Monday, January 30, 2017

2016 in Birding Highlights - A Small Year?

Birding continues to be fantastic hobby for me. I absolutely love being outside, walking in nature, viewing birds, butterflies and plants. But this year, I just didn't grind it out as hard as I have been in the past. My love of the hobby hasn't changed, but I guess I really have tried to find a healthy balance between birding and the other important aspects of my life which are family, bbq, home renovation, work, schooling etc. From June 2015 to June 2016 I took four university courses, plus worked full time, finished a basement, installed a fence, sprinkler system, vacationed... You get it - I was busy balancing too many things.

I only had two birding lifers this year: Harlequin Duck and Gyrfalcon. I think my life list at stuck at 399 species (Canada & US). I saw a swallow species at Point Pelee back in November while birding with Jeremy Bensette, but I didn't get diagnostic plumage details for me to count it as anything beyond "Swallow Sp.". What will be my 400th species? (I'm hoping for Scissor tailed Flycatcher)...

I'm not sure that I even hit 200 species this year in Essex. Which begs the question: Was 2016 a Small Year Record?

It might amaze readers that I think my best birding moment of the year was seeing a third Scarlet Tanager in my back yard during this past fall. Its just a tier 1 bird - common in many peoples eyes. But seeing it while sitting on my back deck - a new yard bird - was a great experience. I actually saw three different tanagers that week.

I have just posted a few of my personal birding highlights this year in no particular order.

Back yard bird?

Love this Warbler
Snowy Egret
Fall Phily... Just by chance while waiting for the tram...

Good birding in 2017!

Sanctuary Pond Sunrise the morning after Alan Wormington passed awayRest in Peace Alan!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Northern Saw Whet Owl

Last weekend, I got a text from Kit about a Northern Saw Whet Owl he found in east Windsor. It was seen on private property that he had permission to be on but essentially- he really wanted the location to not be disclosed - for the sake of the Owl and the property owner. What a beautiful owl! This is only the third time I've seen this owl in my six years of birding.

One thing I love about the photo above was that you can see its talons. This owl has zygodactyl feet which means it has four talons - two front facing and two rear facing which helps this species catch mice. Another note about this photo is that I took it from 15-20' away. It was 12 feet up in the tree and this was the only angle that I could see it. This photo is pretty heavily cropped.

Ken Kaufman recently wrote an excellent article about Northern saw whet Owls at the link below. I thinks its a great article because it mentions some of the history from Audubon's time to insights made on this species in the last 100 years. Point Pelee and Canadian ornithologist Percy Taverner are mentioned in this article as well as insights made by Great Lakes banding stations such as the one at HBMO. I recommend giving it a read!

Good Birding!

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Leucistic Field Sparrow

Happy New Year! I was looking out my back window yesterday and saw a lbj (little brown job) sparrow with a bright white tail. After grabbing my binoculars from my car - I noticed white eye-rings on this sparrow- a winter Field Sparrow? I didn't realize Field Sparrows sometimes winter in Southwestern Ontario --- but they do.  A quick glance at historic Ojibway Park CBC [link] data has 0-2 birds on most years. This ebird map [link] shows the occurrence of field sparrows in North America in Jan of 2017. Field Sparrows have been seen further north in Ontario over the last week at Rondeau and Long Point.  The map below shows the range map for this species from

Img Source:

A white tailed Field Sparrow (sorry about the bad white balance here).
It looks like primaries 6 & 7 are white as well as the central tail feathers are pure white.

Five species of sparrows in my back yard yesterday included:

House Sparrows -20
Song Sparrows -2
Trees Sparrows- 5
Dark eyed Juncos-15
Field Sparrow-1

This Sparrow is pretty unique and distinctive. It would be cool to see if it is seen elsewhere in the province or neighboring states this year. If you see it... let me know!

Good Birding!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...