Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Mind Blown - *Tufted Titmouse* graces Backyard Feeder!


I have heard and seen Tufted Titmouse over the last 5-7 years of living at my current house (within south cameron woodlot) --- but on Dec 27th, 2023 - I had seen - for the first time in my life - an unmistakable Tufted Titmouse feeding from my black sunflower seed feeder! A nice male Red bellied Woodpecker was enjoying the feeder as well. 

I'm quite certain that this is the first time I have photographed a Tufted Titmouse (2+) on my back-yard bird feeder!

Tufted Titmouse is a special bird to me as its one of my sparkbirds  --- a bird that got me into bird watching! Also, its the official bird of Windsor

So - now I am going to have to keep my feeder well stocked and have this wonderful bird visit more often! Especially over the Winter Season.

Good Birding!


Some other birds seen today:

2 Red tailed Hawks

4 Black capped Chickadees

4 Dark Eyed Juncos

4 American Goldfinch

2 Tufted Titmouse

1 Downy Woodpecker

1 Red bellied Woodpecker

4 European Starling

25 Turkeys

1 Dove Morning

2 Robins

4 Cardinals

10 Blue Jays

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Looking back at 2023 - Year in Review


Least Grebes in Austin Texas

Merry Christmas! And wishes for a healthy, happy, prosperous new year!  I have been in poor health over the last few weeks - I "blew out my back" this week so I have been in great pain. Even still - I have a 10 year tradition of reflecting on birding and nature highlights so why not continue the tradition?

I have not had too many highlights this year.  But - I guess there are three events/categories that were somewhat noteworthy:

1. Trip to Texas

  • Black crested Titmouse (TX) 466
  • Snowy Plover (TX) 467 
  • Neotropical Cormorant (TX) 468
  • White tailed Kite (TX) 469
  • Least Grebe (TX) 470

2. Western Tanager near Belle River

3. Greyling MI trip

4. Swallowtailed Kite in LaSalle

5. Noteworthy Backyard birding

Texas: This was my first time visiting Texas and it was quite nice. Its big! I had 10+ birds that I was hoping to see but only caught up with about 5 birds. They highlight bird for me of the five was a small flock of Snowy Plovers that I was able to see in a naturalized beach area on Galveston Island.  I was able to convincingly see a Neotropic Cormorant, Least Grebe, Black crested Titmouse as well as a White tailed Kite. 

Western Tanager in Belle River

Greyling MI trip

Swallow-tailed Kite in LaSalle ON:

Noteworthy back-yard birds:  My backyard continues to give exciting birding opportunities, and this year, I was able to pick out a couple of neat birds. A Grey-Cheeked thrush and a Golden winged Warbler absolutely blew my mind. Even a small flock of Eastern Bluebirds made my heart skip a beat.... I am still a few years away from retirement --- so I appreciate what I have seen considering I'm still grinding out a living!

Butterflies and Astronomy-  

While I was in Texas, I attempted to see an Astronomical phenominon called "OMEGA Centauri" --- the largest globular cluster visible from earth. I have seen a handful of these globular clusters of stars - and they are incredible! There is a theory that globular clusters are small galaxies that have been absorbed into our galaxy - The Milky Way.  Comet E3 ZTF was seen and photographed in Febuary of this past year. 

Texas Butterflies:  (Austin area - March 2023)
Southern Dogface, Henry's Elfin - as well as many other species that I had seen previously such as Funeral Duskywing, Dainty Sulpher, Varigated and Gulf Fritillary, common buckey, red admiral, monarch, Giant Swallowtail, Eastern Tiger, Pipevine Swallowtail.  Reakirts blue was seen as well. 

So this concludes some of my highlights from the last year of bird-watching and naturalizing. Thanks for reading this blog - nerdy for birdy - and all the best in the new year!


Saturday, November 11, 2023

Beautiful Backyard Bluebirds? Plus Possible Comet Spotting Opportunity (Comet Lemmon)


My heart skipped a beat this morning as looked out into my back yard at about 9:30 am. I almost spit out my coffee when I noted a pair of white and rufous breasted bluebirds perched in the hedgerow behind my house!

My son who is 11 was standing nearby and he always says that Eastern Bluebirds are his favorite bird, so I challenged him to spot one with my binoculars. He found one! He also stated that even though that was awesome, he would have preferred to see a Western Bluebird!

This scene below shows 4 of them perched in the hedgerow behind my house. 

I read an article yesterday that a comet is in view for people that appreciate astronomy and I thought I would share some information for those with scopes, binoculars and telephoto lenses.

Using Stellarium-Web ( ), you can locate this comet --- and it would be ideally located high in the western sky tonight (on Remembrance Day) at 6:30pm. It would be found in the constellation Aquilla, but --- sadly, the "magnitude" (brightness) is "10" which is only going to be seen with a telescope in "dark skies".  A long exposure of the constellation Aquila might reveal it though.

Anyway - good birding!


Saturday, November 4, 2023

70-80 North American Birds to be Renamed???


Blackpoll Warbler sitting on my back fence after flycatching from some nearby fruit trees.

A few people have mentioned this too me lately - so this is probably not a shock to any blog readers- but yes - it seems that many birds named after various people in North America will be renamed.

This happened already a few years ago with the bird formerly known as "oldsquaw" which was a derogatory name for indigenous women - and the bird was renamed as a Long-tailed Duck. I am perfectly content with that decision. Long tailed Duck is a perfect name for that species--- and we should not be disrespectful to indigenous peoples when naming waterfowl.

I had also read recently that a minority birder was not happy that John James Audubon was racist (John James Audubon - Paintings, Facts & Life (  I was sad to hear about this.  I don't  know the extent of his racism - but I don't know if we should just erase that part of ornithological history. He is a pioneer in birding, making field-guides and conservation.  Wokeness and political correctness is a theme in the last few years. The challenge is --- should we "throw people away" that didn't meet today's norms when we don't know or understand the cultural and historical context? Should we remove Sir John A MacDonald from our $5 bill and from our history books? Slavery and Racism are abhorrent and unacceptable. I have read article that state that there is more slavery today than at any point in human history (More slaves now than at any other time in history ( ) --- and what are we doing about that?   A recent Netflix Documentary "Sea-Spiracy" suggests that most seafood we eat - particularly from Asia - is probably connected to someone being exploited, servitude, or slavery. Watch Seaspiracy | Netflix Official Site.  Its interesting to me to think that even the Bible (old and new testaments) as well as the Quran have generous mentions of slavery. Its seems like God who created the universe would inspire the prophets to challenge the norms of their day. 

Here are 2 articles about this name-changing effort that is taking place:

This poor boy named Ibqal (from Pakistan) was sold into slavery at the age of 6, chained to a carpet weaving machine and forced to work 14 hours a day, at the age of ten he was freed from slavery but then he was killed by Mohammed Ashraf, (the owner of a factory in Pakistan) for protesting child labour. He died in 1995.

On a lighter note, I had seen lots of birds in my backyard, especially on weekends when I am not rushing off to work. Some photos below include a Swamp Sparrow, and a Grey-Cheeked Thrush which were pretty cool to see from my back yard.

Eastern Phoebe

Hermit Thrush

Grey Cheeked Thrush

Swamp Sparrow

This morning - (actually closer to noon) I had seen a bright yellow breasted warbler - a Nashville Warbler which is just starting to get late enough to be considered rare. I feel I have seen this same bird for the last 2 or so days! A Fox Sparrow and an Eastern Towhee were around as well. 

Can you find a Nashville Warbler in the photo above?

Good Birding,


Sunday, September 17, 2023

Backyard Birding - Sept 2023 - Sometimes the good birds come to you - Golden Winged Warbler at South Cameron Woodlot


On the weekends, I like to get up early (between 8-9am), make a coffee, and sit on my back porch and bird the hedgerow of trees and shrubs behind my yard. On Sat Sept 16 - I had noticed a warbler fumbling around that was light coloured, and attempted to photograph it. At first, I felt like I did not get a chance to photograph the bird, and I was thinking if I should Ebird the sighting or not. Moments later, I realized that I had some poor, diagnostic photos of the bird!  A Golden-winged Warbler!!! I was trying to explain to my wife how rare it is to cross paths with this bird --- Would it be as rare as finding a $20 bill on the ground? a $100 bill?   This is most certainly my only self-found southbound migrant that I have ever seen of this bird, even in 13+ years of bird watching. 

Ebird Checklist: 

eBird Checklist - 16 Sep 2023 - Windsor--South Cameron Woodlot - 25 species (+1 other taxa)

On Saturday morning, besides the Golden-Winged  --- I had seen several Broad-winged hawks flying low overhead. A small kettle of them was noted as well. A Lincoln's Sparrow, Least Flycatcher, Swainson's Thrush, Nashville, Tennessee and Common Yellowthroat were noted as well. Pretty amazing!

There is a small field behind the hedgerow with some interesting plants in it - even though it is ploughed and cropped for zoning and future building purposes. In the field, I have seen many different sedges, Winged Loosestrife, Dense Blazingstar, Boneset, as well as many goldenrods and asters.

Butterflies seen just this week include: Pearl Crescents, Common Checkered Skipper, Monarchs, Eastern tailed Blue among others.

I find it really fun to find birds while simply sitting in my back yard. I do not have to buy gas or spend hours driving --- I just sit and relax. 90% of the time during the fall, if I am patient, I am typically rewarded with at least one mildly interesting bird. A warbler or a flycatcher perhaps. Sometimes a decent sparrow.  A wise birder once said to me that "sometimes if you are patient enough - the good birds will come to you"... Well Saturday was one of those days!

Good Birding!


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Swallow-tailed Kite in Lasalle ON


Local birder Mark Nedov recently observed a Swallow-tailed Kite while driving in Lasalle ON. He observed it flying near a large hocky arena, pool, community complex called the "Volmer Center" named after a local construction company.

I had attempted to see it yesterday - but was unable to find it. I did get a chance to meet up with Mel , Rick and Jeremy H though!

Rick reminded me of a sighting that I missed several years ago at Point Pelee, where the bird was seen north of the PPNP park, it was flying south over point pelee, and hundreds of birders gathered in the parking lot of the visitor center to watch it fly over. After 10 minutes of waiting, I was hungry - so I went to get a sausage ---- and while enjoying the sausage, Rick asked if I had seen it fly over --- and no --- I had missed it!

I did self-find one (Swallow-tailed Kite) the following year though.

This morning, the bird was found perched atop a dead tree of an adjacent woodlot. I was able to see the bird as I drove in to find it today --- but only for a moment!

Here is a video of the beautiful bird in flight:

Good birding!


Sunday, May 28, 2023

May 2023 Highlights


A Solitary Sandpiper was at Black Oak Heritage Park for well over a week. 

Its amazing how fleeting time is. As a birder, I wish for May to come around, but then its here and it passes.  I birded (and exercised) a lot over the course of April - May - and I had a few highlights. Which I hope to share in this posting. 

I think the single most eventful thing that happened this May was a message I received through WhatsApp which hinted that a friend had a Western Tanager in his back yard!

Black Oak Heritage Park

The thing that I love about Black Oak Heritage Park is that its just so darn close to me. Its literally 5 mins away. I really birded this wonderful place alot this May --- going almost daily.

Western Tanager (Near Puce ON)  - May 6th

I must admit that I can't help but wonder about the chances of a real western rarity showing up in a friends yard. The odds are --- almost unimaginable. But -- My friend does have a gorgeous back yard with a pond and feeder habitat. One funny (or crappy) thing about this sighting was that my camera (for some reason) had its settings screwed up - the aperture was set to F19 or F22. So, the whole that the light was going through was really small, so the shutter stayed open for longer.  Anyway - here are some images that I had from briefly viewing the Tanager that morning:\

May 16th - Rondeau 

Perhaps one of my best birding days this month was a day off that I took and went to Rondeau. I was talking to a woman about how good the day was - when she stated that she had  been there for the last two weeks. It dawned on me that birding while one is working is quite different when compared to someone who can spend the whole peak migration period at a migrant hotspot. 

May 20th - South Cameron Woodlot

I really love birding casually from my back yard.  I had seen a Bald Eagle come into view and was about to land in the hedgrow behind my house. I had seen it about 15-20m above the ground with talons dangling. Then, it swooped up and out of view. I went right to the back of my yard to watch it fly away when I noticed a sparrow fly into the hedgerow. I was amazed to see a Clay coloured Sparrow! Click here to see this Ebird Hotspot!

May 22nd - Greyling and Tobico Marsh Nature Area (Bay City State Park)

May 27th - Pointe Mouillee (Rockford MI), Petersburg SGA, Kitty Todd Nature Preserve, Irwin Prairie, Oak Openings (Toledo Ohio).

This trip, along with many of the trips listed in this posting probably deserve its own posting, but for the mostpart - it was not overly filled with any particular rarities. 

Point Mouillee- Black Tern, White Pelicans... Rumour of Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Petersburg SGA- Wild Lupine Habitat, possible Karner Blue Butterfly (not seen)
Kitty Todd Preserve (Toledo Ohio) - Summer Tanager, Eastern Bluebird
Irwin Sedge Prairie - Red Shouldered Hawk, Swamp Sparrow Singing
Oak Openings - Did not bird much as it seems to be closed to foot traffic

So all in all - its been a fun May. I spent most of it at Black Oak, just near my house, but I did make a few special trips to PPNP, Rondeau, and even Grayling MI. One other closing thought for this posting is that I have made more and more efforts to use E-Bird this year, and also, I enjoyed using "merlin app" to "listen" for birds. It can be good at times - but it is certainly not perfect as it clearly misses lots of things that I would hear, and it often hears things I would have missed, and of course, it gives false positives and positive false reports. So one must be cautious reporting sightings based on merlin.

Good Birding, 



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