Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wow, what a dreary day

I put about 200 miles on the car today back and forth between different hospitals... I work for a medical device company.. It was rainy, gray and even though it was in the mid 50's, there was a chill in the air... On the bright side, I couldn't help but notice the dozen or so hawks perched close to the roads as I traversed the metro Detroit area.... Mostly Red-Tails and possibly one Rough-legged near Port Huron... I didnt have time to stop and glass it....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lunch break and my Camera

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Took some time during lunch today to cruise near Stoney Creek Metropark.... I spied a Red-Tailed Hawk sitting on a branch over looking a creek and marsh area.... Then in the same area ran into some Turkeys... Only there for a few minutes but I was pleased on how the new Tamron lens worked....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shrike Update

Click to enlarge: House Finch
Shrike was seen yesterday around 1100. It appears to be a little shy. Once he is seen he dives to the ground and then flys inches above the weeds until he arrives at his next spot which is an average about 30 to 50 yards. Still easy to find with some patience.  Took me about 25 minutes yesterday.... Nothing new at the feeders... same ole stuff.... Here is pic of my most common visitor that I took yesterday...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Northern Shrike.... Quit playing games with me!!!

Brian McGee came out today to look for the Shrike... I had seen it at 0900 about 80 yards behind my home near some cement sewer drain that have been sitting in the field for three years... Brian and I walked to that spot and then proceeded to walk for another 40 minutes in a big circle... As we neared my home, I apologized to him that we weren't able to locate the Shrike and that I was surprised since I had seen it in the morning... Just then he says there it is!!!  It jumped up from the ground and was sitting in a tree near the spot I had seen it in the morning.....   that makes 3/3 birders who have found it with me... Personally, I think he is going to stick around...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Northern Shrike: favorite food- House Finches

The Northern Shrike is still behind my house. I hope he spends the winter here. I witnessed him today eating a House Finch (#2) about 20 yards behind the feeders. Joy Barron and Michael McCullough (Oakland Audubon) stopped by at different times today and we were able to find it...  Also saw my resident Imm Sharpie, American Kestrel and a couple of Red-Tailed Hawks today....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sharpie.... "I'm not scared of you Mr. Birder"

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Please disregard all previous apologies to Mr. Hawk... He just let me walk up to him, about 6 feet and way and take his photo... he has a screw loose... Used my Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro.... Zoom comes Monday... yeah!!

Northern Shrike

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My feeders have become the haven for all species who like to eat birds.... in two weeks I have had Coopers, Sharp-Shinned, Red-tailed and now a Northern Shrike.... its been a few years since I have seen one, but my yard is perfect wintering habitat for them so I am Thrilled!!!  

My Apology

Public Apology to Mr. Hawk: you sir do know what you are doing sitting next to the feeder because as I was taking your picture this morning, i witnessed that house finch, who is dumber than you, come to the feeder and you jumped up in the air, grabbed him and took off with your breakfast... nice catch good sir....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ahh, I am no expert on camoflauge but I think the Goldfinches can see you

Click on picture to enlarge

Imm Sharp-Shinned Hawk or Coopers
Woke up at 0700 this morning, looked out the back and noticed this small hawk that has been hanging around for a couple of days sitting up in a tree.... He decided to get a closer look at the feeders, but somehow I dont think he is gonna get a meal from this position....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Imm Sharp-Shinned or Coopers?

Jay sized hawk dive bombed my feeder today. I do not have a zoom lens right now, so this is heavily cropped. I am waiting on a tamron SP 70-300mm which is my budget lens until I can save for the L series that I want.. I am not sure if this is a Sharpie or Coopers... I know its an Immature, but I have never seen a Sharpie around my house and I have a couple Adult Coopers that are always hanging around. It does have a pale stripe above the eye and it is small, jay sized... not crow sized like the adults Coopers.

Feeder Set Up

View out my Bedroom Window.... As one can see I am backed up to a whole lot of acreage of fields.... what is not visible is the couple of Ponds between my yard and the Pines in the back of the photo.... I have a couple of Coopers Hawks and Kestrels circulating the yards looking for birds to pluck out of the feeders so I built a shelter of Pine branches behind the feeder... the birds love it.... its like their own Jungle Gym.....

Black-capped Chickadee

Yeah, finally at my feeder... Ok, its not a rare bird... in fact its probably boring to most people... but my feeders have been up for a couple of weeks and I am tired of Goldfinches and House Finches.... With Chickadees come Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Tufted Titmouse and Downy Woodpeckers.... My suet filled log is lonely...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pine Siskin

The first Pine Siskin was in the feeders today. It was with a small flock of Goldfinches... It never ventured to the thistle feeder and seamed to be concentrating on the Black Oil Sunflower seed... Less birds today.... strange how one day the yard is full of birds and the next day there are only a few.... look forward to some snow this year....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Favorite Seed

Filling the feeders today I noticed that the favorite seed is the Black Oil Sunflower seed... the House Finches love them... Still no Woodpeckers or Nuthatches to the Suet Log... 1 Tree Sparrow in the hopper feeder today and a Fox Sparrow lurking near by but never visited.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting close to the feeder for photos when you dont have a Zoom lens

I sold my zoom during the summer. I wanted a L series wide angle lens and my zoom did not have IS (stability) built into it, so I sold it and am saving up for a better lens.... So I wanted to photograph the birds in my feeder and the longest lens I have right now is a Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro..... I set up my tripod and camera near the feeder and draped a coat over my head.... it worked perfectly.... I even had a couple of Goldfinches land on me.... I will move closer next time.... here is one of my photos from today.

Winter forcast http://www.nemesisbird.com/2010/09/winter-finch-forecast-2/


Winter finch forecast

posted by Drew
Ron Pittaway just released his latest winter finch forecast. The full text of his forecast is below. For PA, it looks like Purple Finches and Common Redpolls will be moving south  and we will hoepfully find good numbers of both. Red-breasted Nuthatches are also moving south this year. Finches such as the crossbills, Pine Grosbeak and Evening Grosbeak are forecast to stay north where seed crops were good this year.

Ron Pittaway's Winter Finch Forecast 2010-2011

This winter's theme is that some finch species will irrupt into southern Canada and the northern United States, while other species will remain in the north. As an example, Common and Hoary Redpolls will move south whereas Pine Grosbeaks will stay in the north. See individual finch forecasts below for details. Three irruptive non-finch passerines are also discussed.

Key Finch Tree Crops

Key trees in the boreal forest affecting finch abundance and movements are white and black spruces, white birch, and mountain-ashes. South of the boreal in the mixed coniferous/deciduous forest region, white pine and hemlock are additional key finch trees. Other trees play a lesser role, but often boost or buffer main seed sources. These include
tamarack (American larch), balsam fir, white cedar, yellow birch and alders.
SPRUCE: White spruce cone crops are very good to excellent across the northern half of the boreal forest in Canada, except Newfoundland where crops are poor. However, spruce crops are much lower in the southern half of the boreal forest and poor in the mixed forest region of central Ontario such as Algonquin Park. The spruce crop is good to very good in central and northern Quebec, but generally poor in Atlantic Canada and northeastern United States. Spruce cone abundance is very good in the foothills of Alberta and eastern side of the Rocky Mountains in Canada, but poor in the southern half of British Columbia and in Washington State. A bumper white spruce cone crop in southern Yukon attracted high numbers of White-winged Crossbills and Pine Siskins this past summer and they may remain there through the winter. Spruce crops are generally poor in the Atlantic Provinces, New York State and New England States.
WHITE PINE: Cone crop is spotty with scattered good to excellent crops across Ontario. White pine crops are low in Atlantic Canada, New York and New England States.
HEMLOCK: Cone crop is poor in Ontario and elsewhere in the East.
WHITE BIRCH: Crop is poor across the boreal forest of Canada and in central Ontario, but birch crops are much better
in southern Ontario south of the Canadian (Precambrian) Shield.
MOUNTAIN-ASH: Berry crops are generally excellent across Canada and Alaska, but poor in Newfoundland.

Individual Finch Forecasts

Forecasts apply mainly to Ontario, but neighboring provinces and states may find they apply to them.
PINE GROSBEAK: The Pine Grosbeak breeds in moist open habitats across northern Ontario. It is most common in northeastern Ontario which receives more precipitation than northwestern Ontario (Peck and Coady in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Most Pine Grosbeaks should stay in the north this winter because the mountain-ash berry crop is generally excellent across the boreal forest of Canada and Alaska, except for a poor crop in Newfoundland. The feeders at the Visitor Centre in Algonquin Park usually attract Pine Grosbeaks even in non-flight winters. If Pine Grosbeaks wander into southern Ontario they will find good crops of European mountain-ash berries and ornamental crabapples.
PURPLE FINCH: This finch winters in the north when the majority of deciduous and coniferous seed crops are abundant, which is not the case this year. Most Purple Finches will migrate south of Ontario this fall. A few may frequent feeders in southern Ontario. Purple Finch numbers have declined significantly in recent decades due in part to a decrease of spruce budworm outbreaks since the 1980s (Leckie and Cadman in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007).
RED CROSSBILL: This crossbill comprises at least 10 "call types" in North America. Each type has its particular cone preferences related to bill size and shape. These crossbill types may be at an early stage of evolving into full species and some may already qualify for species status. They are exceedingly difficult to identify in the field and much remains to be learned about their status and distribution. Types 2 and 3 and probably 4 occur regularly in Ontario (Simard in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Most Red Crossbill types prefer pines, but the smallest-billed Type 3 (sitkensis subspecies of AOU Check-list 1957) prefers the small soft cones of hemlock in Ontario. It will be absent
this winter because hemlock crops are poor. Type 2 may be the most frequently encountered Red Crossbill in the province. Some Type 2s should be found this winter where white pine crops are very good such as northeastern Algonquin Park and along Highway 69 north of the French River in Sudbury District. Possible this winter are other Red Crossbill types associated with red pine, which has some locally good crops.
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL: High numbers of White-winged Crossbills are currently concentrated in southern Yukon where the white spruce cone crop is bumper. These may remain there this winter. This crossbill's highest breeding abundance in Ontario is in the spruce dominated Hudson Bay Lowlands and adjacent northern Canadian Shield (Coady in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Most Ontario reports this past summer came from this area where the white spruce cone crop is heavy. Some were singing and presumably nesting. They might remain in northern Ontario this winter if seed supplies last. Some may disperse southward as spruce seeds run low and could appear in southern Ontario and northern United States. However, they will be rare or absent this winter in traditional
areas such as Algonquin Park where spruce and hemlock cone crops are very poor. Unlike the Red Crossbill, the White-winged Crossbill has no subspecies (monotypic) or call types in North America. Its nomadic wanderings across the boreal forest mix the populations and allow gene flow, which inhibits geographical variation and the formation of
COMMON REDPOLL: Redpolls should irrupt into southern Canada and the northern United States this winter. The Common Redpoll's breeding range in Ontario is mainly in the Hudson Bay Lowlands from the Manitoba border southeast to southern James Bay (Leckie and Pittaway in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Redpolls in winter are a birch seed specialist and movements are linked in part to the size of the birch crop. The white birch crop is poor across much of northern Canada. Another indicator of an upcoming irruption was a good redpoll breeding
season in 2010 with double and possibly triple broods reported in Quebec. High breeding success also was reported in Yukon. Samuel Denault of McGill University has shown that redpoll movements at Tadoussac, Quebec, are more related to reproductive success than to tree seed crops in the boreal forest. Redpolls will be attracted to the good birch seed crops on native white birch and European white birch in southern Ontario and to weedy fields. They should be frequent this winter at feeders offering nyger and black oil sunflower seeds. Watch for the larger, darker and browner "Greater" Common Redpolls (rostrata subspecies) in the flocks. It is reliably identified by its larger size and proportionally longer thicker bill and longer tail in direct comparison with "Southern" Common Redpolls (nominate flammea subspecies).
HOARY REDPOLL: The breeding population in northern Ontario is the most southerly in the world (Leckie and Pittaway in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Careful checking of redpoll flocks should produce a few Hoary Redpolls. There are two subspecies. Most Hoaries seen in southern Canada and northern United States are "Southern" Hoary Redpolls (exilipes subspecies). During the last large redpoll irruption in 2007/2008, several "Hornemann's" Hoary Redpolls (nominate hornemanni subspecies) were found and supported by photographs. Hornemann's Redpoll
was previously regarded as a great rarity south of the Arctic, but it may be more frequent than formerly believed. Hornemann's is most reliably identified by its much larger size in direct comparison with flammea Common Redpolls or exilipes Hoary Redpoll. Note that white birds loom larger than life among darker birds and size illusions are
PINE SISKIN: Similar to the White-winged Crossbill, there are currently high numbers of siskins in southern Yukon attracted to a bumper white spruce cone crop. They could stay in Yukon for the winter. Siskins show a tendency for north-south migration, but are better considered an opportunistic nomad (Pittaway in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Banding recoveries show that siskins wander from coast to coast searching for conifer seed crops. They were uncommon this past summer in Ontario and the Northeast. Some might winter in northern Ontario where
the white spruce crop is heavy. However, siskins are currently uncommon in the Northeast so there are potentially only very small numbers that could irrupt south in eastern North America.
EVENING GROSBEAK: Highest breeding densities in Ontario are found in areas with spruce budworm outbreaks. Current breeding and wintering populations are now much lower than a few decades ago mainly because
large spruce budworm outbreaks have subsided since the 1980s (Hoar in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). If some come south this winter, they will find large crops of Manitoba maple (boxelder) seeds and plenty of black oil sunflower seeds at feeders waiting for them.

Three More Irruptive Passerines

BLUE JAY: This will be an average flight year with smaller numbers than in 2009 along the north shorelines of Lakes Ontario and Erie. Beechnut crops are poor to none. Acorn crops are spotty, but considerably better than last year. More Blue Jays will winter in Ontario than last winter due to caches of acorns and other mast crops.
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH: This nuthatch is a conifer seed specialist when it winters in the north, thus its movements are triggered by the same crops as the boreal winter finches. The southward movement, which began
in the summer, signaled the generally poor cone crops on spruces, balsam fir and white pine in the mixed coniferous/deciduous forest region across Ontario and in Atlantic Canada, New York and New England States.
Red-breasted Nuthatches will be very scarce this winter in central Ontario such as Algonquin Park. White spruce crops are excellent in the northern half of the boreal forest, but it is uncertain how many Red-breasted Nuthatches will winter that far north.
BOHEMIAN WAXWING: Most Bohemians Waxwings will stay close to the boreal forest this winter because mountain-ash berry crops are excellent across Canada, except in Newfoundland. Some should wander south to traditional areas of eastern and central Ontario such as Ottawa and Peterborough where planted European mountain-ashes and ornamental crabapples are frequent. If you get the opportunity to visit northern Ontario this winter, you may see Bohemian Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks feeding together on mountain-ash berries. The grosbeaks eat the seeds and discard the flesh whereas the waxwings swallow the entire berry and sometimes eat the fleshy leftovers of the grosbeaks. The similar coloration of Bohemian Waxwings and female Pine Grosbeaks may be functional, perhaps reducing interspecific aggression when they feed together.

First day collecting data for Cornell Univerisity Feeder Watch

Large numbers of goldfinches.. Kestrel went after a finch in the feeder and missed... Imm White Crowned Sparrow still hanging around...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lesson for my boys today... When the feeders are empty... look for the hawk...

Looked out at the feeders this morning at 0800 before heading off to church and noticed all the birds were gone.... I told my two sons to start looking for a hawk... an American Kesteral  was sitting in a small cottonwood at the edge of the field.... we watched as he took off after a junco...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Feeding Frenzy

Goldfinches continue to come to the feeder in huge numbers. There has been a Imm WhiteCrowned Sparrow the last several days.. House Finches are regular visitors as are the Dark-eyed Juncos... I heard a Downy Woodpecker calling today in the wooded area behind the house, but he has not visited yet...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Feeder going strong

Now that the birds have discovered the feeder, its becoming very popular... House Finches, Mourning Doves and a Horned Lark were in and under the feeders today and yesterday. Goldfinches by the dozens...

Monday, November 8, 2010

New birds at feeders

This morning the feeders were visited by Starlings, Mourning Doves and a couple of American Tree Sparrows... The Tree Sparrows did not partake of a meal, but hung out and watched the Juncos and Goldfinches, which I thought was odd.... Oh, I almost forgot.... our local Coopers Hawk was making hourly flybys....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rare bird......

Of course I am joking.... third to the party at the feeders was a Male House Sparrow...

Birds finally in the feeders..

My first day posting on my blog. I put up my feeders 5 days ago. This is the third winter in this house but due to tight budget and other projects, I have not had a feeding station. Yesterday I noticed a flock of Dark-Eyed Juncos near the edge of the field eyeing the feeders, but none of them were brave enough to check it out. First one arrived this morning as well as a Goldfinch in my thistle feeder.... by 11am there are approx 30 Goldfinches and Juncos in and around the feeders..