Tuesday, 17 December 2013

White-breasted Nuthatch and Friends

White-breasted Nuthatch and 
Other Species
Waterloo County
16 December 2013

    On a classic December day, with nothing but bright sunshine and pristine snow, the temperature a crisp minus eleven degrees C, and no wind, it was a perfect day to share with our feathered friends.
   A White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis seemed like a good target bird and we set off to locations where we were pretty sure we could find one. We were not disappointed!

    Needless to say the nuthatch was not alone and both male and female Downy Woodpeckers Picoides pubescens were foraging in the same area.

Female Downy Woodpecker

Female Downy Woodpecker

Male Downy Woodpecker

    A Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus was pretty much guaranteed to put in an appearance.

    A couple of Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis came to feed on the seed we spread around; the following picture is of a female. This species has several distinct sub species, quite different morphologically, and it is a source of great enjoyment for birders to search for races not normally found in a given area. The variant normally found here is Junco hyemalis hyemalis, or Slate-coloured, depicted below.

        American Tree Sparrow Spizella arborea is a winter visitor to southern Ontario, having left its breeding haunts in the far north, primarily above the tree line. This picture shows an individual gleaning seed from the snow while a White-breasted Nuthatch hitches down the wall.

    Two of the identifying characters of American Tree Sparrow are the bicoloured mandible and the central breast spot. Perhaps you can detect them on the following images.

    We had scattered a little seed on the top of a stump and a female Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis wasted no time claiming her share.

       And all of this activity takes place due a simple suet feeder nailed to a tree, with a little knee wall whose function escapes me.

    The weir on the Conestoga River and the river itself were clad in glorious winter dress. It seems hard to believe at this time of year that within a few months swallows will be hawking over the water.


  1. What beautiful scenery and a delightful gallery of birds with gorgeous close-up shots!!

  2. That is a great series of photos!
    I am always eager to discover birds from other places and I am having a ball with you!!
    The Tree sparrow is a first for me, the bright cap is gorgeous in the sun!
    And your landscape pics are magnificent, what a peaceful place it seems.
    Cheers David, keep well

  3. Noushka: Thanks so much for your enthusiastic comment. Un abrazo.

  4. Really super this David! What a lovely blog and what a beautiful bird. I do not. Know the nuthatch with white chest In the Netherlands, you will see the reddish / orange chest. But you woodpeckers, sparrows and cardinals are great to see. I enjoyed delicious :-)

  5. What wonderful light you had that day, David. You certainly turned it to your advantage with these beautiful images. I'm as enthralled with the landscapes and the stunningly white snow as I am with the gorgeous birds. Superb photography!

  6. Thank you very much indeed, Richard, for these very kind words. I am glad you enjoyed the pictures.

  7. Beautiful birds in all that snow. The scenic photos are very beautiful. It's hard to imagine such bright sunshine with such cold temperatures - here in the sub-tropics it has to be grey and overcast to be cold!

  8. It certainly looks cool - something to remember tomorrow when we supposed to have 40C. A lovely series which brings home why feeders are so popular in the north of the northern hemisphere.

  9. I don't envy you 40°C. On the coldest day in the winter we can add layers and stay warm. It's tough to escape extreme heat. My wife got so wilted in southeast Asia this past February she has sworn off travel to hot, humid climates,

  10. Very nice to reacquaint with some of your birds David, Nicely taken pictures, birds and landscape. It's a number of years since Long Point and in May I never saw snow but remember a few very icy mornings.

  11. Great shots of a southern Ontario winter with southern Ontario birds.

  12. Great pictures and a winter landscape.
    And so lovely birds