Monday, April 30, 2018

Muck Mountain

reddish Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
greyish Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
  ‘Twas chilly and muddy on the Mont, and pretty quiet, bird-wise. It was interesting to compare and contrast two Song Sparrows at opposite ends of the grey-ruddy spectrum.

Mont-Saint-Bruno, April 30, 2018
Great Blue Heron-2
Canada Goose-7
Turkey Vulture-2
Cooper’s Hawk-1
Ring-billed Gull-1
Downy Woodpecker-4
Hairy Woodpecker-3
Northern Flicker-4
Pileated Woodpecker-2
Eastern Phoebe-2
Blue Jay-2
American Crow-4
Black-capped Chickadee-13
White-breasted Nuthatch-3
Winter Wren-3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-10
Hermit Thrush-6
American Robin-20+
European Starling-5
Northern Cardinal-3
Chipping Sparrow-12
Song Sparrow-6
White-throated Sparrow-1
Dark-eyed Junco-4
Red-winged Blackbird-3
Brown-headed Cowbird-6
American Goldfinch-20+

Friday, April 27, 2018


Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
Winter Wren Troglodytes hiemalis
Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus
White-throated Sparrow exiting stage left
  Another five-hour feet-smasher this morning. Lower numbers today, but a few interesting new arrivals. Now tired.

Mount-Royal Cemetery, (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery), April 27, 2018
Canada Goose-(3)
Turkey Vulture-1
Cooper’s Hawk-2 (2)
Northern Harrier-1
Red-shouldered Hawk-1 being harried by crows
Peregrine Falcon-(1 on the tower)
Ring-billed Gull-3 (20+)
Rock Dove-3
Downy Woodpecker-3 (3)
Hairy Woodpecker-2 (1)
Northern Flicker-1 (4)
Eastern Wood-Pewee?-(1, an upslurred pyuhreeee call was heard well from the field/forest edge at the north side of NDN, but the bird was not seen. It wasn't a Killdeer. April 27 seems quite early for this species. Another explanation was that I heard someone in the empty woods blasting a snippet of playback for this species. Seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened...)
Eastern Phoebe-1 in L2
American Crow-9 (13)
Black-capped Chickadee-8 (8)
Brown Creeper-3 (4)
White-breasted Nuthatch-(1)
Red-breasted Nuthatch-2, including one excavating a nest hole
Winter Wren-1 in Oak Ridge
Golden-crowned Kinglet-6 (10+)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-8+ (18)
Eastern Bluebird-1
Hermit Thrush-(3 in the north woods)
American Robin- 8 (15)
Bohemian Waxwing-1 bulky bird seen with the Cedar Waxwing flock was probably a Bo-Wax
Cedar Waxwing-35ish flushed from pines in L7 and flew towards Mount Royal
Northern Cardinal-3 (4)
Eastern Towhee-1 female first spotted in E5, then zipped into E4 – extremely skulky, was associating with White-throated Sparrows, called twice
Chipping Sparrow-30+ (35+)
Song Sparrow-10 (12+)
Swamp Sparrow-1 spotted near enough to Tuesday’s bird, but appears to be a different individual – it sang twice, and was in suitable swampy habitat...would be thrilling if it was trying to set up a territory...
Fox Sparrow-1 on Mountain View
White-throated Sparrow-12+, (20+)
Dark-eyed Junco-35+ (6)
Red-winged Blackbird-1 in N1, sang once then flew into NDN
American Goldfinch-5 (7)
Pine Siskin-1
House Finch-2 (1)
Purple Finch-2

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tesla's Pigeon

  Here's my recently published supernatural birdy story. I wrote it last summer, it was the first 'flash fiction' (1,000 words or less) story I tried. You can find it here in 'Volume XI, 2018,' on page 22 (it's easier to read if you zoom in):

(To read my other published birding tales, click on this handy clickety-click and scroll down:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis 
(Fried eggs always come to mind when I see a bright WTSP)
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
American Tree Sparrow Spizella arborea
American Tree Sparrow Spizella arborea
American Tree Sparrow being moved along by a White-throated Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis with partial leucism
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
Northern (yellow-shafted) Flicker Colaptes auratus
Northern Flicker probing the dirt

American Robins and Northern Flickers, out standing in their field
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
Groundhog Marmota monax
Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa
  Last night’s nocturnal radar did not lie – they’re here! I hit the cemeteries hard with a solid 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. bimble, in lovely backsweat weather. My feet are thrashed to bits, but it was totally worth it.
  Large arrivals of Northern Flickers, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, American Robins, Chipping, White-throated and Song Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Juncos were evident. Smaller arrivals of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Eastern Phoebes, Hermit Thrushes, and hyper-skulky Fox Sparrows were also notable.
  In a classic birding head-slapper, I see that Jean-Sebastien Mayer got eight species of raptor (including two Golden Eagles...whaaaat?) that I somehow managed to miss, at the same time that I was there. I suppose that’s because I tend to keep my eyes in the weeds.
  That dubious technique actually paid off towards the end of my session, when I spotted a Swamp Sparrow skulking near the north entrance. It took a few seconds of flipping through the pages in my mental field guide before I realized what the dainty bird was. It zipped into a bush, and when it popped out on the other side, I tracked it for a minute, until I noticed that something was amiss. I was flummoxed to find that at some point during its five-second stay in the bush, it had magically morphed into a Song Sparrow. Hey presto! There's some kind of clever 'Worth two in the bush' parable gag here, but I'm too tired for all that.

Mount-Royal Cemetery, (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery), April 24, 2018
Turkey Vulture-5
Peregrine Falcon-(1 on the tower)
Ring-billed Gull-3 (35+)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-2 (1)
Downy Woodpecker-3 (1)
Hairy Woodpecker-2 (2)
Northern Flicker-23 (50+, one group in a field in the northeast corner was 30 strong)
Pileated Woodpecker-1
Eastern Phoebe-2 (2)
American Crow-12 (7)
Black-capped Chickadee-10 (5)
Brown Creeper-3 (2)
White-breasted Nuthatch-1
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
Winter Wren-1
Golden-crowned Kinglet-20+ (15+)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-15 (20+)
Hermit Thrush-9 (5)
American Robin-20+ (45+ in the field mingling with Northern Flickers)
European Starling-1 (2)
Northern Cardinal-3 (2)
Chipping Sparrow-20+ (45+ including almost 30 mixed in with a large flock of Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows at the edge of a field)
American Tree Sparrow-3 spotted in different areas, all were: on the scrubby periphery, mingling with White-throated Sparrows, and foraging at the edge of melting snow drifts
Song Sparrow-15 (17+)
Swamp Sparrow-1 skulking near the feeder at the north entrance
Fox Sparrow-14 scattered in scrubby peripheries, (3)
White-throated Sparrow-40+ well-dispersed throughout, (40+ ditto)
Dark-eyed Junco-70+ (75+)
Red-winged Blackbird-(1 chattering from a treetop in the northeast corner of NDN)
Brown-headed Cowbird-(1 vizzing north near Decelles at 8:15 a.m., got long binocular looks in good light)
House Sparrow-(3 near Decelles)
American Goldfinch-9 (5)
Pine Siskin-9 to 20, I was very possibly seeing the same itinerant group in different spots
House Finch-1

Purple Finch-1 female at the feeder

Friday, April 13, 2018

Birds of Friday the 13th

Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii
American Robin Turdus migratorius
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus with melanin deficiency
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus with melanin deficiency
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus with melanin deficiency
Beatboxing Groundhog Marmota monax
  Almost no machete killers were spotted on a 3.5 hour bimble from west to east. My everything is sore. The snow was mostly gone except in shady spots, although that could change with Sunday’s predicted blizzard/freezing rain. There was much lusty singing in the cemeteries today, most notably from Song Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, and packs of Dark-eyed Juncos. Lovely. 
  I was mildly surprised at the absence of Fox Sparrows or Eastern Phoebes - guess they’ll be here by mid-week, after the precipitation that’s blocking up the northern movement pushes on.
  In the northeast corner of NDN, I got good looks at a female Hairy Woodpecker with an interesting melanin deficiency that resulted in a washed-out look to its flight feathers, tail, and crown. 
  Several sleepy-looking Groundhogs were seen sunning themselves and feeding, with some looking decidedly gaunt. 
  Oh, and I saw a Woodcock.

Mount-Royal Cemetery, (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery), April 13, 2018
Great Blue Heron-1 vizzing northeast
Turkey Vulture-5
Cooper’s Hawk-1 (1)
Peregrine Falcon-(1 on the tower)
American Woodcock-1 flushed from G4 to Oak Ridge, gave great binocular views
Ring-billed Gull-4 (35+)
Downy Woodpecker-2 (3)
Hairy Woodpecker-2 (3)
Northern Flicker-1
American Crow-10+ (6)
Black-capped Chickadee-11 (9)
White-breasted Nuthatch-2 (2)
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
American Robin-25+ (12)
Northern Cardinal-5 (4)
Song Sparrow-10+ (10)
White-throated Sparrow-1 skulking on Pine Hill Side
Dark-eyed Junco-35+ (20)
American Goldfinch-4 (1)
House Finch-1

Sunday, April 8, 2018

April flurries, no worries

Hey! It's Dan!
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
American Goldfinch Spinus tristis
Shhh, I hears the wormses...
American Robin Turdus migratorius
  A lazy stroll around the cemeteries with Dan today, to knock the dust off our binos. My bird brain also had some dust on it, as it would seem I’ve forgotten most everything I once knew about birds and the varied sounds they produce. Happens every year. Nothing crazy was out, things should get moving in earnest in next couple of weeks.
  There was a mighty flock of American Robins rooting around in the melted mucky bits near the north entrance, feasting on worm-meat. Something about the insipid yellow shade of American Goldfinches irritates me for some reason. I guess I prefer the rich buttery tones of Old World buntings or something. My kingdom for the deep yellow of a warbler. I’m weird.
  For after-birding sustenance, we hit up the best spot for poutine in Montreal, a real hidden gem,  _redacted_.

Mount-Royal Cemetery, (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery), April 8, 2018
Peregrine Falcon-(1 near the university – apparently the pair produced a second egg yesterday)
Downy Woodpecker-2 (2)
American Crow-8+ (8)
Black-capped Chickadee-15+ (4)
Brown Creeper-1
White-breasted Nuthatch-2 (2)
Red-breasted Nuthatch-3
American Robin-45+
Northern Cardinal-2 (2)
Song Sparrow-3 (1)
Dark-eyed Junco-10 (6)
American Goldfinch-3 (2)
House Finch-1 singing