes - Sigmund Freud

Noteworthy Quotes
Sigmund Freud

    Humanity has in the course of time had to endure from the hands of science two great outrages upon its naive self-love. The first was when it realized that our earth was not the centre of the universe, but only a speck in a world-system of a magnitude hardly conceivable.........
    The second was when biological research robbed man of his particular privilege of having been specially created, and relegated him to a descent from the animal world.

Young Friends in our Back Yard

Young Friends in our Back Yard
22 June 2013

    As mentioned in an earlier post we are blessed with a variety of young birds in our back yard and you can see a few of them below. It is particularly interesting that the Brown-headed Cowbird is no longer being fed by its surrogate Chipping Sparrow parents, and seems to have "adopted" us in some strange way. It rarely seems to feed far from us and when it is sated for a while settles down about a metre or so from our chairs and sleeps. We are happy to have it hang out with us!

               Juvenile House Finch and Brown-headed Cowbird atop feeder

                                                 Juvenile American Robin

                                 Juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird

Chickadee Feeding Schedule

Chickadee Feeding Schedule
23 June 2013

    I thought it would be interesting to quantify the feeding regimen of the Black-capped Chickadee family in our yard, so I sat out this morning and recorded the activity.

Feeding time            Comments
06:11:38                 One adult stayed in the nest box
06:23:05                 One adult came out; the other delivered food
06:38:00                 One adult stayed in the nest box
06:42:10                 Passed food inside
06:44:30                 Delivered food to other parent in nest box
06:46:30                 Passed food inside
06:47:39                 Passed food inside
06:56:41                 Delivered food to other parent in nest box 

    As you can see the adults are kept very busy. In between feeding the young they visit a sunflower feeder to stock up on energy themselves.                      

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dian Fossey - Scientists and Facts

A quote from Dian Fossey about Scientists and Facts

    I am presently well into a book about Dian Fossey by the renowned Canadian author Farley Mowat, and the following comment made by Dian Fossey has more than a ring of truth to it:

Data gathering surely is important, but things haven't changed much from the days when scientists shot everything in sight to gather data.  They built their reputations then on mainly dead animals. Now they use live animals too, but the principle is the same. Alive or dead, you use the data to pile up a lot of research papers until you've got enough to get "silverback" status. Nothing terribly wrong with that, except that many modern scientists, just like their predecessors, don't seem to care if the study species perish, just so that they'll get all the facts they need about them first.

    It always horrifies me when I read about a new species of bird being discovered, to be immediately followed by specimens being taken. There seems to me to be no justification at all for shooting birds any longer.

Chickadee Update

Chickadee Update
21 June 2013

    A quick check revealed six hungry mouths open and waiting for the industrious parents to come and stuff food into them. It's going to be an enjoyable experience watching this brood develop.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Black-capped Chickadee Nest

Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
Successful Nest
19 June 2013

    Last year Miriam's daughter, Erin, gave us a bird house based on the design of a tea kettle. Although superficially decorative, it is in fact well insulated to keep the temperature inside relatively constant, and has a latched door at the back for ease of viewing. This spring we placed a few twigs inside so that any prospective occupant would have the illusion of needing to clean out the cavity, and it was not long before we noticed a pair of Black-capped Chickadees inspecting it. After a few days we were pretty sure that they had set up home there and a quick check of the interior confirmed that fact. A neat cup nest contained eggs. The nest was placed off to one side and we could only see two eggs, although the normal clutch is from five to ten, but we examined the contents of the nest box very quickly for fear of disturbing the occupants too much. No doubt there were more than two eggs.
   On 19 June we suspected that the eggs had hatched and a quick examination revealed newly hatched young. We quickly closed up the box and have not checked again. The two devoted parents are kept busy ferrying food to their brood, interspersing that activity with a quick visit to the bird feeder, which we are keeping well stocked with sunflower seed, to gain food for themselves. 
    We are delighted, to say the least, that we have a breeding pair of chickadees in our yard and we look forward to seeing the young emerge from the nest.
    Thanks Erin for a great gift!

                                      The tea kettle house

                                                 Adult about to enter

                                                  Adult exiting

                                                Taking food to hungry babies

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

African Quilts

African Quilts with
Bird Themes

    Recently Miriam, a person with a life-long interest in quilts, and a quilter of some merit herself, attended an exhibition of quilts from Africa, in London, ON. Among the varied stunning exhibits, it was remarkable to see how many of the quilts featured birds as the focal point of the work, to say nothing of the other wildlife depicted in many of the quilts.
    I wish that I had had the opportunity to go with her since I am always impressed by the sheer artistic skill of quilters, and I have a deep and abiding admiration for the people who transform pieces of fabric into true works of art.
    Congratulations to the organizers of this presentation of African quilts.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow Ammodramus savannarum
City View Park, Burlington, ON
15 June 2013

    We watched this singing male Grasshopper Sparrow for about fifteen minutes, during which time he sang almost nonstop, and was still doing so when we left. 

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla
City View Park
Burlington, ON 
15 July 2013

    City View Park in Burlington is somewhat of a magnet for grassland sparrows given the relatively large area of undisturbed pasture land present there. This Field Sparrow was but one of several species we located there yesterday.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How Quickly They Grow

How Quickly They Grow
11 June 2013

    It was just a few short weeks ago that these young Canada Geese Branta canadensis were no more that tiny balls of yellow down and now they are bigger than Mallards Anas platyrynchos, with evidence of adult feathers already coming in.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
11 June 2013
Pond at Creekside Church

        This handsome Great Blue Heron in full nuptial plumage was photographed in one of the small ponds at the east side of Creekside Church parking lot.

Young Birds in our Back Yard

Young Birds in our Back Yard
12 June 2013

    Every year we seem to be blessed with a variety of young birds of different species in our back yard. Today we had young Common Grackles Quicalus quiscala and House Sparrows Passer domesticus. We always find it really amusing to watch the antics of the youngsters and to marvel at the sheer dedication of the parents. We are now awaiting the hatch day of a pair of Black-capped Chickadees Poecile atricapillus that are sitting on eggs in a nest box at the moment.
                                     Fledgling Common Grackle

Fledgling Common Grackle

                                                      Fledgling House Sparrow

                                    Fledgling House Sparrow playing with a leaf

                                        Adult female House Sparrow with young

                  Juvenile House Sparrow already showing evidence of being a male

                                        Begging for food


Monday, June 10, 2013

Chipping Sparrow with Brown-headed Cowbird Offspring

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
with Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

9 June 2013

     For the second year in a row a Chipping Sparrow is feeding a gargantuan Brown-headed Cowbird in our yard. The appetite of this young bird seems to be inexhaustible and the host parent is kept busy feeding it. We almost feel exhausted just watching it! 

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.