Sunday, November 26, 2017


I said I was going to look for a Kittiwake and was asked if I wanted a funeral for a cat. 

We didn't find the Kittiwake, which is sad because it is a really cute bird. The fact that it would be a lifer we are seldom likely to see in our home province of Saskatchewan is secondary, of course.

It was 0 degrees at Gardiner Dam and felt much colder in the wind.

We saw Common Goldeneyes and Mallards in several places. Single adult gulls flew over several times.  We assume they were all Herring Gulls because that was the gull seen the day before by better birders than us.
In a more sheltered spot, four gulls stayed for a few photos. I believe they were all immatures, but I can't say what species. The most likely options are Herring and Glaucous. I do not excel at identifying gulls.

There doesn't seem to be any black on the wings of the three lighter gulls.

I am hoping for help here. The photos will be bigger if you click on them.

Postscript:  I've received the hoped for help from one of the aforementioned better birders.  The two adults were confirmed as Herring Gulls and the two pale gulls on the left of the photo of four are Glaucous. The dark gull is a first cycle Herring Gull and the 2nd from the right is an uncertain because of its stand and position in the photo. Both Herring and Glaucous Gulls are 4 year gulls which means they take 4 years to become adults and, to make birding more difficult, have a different plumage every year.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Flock of Finches

I filled the feeders today after letting them remain empty for a while.  Minutes later a dozen or so House Finches and at least one Common Redpoll showed up.

The males came in several colours from this bright, almost red one
 to this fellow with only a hint of orange. I'm guessing he is a juvenile.
These two weren't sure if they wanted to share the feeder.

 The lilac bushes served as a staging area and alternate food source.
 The Redpoll seemed to feel most comfortable in the lilacs, too.
 Amid so many colourful males
we must not forget that the females have their own quiet appeal.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

April Birds

April is an exciting month for birding.  It is the month migrating birds begin returning to Saskatchewan.  (Okay, I know.  There are a few crazy but hardy birds that return earlier, such as Horned Larks, but April is when the sane birds begin returning.)

Here are some of the birds we saw this past April.

I spent a long time looking at guides to decide what kind of hawk this one is, but finally decided on a Red-tailed, partly based on the underwing patterns in the second photo.

This one I could never have identified from this photo, but we saw it land and so were able to identify it as a Northern Harrier.
 Once again, the underneath view identified this hawk for me.  The squares of dark at the "elbow" of the wing tell me this is a Rough-legged Hawk.
Our part of what is called West-Central Saskatchewan gets huge flocks of geese in the fall but for some reason unknown to me, not as many in the spring.  We had to drive a few hours from home to see this flock of mostly Snow Geese on April 7 of this year.
Common Grackles descend on our yard in large flocks, often with Red-winged or other Blackbirds mixed in.  They swoop between trees and fill the yard with their unending and occasionally musical voices.
 A Bufflehead Duck, like all the male ducks in the spring, bright and beautiful and instantly identifiable, even at 100 kmph.
 A Short-eared Owl.  My first sighting in several years, so I was pleased that he stayed for a while.
 And a Sharp-tailed Grouse.  We appear to have several living close to our farm this year, though I seldom see them.
 Canada Geese on the roof of our house.  It always looks strange to see geese on a roof, but since they fly, they can perch there as easily as any robin or kingbird.
We saw this bird on April 29 which means it is a Loggerhead Shrike.  Northern and Loggerhead Shrikes are so similar that here in southern Saskatchewan we assume that shrikes check the calendar before migrating, and identify them accordingly.

 Not all our birds migrate, of course.  Here's a Great Horned Owl who stays all winter.
and some of the five or six American Goldfinches who were here all through April so I have to assume they didn't migrate. (The goldfinches usually show up on our farm the 2nd week in May.) It was interesting watching their colours change as spring approached.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Green is Great

Especially when it is a bird.

Like a hummingbird.
(Purple-throated Mountain-gem on the left, Coppery-headed Emeralds on the right.)

 (Green Violetear)
 (Green-crowned Brilliant)
(Crowned Woodnymph)

 Or a Great Green Macaw
 Emerald Toucanets have different shades of green
as does the Orange-chinned Parakeet.
 While the female Green Honeycreeper is almost fluorescent green, she is so bright.
 (The male is kind of aqua, not quite green and not quite blue.)

And the Emerald Tanager is the same shade as the leaves,but its head is so bright it could have been in the yellow section.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Yellow is always my favourite

There are a lot of yellow birds in Costa Rica. We saw a number of them.

The Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher is only partially yellow.
The Black-cowled Oriole is more black than yellow, but what yellow there is, is  very bright.
The yellow in the Prothonotary Warbler is stunning.
There is a special Yellow Warbler in Costa Rica, the subspecies Mangrove Warbler.
In an area full of tanagers, it is not surprising that at least one is yellow.  This is the Silver-throated Tanager.
There are at least three yellow euphonias.
This is the Yellow-thoated Euphonia.
The Yellow-crowned Euphonia
And one that we first saw several years ago in Mexico, the Scrub Euphonia. The name refers to the bird's preferred habitat rather than a reference to its appearance or behaviour.
I leave my favourite yellow bird for the last.  The Collared Redstart was one of the cutest birds we saw in Costa Rica.  Though it was only in one region that we visited, it was common enough that we saw it several times.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Blue Birds come in Many Colours

Blue Dacnis
Shining Honeycreeper
Red-Legged Honeycreeper
Two Blue-grey Tanagers with the partially blue Hooded Tanager
Yes, I really like blue birds.