Monday, May 20, 2013

175 Species of Birds!

We have just spent the better part of the last week birding.  Two days in Point Pelee, 1 day in Rondeau Park, a family wedding on the weekend forced us to bird in Burlington (see the Fish Crow post below) and today we spent at Long Point.  We only had 117 species before Point Pelee and we are now at 175 for the year. The highlights from Point Pelee have to include seeing the rare Worm-Eating Warbler (no pic unfortunately) and witnessing the crazy courtship dance of the American Woodcock. It happens just after dusk or before dawn.  First you hear a low-pitched nasal beeping call while it is still on the ground.  Then the bird hurls itself into the air like a football, spiraling upwards 200 feet or more.  The performance concludes with the woodcock falling back to earth, often in a zig-zag, banking display to pitch down where it started.  Then another will do the same thing.  Amazing to see!

Another highlight was the one American Golden Plover among all the Black-bellied Plovers on the very tip of Point Pelee, the most Southern point in Ontario. It was in with this gathering of shorebirds as well as Willets and the Greater Backed Black Gull.

Everyone comes to Point Pelee for the warblers and we were not disappointed.  We had seen 7 warbler species before heading to Pelee and then saw another 12 at Pelee and another 3 at Rondeau, 1 in Burlington and another 3 at Long Point giving us 26 of the 43 species in Ontario.  Not easy to get pics of them.

Our 150th bird  - Ovenbird

Blackburnian Warbler
  A few more pics from the trips:
Red-Headed Woodpecker
Orchard Oriole
Eastern Kingbird

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Rose -breasted Grosbeak

Migration is winding down and with 175 species thus far it will start to get  harder  to add to the numbers.  We will need to start concentrating on specific habitat and nesting grounds now.  Next milestone will be bird 200!

Fish Crow in Burlington

A first confirmed nesting in Ontario of Fish Crows was discovered a few weeks ago in Burlington across from Burloak Waterfront Park.  We saw both the male and female on a drive-by on Saturday May 18 but wanted to really have a good look at them so went back on Sunday morning.  Both were again present on the lampost beside the nest when we got there but were then being bothered by what we assume was a regular crow.  All three birds scattered and were landing on posts and the tops of the apartment building close by.  It was when this was going on that we heard the Fish Crows distinctive call.  The other crow left them and then they headed back to the nest.  We went on to walk the Lakeshore and both birds were absent when we returned about 1/2 hour later.
Today the report on Ontario birds suggests that the nest is empty and a small crow was found dead in the park.  It is being checked by the ROM to see if it is the Fish Crow.  Very sad if that is the case.
Some of our pics below.