Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ruby Crowned & Hermit Thrushes at Point Pelee (edited)

(Northern Flicker at Entrance Gate... on the way out of the park)

I birded two trails at Point Pelee this morning. I started with Tildens Trail and immediately noticed many White Throated Sparrows and many Carolina Wrens. I also saw a few Ruby Crowned Kinglets... and for the first time, witnessed the 'Ruby" of Ruby Crowned Kinglets. I'm guessing that two male kinglets where chasing each other from tree to tree almost like a dog fight. This is such a difficult bird to photograph. It just will not sit still!

After Tildens Trail, I walked the Woodland Nature Trail. I did not see many birds today on this trail, but its the first time this year I walked the whole loop and the first time I saw the flooded sloughs. Of course, I met a few birders in passing and they informed me that I had just missed a Louisiana Waterthrush. Nonetheless, the highlight of my walk happened near the begining of the trail, where I watched a Thrush eating a worm about 10m in front of me.

Then, about 20 meters later, I saw another Thrush, (it was a little more redish and rust-coloured) that landed on a cedar fence post near a bed of Trillium flowers. At the time, I thought it was the same Thrush***. But now that I see both photos side by side on my computer, it seems pretty obvious they are different birds. I even thought about attributing the difference to their possible sexual dimorphism that is so common in avifauna. Long story short, my best identification of these two birds is that the first one is a Veery, (smaller eyes, brownish crest, less spots on belly, rounder belly) and the second is a Hermit Thrush (Slimmer profile, more spots on belly, larger eyes). Even the notril hole in the beaks are quite different (one is like a pin hole and the other is more slot shaped).  Any thoughts on the ID for these Thrushes would be appreciated!

*** [Correction: I've been informed that my first hunch was correct... these are the same species... Both Hermit Thrushes. The first photo is not a Veery. Thanks Blake. ]

Later in the visitor center, a man informed me that there were many Yellow-Rumped Warblers near the tip (in mating molt), but I just did not have the energy to go see them. I still wanted to paddle the Marsh for about an hour or so.  I tried to drop my new Kayak into the Marsh, but it was just too windy. I paddled 50m into the marsh then quickly turned around. I really would have liked to see an American Bittern, but that just was not going to happen on this particular windy afternoon. On the way out of the park, I stopped at the entrance as I heard the hysterical cry of a Northern Flicker (producing the first image in this posting). The call of the Northern Flicker is very similar to that of the Pileated Woodpecker... this might be the reason so many peole list this bird in the sighting book.

I wish I would have seen a Red Headed Woodpecker but I don't think I'm going to see it at Point Pelee. Maybe at Rondeau on May 2nd (with the group)...

Happy Birding!

PS: My last few postings were not my best written performances. With family, work and night school exams, I just didn't have much time to edit. This particular posting orignally was a crude first draft. I gave it a once over this morning because in my fatigue last night, I did not really refine it as well as I should have.


  1. Both thrushes are Hermit Thrushes! They are plentiful right now. By next weekend we may have Swainson's Thrushes, and certainly Wood Thrushes. Apparently a Wood Thrush was at Pelee today. Obviously some birds came in overnight, as they were not there yesterday!

  2. Wow, Blake, thanks for the correction. Would you say that the first photo is at least a female and the second a male ? :-)

    I bought the ROM Birding Field Guide for Ontario Birds, but maybe should have bought the Sibley guide.

    Thanks again,

  3. Sexes are alike. In some birds you cannot tell males from females. There will be some variation within the species due to diet, health, etc.
    The Sibley guide is far superior. I never bought the ROM guide as I heard it was not a very good guide and some mistakes were within.



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