Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Birding from the Car

A lone, out-of-season Song Sparrow

I ventured out for the first time in almost a week yesterday. Winter has closed in on us quickly and we have had several snowfalls with very cold temperatures. Last year I noted our first significant snow on this day after a warm and dry autumn. The past twelve months have been wet and cool but this is welcome after a few years of drought. Yesterday was one of those lovely "mixed precipitation" days where the temperatures hover near freezing and one day can produce snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain under heavy grey skies.

One welcome sight is the price of gasoline. We paid double this amount in the summer when we went to Manitoulin Island. A fill up that costs less than $40.00 seems like such a bargain and a car trip for pleasure does not seem like an extravagant idea. A friend of mine from work loves birding but is physically unable to walk very far. I have gone out with her a couple of times and she showed me her favourite pull up and park birding locations. I have never been a patient "stand or sit and wait for the birds" person but am glad she taught me this lesson.

Many of the roadways in our local parks are closed for the winter as they are not ploughed or sanded when it snows. My first stop was at a barricade in Riverside Park, Cambridge. Trail walkers had dumped mixed seed on nearby rocks and there was a lot of bird and squirrel activity. The usual seed eaters were around but one little Song Sparrow caught my eye. I have not seen them around for weeks now even though the birding guides say they are uncommon winter residents. This feeding station and the nearby river may entice the bird to stay for the next few months.

Mourning Doves and Chickadee

Chickadees were the most abundant birds at this location. Their cheerful and social interactions cannot help but make a person smile. I have been following Cheryl's blog recently. She lives in England and writes about her garden in My Wildlife Sanctuary. The Blue Tit is a common bird in her area and when I see her pictures I always think it is a Chickadee. I looked up the bird "Tit" on Wikipedia and was not surprised to see that they are cousins.

The tits, chickadees, and titmice comprise Paridae, a large family of small passerine birds which occur in the northern hemisphere and Africa.

Chickadee feeds from my hand

I held my hand out the car window and it was not long until I had a Chickadee come for some seed. It took its time sorting through the striped and black sunflower seeds until it found a hulled kernel. Who could not love such trusting little birds?

Great Blue Heron on November 24th

On the way out of the park I drove over a small creek and was surprised to see a Great Blue Heron fishing in the icy water. Here is another bird who should head south as soon as possible. The odd heron has been seen during the December Christmas bird count around here, but I think this year will bring an early freeze on the waterways.

My outing cheered me considerably. And I am feeling better each day. Thanks for all the well wishes!


  1. This was my first visit to your blog and I enjoyed seeing the beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing them. I also enjoyed reading your posts and I'm glad you are feeling better.


  2. You certainly have ways of finding birds wherever you go. Good on ya.

  3. I'm glad you were able to get out birding...even if it was from the car.

    I couldn't believe the price of gas in your part of the world. Ours is still in the $.90+ range.

  4. Enjoyed reading this post. Back here we get to see the Yellow Cheeked Tit and the White Cheeked Tit.

  5. Glad you were feeling well enough to get out and see some birds Ruth. Who could not be cheered up by having a chickadee eat from your hand!

  6. What fantastic pictures. I love the one where the chickadee is eating out of your hand!

    Glad you are feeling better.

  7. Thank you so much for the info regarding the chickadee and the tit family.......fascinating.....I learn something everyday.....

    How wonderful to have a chickadee feed from your hand......amazing.....such lovely little birds......

    I am glad your trip out made you feel better.......healing time.......

  8. How wonderful that you had an outing, and quite an outing it was. Chickadees feeding right from your hand. Just lovely.

    Glad things are going well.

  9. I'm so glad you found some birds by just sitting and waiting.How special to have the Chickadee feed from your hand.My husband and do quite a bit of biring from the car works well for us.

  10. Anonymous4:39 pm GMT-5

    Hi Ruth, That's great that you're able to get out and about again. Those are very nice pictures of the birds - the Mourning Doves are pretty. I'm glad to see the price of gas come down, too. :)

  11. What trust in that little bird's heart. nice post, Ruth. doesn't it feel good to finally get out again?

  12. I'll tell you--if I have chickadees eating from my hand, I would feel better too.
    That is amazing.

  13. Anonymous8:21 pm GMT-5

    I'm glad you could get out and do some birding. It was nice of those chickadees to come see you.

  14. Send that great blue down to Florida! And fast. The snow birds are starting to book all the best hotel rooms.

  15. Nice to get out. We've been having somewhat similar weather too. Cold and snow/sleet/rain today. And damp. Not nice for a walk.
    Those chickadees sure are cute. I also thought Cheryl's blue tits were chickadees.
    That poor heron looks hunched over with cold. Sometimes we see a lone heron here standing beside a partially frozen lake. I wish I could tell him to fly south.

  16. Anonymous8:49 pm GMT-5

    Now that is a sure sign of a true birder...when the going gets tough Ruth goes birding through car windows. I'm so happy for you that you were able to get out and enjoy a bit of the day. A small step towards healing.

    I absolutely love the pictures of the little "dee-dees"! I have the Chickadee ranked in my top 5 of my favorite birds.
    I must try a little adventure to Riverside Park and see if I can one of those cuties to perch on me.

    Keep Birding - any way you can!!

  17. P.S. - when I first read the title I thought it was Birthing from the Car. LOL!! I sincerely hope not!

  18. I'm glad that you were able to get out even if in the car and the birds were all out there for you.

  19. That great blue looks so cold. He needs to head south where it's warmer! ;o) It's hard to imagine he holds out for the Christmas Bird Count. But if the waters freeze over earlier this year, then he/she will need to move on. I love your chickadee photos, too.

  20. Wow, that was some successful "birding from the car" expedition! I love the photo of the chickadee in your hand Ruth. Priceless! Glad you are feeling stronger each day. :c)

  21. Thanks to all who took the time to comment. You also cheered my day!


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