Thursday, May 31, 2012


Our decorative "Outhouse" birdhouse has become popular with the Chickadees.

I have a soft spot for Chickadee's. They were my "spark bird", meaning the bird that got me hooked on birding many years ago. Rob and I were at a park close to home, and one landed in my hand for a peanut, that was it, my spark moment, and I've been hooked ever since.

Even with the many feeders we have out, we didn't have many Chickadee's come to our yard, it was always a great thrill to have one or two show up from time to time. All that changed 3 years ago when a pair moved into our decorative "Outhouse Birdhouse" that Spring. After a few weeks of the pair moving in, we could hear the babies peeping away when we were outside and were very excited about this happening.

We went away for one night, just one night, and the babies "fledged", meaning they left the house and went on their way while we were gone. We missed it. We were so disappointed, but happy that the birds had nested in our yard. Ever since then we do have Chickadees in the yard on a  more regular basis, and we like to think it's the ones that were hatched here.

This year again a pair of Chickadee's nested in the same birdhouse, after fighting with some House Sparrows for it. Rob helped the Chickadee's win the war for the house, and another clutch was hatched. Again, we listened to the little one's growing up inside the box and watched the parents bring food to the little ones constantly. I even had a glimpse of one of the babies peeking his head out of the box on Monday, but Rob was the really lucky one, he saw them fledge yesterday while I was at work. As disappointed as I was that I missed it, I was glad that he was here to see it. He got some great pictures and does a wonderful job of explaining what he witnessed in his own blog, which you can read here.

I have a feeling there is going to be even more Chickadees in the yard this winter and that's just fine with us!     

Friday, May 25, 2012


A female Yellow Warbler sitting in her nest. (Pelee National Park)

We knew Spring had sprung early on our Pelee trip this year, as we saw so many birds already in nests!

A few other young ones were sighted while on vacation too, please enjoy my first "picture blog", all photos by Rob. Don't forget to click on the pictures to enlarge them.

A Robin sitting in her nest. (Pelee National Park)
Chipping Sparrow in her nest. (Rondeau Provincial Park)
A young Great Horned Owl. (Pelee National Park)
An Eastern Screech Owl, who I like to think was keeping an eye on his mate and nest. (Pelee National Park)
A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird sitting in her nest. ( Presqu'ile Provincial Park)
Young Mute Swans just outside of Presqu'ile Provincial Park.
Passing his mate some worms to feed the baby Chickadees. (Our backyard)
Me listening to the baby Chickadees.
A fledgling Red-winged Blackbird. (Sam Smith Park)
A mama Raccoon with two babies. (Humber Arboretum)
And last but not least.......

A young Red-tailed hawk! Isn't he adorable?! (Humber Arboretum)
For some great advice on what to do if you encounter a baby bird click here.

Monday, May 21, 2012


My favorite place to spend a summer day, our backyard.

Today was the first time in our 17 day vacation that we didn't go anywhere, and it was a much needed and enjoyable day just hanging at home, most of it in the backyard.

We put out the lawn ornaments today and Rob planted a few Marigolds. We had a BBQ for  lunch, followed by me having a nap on a blanket on the lawn. The budgies enjoyed the weather from their cages on the deck, and Meadow found lots of shady places to nap. We enjoyed watching the birds splash around in the bird baths, the antics of the many squirrels that call our backyard home, and kept a watchful eye on the 2 bird houses now home to young.  It was a perfect way to spend the last day of our vacation.

I look forward to spending most of our summer weekends the same way.

Meadow hanging out with one of the lawn ornaments.

Friday, May 18, 2012


We're just a couple of "Bird Nerds".
This past Monday morning, our friends Jim and Lynda picked us up before the sun was, to head over to the Leamington area for our birding adventure. We hit three great birding spots on our trip; Rondeau Provincial Park, Hillman Marsh, and of course the warbler capital, Point Pelee National Park.

We had been over to Pelee the same week last year, but it was quite apparent that Spring really did arrive early this year. We didn't see as many warblers as last year, and we found a lot of birds already sitting on their nests. Separate picture blog to come about that.

We still had a fabulous trip, and saw many, many birds. Our species total topped out at 86, and Rob and I had 10 lifers! We also got to witness a Dunlin murmuration and the flying courting ritual of the American Woodcock, both spectacles were truly spectacular to witness. 

One of my favorite moments of the trip no one captured a picture of because we were all staring at it through binoculars. It happened at Hillman Marsh, on their longest trail through the marsh. We witnessed a male Red-winged Blackbird sitting on top of a deers head just as relaxed as can be while the deer kept a watch on us before darting away and the bird flew off. I still don't believe I saw that, but I did.      

Please enjoy a few pictures from our trip and click on them for a better view.

It's always nice to feel welcomed! We enjoyed a couple meals here.
Sunrise at the "Tip" of Point Pelee National Park.
The "Tip" of Point Pelee is a welcomed sight for migrating birds.
Our birding buddies, Jim & Lynda.
Watching this Dunlin murmuration for several minutes was breath taking.
This first year male Orchard Oriole caused lots of excitement because we had no clue what it was.
A male Tufted Titmouse feeding his lady friend, apart of the courting ritual in many bird species.
Last stop before heading home, a Chip Truck, just outside of Rondeau Provincial Park.
It was another great birding trip. Bird, bird, bird,... bird is the word......

Thursday, May 17, 2012


A striking Red-headed Woodpecker.

We just returned from our four day birding adventure to the Pelee area with our friends, Jim & Lynda.

On our way down we decided to stop into Rondeau Provincial  Park, as none of us had been there before, and we heard the birding is excellent there too.

We had also heard through the birding grapevine, that a gentleman who lived in one of the many homes in the park was having a rare to the area, Yellow-throated Warbler visit a feeder on his property and was welcoming birders to come and see it. This bird is normally not seen on this side of Lake Erie and was causing lots of excitement in the birding community.

Think about that for a moment.

It's not too often that strangers open the kindness gates like that. When you have a passion for birds and birding, an opportunity to see a bird like that is a gift, and he was giving that gift to everyone who wanted to see it.

We were given directions to the cottage from a couple we met while on a trail in the park, and decided to visit the home after our walk.

It wasn't a hard cottage to find, the many birders with cameras waiting on the lawn was a sure give away, but so too was the sign he put at the beginning of the pathway up to his cottage with directions of where to walk, park and "welcome birders".

While we were there Rob and I had two lifers, the Yellow-throated Warbler and a Red-headed Woodpecker. I know the warbler was causing all the excitement, but seeing the Red-headed Woodpecker took my breath away.

We stopped into the park again on the way home today, and did a couple more trails, and went back to the cottage, where we were treated to another sighting and song of the Yellow-throated Warbler, but the Red-headed Woodpecker didn't show this time.

Thank you sir, from the bottom of my birding heart, for opening your yard like that to us and sharing your birding knowledge, it was appreciated more then you will ever know.

This Yellow-throated Warbler was causing lots of excitement.
The Red-Headed Woodpecker getting a mouth fill of home made suet.
   More blogs to come about our trip, but I thought these two birds, and that one awesome gentleman deserved a blog of their own.

Monday, May 14, 2012


A beautiful male Baltimore Oriole

I don't remember where I saw my first Baltimore Oriole, but I remember the first time one landed in our yard, because it rendered me speechless, and that doesn't happen often.

Five years ago I decided I was going to attract these flying fire balls to our yard. We got the right feeder with some help from our friends at Wild Birds Unlimited and set to work. Some orange halves, grape jelly and some patience was all it took.

For two summers a pair of Baltimore Orioles would stop in the yard for a week or two, eat our offerings and move along, and then do the same on the way back through in the fall.

Three years ago they stayed all summer! Knowing they had it good here, with food, shelter and water, they nested close by and were in our yard constantly. At one point last year we had 8 of these beauties flying around the yard.

I'm happy to say they've returned again for another season, and we believe there are 2 -3 couples close by.  Our yard is going to be a busy one this summer.

Enjoying some grape jelly.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


The white flower pictured above was the last Mother's Day gift I gave my Mom. It was around this time last year when I was in Nova Scotia to be with her as she recovered from her surgery to have a brain tumor removed. But, it was too big, too late, and my Mom passed away this past January.

I remember wanting to buy her really flowers, but wasn't able, as she was on the "brain floor", which was scent free. I will eventually place this flower by her grave on a trip to Nova Scotia, but I'm not ready yet. It's placed in a spot in my home where I see it every day. It reminds me not only of my Mom, but of the time we spent together after her surgery.  The surgery and medication gave me my Mom back for a little while and being able to sit, talk and laugh with her again was a gift.

I appreciate Mother's Day more this year then any other and I know the best gift cannot be bought in a store or even held, because it's time.  Time spent with the ones you love is the best gift, and I know I will always long for a little more of it with my Mom.   

Saturday, May 12, 2012


A gorgeous male Scarlet Tanager

Today was "International Migratory Bird Day", a day to celebrate the birds and the miracle that is migration. It turned out to be a great birding day for us. The highlight was seeing the above pictured
Scarlet Tanager, we hadn't seen one since spring 2010, so it was joyful to see one after so long.

We also saw 10 species of warblers while on our outing this morning, and had some lively conservation with other birders who were also enjoying the lovely birding weather.

Below are a few pics from our outing this morning.

 Female Black-throated Blue-Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Black & White Warbler
Another shot of the Scarlet Tanager because he's just so pretty!

Hope you took some time to enjoy the birds today!

Friday, May 11, 2012


Mama Raccoon

While on our outing this morning, I couldn't help but think about the "Mom's" of the furry and feathered variety. Here's a few of my favorite pics that Rob captured today.

Mama Raccoon moving one of her three babies around.

A Mama Mourning Dove incubating her eggs in her nest.

Mama Great Horned Owl kept an eye on us and her baby.

Me holding a Chickadee.

I had quite the lengthy conversation with the Chickadee above. He landed in my hand despite me not having any seed and was quite content to hang out there. I felt bad and promised to return in the Fall with lots of black oil sunflower seeds and peanuts for him and his friends. Glad Rob snapped this shot, it makes me feel peaceful.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


A beautiful male American Redstart.

Every May, thousands of warblers migrant through our city in all their glorious breeding colours.
Most of the warblers are heading a little further north to find a mate and raise a family before taking the long journey home in the Fall. They do us a huge favor and eat millions of pesky bugs in the process.

Rob and I started taking our main two week vacation in May about five years ago, to go birding. It just made sense to us. Birding is a hobby we are passionate about and enjoy together.

When most people think of vacation, it probably means staying up late and sleeping in the next day. For us, it's up before the sun and to bed not long after it sets. The warblers are most active in the morning and we want to see them.

The warblers and other migrating birds light up the trees, shrubs and shorelines in and around our city like jewels for only a short period of time, and for us, they are totally worth getting up early for.

Singing his heart out.

PS: Rob takes all the photos, I only carry binoculars. My job is to spot them, we're a good team!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Our team, The F4's; Jim, Lynda, Rob and myself.

Yesterday we took part in our first ever "Ballie Birdathon" to help raise money for Bird Studies Canada. It was a long, but fun and rewarding day. The goal is to see as many species as possible in one, 24hr period. 

Despite the rainy start to our day, which effected our warbler count, we did manage to see 69 species and we even had a lifer in the mix! Traffic snagged us a couple times when we were stuck at 61 species and adrenaline kicked in big time in the last couple hours of daylight.

We would like to personally thank everyone who sponsored us, it was very much appreciated. The work that Bird Studies Canada does is very important. I cannot imagine a world without birds to see and hear, thank you for helping us, help them.  

Our day started at a lovely birding area called Thickson Woods, where we got our one and only owl, a Great Horned, and ended just around the corner from home, where the last bird of the day was a Peregrine Falcon, pretty cool birds to start and end the day with!

Rob or Jim weren't taking nearly as many pictures as they normally do on a bird outing, as we were all on a mission, but here are a few from the day.

A pretty little Palm Warbler.

Swamp Sparrow
Our "Lifer", Lesser Yellowlegs

I always love seeing the cows up at Carden Plain

Looking for birds!
Probably the coolest bird of the day, a Wilson's Snipe.
It's not to late to sponsor us, if not, we'll hit you up next year! ;)

Monday, May 7, 2012


Today was our first week day of vacation, but instead of sleeping in we were on the road before 6:30am heading over to Ruthven Park, a national historic site that also plays hosts to a wonderful bird banding station.

Last Spring I got all gung-ho about becoming a "bird bander", and we were over a few times and banded and released a few birds under the chief banders guidance. It's delicate, important and amazing work, holding the many different species and getting to see them so up close and personal.

But, somethings happened to me and I haven't banded or released a bird since my Mom got diagnosed with brain cancer last year. I know the two have nothing to do with one another, but my Mother's illness and passing has effected me in ways I am still dealing with.

Rick (The Chief Bander) tried to hand me a Palm Warbler today, to release, and I couldn't do it, I got too nervous about hurting the little bird, Rob released him. I know I have to get over this fear, and Rick is the guy to help me do it. He's patient and walks you through the whole process, but I'm not ready yet.

This was our third trip over this year, and we had a great morning exploring the grounds and visiting the banding station. We saw lots of animals today as well as birds, including; beaver, deer, chipmunks,  and 2 rabbits!      

One of our first sightings of the day!

The Purple Martins have returned for another season.

This Purple Martin wanted a quieter dwelling.
Grey Catbird, a spring favorite.

A beaver swam by us down at the river.

Mama Killdeer sitting on her eggs.
   On our way home from Ruthven we stopped into another park and had a couple great sightings.

First Great Blue Heron of the season!

Interesting nesting spot this Great Horned Owl chose.

It was another great vacation day!