Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All the birds had fled...(almost)

Autumn is well established even though the days continue to be warm and sunny. Bird songs have changed and the woods echo with Chickadee and Nuthatch notes accompanied by the drumming of Woodpeckers. The Cardinal's cheep is heard in the berry bushes and crows caw overhead. Male Red-winged Blackbirds started flocking in early August and were gone by the middle of the month, the females following soon after. Each week since another familiar bird has gone missing.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds also leave ahead of the females. This lady was perched on a branch near the river last week but she too was on the move south. I have seen a number of migrant warblers including Black and White, Nashville and Canada Warblers in the past few days.

Juvenile Flycatcher, identity uncertain

I took this picture of a juvenile Flycatcher of some sort. Bird identification in the fall can be very challenging with adult breeding feathers gone and young birds still in dull colours. The tree was full of these Flycatchers one noon hour last week with at least fifteen of them perched and resting in the branches.

Blue Jay with a caterpillar

Blue Jays are found here all year round but I seldom see them. I don't know if their numbers are decreasing. I used to have them visit my feeders in the winter, particularly for peanuts, but have not had one around the house for a long time. This week I found a flock of them close to dusk as they chattered and feasted on caterpillars on the limbs of one tree. They must engage in some migration activity and perhaps our winter jays are a different population than our summer residents.

Pied-billed Grebe

Over the next few weeks migrating ducks will rest in our local rivers and ponds. The tiny and plain coloured Pied-billed Grebe blended in with the muddy banks of a reservoir in the city this month. Some ducks and raptors will be spending the winter here, coming from the far north to our relatively mild weather. Bufflehead, Goldeneye and Common Merganser ducks are common from November to March and Bald Eagles and various owls will be here in the same time period. The arrival of Tree Sparrows, Juncos, Crossbills and Redpolls will let us know that winter is just around the corner.

It seems that all the birds have fled, but really we are just going through a changing of the guard in the forests, waterways and meadows.


  1. "It seems that all the birds have fled, but really we are just going through a changing of the guard in the forests, waterways and meadows."

    I like that. Well put.

  2. Wonderful photos..I had a hummer at the feeder, maybe a migrant. The chipping sparrows are still here. The dees and nuttys are busy caching seeds. I do have jays that visit everyday and all winter. I will have to look into their migratory habits. As you say, they probably move around for food and there is plenty here..

  3. Anonymous9:30 pm GMT-4

    I walked the Doon trail tonight with binoculars in hand. I heard only the chirping of chickadees, but not many. I heard a flutter in the bush and waited to see what it was...oddly enough it was a robin. I haven't seen a robin in weeks. Should they still be here? This morning I walked the little trail by my house and it was full of noisy activity. The birds were up to something (lol). I didn't have my binoculars, but I did see blue jays. They weren't around on my feeder in the summer months, but have reappeared in the past few weeks. But I have seen them all summer on my walks so it's surprises me that you have not seen them. I'm sorry to see the birds head south and anticipate their arrival in spring.

  4. Another great post esp. "changing of the guard".

  5. Perfectly stated Ruth. A changing of the guard indeed. :c)

  6. Beautiful pictures and a lovely read! Its still summer/warm here, but a change is coming. Highs next week in the 60's and lows may even reach the upper 30's. I can't wait!
    We didn't have any blue jays for a couple of years. They're decline in our area was due to the West Nile virus, but this year mom and dad has several. These nosey, sometimes mean birds who haven't always been a welcome sight are welcome since they've been gone.

  7. The beauty of the migration is that while "your" birds are leaving, those of us further south are enjoying their brief respite at our places. We love having the grosbeaks, warblers and other birds move through.

  8. Ditto what Lynne said. You certainly still have a variety to enjoy.

  9. Lynne- I am sure you are experiencing the same in Minnesota right now.

    RW- Last October I saw 6 RW Blackbirds by a pond which was surprising as they usually leave in August. Perhaps they were from much further north. Migration is not a fixed thing for sure. I haven't seen a Chipping Sparrow for a while.

    Cheryl D- Robins are in our Mountain Ash tree this week eating the berries. I saw some that were quite young too. They must have several broods a season.

    Jean and Jayne- Thanks!

    Julie- West Nile is established here as well and perhaps that has affected our jays too. We hear more about infected crows, and there are still lots of crows. I like Blue Jays, even if they have a reputation of being noisy bullies.

    NCMW- Those brief stop overs are easy to miss and are so dependent on weather and winds.

    Mary- I am hoping for more waterbirds in the next couple of weeks.

  10. What a great collection of birds. I am so glad some are still around.

  11. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos. Interesting birds. I'm excited for my winter flock to return to my feeders.I get alot of chickadees.Many blessings...Elizabeth

  12. It seems that you are a few weeks ahead of us in the Fall and a few weeks behind us in the Spring.-Now that so many birds are leaving, its time to take a closer look at the ones that stay.


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