Monday, January 16, 2012

Rounding Up The Usual Suspects

This is NOT a typical mid-January scene in our area. Where is the snow?
I am off to a slow start counting January birds in Ontario this year. Having missed the first two weeks entirely, my husband and I went out both days this weekend to the customary local hot spots to see the usual winter birds. But this winter is unusual. Temperatures have fluctuated greatly with many days above freezing and others well below. Overall, we have had very little snow and what has fallen has melted quickly. Many fields and lawns remain green.

Dark-eyed Junco

I hung some suet and seed outdoors before I left for Mexico and in three weeks, it has barely been touched. I have yet to see a Junco or Downy Woodpecker in our yard this winter.


Saturday was very cold and we went to a nearby park where I usually see many species of small birds, woodpeckers as well as a good assortment of winter water birds. A few Tree Sparrows, Juncos and Cardinals landed where visitors had left seeds but birds like House Finches, Blue Jays, Red-breasted Nuthatches and winter finches were conspicuously absent.

American Tree Sparrow
The next day we drove north of the city where Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Harriers, Snowy Owls, Merlins and American Kestrels are generally easy to find in January. The only winter hawk we saw was a beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk which sat in a tree near a bridge over the river. The trip was worthwhile for that one bird, but I could not believe we did not see one Rough-legged Hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Without snow cover, natural food supplies are plentiful for many birds for this time of year. My Ontario January bird count is only 27 birds so far this year. In the past 3 years, I have counted between 55-60 species in Ontario during this month. Hopefully the weather will allow me to make a trip to Lake Ontario on the weekend to improve my count significantly.

10 comments:

  1. That hawk could ruffle a few feathers.

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  2. Very few birds here as well. With the cold we are having now,that might change.The Hawk is a good find.

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  3. Weather changes from one extreme to another. Great hawk shot. Well worth the drive.

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  4. I was at Riverside this past weekend too and it was very quiet. The weekend before was busy (we had a little snow then). I saw cardinals, chickadees, nuthatchs, tree sparrow, woodpeckers, juncos, blue-jays, doves and a new one for me purple finch.

    Great shot of the hawk!!

    Even though your count is low, it's great just getting out there. I look forward to your finds from this upcoming weekend.

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  5. Good birding up there this time of year. Great shots!

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  6. Same winter problem here--no snow. Apparently the jet stream is to blame. Me? I think it's global climate change.
    So, while I am not surprised, I am saddened--I love winter.

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  7. We didn't have much either until just a few days ago. Now we have snow and coooold!!
    That hawk looks so sweet and puffy, almost like an owl. Thanks for the photo - I've never seen a red-shouldered hawk before.

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  8. I haven't seen many birds at our feeders. We, too, have no snow on the ground, so the birds are getting plenty of seeds elsewhere.

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  9. Well,everything is different down here too. I looked for rough-legged hawks at Salisbury Beach last week where they are ususally spotted at this time of year, but there were none. However, we are continueing to see more ducks inland since not all of the ponds, lakes and rivers have frozen over. If I did not get out to the shore, i would not hav emany birds either. I have very few of the smaller songbirds and many more of the bigger waterfowl and raptor. good lcuk with yiour trip and your count!

    Oh, I love that barn picture and your red-shouldered hawk is so cute!

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  10. We got a taste of winter"s fury today - had to put lots out for the birds.

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