Saturday, February 28, 2015

Project FeederWatch

"If you are small and on a search, I've got a feeder for you to perch on..."
         -The Eels, I Like Birds

This is my very first year being in a house where I have been able to put up a bird feeder in my backyard. I wish so much that I had been able to put one up years ago!   With this new addition to my backyard, I also signed up for Project FeederWatch.  This is a fantastic citizen science program that runs from November until April of each year.  Participants watch their feeders twice a week and record all birds within your feeder area and submit their data.

If you are interested in joining (which I suggest you do!)  click here:

I started FeederWatch this year in mid-November and have been switching between my home in Chatham and my home in Peterborough, depending where I am that week.  I'll try to seperate my sightings so far based on location!

Chatham House:

This is the first year that my parents had decided to put up a feeder....I think I have given them the birding itch!  There was a nice variety of birds here in Chatham while I was home over Christmas and then again over reading week in February.  I saw my first flock of House Finches while I was here, along with Blue Jays, Cardinals and the odd Junco.  House sparrows were of course all around, although once February hit I noticed more American Tree Sparrows visiting the feeder!  The crows were always more of a nuisance bird around the feeders....although in a place like Chatham you can't expect to get anything other than crows!   The local Coopers Hawk made his appearance every time I was home.  Mike and I were very amused watching a flock of almost every neighbourhood bird fly by with him trailing in pursuit.

Peterborough House: 

The Peterborough house had a completely different set of birds at my feeder!  Throughout the beginning of the count (November - mid-December) I only saw Juncos, Chickadees, and American Goldfinches.  

January was a completely dull month, I don't believe a single bird actually visited my feeder for the entire month.  Finally by the beginning of February the Juncos and Chickadees finally started coming back!

I had one really lucky instance for a photo when two Juncos landed on my feeder, a male and female side by side!   In the photo (below) you can see both of them.  The male, the junco on the right that is a dark charcoal colour, is sitting right beside the lighter, more brown female junco on the left. 

At the beginning of February I decided to add some suet to my backyard, in addition to the typical feeder seed.   It brought out a new little guy, a White-breasted Nuthatch!  It seemed to love both the feeder and the suet.  I always love when it sits on the feeder because it slowly just starts to sink until finally, it flips upside down and falls off!  I guess that's what happens when you are used to being upside down!  

A Cardinal finally came out to the feeder yesterday, but today I think was the highlight of the feederwatch!  I was sitting doing some work this morning (awkwardly while I was brushing my teeth) when I noticed something amongst the Juncos.  I almost spit out my toothpaste everywhere I was so excited...when I noticed they were...Redpolls!   Common Redpolls to be exact.  The first time I ever saw these cute little guys was on the Cambridge Christmas Bird Count back in a long time ago, making today when they showed up a very special treat.

There is still exactly two months left for feederwatch counts and I can't wait to see what else shows up at my feeder!

Happy Naturing!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Day trip to Lindsay, Ontario

Yesterday, a few friends and I decided to go on a little birding excursion before the big snowfall set in.  We've heard about a few owls in the Lindsay area, so decided it might be a fun place to go, especially since Ariel had never seen a Snowy yet!

We started by going through a few backroads to see if the Barred Owl I had seen the other week was still there.  I wasn't, but Allie did notice a Pileated Woodpecker fly by!  We then went to Emily Provincial Park to go for a short walk and see what was there.  Which....was almost nothing!  It's a little eerie walking around a beautiful forested provincial park and barely even hear a peep from a chickadee!  Luckily, we did find a few chickadees in some cedar and also spotted a juvenile Bald eagle off in the distance.  We walked out onto the Pigeon River which was very frozen now, and watched some people Skidoo by us. For such a tiny park, it took us quite the ways to get back to our car!   One word of advice for anyone planning on going on hikes this time of prepared to jump into a snowbank!!  We had to almost twice for people skidooing around corners way too quickly.  Oie.

Slightly embarrassed by our lack of ability to find almost a single bird, we drove straight to Lindsay Airport in hopes of beefing up our egos a bit.  Luck was on our side, and a beautiful Snowy Owl was sitting up in a tree.  I believe this is actually the first Snowy that I've actually seen in a tree!  We stepped out of the car to take a few photos, but unfortunately it was so cold that we didn't want to be standing outside for too, too long!

After our Snowy, we drove around the corner to a location where a Barred Owl had been seen a few days before. It wasn't in the place where it had been listed so we turned around at the TSC and parked for a second to see where to go next.  You know that feeling you get where you just...look up?  Well, I looked up, and there it was!  A beautiful Barred Owl was just sitting on top of a hydro pole right beside the parking lot!   It's wing was sitting a little funny, but thankfully after a few minutes it flew away with no apparently issues.

We think we may have seen another Bald Eagle, however it was flying off in the distance and by the time I was able to drive to a more visible view was gone!   It's never a true birding trip without the illusive bird, right?

Until next time, happy naturing!