Friday, November 29, 2013

Feathers On Friday

A big flock of House Sparrows, hundreds
They all landed in our yard and flocked on the ground. Here's Bandit our dog chasing them away.

Thank you to Prairie Birder for her FoF idea. Click here for her post.

Don't forget to guess on the Weekly What Bird.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weekly What Bird Wednesday

If you make your own Weekly What Bird post you can put the link in the comments and I'll put the link in my post.
We saw this bird at Assiniboine Park with Christian Artuso.

Last weeks Weekly What Bird was an American Tree Sparrow. Thanks to Prairie Birder and Christian Artuso for the advice and guesses.

In my last post I said the goldfinches were gone but they are still here flocking the finch feeder even though we were in the middle of a snowstorm. The goldfinch with the bright yellow crown is also still here.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Update

We have had a fairly late Winter here in Manitoba. We've only had snow here about a week.

I finally updated the photo page.

I got a new pair of binoculars from my Opa, who, is amazingly visiting us from Ontario right now. The last ones he gave me broke when I was walking and tripped. The binoculars are a pair of Bushnell Legacy WP FOV 430. They show a big crisp image, they are water and fogproof. One eye-cap is missing because it was bought at a garage sale, but it doesn't bother me. The only thing is the focusing wheel is sometimes a little hard to turn and focus quickly, but over all I am very happy with them.

I made a huge batch of suet, which should last us a while. Check out my previous post for the recipe, http://birdsinyourbackyard.
We have a friend who is a farmer so he gave us a garbage bin full of bird seed, so we're all stocked up for the winter.

White-breasted Nuthatch

We had a special visitor at our feeders here a couple days ago. A Northern Shrike! I couldn't see it very well at first so it looked like a Blue Jay. When I got a better look I scrambled to get the camera. I quickly attached the lens and ran to the window. A second before I took the picture it flew away, chasing a White-breasted Nuthatch. I haven't seen it since but am always on the lookout. Like Christian Artuso said: "There's exciting birds to see even in the winter"

I think the sparrows and goldfinches just left a couple days ago. We had many Harris' Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows.

Harris' Sparrow a couple weeks ago

We have seen a couple redpolls already, I hope the Pine Grosbeaks show up soon. I love their colors.
American Goldfinches and Common Redpoll at finch feeder

 There was a strange goldfinch hanging around our feeder for a couple weeks. It had a bright yellow crown.
American Goldfinch with bright yellow crown

American Goldfinch in snow
The moon was out so I decided to test out the new camera on it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weekly What Bird

Note: I have decided to change it to Wednesday instead of Saturday from now on! Also if you make your own Weekly What Bird post and put the link in the comments I'll put the link in my post.

I am not sure what this bird is so that's why I put it up. I have some ideas of what it is but I'm not sure.
 I'd love any guesses and advice! Thanks!

I took this photo at Oak Hammock Marsh with the family

Bird Boy and Prairie Birder who guessed last weeks Weekly What Bird correct, a female Black and White Warbler.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Feathers on Friday

Here's a Rough-legged Hawk photo I took while I was out birding with Christian Artuso

Thanks to Charlotte a.k.a Prairie Birder and her Feathers on Friday prompt. Here's her post, Feathers on Friday

No one has guessed last weeks Weekly What Bird yet, there's is still time until tomorrow to guess.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Weekly What Bird

Can you guess what this bird is?
Ask if you want a hint

Click on any picture for

My brother found this bird and
 took these photos.

Congratulations to Prairie Birder who correctly guessed last weeks Weekly What Bird, a Clay-colored Sparrow.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13 2013

My twin brother wanted to write a post on my blog, so here it is.

When Josiah was in music lessons, I (his twin brother Matthew) took some pictures with our Canon T3i.

Click on any picture for fullscreen
Two American Goldfinches on finch feeder

Black -Capped Chickadee with sunflower seed in it's mouth 

American Goldfinch

Our dog Bandit 
Bandit barking at a squirrel

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee

This injured Goldfinch hit the window. It was in a nasty position after it hit the
window, I thought it was going to die. But my little sister made a "nest"
out of grass for the Goldfinch and put some bird seed beside the bird as you
you can see in the picture. While I was taking pictures of it, it flew away.
I don't think the Chickadee hit the window, as it was in the middle of the yard
and it's chest was cut open
Here is the gravestone that my little sister made for an Ovenbird that she
buried in the spring. Beside it lies the Canada Warbler

Downy Woodpecker

Black-Capped Chickadee and Downy Woodpecker

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee eating corn

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Parkland Mews Volunteering

Landing on a rock
Parkland Mews is a falconry and birds of prey education centre. They raise, train and release Peregrine Falcons. The link to the website is . Our home school group went there in early spring. Robert Wheeldon, the owner, had said I can come back in the summer to help him out a bit. However because I was out of town a lot in the summer and he was so busy with raising the falcons he didn't have time until early fall. I then went to volunteer three times, each two weeks apart.

Robert raises quail to feed the falcons and to offset his costs he sells the quail eggs, a delicacy in some circles. The first time I volunteered I helped move around the quail from cage to cage. We took some of the quail to the mews (mews are the rooms that the falcons are kept in) and put them in to feed the falcons. At the end of my time there I went into one of the mews with a glove and a dead quail on my hand. The Peregrine Falcon flew to my hand and took the quail and began eating it.

A falcon staring at the camera
He asked me to write about hacking, and bring it to him next time. Hacking is a peregrine release and falconry technique. Falcons are placed in a hack box a couple weeks before fledge period. After 5-10 days, the hack box is opened so the young falcons have freedom to go out of the box. The falcons can’t yet fly but can exercise their wings. Usually after about 3 days the falcons take their first flight, a couple dozen feet. They begin to fly farther. The falcons learn to self-hunt but are still fed. After the hacking period they are either released into the wild or recaptured for falconry.

Peregrine splashing in bath, the water
 pipe is in the backround
The second time I volunteered, I scrubbed a peregrine bath tub and we filled it with water and put it in the peregrine's mew. Rob and I sat on the other side of it and took pictures as it bathed. He gave me a book to read for a bit. The book was called Varda, the flight of a falcon. I read a couple chapters until one of Rob's students came and showed me one of the falcons. He demonstrated a lure with a dead quail on the end. Then he gave me a glove and I carried the falcon back to it's mew. He showed me how to pick up the falcon and carry it. This time Rob told me to write on how peregrines bath to exercise my observation skills. The peregrine splashed around in the water and fluffed its feathers then spread its wings. It put its head in the water and rolled it side to side. It flew up to a perch and spread its tail feathers wide, I think to dry them.
juvenile peregrine eating quail

Me holding one of the juvenile peregrines
Peregrine falcon juvenile

Peregrine watching me

The third time I went to Parkland Mews, Rob told me to skip a bit of the book so I could finish it off as this would be our last session for the year. He didn't really have anything for me to do so I read some of the book and took some pictures of the falcons. Rob gave us a half of an ice cream pail of quail eggs which tasted great boiled. I have been cooking them up in different ways and doing taste tests. Quail eggs have 3-4 times the nutritional value of chicken eggs, even though they are almost 3 times as small. Quail eggs are a specialty for the Chinese so he sells them to Chinese restaurants.

Adult peregrine
Thank you Rob for spending the time with me!!! It was great!!!

A new display he's working on for the Manitoba
Government, a peregrine chasing a duck

Peregrines are such beautiful birds

Great posts this week.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Weekly What Bird

Note: From now on Weekly What Birds will always be on Saturdays every week.

Click for fullscreen

Can you guess what this bird is?

They showed up at our feeders in Spring migration.

This is what our feeders look like right now

Friday, November 8, 2013

How To Make Suet Step By Step with pictures

Suet is the perfect thing for wintering birds. Birds in the winter need lots of fat and protein to stay warm. Suet attracts all types of birds, especially woodpeckers. Sometimes you'll get Pileated Woodpeckers, which is a real treat. Nuthatches and chickadees also love suet, and many, many other birds, Blue Jays, grackles, sparrows, juncos, ect...
Sometimes it seems like store bought suet just doesn't work. The birds peck at it a bit, but not much more than that. But if you add your own ingredients, they will love it. It's the perfect thing for your feathered friends.

1. Get some store bought suet. This is what you'll use as a start.

2. Put the suet into a pot and turn stove on between low and medium.

3. When the stove is warming up you'll have to get some ingredients ready. Get a yogurt bucket full of bird seed. Find lard and peanut butter and get it ready. I usually put dried meal worms and millet in too. Birds like nuts too, make sure they are unsalted.

Suet, peanut butter and lard

4. Put the lard and peanut butter in the pot and put a timer on for a few minutes. Try and chop up the suet blocks with your spoons, it will make them melt faster.

Stirring all the ingredients.

5.When the timer goes stir the mix and add the rest of the ingredients. A couple spoonfuls of peanut butter and lard, dump the bird seed into it and put whatever else you want to put in.

Now the mixture is like liquid. 

6. Wait until it turns to a very thin mixture. Turn the stove off and take the suet batch off the stove.

I tried some different containers, this one's a suet pie

7. Find some containers to put it in.

8. Find room in the freezer to put them in. When they're frozen put it in the suet cage  and watch the birds come.

I was being creative and making suet cupcakes
The suet doesn't melt, we use it in summer sometimes.
I never go according to any strict recipe I always do it different, trying out new things. My measurements are never exact.
If you don't have a suet cage, that's fine. Freeze it into a block and put it out on the deck rail or something, the birds will like it just as much.
If the birds don't like the batch, melt it all down again and add some more stuff.

This is going to be a suet block when it's frozen

I sprinkled the top the seeds
Downy Woodpecker on suet

Black-capped Chickadee taking a chunk from the suet cupcakes.

Red-breasted Nuthatch and Yellow-rumped Warbler

Hairy Woodpecker

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker

 Share or comment if you liked the recipe.

 Other great bird blogs:
Prairie Birder
Ontario Birds and Herps
Bird Boy