Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Birds of Three Bridges Road, Waterloo County

Three Bridges Road
8 December 2013

    This morning, on a cold but sunny day, Miriam and I decided to take a drive along Three Bridges Road, near the town of St. Jacobs, to see what bird life we could find. It is quite astounding to contemplate the variety of species we have seen along this rural stretch of about five kilometres in Waterloo County.
    Near to the weir along the Conestoga River, at the end of the Mill Race, there is a low brick wall and a tree where some kind soul has placed a suet feeder, which is restocked throughout the winter, and additionally bird seed is sprinkled along the top of the wall. As you might expect a variety of birds are attracted to this bounty.
    This morning we were fortunate to have both Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens and Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus coming in to feed on the suet. The first picture below shows Downy Woodpecker, which to all intents and purposes is a smaller version of Hairy Woodpecker. The pictures readily show the small bill of the downy as contrasted with the longer, more robust bill of the hairy, one of the key distinguishing features.

Male Downy Woodpecker

Male Hairy Woodpecker

    Blue Jays Cyanocitta cristata were coming in to take advantage of the seed strewn along the wall and on the ground.

    Male and female Dark-eyed Juncos Junco hyemalis darted in and out to grab a few seeds, in between bouts of feeding on natural food found in the leaf litter. 

Male Dark-eyed Junco
Just past the feeding station this handsome pair of American Black Ducks  Anas rubripes was dabbling in the Conestoga River.

    A Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus had emerged from beneath the ice and if you look carefully at the right side of the picture you will see the hole whence it emerged. 

    This gnarled old tree looks like it has weathered many winters.

   Throughout our drive we saw several raptors, most frequently soaring above the flat terrain searching for prey. This Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis was perched in a tree scanning the ground below

    One of the species we had expected to find this morning was Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris but we saw nary a one. We will save that one for next time!
David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.


  1. It's interesting how photos round out the mind pictures of birds seen only as drawings in a field guide, as is the case with several of these for me.

  2. Beautiful birds you had the lens, nice to see.
    The bird in the blue I find a real beauty.

    Groetjes Tinie

  3. Hi David!
    Very interesting post!
    We don't have these 2 species of peckers here, so I am glad to see them here! ;-)
    Your Blue jay photo is exquisite, this one too is unknown in France sadly, what a magnificent bird!
    The old tree is a wonder, I hope it shelters fauna!

  4. Tinie and Noushka: The Blue Jay is indeed a very beautiful species. We never fail to appreciate it and we see it quite often.

  5. Ohhh ... Woodpecker that I find amazing! But the Blue Jay.
    Bird photo 4 I do not know but I find it very beautiful. The black ducks are also very nice captured. Brrrrr ....... muskrat argh .... but you gnarled tree, however, is again wonderful to see :-) Raptors are always nice to shoot.
    A very nice blog with some beautiful beautiful pictures.
    my compliments


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