Monday, January 26, 2009

Big January Wrap Up...One...

Earlier this month I set myself a goal of finding 60 bird species in January. I found a list of sightings of winter birds in Ontario on this web site*, excluded rare or occasional finds, and concluded that there are about 160 birds species in the province in an average winter. Not all are found in my area though and I would have to travel to winter birding hot spots such as the Niagara River to see large numbers of winter migrants. Anyone who goes birding near the falls in the winter must be impervious to very damp chills and icy surfaces. (not me!) I decided that finding 60 of these birds would be a good start for one winter month.

At the end of last week I made the twenty minute trip from the hospital to Guelph Lake Conservation Area. Guelph Lake is created by a dam on the Speed River and was built to control flooding along the Grand River watershed. It has naturalized beautifully and the conservation area is a favourite haunt for birders. The area is closed to cars for the winter but it is possible to snowshoe or ski on the snow covered trails. I noticed a bus load of school children at the Nature Centre and stopped in for a look. I liked the sign that said, "An experience is worth a thousand pictures."

The students were just finishing up their outdoor winter activities as I looked around at the winter camping site with tents and a snow house. Bird feeders were set up in a wooded area and many birds were in the trees and brush. In thirty minutes I was able to count the last few birds needed to reach my goal.

I knew Cedar Waxwings are found in small groups throughout the winter and had seen a flock in mid-December. About 15 of them flew in from the lake and rested in the trees near the feeders. The feeders attracted large numbers of Chickadees, Tree Sparrows, Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers, House and Goldfinches, Juncos, as well as the birds I will describe in this and two other posts.

I have only seen one Eastern Towhee and found it this summer near our home. They are not common in any season here. A lone Towhee is wintering at Guelph Lake near these feeders and I had a few glimpses of it as is hopped on the ground in some brush. A number of factors which I will describe in a later post kept it from coming out into the open.

And so I counted birds # 57 and #58, unexpected additions, especially the Eastern Towhee.

More to come...

*this web site also lists winter birds found in all Canadian provinces


  1. What a wonderful visit to the Nature Center. I haven't seen a Cedar Waxwing since living in eastern Washington. After apple harvest they came in and got drunk on the fermenting apples. Thank you for sharing this piece of your world.

  2. Only 3 more to go until you make your goal!! It will be intersting to see if you can get another 3.

    Love the photos of the two birds.

  3. What a lovely place Ruth. I have a sneaking suspicion that you will hit that 60 mark!

  4. Wow! 60 birds in January is great. I've never gotten that many. Usually it's around 40...maybe I need to get out more.

    Carolyn h.

  5. Way to go.Reaching a goal is exciting.

  6. Hooray! Can't wait to hear who made #59 and #60.

  7. Glad you made your 60 goal!

  8. I love the way you stay outdoors no matter the weather. And here I am pouting indoors on a very sunny very frigid day. Maybe I'll follow your lead...tomorrow.

  9. Anonymous1:47 pm GMT-5

    What a wonderful winter landscape you have there! Beautiful place too! Enjoy!!!

  10. Lovely place to visit....I like the snow house, it actually looks quite inviting.

    You have done so well with your bird count.....I can imagine that it becomes quite addictive.......

  11. Anonymous2:48 pm GMT-5

    Will she make it?!? Can't wait to see what you come up with next!

  12. Looks like a wonderful Nature Center. Hope you reach your birding goa. You're almost there!
    Somebody did a good job building that snow cave.

  13. Anonymous4:50 pm GMT-5

    Wow..I don't have 60 on my life list...

  14. You truely are an inspiration!!! I am going to start, um...restart a list.

    You are also a tease. I'm eager to learn the secret identities of #59 and #60.

  15. Anonymous9:06 pm GMT-5

    Keep on going . . you will do it!

  16. Gaelyn- The Cedar waxwings got drunk on crabapples in the spring at the hospital. They were pathetic.

    Kim- Done!

    Jayne- Yes, I went back today when the sun was shining. Cold but beautiful.

    Carolyn- I have been off or on reduced hours at work this month so have had time to get out more often.

    Ruth- This goal made January more fun.

    Thanks to all the others who commented. I saw bird #61 today and the month is not yet over.

  17. Looks like fun to me. Congrats on the towhee and the cedar waxwing. I'd be tempted to dress really warm, take a thermos of coffee, and go check out the falls!

  18. I'm really enjoying your accunts of species found because I can relate to your experiences.-Eastern Towhee has eluded my list thus far.I like your strategy of setting a goal that is within your reach.-This should ensure that you will be able to exceed your goals in the future.-It sounds like you are learning more about where to find certain birds in your area.-That is one of the fringe benefits of doing this type of listing.


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