11 January 2015
While birding along the shore of Lake Ontario we were reminded of the hazards winter sometimes poses for the waterfowl that spend the winter on the inshore waters, alternating with bouts on land.
This Canada Goose Branta canadensis has somehow or other caused this chunk of ice to get attached to it.
It did not seem to be a major impediment while it was walking around but I am not sure how it would fare when swimming and I would imagine that it would present some difficulty when airborne.
It is a fairly sizeable piece and would no doubt affect flight stability and manoeuvrability.
I have never witnessed a bird actually imprisoned in ice but this unfortunate circumstance occurs and there is ample evidence in the literature to validate it. In fact, in this day of UTube, videos have been posted of trapped birds being rescued. I have, however, seen birds with ice on their wings and breast, following ice storms or in extremely cold temperatures when water clinging to their plumage after a dive freezes very quickly.
There was abundant ice in the water but waterfowl handle it with aplomb and there was a large concentration of birds swimming, preening and diving for food.
A few Canvasbacks Aytha valisineria were present and it is always a pleasure to see this handsome duck.
Greater Scaup Aythya marila were noteworthy and winter provides an opportunity to study this species at close range.
A few hardy American Coots Fulica americana always spend the winter here and this little group seemed quite happy associating with the scaup.
This Trumpeter Swan Cygnus buccinator seems to have been feeding in an area which caused its head to become stained like ferrous oxide, but since it was the only individual to feature this colouration it's hard to figure what might have caused it.
The following images give you an idea of the concentration of Trumpeter Swans in the winter; I estimated that about two hundred were present at the time these pictures were taken.