Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hoo Hoo's around Tommy Thompson

There's been quite the few species around Tommy Thompson the past two weeks!

The weekend before Thanksgiving was I believe when I last updated a little bit!  We have had some species that I found particularly exciting!  Some were birds that I have seen quite often flying around but have never had the opportunity to see close up, while others were birds I had never even seen (or sometimes heard of!) before.

The first photo that is on the list is of this Herring Gull!  This gull is usually seen flying around with Ring-billed gulls. These guys are best to be ID'd by their size and shape as often their colouring (even their bills) can be the exact same as their counter part the Ring-billed!  Although gulls are usually thought of as being more "trash birds" due to the ones flying around parking lots trying to eat anything they can get thrown to them...they are super beautiful up close!  There are many different kinds of gulls which are amazing to look at, I hope that we get to see a few more before the station closes for the winter!

Herring Gull

Next on the list is the wonderful Fox Sparrow!  I had never been a huge fan of sparrows as everywhere in the city you go, the House Sparrow follows...the very, very common House Sparrow.  Which I had learnt is not even in the true sparrow family at all, it is an old world bird as it was introduced into the States in 1851 spreading up northwards to Canada!   The Fox Sparrow is part of the sparrow family that is native to North America. These guys nest in the very north of Ontario in hardwood forests and are on their way to their Wintering grounds in the States.   I couldn't get over how beautiful and BIG it was!  When I first saw it my first thought was that it was a wood thrush...but alas!  It wasn't!

Fox Sparrow

Staring Contest!
Next up is another bird that as we, living in Ontario, often find either incredibly annoying in the early mornings or beautiful yet common so we over-look it.  Cardinals are known by many as that red bird who is constantly smacking themselves against windows and car mirrors...well, this is because they are incredibly territorial, in fact they are obsessed with defending it and believe that their reflection is another bird.  This boy was absolutely beautiful close up and I couldn't believe the depth of colour that the red was...and boy did he ever know how to bite!  Or should I saw...pinch! I learnt while holding this guy that cardinals have AMAZING clamping powers with their beaks and pinch so tight they can almost give you a blister!  Sheesh!

Northern Cardinal
Next up is another really neat bird that I just learnt about while volunteering here. It is called an American Pipit!  These guys are not really much to look at...no bright colours, no fun patterns (minus on their tail which I LOVE), but they are really determined little guys!  We only see them in this part of Ontario during migration as they breed way up in the arctic tundra and fly south for the winter to their sites in Mexico/almost Costa Rica.  They fly overhead in very large flocks (we saw up to 200!) and  make a very distinct "peep"s!
American Pipit
American Pipit Tail
The next...was my most exciting sight of the week. Those who know me know that I can be slightly obsessed with Owls...so when we caught this beautiful Northern Saw-Whet Owl, I just about died! This adorable little guy was caught close to 11pm and certainly made us know he was not pleased with the little clicking sounds (that were just so cute).  These guys are caught using a "too-too-too" call that lures them towards the mist nets we set up. After that they are caught and extracted like every other bird! It's something about their huge eyes that are just captivating, and I can't wait to see more!

If you plan to visit Tommy Thompson Park in search of Owls...make sure that you read their "Owl Guidelines" before going to view.  Many people also see the wonder of these creatures and want the best shot, which often times comes at the expense of the bird. So please come and see how wonderful and beautiful they are...but also respect them, even if it means not getting a great photo.

Happy Birding!