It's a snowy morning in late April so I figured now is the time to key out a long overdue blog. Honestly, I didn't think that spring 2021 would have me blogging about this still being a "thing to do" instead of what we did, yet here we are in another stay at home order. Thanks to the pandemic!
So May 2020 had Angie and I on a week of vacation like we normally do. Past years we'd go away for a couple days somewhere out of town where it's a mix of birding and just enjoying some time out of the city and relaxing. The stay at home order kiboshed the going away plan last year and it's a repeat for 2021.
Last year we did stay at home and we birded from home. No it wasn't just backyard birding but a few green spaces around us within walking distance. Some mornings we pondered driving down to the lake parks where we would probably see more species but always stuck to the plan of being home. It wasn't out of fear of anything but more of a challenge to ourselves, seeing how many birds we could see right in our own neighbourhood. When we were back to work, both of us were pleasantly surprised at how many species we tallied.
Enjoy the photos below with some little bits if my memory kicks in...
This unique looking male House Finch initially confused us when he first showed up in our backyard that week. Who knew there was such thing as a yellow variant? He was a great start to our week off.
A male rose-breasted grosbeak. Most springs though not every year we get a few of this species. May 2020 was a record though, having 3 males and 2 females spending a couple days with us.
Then along came some warblers...
Black-throated green warbler. One of my favourites.
Black-throated blue warbler.
Nashville warbler. They've become a fairly regular, almost expected, May backyard sighting the last few years.
My other favourite, a Blackburnian Warbler.
Then, like usual, there was the baltimore orioles. We had a dozen or so for a few days and as per norm a couple pairs remained to nest in the area.
Our 79th backyard bird species appeared, a swainson's thrush.
A couple wood ducks up in the trees was another treat on one of our morning walks. The birds spend the summer down the road from us but we've never seen them so close to home, and in a tree.
A blue-headed vireo posed nicely just for a moment on another walk. I recall we saw this species a few mornings that week.
A male eastern bluebird showed up in the park near home, and right around where I have some nest boxes. He gave me hope that I would get a nesting pair. Unfortunately that didn't happen despite the bird being seen on/off all summer.
Two scarlet tanagers spent a few days in our neighbourhood. I assume it was the same birds because they were in the same cluster of trees every day. We would joke after numerous sightings, "oh, it's just a tanager!" even though they really are a stunning bird to see anytime, or again and again. A friend and I lovingly joked about them now being a junk bird for the week.
We had to pay close attention to the sparrows we came across. Finding one savannah sparrow was a treat after seeing many house, song, white-throated and white-crowned sparrows.
But the biggest surprise for Angie and I was seeing bobolinks near the house. The birds spent about 3 days here. Normally we would have to drive quite a distance out of the city, like to the Carden Alvar, to see these birds.
The birds were feeding on dandelion seeds as well small insects. We know too many people who want a perfect lawn, free of dandelions, but not us... the birds love the dandelions and we love seeing the birds. It's a win win.
It was a surprisingly great week of vacation despite the stay at home order. It is amazing what is around us if we really open our eyes and ears to nature. Angie's words about the week... "If we learned one thing from this stay at home vacation, it is how important every bit of green space is to migratory birds."