Tuesday 30 April 2013

The OC

A major push of migrants came in last night despite the radar not showing many birds flying in our area....

With warm weather and South winds forecasted for tonight, I'm sure we can expect even more birds on the first of May!

Our first 100+ birds banded at Old Cut was today.... Some of the highlights were 8 Blue-headed Vireos, 8 Black-and-White Warblers, 1 Blue-winged Warbler, 1 Lincoln's Sparrow, 2 Veerys... 

A Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Least Flycatcher, and a Summer Tanager added to the diversity in the area.

A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak feasted on sunflower seeds the entire day:

A young Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was busy feeding on sap:

This Blue-winged Warbler was around the woodlot all day, we managed to band it in the morning.

I was happy to get a great look at the female Summer Tanager today:
It can be identified by the large bill, dusky/greyish lores (area in front of the eyes), lack of contrast between the tail and the back/wings, and the lack of dark wings.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Give Me Sleep




Saturday 20 April 2013

Long Point!

My last exam of my undergrad degree was yesterday, so now I can enjoy spring migration without any stress about school.

An early Solitary Sandpiper at Columbia Lake was the last interesting bird I found in Waterloo before heading South:

At Long Point it didn't take long before I added several year birds.
Pine Warblers were low to the ground finding whatever food they could find in this cold weather:

This Junco at Long Point Prov. Park was looking a little orangey/brown... but my opinion is still that it's all just variation in Slate-coloreds:

Over the next 10 days I'll be at Long Point banding birds, then off to Pelee for a few days of guiding, and then up North for a few more weeks of birding ;)

The rest of the summer is wide open, and will surely include some interesting birding adventures :)

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Spring time in Waterloo

On my first day off of school I ventured to my usual haunts. Except this time I had time to linger and take some photos!
Luckily there were also a bunch of new migrants in :)

Believe it or not, there is still ice on the lakes/ponds here!

Common Goldeneyes are unusual on the inland lakes of Waterloo, so a group of 5 of them stood out.

This male Redhead wasn't associating with the female Redhead whatsoever.

Song Sparrows were everywhere.

Laurel Creek may not be frozen, but it sure is drained:

Hopefully the expansive mud will attract more of these birds:

A few teal were very alert to my presence:

This Fox Sparrow was very boisterous with its beautiful song:

Check out a video of it singing here:

Sunday 7 April 2013

Birding tomorrow?

Last day of classes tomorrow. Also means that all my assignments are due tomorrow, but I couldn't help but get excited for the onslaught of birds, which I will be soaking in on Tuesday hopefully!

April 7 Radar Gif photo http---makeagifcom-media-4-07-2013-_JCqtn_zpsa01b4e5c.gif
Radar maps from here.

Tons of migrants moved into Southern Ontario last night, but the radar looks even better tonight!


Waterloo has been rather unproductive lately (in terms of birds). Largely because the local lake is entirely drained, so evidence of waterfowl migration has really been lacking here.

I'm hoping that there will at least be some shorebirds in the next week or two!

Friday 5 April 2013

Bird Song Quiz #19

Don't forget to try out the other one below if you didn't get a chance to!

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Unusual Juncos in the East

In two earlier posts I've rambled about Junco sub-species identification.
Here and here.
I came across many 'unusual' Juncos that were photographed in the East and obviously have some Oregon Junco in their genes. I stole a couple of those photos and made some thoughts on each of them here.

Tell me what you think in the comments below or via email!

My general opinion is that any Junco that shows up in the East should be assumed as Slate-colored or Cassiar, unless there is a ton of proof that it's an Oregon. Oregon Juncos should be much rarer than Cassiar Juncos - in fact, some banding stations in Eastern North America claim that up to 10-15% of their Juncos are Cassiar Juncos! I do find this a little hard to believe because Cassiar Juncos are 'supposed' to be from the Rocky Mountains region. Why would they, unlike the vast majority of other rocky mountain species, make their way East during winter, instead of South?

In fact, I'm starting to think that there's an unrecognized amount of variation in our usual Slate-coloured Juncos, or there may even be an, as of yet, undiscovered population of unusual looking Slate-coloureds breeding in our forests to the North (is that even possible?!)... Anyway, enough heresy.


First up is this bright bird from New York:

Photo from here

It is super bright brown/pink on the flanks and back and even the top of the head too! The fact that it's a first winter bird probably means that it has more brown/red colouring than if it were an adult. The bib has a nice convex shape and contrasts with the brown/buff of the upper flanks. There's essentially no grey mixed in with the brown/pink flanks.

My vote is Oregon Junco!


Here's a photo from Guelph, Ontario taken this winter:

From here

This one was identified as a first winter bird as well. Funny how many of these 'vagrants' or unusual birds are young ones! They are, presumably, more likely to get lost during migration, so it makes sense that we see first years here.
Anyway, the flanks don't really seem to pop out for me as being bright brown/pink. But the lighting can be an issue here...

Another photo of this same bird:

Here the flanks definitely don't shine out as being brown/pink. But the bird is very fluffed up so the underlying white feathers could be washing out the expected brown.
The bib has a good convex shape in both pictures.

And another photo of the same bird:

To me, the brown isn't prominent enough in the tertials and coverts to make this a 'pure-bred' Oregon. Also, the upper flanks don't show a very nice contrast between the brown of the upper flanks and the grey bib. But photos can be misleading as is obvious here because the division between flanks and bib look very different in photos #1 and 2...

So my vote is Cassiar Junco, but this one I'm not very confident about.


This is the bird I photographed in Waterloo in March. The only edit I made to the photos was to add some exposure which helped give a clearer idea of the colours in the bird.

First thing that doesn't seem quite right for Oregon Junco is that the bib does not seem to be very convex in shape. The division between the white belly and grey bib is not a 'straight' line, it's more irregular than what I've been seeing on Oregon Junco photos from the West. The upper flanks also seem to have a continuum from brown to the grey of the bib, rather than have an obvious clean-cut division between brown and grey.

Lots of brown on the back, but not 'strong' enough for a perfect Oregon Junco.
In the end I called this a Cassiar Junco, but for all I know it could simply be an 'unusual' Slate-colored Junco... mysterio


What do you think of this big mess? Do you prefer that I stick to the Bird Song Quizzes?