Monday, March 31, 2014

New Manitoba Breeding Atlas Newsletter

The Spring newsletter is out from the Manitoba Breeding Atlas! I submitted an article about the owls I saw this winter.
My first Great Grey Owl.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Road Trip to the East - Ontario Birds (Part 2)

This is the fourth post in the Road Trip to the East series. See my other posts:

We continued seeing lot's of birds at the feeders. There are never a shortage of Mourning Doves too.
Three Mourning Doves sitting in a tree
 The property has a really cool forest behind it which you can walk through to the Credit River. The ice storm had knocked down a lot of trees in the woods, sometimes blocking the path. Geese were very common at the river, and everywhere else.
I took daily walks down to the river with my brother.
Canada Geese flying
I had gotten a picture of these birds. I thought they were both Common Goldeneye's, but when I looked closer on the computer, I could tell, on of them wasn't a goldeneye. I wasn't quite sure what it was, merganser maybe. I looked up what mergansers looked like, that was for sure what it was, a Common Merganser, which is a new bird for me. I was quite lucky to identify it first try. The bird on the right is a female goldeneye.
Common Merganser (left) and female Common Goldeneye (right)
 Here's another female Common Goldeneye

One day, when we were just getting back to the house, we noticed something in the tree, a bird, a hawk, a Cooper's or Sharp-shinned Hawk! After a while we identified it as a Sharp-shinned.
Sharp-shinned Hawk
 We thought there had been a hawk living around here, we had found remains of a cardinal and cedar waxwing. I was lucky to get this picture of it flying.
I am really impressed with this photo of it flying away.
 To my surprise, one day a Red-winged Blackbird showed up at the feeders. I'm not used to having them actually come to the feeders.
Red-winged Blackbird
 I had lot's of time sitting in front of the feeders with the camera, so I tried to get some flying pictures. I was really successful as you can see from the Red-breasted Nuthatch pictures below.
Red-breasted Nuthatch flying. 

Taking a seed.

Stay tuned for the next part!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Road Trip to the East - Ontario Birds (Part 1)

We arrived in Ontario in the evening. We saw some cardinals and woodpeckers at the feeders before they settled down for the night. When it was dark I noticed the moon was out, it was almost full. Even though it’s not a bird, I enjoy taking pictures of it. 

The next day we saw lots of birds at the feeders. I was hoping to see a Red-breasted Nuthatch, they are one of my favorite birds. We saw some goldfinches around the feeders too.

American Goldfinch
We sat out by the feeders and took pictures. Once when my brother was watching them he saw a tailless chickadee.
Soon I saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch. There was a male and a female. The male Red-breasted Nuthatch has a darker cap and darker orange belly and the female has a lighter cap and lighter belly. Here’s a picture my brother took.
Female Red-breasted Nuthatch
We saw two house finches, one a male and the other a female.
Female House Finch
We began seeing a female Red-bellied Woodpecker around the trees, a bird we don’t get in Winnipeg so it's pretty special. The first time I saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker was this summer in Ontario. I got a picture of it on the suet.

The birds seemed a lot smaller in Ontario, especially the woodpeckers and chickadees. I inherited a bunch of bird books, one is from the 1940’s. I was looking through it and it showed the sub-species of woodpeckers, Eastern Hairy and Downy woodpeckers are a lot smaller than Northern Downy and Hairy. That explains why they are smaller in Ontario.
Junco’s were also very common visitors at the feeders.
Cardinals are always the highlight of the trip. I love there bright, vibrant colors. There was a female cardinal and four males, which were always fighting.
Squirrels were regular pests, always trying to get at the feeders. They climbed onto the squirrel stopper and jumped off onto the feeder, they're sometimes enjoyable to watch and photograph.
Eastern Grey Squirrel I believe

Stay tuned for the next part!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Feathers on Friday

A male House Sparrow from earlier this winter.
Thanks for Prairie Birder's FoF idea. View her post here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Special Visitor - Pileated Woodpecker

We bought a  new kind of suet yesterday and put it out for the birds. We usually melt it down and ad our own ingredients, but we decided to try this new suet plain. We started seeing chickadees and woodpeckers right away, the birds seemed to like it.
This morning, when only me and my twin brother were awake, I looked out the window at one of our suet feeders. A Pileated Woodpecker! They're so much bigger than the Hairy's and Downy's. I woke up my brother. We took pictures until it flew away eventually. 
The Pileated Woodpecker eating away at the suet.
 We continued to see it around our feeders and in the tree.
I managed to get a bunch of flying photos

You can tell this woodpecker is a female, because the males have a red 'mustache'.

This hungry woodpecker has visited all our suet feeders with the new suet.

It flew onto our skating rink light post.
I hope it nests somewhere here in the summer.
Here's a video I got of it shredding bark off a tree

The Pileated Woodpecker is outside in our yard as I write this post.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weekly What Bird Wednesday

If you would like to join me for my W.W.B.W. guess what this bird is or make your own weekly what bird post.
Can you guess this bird?
Matthew and BirdBoy guessed last weeks correct, Mourning Dove

Other Weekly What Bird posts:

From Ethan, Bird Boy | What Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Road Trip to the East - Hotel Birding

We made it past Chicago and stopped at a hotel at about 2:00 Am in Chesterton. After a couple hours of sleep we got up again to set off. When we were taking out some stuff to the van we noticed the small habitat. A small marsh and some trees, there were lots of birds (at least lots compared to what were used to in winter in Winnpeg). Red-winged Blackbirds called among the rushes, a cardinal sang melodiously. We saw some juncos and Blue Jays also.
We noticed a bunch of robins on the lawn, I was busy loading up the van my twin brother took this picture.
American Robin
There was a group of House Sparrows on the roof, then they started fighting, it was quite funny to watch, them flying around wildly and chirping loudly at each other.
House Sparrow on the roof.
My brother got this picture.
Red-winged Blackbird showing off it's wings.
A Song Sparrow was sitting among the trees.
Song Sparrow doing what it does best, singing.
This is when we noticed the ISO was up the highest it could go and made all the pictures noisy, we quickly changed it. My brother got this picture also, it's one of my favorites.
Red-winged Blackbird Singing

 I saw something on the grass, Killdeer. My brother was taking pictures of Red-winged Blackbird and he didn't notice them, I asked him for the camera and I went over and got some pictures.
 When we were about to leave we spotted a Bald Eagle and a Sandhill Crane far off, and also a Mourning Dove.
Mourning Dove
 ebird Checklist:
Quality Inn, Chesterton Indiana

Stay tuned for the next part.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Road Trip to the East

About a week and a half ago we traveled to Ontario because our grandfather passed away. We got home Saturday night. We were very busy in Ontario and didn't have time to make a blog post.
We drove through the United States through Chicago to Toronto. We made the trip in two days, stopping at a hotel.
Many of the pictures aren't very good, because shooting through a window on a highway going over a hundred km/hour is hard.
I kept a log of almost all the birds seen on the way, complete with the number of birds and time seen. 

Not very many birds when we were in Canada, Snow Buntings and ravens mostly. When we crossed over into the states, we traveled on the Interstate 29, seeing a couple Bald Eagles, a Northern Harrier, my first Canada Goose of the year, and abundant amounts of starlings, rock doves and crows. Soon I began letting off counting those three species, because there were just too many! 

As we got farther into the states, and traveled on I 94, we saw 11 Bald Eagles! A couple of them were immature, one was eating on the ice, I was lucky enough to get this picture as we sped past and cars blocked the view. 
A immature Bald Eagle eating on the ice, with a crow to the left.
 We saw a bunch of mallards, lots of geese, a Rough-legged Hawk, and once again lots of starlings, crows and rock doves.
An adult Bald Eagle and immature flying.
 At one of the rest stops there were some starlings and house sparrows. Me and my brother snapped a bunch of good pictures of starlings, my brother got this one.
European Starling flying
 We continued across the U.S., seeing a couple of Red-tailed Hawks, more geese, mallards, crows, starlings and House Sparrows
We saw some horses, cows and bison in farms, and some deer.
Deer crossing a field
We stopped for the night at a hotel. In the morning lots of birds were seen. There was a bit of a tiny marsh outside, and some trees, but you'll have to wait for the next post for the pictures.

Day Two:

Many Red-tailed Hawks seen, by the end of the trip we totaled somewhere around 40. We saw some gulls, and all the other normal birds we had been seeing. Then two big birds, Sandhill Cranes! I was able to get this picture through the window.
Sandhill Cranes
 When a Turkey Vulture flew of the van, I was impressed with myself when I view the photos I got of it.
Turkey Vulture
 Here's probably the best picture of a Red-tailed Hawk we got on the way. My brother took this one.
Red-tailed Hawk sitting in a tree.
Stay tuned for the next part, Hotel Birding.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekly What Bird Wednesday

If you would like to join me for my W.W.B.W. try to guess this bird or make your own Weekly What Bird post.
Guess this bird!

Congratulations to Prairie Birder who guessed last weeks correct, Dark-eyed Junco!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Feathers On Friday

White-breasted Nuthatch in the fall. I love the colors in the picture, it is unedited.

Thanks to Prairie Birder for the Feathers on Friday prompt.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Weekly What Bird Wednesday

If you would like to join me for my W.W.B.W. leave a guess in the comments or make your own weekly what bird post and put the link in the comments.

Congrats to Neil, BirdBoy and Matthew who guessed last weeks correct, Sharp-tailed Grouse!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Special Visitor - Barred Owl

One week go, Tuesday, we were in our house making snacks when I looked out the window, AN OWL! That was a little unexpected. I scrambled for the camera, and after changing lenses from the short one I started snapping pictures. It was right beside our feeders, sitting nice and still and quiet. I quickly identified it as a Barred Owl. Barred Owls aren't too commonly seen in Manitoba so it's quite the bird. I emailed Christian Artuso about it right away.

I went to different windows trying to get the best view. After a few minutes it flew to a nearby tree. Luckily for me I had mukluks on so I just slipped on my coat and went outside and kept taking pictures. It eventually flew over by the neighbors yard. I trudged through waist deep snow with almost no proper winter clothing. I spotted it sitting in a tree. After I took some more pictures it flew further outback. I got a picture of it flying in front of the sun.
Barred Owl is a new species for me! Now we have two owls living in our yard!

My brother went outback looking for the owl. He got some really good pictures.
The next day my brothers went out looking for it while I stayed inside with the flu. :( . They came back with some really good pictures.

We watched from the window, it flew down to the ground, it looked like it caught something. It was just  behind a tree. We could see it when it spread it's wings over it's prey.

We had been emailing Christian Artuso back and forth, he was planning to come over and see it. He decided not to though because a storm was brewing and the roads were getting bad.
A chickadee we saw when watching the owl
He told us Ken De Smet was doing a owl tour in the area and might come over to see the owl though. I was excited about that, even though I was sick. Ken came over soon, with a big group of birders. Some were even from Germany! The conditions weren't very good for pictures, there was lot's of falling snow.
The group of birders
 It flew away a bit deeper into the forest so they decided to go.
That night the owl flew to a perch across the yard that we could see from our window. It stayed there all night and into the next day. We did our school in front of the window and set up binoculars to watch it. Eventually it flew down to the prey it was eating yesterday was and finished off the leftovers.
The owl from the window. It was very camouflaged with the trees and very hard  to see without binoculars.
It eventually flew off somewhere.

The next day I took a walk in the morning to see if I could see it anywhere.
I heard the loud raucous cries of crows, ravens and magpies somewhere in the pines. I slowly approached thinking that they were mobbing something. They flew out across the field, the Great-horned Owl with them. 
An American Crow
Apparently Great-horned and Barred Owls sometimes don't get along, and Great-horned Owl will eat Barred Owls.
Black-billed Magpie flying
The ravens, magpies, crows, and Blue Jays mobbing the owl across a field.
 Two birders from Brandon came knocking on our door asking about the Barred Owl, I gave them a tour around the yard but never saw much.

We then saw the Barred Owl on Sunday, sitting in a tree close to the window. Later that day it was gone and we haven't seen it since.
It was quite the experience to have such a wonderful owl in your backyard.