Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The 2008 Stony Lake Bird List

Here's an approximation of the birds seen close to home over the past year. I wasn't a good recorder over the second half of the year.

Black-capped Chickadee (01.01)
Evening Grosbeak (01.01)
Pine Grosbeak (01.01)
Hairy Woodpecker (01.01)
White-breasted Nuthatch (01.01)
Blue Jay (02.01)
Common Raven (05.02)
Bohemian Waxwing (16.02)
Common Crow (12.03)
Downy Woodpecker (23.03)
Red-winged Blackbird (18.03)
European Starling (18.03)
American Robin (18.03)
Ring-billed Gull (20.03)
Great Blue Heron (20.03)
Common Grackle (26.03)
Mourning Dove (26.03)
House Finch (30.03)
Canada Goose (01.04)
Northern Cardinal (02.04)
Brown-headed Cowbird (02.04)
Eastern Phoebe (02.04)
Black Duck (02.04)
Canvasback (02.04)
Ring-necked Duck (02.04)
Common Goldeneye (02.04)
Turkey (04.04)
American Goldfinch (04.04)
Snow Bunting (04.04)
Osprey (05.04)
Song Sparrow (06.04)
Wood Duck (10.04)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (11.04)
Rock Pigeon (11.04)
Fox Sparrow (11.04)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (11.04)
Common Loon (15.04)
Merlin (16.04)
Northern Flicker (16.04)
American Woodcock (16.04)
Barred Owl (17.04)
Bufflehead (18.04)
Common Merganser (18.04)
Mallard (18.04)
Pine Warbler (20.04)
Herring Gull (20.04)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (20.04)
Purple Finch (20.04)
Swamp Sparrow (20.04)
Belted Kingfisher (22.04)
Broad-winged Hawk (22.04)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (24.04)
Caspian Tern (25.04)
White-crowned Sparrow (26.04)
Pine Siskin (26.04)
Black-throated Green Warbler (26.04)
Blackburnian Warbler (26.04)
Hermit Thrush (26.04)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (27.04)
Nashville Warbler (29.04)
Blue-headed Vireo (29.04)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (04.05)
Hooded Merganser (04.05)
Great Crested Flycatcher (05.05)
Chestnut-sided Warbler (06.05)
Black-and-white Warbler (06.05)
Yellow Warbler (08.05)
Turkey Vulture (08.05)
Brown Creeper (08.05)
Least Flycatcher (08.05)
Palm Warbler (08.05)
Ovenbird (08.05)
Brown Thrasher (08.05)
Baltimore Oriole (09.05)
Common Yellowthroat (09.05)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (09.05)
Yellow-throated Vireo (09.05)
American Redstart (09.05)
Ruffed Grouse (09.05)
Northern Waterthrush (09.05)
Field Sparrow (12.05)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (12.05)
Warbling Vireo (13.05)
Red-eyed Vireo (13.05)
Scarlet Tanager (13.05)
Blue-winged Warbler (14.05)
Tennessee Warbler (15.05)
Magnolia Warbler (15.05)
Tree Swallow (15.05)
Veery (15.05)
Golden-winged Warbler (15.05)
Eastern Towhee (15.05)
Cerulean Warbler (16.05)
Eastern Wood Pewee (16.05)
Eastern Kingbird (16.05)
Red-headed Woodpecker (16.05)
Spotted Sandpiper (22.05)
Killdeer (22.05)
Red-tailed Hawk (22.05)
House Wren (22.05)
American Bittern (22.05)
Virginia Rail (22.05)
Gray Catbird (22.05)
Clay-colored Sparrow (24.05)
Wood Thrush (26.05)
Alder Flycatcher (26.05)
Bay-breasted Warbler (26.05)
Lincoln's Sparrow (26.05)
Cedar Waxwing (26.05)
Common Nighthawk (27.05)
Blue-winged Teal (27.05)
Bobolink (27.05)
Barn Swallow (29.05)
Blackpoll Warbler (30.05)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (01.06)
Purple Martin (07.06)
Double-crested Cormorant (07.06)
Eastern Bluebird (12.06)
White-winged Crossbill (04.12)
Bald Eagle (12.12)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (17.12)
Northern Hawk Owl (24.12)

A flourish of winter finches

Our sighting of our first Pine Grosbeaks of the season yesterday presaged an influx of other "new" birds at our backyard feeder. Before noon, the feeder had been visited by a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, 15 Evening Grosbeaks, several Common Goldfinches and singles of Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Northern Hawk Owl

Local birders were recently abuzz over the discovery of a Northern Hawk Owl that's been haunting an intersection of county roads just west of Buckhorn, only ten minutes from our back door. News of the bird's rare local appearance reached us when we were some 1200 km away, in northern Ontario, within the actual breeding range of the Hawk Owl.

We figured the owl would be long gone by the time we returned to Stony Lake and this led us to make an extra effort to find this bird in the north, where we were organizing a Christmas Bird Count. As we drove over frozen logging roads and the Trans-Canada Highway, we searched the spruce-tops and hydro wires for the distinctive silhouette of the Hawk Owl. Nothing (but thousands of Pine Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls and Common Ravens).

On Christmas eve, we neared home in torrential rain and paused at Flynn's Corners where the bird had last been reported on December 20. We scanned the adjacent fields to no avail. Disappointed but hardly surprised, we set off for home. We rounded the corner on to CR 36 and there was the bird, sitting motionless on a hydro cable. The light was failing and the bird was soaked but there was no mistaking its identity. It turned to face us and we could clearly see its yellow bill and eyes and the dark margins of the facial discs. Beautiful.

We returned again on December 30 and saw the bird in better light. These pictures were taken at a roadside, out our car window.

The photo session was cut short by a pair of Common Ravens that harassed the owl until it flew into a woodlot at the back of the field where it had been hunting.

Pine Grosbeaks - first of this season

Three of the six Pine Grosbeaks we saw today.
After watching the Northern Hawk Owl this morning, we returned home to find six Pine Grosbeaks at the bottom of our drive. These were the first we've seen in central Ontario this season and, like the Evening Grosbeaks, weren't expected given the this year's bumper crop of Mountain Ash fruit north of Lake Superior.
Ron Pittaway's Winter Finch Forecast, 2008 provides a thorough discussion of the distribution of irruptive winter finches in Ontario.
Male Pine Grosbeak in a Mountain Ash tree, we observed on the Marathon (Thunder Bay District), Ontario, Christmas Bird Count on December 21.

Monday, December 29, 2008


I wasn't quite quick enough with the camera to catch this handsome Red-tailed Hawk perched at the roadside.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Red-bellied Woodpecker

We live just beyond the northern limit of the breeding range of this species. This is the first we've had visit our feeders.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bald Eagles

We see them every month of the year. Numbers seem to increase during the winter when they can be often be seen at our local landfill sites. This pair of birds flew up from the roadside - perhaps there was a roadkill off the shoulder, beyond my sight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Return of the Evening Grosbeaks

Throughout this week, we've had between one and six Evening Grosbeaks at the feeder. These birds put on a great show last season but we weren't counting on seeing them this winter. The nearest observations we'd heard of were of a handful of birds at Algonquin Park, a few hours to the north.

The spruce trees around ou house have produced a heavy crop of cones and these have attracted flocks of White-winged Crossbills. None have been tempted to sample the offerings from the feeders below.