Black-capped Chickadee – Mésange à tête noire

chickadeedee
Can anyone identify the bush this little fellow is perched on? (Click the image to view a larger version.)

Sandhill Crane – Grue du Canada


I find it fascinating that ‘we’ have fossils of these birds that are approximately 2.5 million years old, considerably older than most other living bird species. Watching them move about is like being able to see through the thickness of time.

2012


In 2012, I added 32 birds, including this Ring-necked Duck, to my bird list. Here they are:

American Coot
American Goldfinch
Barred Owl
Black-billed Magpie
Black-headed Grosbeak
Bufflehead
California Quail
Cedar Waxwing
Clark’s Nutcracker
Common Goldeneye
Common Tern
Double-crested Cormorant
Evening Grosbeak
Fox Sparrow
Horned Grebe
Killdeer
Lesser Yellowlegs
Long-billed Dowitcher
Long-tailed Duck
Marsh Wren
Mottled Duck
Northern Harrier
Pacific Loon
Pine Siskin
Red-breasted Merganser
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-necked Duck
Sandhill Crane
Short-eared Owl
Snowy Owl
Stilt Sandpiper
Wood Duck

Evening Grosbeak


While at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Saturday, I spotted my first Evening Grosbeak. Unfortunately, her beak was a bit of a mess, but she was far too intent on eating to stop and get cleaned up for a photoshoot. Can anyone identify the fruit? Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Invisible

I haven’t disappeared, but, since the early days of this year, I have dedicated almost all of my free time to learning French. I am also busy rereading the entire works of Albert Camus, one of my favourite authors, in English. My goal, this year, is to become proficient enough in French that I can begin to read all of Camus’ work in the original French next year.

Having said that, I have been out hiking/birdwatching a number of times and have already added  28 new species to my Wild Bird List this year.

Well, back to the books …

The Travelling Strawberries

Strawberries
Part of me wants to do the right thing and eat only local foods. Another part of me wants to sit in the sun and eat strawberries trucked all the way up from California for lunch. Today, the sun and the berries won.

Apparently I’m not the only Canadian making poor choices.

From My Grandfather’s Tackle Box …

This is a 1965 flyer from Pacific Chrysler Plymouth with a fishing knot and hook size chart on the second side. My paternal grandfather, who passed away in the early 1970s, kept it in his tackle box. It has been living in my own tackle box for decades now even though I can tie those knots in my sleep.
Side 1:

Side 2:

My Small Year

Red-winged Blackbird IllustrationThis is my second ‘official’ year as a birder of sorts. Actually, I’ve been casually watching birds for years but somehow never worked up the enthusiasm to bother identifying the various species I didn’t recognize. It was a lazy enjoyment without any sort of catalogue or accounting. All of this changed, however, after I chanced upon iBird, a smartphone app that makes identifying birds a fairly simple task. After successfully using the app to identify an American Dipper that was feeding along the shore of Rolley Lake as my wife and I walked by, I was hooked.

After I installed iBird on my phone, I created a list of all the birds I was certain I’d seen in the recent past by marking them as favourites in the app. This list was quite small as I didn’t want to record any species that I might have mistaken with another in the days when I wasn’t concerned with such details. For that reason, I left most of the various waterfowl, shore, and seabird species off of my list despite having seen a great number of them in the past. This was my initial list:

American Robin
Anna’s Hummingbird
Bald Eagle
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bushtit
Canada Goose
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Common Loon
Common Raven
Cooper’s Hawk
Dark-eyed Junco
European Starling
Glaucous-winged Gull
Gray Jay (Whiskey Jack)
Great Blue Heron
Hermit Thrush
House Finch
Mallard
Northern Flicker
Northwestern Crow
Osprey
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-winged Blackbird
Rock Pigeon
Ruffed Grouse
Rufous Hummingbird
Sooty Grouse
Spruce Grouse
Steller’s Jay
Trumpeter Swan
Varied Thrush

Then, I started keeping an eye out for new birds while out and about. I came across a few birds that I wasn’t able to identify, like the owl, I assume, that flew overhead and vanished among the trees before the synapses in my brain could even light up with owly thoughts. Despite my sluggish synapses, however, I identified and added the following twenty-nine slower moving species to the list:

American Dipper
American Wigeon
Belted Kingfisher
Bewick’s Wren
Brown Creeper
Common Merganser
Common Yellowthroat
Downy Woodpecker
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Hooded Merganser
House Sparrow
Lesser Goldfinch
Lesser Scaup
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Pacific Wren
Pileated Woodpecker
Purple Finch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Ring-necked Pheasant
Snow Goose
Song Sparrow
Spotted Towhee
Swainson’s Thrush
White-crowned Sparrow
Wilson’s Warbler

Still, even with these new additions, it remains a fairly short list. That’s okay. I really don’t want to become an obsessed birder travelling all over the country in search of birds and bragging rights. In fact, I’ve recently discovered and am quite taken with the idea of green birding. These birders focus on the birds they can find within the self-powered reach of their own homes or workplaces. I’ll admit the notion wouldn’t be too much of a hardship on me as I am fortunate to live within walking distance of Burns Bog, but the idea would fit nicely into what I’m already trying to do in terms of weighing the environmental impact of all my actions and, consequently, pursuing only my deepest of interests.

Backcountry Bear Basics

Bear Book Cover ImageHey Joe!
I read Backcountry Bear Basics, by Dave Smith, last summer and definitely recommend it if you spend time in bear country.
I thought I was fairly bear aware, but this book certainly opened my eyes to a number of misconceptions I had about bear behaviour and how one should best handle an encounter with one.
Smith debunks many of the common myths about grizzlies and black bears and offers sound advice on how to best store food, choose a safe campsite, and avoid encounters with bears in the first place. There is also specific advice for various recreational pursuits.
Along the way, he explains how to distinguish between grizzly and black bears, but it’s not always easy to do. If you’d like to practice your bear identification skills, the state of Montana offers free online training and self-testing that’s pretty good. Click here to try it out.

Season’s Greetings!

Towhee in Santa HatThanks to all of those who followed my blog this year. I’ve enjoyed your comments, tweets and emails. I hope you have a great holiday season. Cheers!