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.

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