If you listen to birds, every day will have a song in it.
22 July 2021
Our Backyard, Waterloo, ON
A female Hairy Woodpecker (Dryobates villosus) visited our backyard for a couple of days and seemed to show interest in a nest box that was clearly too small for it, with an entrance hole that would barely permit the bird to squeeze inside.
Our backyard wouldn't be the same without a couple of Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) to entertain us.
They rank high on the adorability scale and can become very confiding when a little food is offered.
Male House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) are exceedingly handsome birds and these two fed together at the same feeder without so much as a ruffled feather.
For several weeks a Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) missing his head feathers has been visiting us.
I can't quite figure whether this is a protracted moult or feather mites are at work, although there does seem to be a hint of new feathers emerging. It is not hard to appreciate the dinosaur origins of birds when you see a cardinal in this condition.
Here is what we are more used to seeing.
A Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) is a delicate and beautifully plumaged little bird, and we are always happy to see them in our yard.
Despite our best attempts to trap it we have failed so far, capturing only chipmunks and a Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) but we will keep on trying. Its reward will be a long ride into the countryside where it will have the pleasure of starting a new life.
Mourning Doves seem to be the most placid of all birds and find a quiet place to rest and watch the goings-on of others, quite detached from the hustle and bustle taking place around them.
Our Backyard, Waterloo, On
Small moths that come to rest on the walls of the house, or in the porch, usually fly away before we get a chance to photograph them. Not so with these two.
Common Idia Moth (Idia aemula)
Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe ferrugata)
Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) have discovered the milkweeds (Asclepias) and this female is ovipositing.
Questions Posed by Elaine
A regular reader of my blog, Elaine, has posed a variety of question regarding birds and their breeding biology and lifestyle. I have committed to answer them a few at a time, so here are a few more.
Q. Does the number of eggs laid vary from the first to subsequent clutches?
A. Not always. Some birds, American Robin (Turdus migratorius), for example, routinely lay two clutches, each containing four eggs. In other species second clutches may contain fewer eggs, especially if the food required by the female for egg formation is in short supply.
Q. Are juvenile birds from the first batch more successful migrating?
A. If the young birds are fit and healthy at the time of departure the migratory outcome is the same. Condition at the time of departure is the key factor.
Q. Do (formerly) juvenile birds return to the location where they were born the following year?
A. Rarely to the exact location, but often to the same area. However, if pair formation occurs away from the breeding site, as with waterfowl, for example, it is unlikely that both partners will have been born in the same area; therefore one of the pair will not return to its natal territory. There is a wide variation across a range of species.
Q. Do "our" birds also nest in their migratory destinations.
A. No. Before departure their reproductive system shuts down and their gonads shrink. Superfluous weight impedes migration. A return to reproductive viability does not happen again until the following spring, when a whole series of factors combine to stimulate and reactivate the endocrine system.
30 July 2021
Health Valley Trail, St. Jacobs, ON
American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus) is far less common than Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) at this time of the year, but for some reason this section of the Conestogo River seems favoured by the few that spend the summer here.
Conditions seem to have been just right for Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) and the fruit crop is impressive.
It is often located in close proximity to a river or stream, and I have seen it over the past few days along both the Grand and Conestogo Rivers.
A stately Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) moved along the river stealthily in search of prey, pausing now and then.
Many hungry mouths at an American Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) colony were keeping parents busy delivering food to their young.
The sign on this bench left us a little puzzled, and the addition of a vase of roses only added to the mystery.
The pond damsel below is in the genus Argia. Only two species are found in the province, both in similar habitat, and not entirely unalike in appearance. I am pretty sure, however, that this is a Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta).
Both species are prone to alight on bare ground like this, and are surprisingly quick when approached.
Common Fibre Vase (Thelephora terrestris), also know as Earth Fan, is an interesting fungus.
Neither Miriam nor I can could instantly identify this pretty pink flower, but Heather, hearkening back to her time spent as a field biologist, knew instantly that it is Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria).
At the end of our walk we decided to go for an ice cream. Heather thought she would get away with giving a lick or two to Lily. Fat chance!