Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some bird notes ♩ ♬ ♪

Rough-legged Hawks continue to migrate along the north shore. In a span of ten minutes this afternoon I observed seven flying low, from west to east, perhaps deriving some lift from the south winds deflecting off the bluffs.

This House Sparrow (a female was perched just out of frame) was a surprise on October 29th - it's the first we've seen of the species in our three years here. I checked the Christmas Bird Count records and it appears to have been an established town resident in the mid-1970's. More recently, its numbers have waned - it has been recorded in small numbers on only three of the last 20 CBCs, most recently (a single) in 2006.
Another unexpected bird was a very skittish meadowlark that I flushed several times from long grass near the harbour yesterday and today. So far, I've only seen the bird on the wing so the specific ID remains elusive. Given the recent storm, I think either species (Eastern or Western) is possible.

Not far from the meadowlark's haunt is the sheltered seep where Wilson's Snipe often overwinter. The three snipe I flushed there today may well remain here until next spring. Also in the area were two adult Northern Shrikes, one of which unsuccessfully pursued a female Northern Cardinal through a dense stand of young birch.

Here's today's tally as processed by eBird:

Location: Marathon, Ontario
Observation date: 11/2/10
Notes: WISN were in sheltered seep where they often overwinter. Cardinal was in the bush, far from feeders.
Number of species: 27
  • Mallard 2
  • Long-tailed Duck 26
  • Common Goldeneye 17
  • Bald Eagle 2
  • Rough-legged Hawk 7
  • Wilson's Snipe 3
  • Herring Gull 210
  • Mourning Dove 1
  • Downy Woodpecker 5
  • Hairy Woodpecker 1
  • Northern Shrike 2
  • Gray Jay 1
  • American Crow 5
  • Common Raven 14
  • Horned Lark 2
  • Black-capped Chickadee 18
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet 4
  • European Starling 7
  • American Pipit 6
  • American Tree Sparrow 2
  • Dark-eyed Junco 4
  • Lapland Longspur 18
  • Snow Bunting 45
  • Northern Cardinal 1
  • meadowlark sp. 1
  • Pine Grosbeak 1
  • Pine Siskin 4


  1. Something to try with the Meadowlark! I heard about this at Pelee a few years ago.

    Eastern's seem to always (99%) glide when they fly, even if for a second or two. Western's seem to very rarely glide (less 1%), just continuing with steady flaps.

    Obviously not something to clinch an ID, but myself and a few others have been keeping an eye on Meadowlarks the past year or two -- and have been quite surprised with the consistency. Would be curious to hear about your birds flight style!

    Really enjoy the blog!


  2. Hi Brandon, this meadowlark is of the flap-and-glide variety. The (2004) TBFN bird checklist denotes EAME as "rare": WEME is considered a "migrant", expected each year.

    Recent records: Nick Escott and others found an Eastern Meadowlark on May 23, 2010 at the mouth of the Wolf River. In late March of 2009, Rick Stronks found a meadowlark sp. "hanging around the ice shacks on Lac des Milles Lacs."

    Given the high grass and the bird's skittish nature, I suspect I won't get the opportunity to view it at rest.

    Thanks for stopping by.