Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

May 31, 2018

May 2018 - Backyard Excitement

We've enjoyed this Spring migration big time. We have had a number of new species of bird come to visit our backyard. Both Angie and I agree it has to be the fountain that we bought last Summer. I made a collage of some of the excitement. From top to bottom, left to right... Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Yellow Warbler, Nashville Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler. The Nashville was not a new species but the last visit we caught of one here was over 5 years ago. We actually had 2 Nashvilles and 3 Yellows that hung around for a good part of 3 days.

But it did not stop there. We also had an Indigo Bunting. Seen once but also heard 2 other mornings. Crap shot from the kitchen window.

Lastly, a Bay-breasted Warbler.

It's great having bird friends I can share the excitement with, who get excited like I can.

Another nice surprise was having baby Northern Cardinals appear in our backyard. This is not new for us, but it's much earlier than we've ever seen them in past years. Odd is that usually by now we are drowning in baby European Starlings, and a family of Robins spend time with us, but so far not this time around.

Squirrels took over one of my Owl boxes again and this time they had babies within. It's been a blast watching them come out of the box and explore the big wild world around them. Lucky for them the Red-tailed Hawks are not nesting in eye sight of our yard this year because last year the Hawks were flying in and picking Squirrels out of the trees semi-regularly.

Skunks appear randomly morning and night.

Raccoons too. I can't wait to see some young'uns this Summer.

I've had one Opossum encounter this month.

We've also seen a Rabbit in the yard. Second time ever with this species.

A banded Baltimore Oriole is coming in. There was a banded Pigeon for a couple days too! I'm working on getting the Oriole's band numbers but will admit I've not been trying hard. It has frustrated me because the birds have been battling a lot and I gave up for the last week. If he continues to come around as things settle, I will focus on that band (pun intended). I have 2 of the 9 numbers so far, they are 22.

The Pigeon left us after 2 days, probably headed back to his owner.

Speaking of Pigeons, my two nameless friends are still visiting.

The above bird certainly has some Pierre like habits. He is often found waiting for me in "Pierre's spot" with my waking moments. As I wait for my coffee, I peek out the window, and there he is. He's quite vocal some days too.

Then there's this one. I am certain is a female. She has her own personality, as they all do. Funniest of late is me chatting with the guy next door along the fence line. She gets right there in between us, like she is one of us. My neighbour thought she was pretty comical. I knew what she was up to though, she had arrived and wanted lunch. But one not catching on to her intentions would think she was listening to us quite intently.

How's that for excitement in our backyard?

We are at that time of year where birding is not a big thing now. It's all about the backyard. But if you care for some away from home excitement, the only thing I can throw at you is that I am still seeing Snowy Owls. Most recently was May 25th along a stretch of Hwy 401 through Pearson Airport. I was stuck in late night construction and there was an Owl sitting on a lamp post. We also encountered one at a local lake park while on vacation. So weird to see these Owls still hanging around. I've heard from others who are spotting them in various parts of southern Ontario as well. What gives?

One last thing. I released my 300th bird for Toronto Wildlife Centre. A Chestnut-sided Warbler. A mini-milestone for me with the volunteer work I do for the centre. As always, I am grateful for TWC and the dedicated people involved. It's great I can call some friends of mine now too! It's hard to believe I'm almost through my 4th year with them as an official volunteer. The top photo is the actual bird I released, bottom is another Chestnut-sided I saw recently just for a better view of this species.

Anyone following this blog may notice a lull in posting these days. I'm heavy into the nest box monitoring now. I blog there a little more at this time of year. You can check it out here.

Hopefully it won't be too long again before I am back here with another blog.


May 8, 2018

Takin' A Break

Angie and I just started a 2 week vacation. Finally! Almost 6 months since our last one.

I've been pretty tied up the last month, cat sitting for some friends a good part of 3 of the last 4 weeks. Throw in that never ending ice storm and me getting sick, that didn't help for much in way of outings and things to blog about.

The cat sitting was a blast. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

For starts, this lovey boy named Oscar certainly made coming to visit a pleasure. Such a gentleman and oh so affectionate.

His brother from another mother, Riley, took some work to get to where we ended up. He's not mean, just very timid. The first couple days he was pretty spooked of my presence in his house. Then, little by little, going his speed, we had signs of growing trust and finally some admiration for me, and affection. It's a great feeling when an animal comes to trust me.

The money I made from this gig will be put to good use soon as I intend to upgrade my camera gear.

How about that ice storm? It was brutal to say the least. It just wouldn't stop. 4 days of rain, freezing rain, ice pellets, winds. Ugh!

This Pigeon just dealt with it.

What could he, or any of the animals do?

Pretty red Cardinal in the ice and snow.

This Robin spent the weekend with us. We put out meal worms for him.

And I went to the park to take more sumac berries for him to snack on as well.

This Cooper's Hawk also spent the weekend with us. He prowled the Holly bush where the Sparrows hid within. He sure put on a show chasing them.

A pair of Crows came in too. We see them away from the yard but seldom in it. They were grabbing peanuts to help them through the cold dreary days.

Another one we don't see in our yard but also spent the days with us was this Song Sparrow. Sorry for the B&W photo but my settings were still set when I took that shot of Oscar at the start of this blog. I mis-ID'd this Sparrow as a Lincoln's because it didn't look like a Song to me. A few friends helped me with this one and were kind enough to not make fun of my mistake.

A new friend appreciated the hand outs.

I have another new friend. He waits in Pierre's old spot most mornings now. It's sweet but also tugs on my heart a tad.

If I haven't mentioned it in a previous blog, I'm not naming my new pals. We named a few earlier in the year and they all disappeared. There was Fitz, Ginny and Charlie. I could just be overthinking things but the first Pigeon photoed has been coming in on and off since February. No name. Still here. What would you do?

The weather is improving, being more like Spring, with a few Summer like days already being thrown at us (28 c humidex). The birds are showing up, returning for the nesting season. I've done a nest blog recently, hope you check it out. Link here.

It was like a reawakening once again, as our night critters disappeared during the stormy days and are now back.

I love this shot.

So nice I can put water out day and night again without it freezing.

Day time visit. He must have been pretty hungry.

We've had a few appearances by either one or more Hermit Thrushes. A rare visitor to our backyard. Prior to this spell, we only ever spotted one in late November of 2016 at our Holly bush.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet spent an afternoon with us too. We don't see these very often in our backyard.

Egrets are down the street.

Turtles are showing themselves in the warm sun. Someone's unwanted pet Red-eared Slider sunning near a Painted Turtle.

It sucks the Slider population is increasing in the local ponds. I counted 5 last weekend. They will eliminate our native species Painted Turtle in no time.

I had all intentions to publish this last Friday, on my last day of work. Oops. So much has happened in our first few days but that will be for another blog soon.

Enjoy May, and the birds. I'll be back in a couple weeks. Cheers!

If you really need just a little something more, check out this video I recently took. A nice time out hand feeding a Red-winged Blackbird.