Saturday in Bird World

7 May 2022

It is a gorgeous spring or summer day – feels like summer – at 19 degrees C. The Black-capped Chickadee is serenading everyone in the garden after having a bath and the White-throated Sparrows have arrived in large numbers. All are digging and scratching around the wet leaves for insects. That is one of the best reasons not to rake your lawn in the fall and not until the end of May. Not lazy. Helping the birds!

All of the images were taken through a window screen. The birds seem to like to be in a dark area of the garden where there is a lot of dead leaves and a puddle of water from the snow melting.

There are so many White-throated Sparrows in the garden today. They are all enjoying the dark wet areas, having a drink in the remaining puddles, and stomping on the ground for insects. You might think that this is a White-crowned Sparrow like the one below but look at the lovely yellow over each eye.

This is a White-crowned Sparrow. Do you know it? This little guy arrived in the garden just today. The White-crowned Sparrow is a very distinctive bird. Its black and white striped head is the first thing you will notice. Then its grey breast with its brownish and grey patterned wings and back. This little one was digging around through all of the vegetation. Notice the beak. It can be either an orange-yellow or a reddish-brown depending on the subspecies of the bird. This bird, like the one above, is passing through heading to the boreal forests north of me.

The Black-capped Chickadee, who is a regular in our garden throughout the year, really wanted time in the puddle for a quick bath!

It was nice to see Mr and Mrs Purple Finch in the square feeder today. Just lovely.

There are a few European Starlings that still come for the hard suet.

It is so nice when the migrating birds are coming through the garden heading to their summer homes. The songs and their presence are very re-assuring.

If you need a smile, Annie feeding the two chicks in the scrape on The Campanile at UC-Berkeley should do it!

As of 1300 Pacific time, there were still only two chicks hatched for Annie, Alden, and Grinnell.

oh, they are just so perfect with their little pink beaks and feet. Annie and Alden work together like mates that have been together for a long time. Alden keeps the pantry full. You will see Annie go down to the larder on a lower level and come up with something for the wee ones.

Cal Falcons just posted a video of Alden keeping an eye on the chicks while Annie is away. He is a little nervous. Many believe that this is his first time ‘dad’ stuff. He will be a great mate for Annie and dad for the eyases.

It is a pretty nice day when nothing much is going on in Bird World. It is like this sort of lull – some eggs to pip soon, a few eaglets to fledge, but steady. That is a good thing.

It was so nice to drop in and see Kincaid on her branch at the Kistachie National Forest Bald eagle nest in Louisiana. She is going to survive and do really well. Right now all she wants is to see her dad, Louis, flying in with a fish for her.

I wish I could put Kincaid side by side with the MN-DNR female. My goodness. They said she weighed 9 lbs. Eaglets normally grow at the rate of a lb a week. The MN-DNR eaglet is six and a half weeks old. She is 50% more heavy and larger than normal! Formidable is the word. She is at the high end of the large female eaglets. Those legs are strong and she has her wings folded in part way. Awesome.

Cholyn’s only baby, TH1 of 2022, has quite the crop this afternoon. Wonder if she is a big female, too? Cholyn needs to eat that remaining fish!!

Star and Sentry are really looking good at the Redding nest of Liberty and Guardian. Look at their plumage development in comparison to Two Harbours 1 above.

The triplets at the Pittsburgh-Hayes nest were soaked this morning but by afternoon late they were dried out and sound asleep.

There is an afternoon storm with rain, high winds, and what sounds like thunder at the National Arboretum nest of Mr President, Lotus, and DC9.

It is reassuring at a time when the Avian Flu is killing so many Apex raptors to stop into the nests and see that the birds and their parents are doing alright. Here are some images from the nest of Samson and Gabby at NEFlorida. Both Jasper and Rocket have fledged and, like Kincaid, they are hanging around the nest to get those wings strong and their hunting skills perfected before heading out on their own.

I was surprised to see how many fish bones are in the nest!

The same strong winds that are blowing in DC are blowing on the West End Nest of Thunder and Cholyn and the three eaglets – . Thunder came in with a big fish that was still alive. All have eaten well today.

There has been a lot of Bird Flu in the upper Midwest. It is good to check in on the nest of Mr North and Mrs DNF at Decorah. The two eaglets appear to be fine. Relief.

There is a short video clip of these two attempting self-feeding yesterday.

I showed this image in another posting but it is such a rare occasion that she allows her mate to brood or feed the chicks. So it is worth posting a second time in case you missed it.

So many nests to check and so much going on. It was a real relief to find everyone doing so well on these nests. The weather has been miserable in different places and I hope that it all warms up for tomorrow so that all of our bird mothers have a lovely day.

Thank you so much for joining me. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Cal Falcons, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, Pix Cams, Explore.org, Friends of Redding Eagles, NEFlorida Eagles-AEF, MN-DNR, NADC-AEF, and Friends of Redding Eagles.

Florida Baldies

There are a number of Bald Eagle nests on streaming cams in Florida: Captiva, NEFlorida, SWFlorida, the WRDC, and Osceola to name five. Three of the nests have eaglets who are getting their blood feathers and beginning to look like gorgeous dark espresso juveniles. One nest did not have viable eggs on its first clutch and NE Florida has eaglets who are, on average 14 days old.

Gabby and Samson really had a weekend of bad weather. Rain and high winds rocked the nest but it did not rock this great eagle couple. Samson piled the fish on the nest so the entire family could eat regardless of the weather and Gabby did an amazing job of keeping NE26 and 27 dry and fed. This is an incredible team!

NE 26 is 15 days old and NE 27 is 13 days old today.

The eaglets at NEFlorida are in the process of losing their natal down and getting the thermal down. At that time they will be able to more regulate their own temperature.

At the WRDC nest of Ron and Rita, the eaglets are getting their blood feathers or juvenile feathers. I say the word ‘blood’ feather because the middle area of the feather – often called the quill – is full of blood. If it should break, the eagle could bleed to death. Just this morning Rita stepped on R2’s wing and there was concern.

R1 is 37 days old and R2 is 36 days old today.

That is R2 nearest the adult. Note the lovely thermal down and the dark feathers. They are growing in through the follicles where the natal down was (or so I am told). What is interesting to me in terms of eaglet behaviour is that R2 is beginning to walk. He is not fully steady but he will move from one side of the nest to the other on his feet.

There he made it. You can see that R1 has more juvenile feathers than R2. It is a good way to distinguish them.

Here is some information on the stages of development.

https://journeynorth.org/tm/eagle/annual/facts_nestlings.html

The eaglet at the Osceola Bald Eagle Nest is ahead of the eaglets at the WRDC in terms of its plumage development. There are three Bald Eagle nests with only one hatchling so far: Osceola, Kistachie National Forest, and Berry College. The single at Osceola is actively looking over the edge of the nest to the world beyond. An adult is providing security on a branch to the left.

It might look like E19 and E20 are alone on the nest but just like the eaglet at Osceola, they aren’t. Harriet or M15 or both will be up on the higher branches keep guard over their nest and their territory.

The plumage development on the SWFlorida Eaglets is between that of Osceola and WRDC it appears with Osceola being the most developed.

The Captiva Bald Eagle nest on Santibel Island of Connie and Clive did not have any hatchlings from the first clutch of eggs. It is unclear whether Connie and Clive will try for a second clutch. They each worked burying the egg yesterday and placing palm leaves over it. Surely a means of closure and new beginnings.

Other Bird World News:

Richmond continues to come to the Whirley Crane and spend time waiting for Rosie’s arrival. Today he stayed for over half an hour. Normally Rosie arrives right around Valentine’s Day. To get you in the mood for baby Ospreys, here is a compilation from last year and the triples: Sage, Poppy, and Lupin. It is nice to remember that Ervie was once this small! Oh, they grow and leave us way too fast.

Ervie is on the nest crying for Dad to deliver him a fish at the Port Lincoln Osprey Barge. The last fish delivery was yesterday at 15:07 so Ervie is very hungry this morning.

And breeding season has started at The Campanile Peregrine Falcon nest of Annie and Grinnell!!!!!!!!! Oh, how exciting!

I went to one of our local nature centres for my walk and to check on the little woodpecker that had a beak issue today. The temperature was only -7 C but the breeze off the lake made it feel much more colder.

The food in the feeders was almost gone. The Nuthatch was trying to get thee last of the suet.

There were a pair of Black-capped Chickadees feeding on Black Oil Seed.

The little woodpecker was not at the feeders when we departed the centre or returned.

It is hard to describe to anyone how much snow we have had. Here in the park it is almost at the top of the picnic tables.

We walked across the frozen lake and back. It was so quiet. The snow is dry and it crunched under our feet.

It was a lovely day despite the chill to be outside. I felt blessed.

If you are interested in what is happening on the high seas in terms of fishing, I will provide you with a link to the Sea Shepherd site. Paul Watson is a Canadian and he is intent on bringing to justice those who fish the seas illegally. Sea Shepherd also works with countries helping with illegal fishing in their waters. In September I had a friend taking photographs on the Faroe Islands when the largest pod of Dolphins was forced on shore. That report with images and why it was considered an illegal hunt is on the Sea Shepherd site under News. The fishing impacts the sea birds like the Albatross. If huge illegal trawlers continue to harvest 24/7 seven days a week, the fish stocks in the ocean will be depleted. That along with warming waters is a huge threat to the Albatross and Petrels.

Once you go on the site, to find the latest news you have to click on Media and then news.

Thank you so much for joining me today. There is so much happening with the Bald Eagles that my mind has to stop and focus on a few at a time. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: NEFlorida Bald Eagles and the AEF, WRDC, Osceola Bald Eagles, SWFlorida and D Pritchett, Port Lincoln Osprey Project.

What keeps us busy while NE26 hatches?

Samson has come to the nest to check on the progress of the hatch and to see if Gabby wants anything. Samson is more than anxious for NE26 to hatch – just like the rest of us.

Samson comes in to check on Gabby. Do you need anything, sweetie?

26 is using his egg tooth to chisel away at that shell. At 08:20 this was just a tiny hole.

Looks like a nice hole!

You can see that egg tooth chipping away.

Hello, NE26

Samson is back again, just checking on progress.

Samson decides to redo the rim of the nest and add and move sticks while he is waiting.

Waiting is hard!

Gabby has rolled the eggs. Look carefully you can see some cracks underneath the branch on the egg.

Samson is as anxious as the rest of us. He keeps jumping down on the nest to see how 26 is doing.

What a great portrait of our NEFlorida couple.

Look at the progress! Wow. This little one is getting that egg open quickly. I am really impressed with the progress. It won’t be long til 26 can give a karate kick and be free!

Come on NE26! We want to see you.

Progress!

Thank goodness for Ferris Akel. I was getting a little bit like Samson wondering how things were going with the hatch and the notice popped up that Ferris was on his tour. So between Ferris and the garden birds it is helping to pass the time while we wait for N26 to hatch! There is heat shimmer on the images and some were at a great distance.

It has been a great day to see raptors on Ferris’s Tour especially in the Montezuma area. There was an American Kestrel, a Rough-legged Hawk, and a Red-tail Hawk mixed in with Starlings and Horned Larks.

Rough-legged Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk

This is one gorgeous hawk!

Rough-legged Hawk

There were a pair of them hunting. The light one above and a darker plumaged one.

Rough-legged Hawk

This is such a beautiful dark Red-tail Hawk. Look at that amazing patterning on the scapula, the ‘V’ formed on the back when the wings are folded.

Red-tail Hawk, Adult

Horned Larks do not really have horns. They normally show two little feathered tufts on their heads. Horned Larks are the only true species of lark in North America. There is one other lark, the Sky Lark, that was introduced to Vancouver Island.

The Horned Lark is larger than a sparrow. The pattern is striking. Notice the yellow under the beak and then the dark brown/black line across separating the head from the breast.

Horned Larks
European Starlings

All of a sudden there was open water and there were Mallards, Black Ducks, and a female Red-breasted Merganser plus an array of Canada Geese.

Ferris took us to see some amazing water falls on the way to Ithaca. They are Taughannock Falls at Ulysses, New York. Incredibly beautiful. They are 8 miles away from Ithaca and if you are ever in the region, this would be a great place to visit.

Having promised myself to take images of a wasp nest hanging over the street in the tree canopy, it seemed like a good time between the falls and Ithaca to do that.

This nest is so fragile looking. It was in tact, like a tight round ball, until our snow storm the other day.

I will go out during different lighting conditions to document the change in the nest as winter progresses.

This little Black-capped Chickadee kept itself busy getting seeds and moving around the many European Starlings.

It seems like they would use more energy retrieving the seed and cracking it than the energy contained inside. But what do I know? I am just a silly human.

One brave sparrow sat with a sea of European Starlings today.

This fellow decided it was easier to knock the seed cylinder down and eat on the ground! The Chickadee thanked him.

Ferris is trying to find Big Red and Arthur. NE26 continues to work itself out of that shell. All of the other birds are doing well even with the cold temperatures in areas such as Louisiana.

Dad delivered a fish for Ervie. It was a bit of an appetizer. Ervie has been away from the nest. Maybe he is out fishing!

Ervie knew that day was coming before we could see him. Ervie flew into the nest and started prey crying.

Ervie is great to flap his wings and call for food at the same time. He can also stand on its tippy-toes.

There is Dad. Mum watches from the perch.

It is a flurry of wings and feet. Thanks, Dad!

Everything seems to be fine in Bird World. So far Ferris has found lots of Crows but not Big Red and Arthur. What in the world is going on? The Crows are flying, in the trees, just moving about.

They are also on the roof of Barton Hall at Cornell University. Is the beginning of hundreds of Crows gathering together? Researchers believe that they gather at dusk to share food sources and to find breeding partners in the spring.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care. Just think tomorrow there will be a new eaglet in the world. Yes!

Thanks to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Ferris Akel Tour, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, NEFlorida and the AEF.

A Visit to Oak Hammock Marsh

My Hibiscus and the Vermillionaires for the hummingbirds continue to think it is summer. And why wouldn’t they with blue skies, sun, and 24 degrees C. The only things that seem to be on track for autumn are the trees and Virginia Creepers that are changing colour daily.

Today was a bit of an outing. Located about 20 km north of Winnipeg, the Oak Hammock Marsh is home to an Interpretative Centre, third floor viewing area, a marsh boardwalk and several trails through the marshes. Oak Hammock Marsh is a joint project between the Province of Manitoba and Ducks Unlimited Canada. The marsh covers a 3600 hectare restored wetland area in the Interlake (between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba) area of our province. The marsh supports 300 species of birds as well as a myriad of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. My interest is, of course, in the birds.

There are daily tours of the grounds, special education programmes for schools, early bird breakfast and migration fests, and a Goose Flight dinner which is completely sold out.

It was a wonderful day – short sleeve weather with plenty of birds and lots of places to stop and catch your breath along the trails.

Tip: If you were going to visit Oak Hammock Marsh and you just want to walk the trails and not go inside the building, you do not pay the entrance fee.

One of the things that I like about Oak Hammock is that at each trail there is information on the wildlife that you ‘might’ see there. Of course, there are no promises that the Yellow-headed or Red Winged Blackbirds will be there when you are but, in general, these are areas where certain birds congregate if at the marsh.

These are a great help to me – I am a raptor person who is just beginning to learn about waterfowl and shorebirds! I would have loved having Ferris Akel with me telling me which was the Greater Yellow Legs and which was the Spotted Sandpiper. There are a stack of books open surrounding me right now and the images are disappointing. That said, let’s give it a try and see if some of these bird identifications work – and if you spot an error, tell me! Do not be shy about it.

The images are not great. This beautiful raptor soared for so long in the warm thermals coming off the prairie landscape. She was obviously hunting. She would come down and bank and then go so high she was like a speck of dirt. You wanted to rub the lens of your camera to see if she was real. This is an adult female Northern Harrier. Notice how slim the body is with the long tapered wings and tail.

In the image below she is gliding – holding her wing tips higher than the body. Northern Harriers is one of the easiest members of the hawk family to identify because they glide so close to the ground. They have excellent vision but are known to also hunt by sound

She has soared above the marsh and glided down for a closer look for her prey. In the image below she was banking but also pulling up. You can see that distinct white upper covert.

It was simply mesmerizing watching her hunt and then go back to soaring in the thermals of a beautiful fall day.

Did you know that Northern Harriers were once called Marsh Hawks? In Europe they are often called Hen Hawks. This marsh is a perfect place for our Northern Harrier female to have her nest. She will build it on the ground usually in long grasses or cattails. These hawks line their nest with cattails – and all over the marsh were cattails and other soft prairie grass.

It was quite difficult to actually hear any of the other bird voices (or calls). The Canada Geese were flying overhead, landing on the ponds, and in the fields surround the marsh.

This adult male Yellow Headed Blackbird paid no attention to me. He was foraging for insects, seeds, beetles, on the ground. They apparently also eat dragonflies and there were a lot of those on my walk today. Here he is with his distinctive yellow head and chest with white patches on his black wings. He has a black bill.

There is an understanding that if Yellow-headed Blackbirds are in the same area as Red-winged Blackbirds then the Yellow-heads will be dominant. I do not know if that is the case at Oak Hammock Marsh because the numbers of Red-winged Blackbirds seem to really outnumber the Yellows.

It’s a male Red-winged Blackbird, below. I think it is a juvenile male because the red patch above the yellow is faint. They are covered by thousands of the most beautiful ebony feathers. Their black eye and beak disappear in all the dark plumage.

The Red-winged Blackbirds also have their nests on the ground which they line with dried cattail leaves, reeds, and grasses. The marsh is a perfect place for them to nest, too, with all those cattails!

This Greater Yellowlegs was quite busy foraging in the mud. Because of its streaked neck, this should be a juvenile. The Greater Yellowlegs is larger than the Lesser and has a longer bill with longer legs and noticeable knees. These birds also nest on the ground near water making Oak Hammock Marsh a perfect nesting area.

It looked so small walking along the soft mud of the marsh.

Two female Blue-winged Teals. We have Blue-winged teals throughout our province but they prefer, like so many of these birds, the marshes. Sadly, many marshes have been drained for farming over the past 60 years and then turned into housing estates leaving the Teals to have to adapt to living in ditches and dugout ponds. Their dark beaks are quite wide and flat. The females are a mottled brown.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

A pair of American coots diving and dabbling like ducks in the waters of the marsh today. American Coots can forage for food on land as well. Some people call them ‘Mud Hens.’ They eat insects, worms, tadpoles and fish as well as land and water plants. Their white bill with the black plumage helps to identify them.

As I was leaving, more and more Canada Geese were arriving in their typical ‘V’ formation. The fields were filling up and so were the ponds. It was 15:00. Must go back out closer to dusk! There is something energizing about seeing all of those geese flying in – and the only sound being heard was not the noise of the city but the honk of the goose. Just lovely.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I know that most of my readers live in places around the world far away from Manitoba. Please do check out your local nature centres. There are wonderful surprises awaiting you. Take care everyone. See you soon.

Quite a fright

Late yesterday afternoon Daisy arrived back at the nest right before 17:00. In a split second, she saw the two WBSE on the camera tree and was able, quickly, to abort her landing. They scared Daisy. She stayed away only returning at 19:43 as the sun was beginning to set on the old Ironbark forest.

And if that wasn’t enough of a fright, in the wee hours of the night she was literally scared off by sounds coming from the nest. Daisy was so frightened she quickly flew off after listening for a few minutes. And that scared off the Ringtail Possum that was climbing up the nest peeking in at Daisy sleeping in the sea eagle nest. It seems they both scared one another.

Common Ringtail Possums are small. They are about the size of a medium domestic cat. They are grey with some white behind the eyes with a white tip on their tail. They use this tail almost like a fourth leg wrapping it around branches to help them climb. They are forest dwellers and are very familiar with the sea eagles that raise young on this nest. Many people think they have their nest at the very bottom of the sea eagle nest. Like BooBook Owl and the more threatening Common Bushtail Possum, they hunt at night. They are vegetarians feeding on plants, fruit, and flora. The little Ringtail possum is the only species of possum in Australia where the male is actually involved in caring for the young possums. They are, again, not as much a danger to Daisy as the Common Ringtail Possum.

Common Ringtail Possum. Notice the thick tail that they use to help them climb. Photo courtesty of Wikimedia Commons.

The possum that Daisy should be very fearful of is the Bushtail.

Brushtail Possum at Grampians National Park, Australia courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Brushtail possums are the most widespread marsupial in Australia. (They are also in New Zealand). They are brown and have really bushy tails with a underneath furless patch that helps them to climb trees and hang on to the branches. They hunt at night and eat leaves, flowers, fruits, insects, small animals, and eggs. They are not related to the Opossum of the Americas and they are not the benign fruit eater portrayed by many books. They pose a real problem to Daisy as they are, as noted earlier, keen egg eaters. These possums are known to have eaten parrots, keas, robins, as well as larger kiwis. Researchers believe the decline of the North Island Kokako (endemic to New Zealand) to almost extinction was caused by the Brushtail Possum. The Kokako is a large grey-blue song bird. It has a black mask and long legs. New Zealanders are working hard to restore the populations of these lovely forest birds.

North Island Kokako perched on a Branch. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It is now past dawn in Sydney, Australia. No sign of the White-Bellied Sea Eagles. Daisy is setting serenely on her nest. You will notice that she has been bringing in some of the down that was scattered. The nest is quite fluffy now!

Daisy, after dawn, January 22

There is absolutely no telling what comings and goings will happen today. It is Day 10 of brooding!

Daisy’s beautiful layered plumage on her wings.

Dawn casts a beautiful rose-gold over all the forest.

Dawn

And just about the time Daisy settled into a quiet early morning, she heard something land on the camera tree. It is 7:18:48. Too late to get off the nest or cover the eggs, she decided the right thing to do was to freeze flat.

Daisy lays ‘frozen’ hoping that the large bird on the camera tree does not see her.

Whatever it was, it was, its shadow indicated that it was a large bird but not as large as a sea eagle. Spotters said it was white so it is likely not then the Raven who continues to come, hoping to find Daisy gone and eggs for dinner. The bird left in about ten minutes but Daisy stayed frozen like she is in the photo above. Gradually, she began to relax.

Daisy relaxing slowly.

The first threat of the morning has come and gone after the excitement of the possum who came during the early night.

Stay tuned. An updated post will come in about six hours. Stay safe. Thanks for dropping in to check on Daisy.

Thank you to Sea Eagle Cam, BirdLife and the Discovery Center for the cameras from which I took my scaps.

Protecting birds by simple changes in our lives can make a huge difference.

For the past week I have been posting information on how we can all join in and make our environment friendlier to birds. The tips and the ongoing discussion with my chatters on the Cornell RTH FB page have been enriching. Those posts were a way of remembering J1, the eldest chick of Big Red and Arthur, who died a week ago today after what is believed to be a window strike at Weill Hall. J1 was a super large very maternal bird who could be hawk-fierce when required or a gentle goof pulling the tail feathers of her brothers if they sat on a bar above her. She loved playing soccer with pinecones and taking baths in the puddles after a hot day in Ithaca. Her birth brought joy to all and as she grew most recognized that she would be a gentle but firm mother like Big Red. Because of COVID-19 and the escalating deaths and subsequent civil unrest, her death sparked a deep sense of loss not only within her hawk family but also with the BOGs in Ithaca and those who love this family around the world. Big Red and Arthur led the two remaining chicks away from Tower Road and the business of the campus near Bradfield and Weill out to Holey Cow. Just looking it appears that the distance is around a mile but I could be all wrong. The area is rural farmyard territory as opposed to urban with its buildings, streets, and cars. And the parents have kept them near the barns with the cows and sheep and the fields where Big Red’s mate, Ezra, used to hunt. One evening all four took part in a team hunting event. Big Red from one side of the pine tree and Arthur on the other would fly into the tree chasing a squirrel down for the two juveniles to hunt it. The move has caused the chicks to slow way down and stop random flying stunts between buildings. You say, “Did Big Red and Arthur know that J1 had died?” My answer to you is “Of course, they knew.” Would they have wished that Cornell University would have earlier installed window reflective glass on their buildings? Absolutely. And so, that is why I am writing to you tonight. To introduce you to ways that you can help birds in your own neighborhood.

Most of you will know some of these points but you might have forgotten or maybe you didn’t know. I certainly didn’t know all of them and tonight I find that I am still learning. So here goes:

  1. Make all of your windows bird friendly by installing strips on the outside so there is no bird strike. Check your local wildlife or nature centre. They often have this available in their shop.
  2. Speaking of windows. Governments in Australia have announced that all buildings will now be required to use reflective glass. It is estimated that 1 million birds die from window strikes annually. Supporters of the new reflective glass windows believe that they can save 90% of the birds with this new measure. Write to anyone in your community who will listen!
  3. Bird-friendly coffee. Almost everyone reading this blog will drink some kind of coffee a day. But, as I have learned recently, not all coffee is the same. There are now many organic beans and blends as well as fair trade coffees but if you want to be the most environmentally friendly with your cup of java, then you must find bird friendly coffee. And this is not easy! The Smithsonian must certify the coffee to be grown under shade so that the forests are not cleared to qualify beyond being organic and fair trade. So look for the labelling and ask your local roaster to get beans brought in for you or you can order on line.
  4. Water. The summers are getting warmer. The heat impacts all of us. One simple way to help the birds is to put out bowls of water so that they have a fresh drink and a place to have a bath and cool off. You don’t need to go down and buy a fancy bird bath. Readers of my postings have suggested checking your local thrift store for bowls or even bird baths. Many use the dishes that go under pots. One even suggested the plastic liners for paint trays (new, of course). Since I work with clay, we have an array of shallow bowls outside and every day around 4pm the little song birds line up for a drink and a splash. One day the largest of our local Grackle community decided to have a bath. It was sweet.
  5. Cats. Cats are one of the most prominent dangers to birds. Where I live it is illegal to let your cats outside. But in many parts of the world this is not the case.
  6. Herbicides and pesticides. One major birdseed company in the US (who also supplied herbicides and pesticides for gardens and lawns) was discovered to have poison seed in their product several years ago. Make sure you know where your birdseed comes from BUT also let your garden be natural. All of the treatments for lawns are very dangerous to animals.
  7. Mouse and rat poison. Rodenticide. Do not use poisons to trap mice and rats. They mice and rats eat the poison, get sluggish, and are easy for the raptors to catch. Then they die. It has been clearly proven that raptors are much better at keeping down the rat population than poisons. Tell anyone you know not to use these products that stop the blood from coagulating. In fact, cats can also die if they eat a poisoned mouse or rat.
  8. Plant a tree. During this very chaotic spring, people have been seeking calm. Trees and gardens offer places for peaceful contemplation. They also help the biosphere. So instead of paving your patio, consider creating a rustic treed space that is bird friendly instead.
  9. Slow down. When you drive slow down. It will cause less deaths from window strike.
  10. You might want to keep gear in your vehicle to help with injured birds. This can include but is not limited to gloves, a secure cage, and soft blanket. Know the contact numbers for your local wildlife rehabilitation centre.

These are not the only ways but they are a beginning. You might want to think about ordering the book that was recommended to me today. It is Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

If you have come to find out about ceramics today, I am sorry to disappoint.  Today’s chatter is about some of the visitors to our garden.  One of the reasons that we have remained living in the urban centre of a growing Canadian city is our garden.  Twenty years ago a dozen lilac bushes were planted along the east side of the property at the back.  There is also a peony bush that thrives despite the fact I am told it is over fifty years old.  The wild roses climb about along with a flaming willow inspired by a friend’s in Kelowna, a super tall Brandon cedar, a myriad of thickets and Virginia creeper.  There are literally hundreds of birds every day, a pair of Chickadees and Nuthatches, a lone Downy Woodpecker this time of year, two grey squirrels, a red squirrel, and three rabbits.  And then, there are ‘them’.

‘Them’ refers to the Sharp-Shinned Hawks. These hawks are small ‘accipiters’.  That is they have short round wings and a long tail.  When their tail is folded, it appears to be square or notched, with a narrow pale tip.  When fanned it is slightly rounded in appearance.  Their head is small and rounded (not flat like the Cooper Hawks).  Their neck is short and they can rotate their head almost 360 degrees.  Their breast is rusty-barred and they have an orange eye.  They fly, according to Peterson, in several rapid beats with a short glide.  Petersons also says they are better adapted at hunting in the woodlands than most of the other hawks.  While several other books on Manitoba birds does not indicate it, Peterson says this:  “Habitat:  Breeds in extensive forests; in migration and winter, open woodlands, wood edges, and residential areas.”  Their food is chiefly birds and occasionally small mammals.

My first encounter was on March 29, 2018, when I came face to face with a female at 10 am – in my nightgown no less.  She was perched on one of the sheds that hold the firewood for our wood stove.  She was rapidly plucking something and thinking it was ‘the’ rabbit, I ran out in the snow to confirm and discovered- seriously, much to my relief- that the lunch was one of the songbirds.  [I need to add here that we do not feed the other animals so they will be a hawk buffet].  She was stunningly gorgeous and quite large.  We stared at one another for about sixty seconds.  I would like to think that day that our chat might keep her away from the rabbits and realising that hawks are endangered, I recognised that she also had to eat and feed offspring.  She and her mate came again in April.  The male is much smaller (about 22 cm tall) than the female (at least  35-45 cm tall) and his hunting skills weren’t very sophisticated last year.  If this is the same one, he has much improved.

Today, he was successful and then just sat, quite content on the edge of the firewood holder.  This appears to be his ‘plucking post’.  The hawks catch their prey with their long legs and sharp talons.  Normally, he would have left after he finished eating but, today, he was there – frozen still – for about forty-five minutes.  The songbirds in the lilacs and the grey squirrel on the suet did not move.  At the end of almost an hour, they even got a little squirmy.  Some were hiding in the Brandon Cedar.  Then the hawk flew away only to return to the thicket some five minutes later.  The photo was taken with my iPhone.  My presence, less than two metres from him, was not a bother nor were people walking up and down the back lane and cars.  Then he left again.  We were looking out the window to see if he had returned, talking about how well he was camouflaged, only to be surprised when we looked ‘to our right’ and there, on a 2 x 4 holding a solar panel to the outdoor lights, he was cheekily perched.  Several minutes later he swopped past the lilacs and away.  It was 4;40pm.

Has climate impacted these hawks?  Most of the bird books talk about their migration and the fact that they live in forested areas in the north, not in the City of Winnipeg!