Friday, May 14, 2010

Some great backyard birds

Spring migration is in high gear and although I haven't had many chances to get out, the backyard feeders here (and in Manitouwadge) are hopping. Most numerous today are Purple Finches (scores), Pine Siskins, White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows (dozens each) and more than a dozen other species, including a few excellent firsts for our yard (and for the year), Northern Parula, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Clay-colored Sparrow.
Northern Parula
Clay-colored Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
For most of the morning, a Lincoln's Sparrow has been gleaning millet seeds from the deck, just outside my office window.
Linclon's Sparrow
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The timing of these new arrivals couldn't be better. We heading of to Nipigon/Dorion, a few hours up the Trans-Canada, to participate in the Dorion's Canyon Country Birding Festival. We're expecting see old friends, others we've only met on-line, lots of good birds and plenty of Tilley hats.

Yesterday, when Martha returned from a 5 k run along the trails east of town with her friend Christine, her usual radiant glow was accompanied by twinkling eyes and a cat-that-ate-the-canary smile.

"Guess what weee saw?"

"I hate guessing; just tell me."


"A Harris's Sparrow?"

"No, guess again."

[edited to remove several minutes of tiresome couple-banter in which no correct guess was made]

It turns out Martha and Christine came upon a very animated and noisy mob of Boreal Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Their attention was focused within a dense clump of balsam fir. Moments later, Martha's suspicions were confirmed when she found herself fixed in the gaze of a pair of bright yellow eyes belonging to a Saw-whet Owl - a great sighting in the breeding season.

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