Friday, May 03, 2013

Spring Birding Here and There

Rufous-backed Robin-MX
I had my first good look at the Rufous-backed Robins found in Mexico this April. I heard their song early in the morning, a chirping very similar to our Robins in Canada but with a trill sounding like a rolled "R" and sung in a different key. These Robins were more wary than the ones that hop on our lawns at home. The orange-red breast colour extends over the wings and upper back of the birds. The American Robin below was in a tree today in a nearby wood lot here in Canada.

American Robin- Ontario
I didn't see any Great-tailed Grackles in January in Mexico but they were around in great numbers in April. The males displayed noisily throughout the day. They liked the bird bath and would clean out fallen leaves before splashing about. The bird below was the "alpha" of the flock and would not share the water with other Grackles.

Great-tailed Grackle- MX
There were many Orioles on the property in Mexico last month. They are very shy and the picture below was taken through the window in the morning. This is a Black-cowled Oriole and it was a life bird for me. The Altamira and Hooded Orioles are more commonly seen. Along with Hummingbirds, they like the nectar in the Bottle Brush blooms by the house.

Black-cowled Oriole- MX
I meandered around local trails in Ontario this morning for several hours looking for wildflowers and birds. Many long distance migrants have not arrived yet but some birds are already in their active nesting period. I walked by one tree and saw a female Pileated Woodpecker at the base looking in the ground litter for insects. She and her mate were actively calling and feeding in the area.

Female Pileated Woodpecker- Ontario
Forty feet above the woodpecker in the same tree, a female Wood Duck perched above her nest hole. It amazes me to think that the young ducklings will be pushed out of this high nest and led to water before they can fly. It would make more sense to see the duck at the bottom of the tree and the woodpecker at the top.

Female Wood Duck- Ontario
Mom always looked forward to the return of the Barn Swallows who nested in the car port of their home in Mexico. This is one bird that is common in throughout North America and their nesting period is similar in the north and south. The Swallows returned later than usual this year but their noisy chatter as they prepared their nest was heard throughout the day. The picture below was taken shortly after the sun rose over the mountain behind the house in the morning.

Barn Swallows- Nayarit, MX
There was one more bird which was heard and not seen in Mexico. After she was bed-ridden, Mom told me about a bird which called out all night long. She finally identified it as a Mockingbird who was looking for a mate. Apparently they do their courting after dark. Sure enough, as soon as the sun went down, the Mockingbirds started calling. They are great mimics and the calls sometimes sounded like a car alarm. I looked for them in the morning but never found a single one during daylight hours. I recorded the call with my camera and it is uploaded below.

I haven't kept a bird count this year but observing bird behaviour is more interesting to me than tallying a list of sightings.

Mockingbird night call


  1. A wondrous collection of birds, the Rufous-backed robin is a new one to me, as is the Altamira. Great post!

  2. I had never even heard of a rufus-backed Robin.This was a most informative post and very interesting.

  3. The Robins look like very distant cousins, alike but not the same. The black-cowled Oriole is a beauty, and so is the shot. Those crazy ducks look funny up in a tree.

  4. Ruth, I just saw a great video, Birds of Paradise. I linked in on Fb, but here's the link just for you.

  5. Ruth, what a wonderful collection of birds! It's nice to see the contrast between the Mexican and Canadian species! I have never heard of that "cowled oriole," but we sometimes get the rufous-backed robin up here in AZ. My birding buddy, Chris and I went looking for it once in Sabino Canyon where it had been sighted but no luck.

  6. The RB Robin had me fooled a little. When I clicked on your post the photo came up but not the text so I thought hmmm-looks like a robin but not quite.Nice photo collection-I especially like the oriole on the flower photo.


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