Feathers

A few bird pictures from yesterday and today.

The red-winged blackbird has again refused to fly straight toward me when I have a camera to hand.  One of these days, I will get the shot I’ve been aiming for while in flight towards the light.  Meanwhile, here he is telling his rivals to stay away, by flaring the red patches on his wings and screeching.  Not very effective as there are at least three with nests in the reeds down the hill and they share my garden with mild mutual hostility.

Blackbird flares wings
Blackbird flares wings

I already posted the next one on Facebook/Twitter, but here it is for those who just follow this blog (including the print edition), along with two more bonus pictures.  This was a day and night with a bitter cold north wind, that was ruffling its feathers, with different effect depending which way it was facing. I find the variety of types of feather fascinating, especially if you think of how the development systems produce all that variation.

Blue jay with crown
Blue jay with crown
Bluejay slicked back
Blue jay slicked back
Windswept bluejay
Windswept blue jay

We also have orioles around, both Baltimore and Garden.  Here is the female Baltimore, preening and just sitting in the dogwood.

Female baltimore oriole, preening
Female baltimore oriole, preening
Female baltimore oriole
Female baltimore oriole

Baltimore Oriole and other migrants

I went to put out the oriole feeder in what we call “The Oriole Tree” but is in fact a wild plum and is full of flower buds that will probably open in a few days. I started walking back to the house but stopped and turned back for some reason, and there was the oriole, already feeding. I hadn’t seen it until then.

Male Baltimore Oriole
Male Baltimore Oriole

Bruce told me that the bird I had unthinkingly called a finch at the hummingbird feeder, was in fact a female Baltimore Oriole and since the male showed up two days later, I expect he is right. It is clearly an oriole, and I wasn’t paying attention. However, the goldfinches were also hanging about, and this particular one is much more yellow than the orange ones that were here last year, and it appears to be smaller. It is just possible that it is an orchard oriole. If nobody comments with a definitive ID, I’ll just have to wait until I see the pair together or not.

Female Baltimore Oriole
Female Baltimore Oriole
Female Baltimore Oriole 2
Female Baltimore Oriole 2

The female hummingbird arrived today as well, only a day after I put the feeder out. I didn’t get a picture as it only stayed a few seconds and I haven’t seen it since.

Another arrival today was the evening grosbeak.

Evening grosbeak
Evening grosbeak

There was this bird as well today. The spring migrants are coming so fast it’s almost as if they are falling from the sky. I don’t have time for a trip to Point Pelee, where there is a natural break from lakes so that many migrants can be seen. Maybe next year. However, there is no shortage of them here.

Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird

First trillium of the year

The first purple trillium came out today.

Purple trillium
First purple trillium of the year

The white trillium is Ontario’s provincial flower but it is usually a few days later than the purple ones. There are lots of buds for those so I’m expecting a good show by weekend.

The blue cohosh is not quite as spectacular but is another early arrival.

Blue Cohosh
Blue Cohosh

In case anybody noticed in earlier entries that there is always a small, flat rock on our back deck, here is why. The chipmunks and the red squirrels like it, either because it gives them a little height to watch for sneaky predators, or it gives some heat if it’s been in the sunshine, or both.

Chipmunk rock
Chipmunk rock

We had a bit of rain today, so got another spring first. Black flies.  Those I could do without.  No swallows or dragonflies yet to gobble them up.

I put this separately on Facebook and Twitter today but for those who just read this blog, here is an oriole that beat the hummingbirds to the punch.

I heard on the weekend they were down by the lakeshore so they should be up over the ridge in a day or two.

Finch pretending to be a hummingbird
Oriole pretending to be a hummingbird

For those who are interested, we live on the Oak Ridge Moraine, a big pile of sand and rock pushed to the edge of Lake Ontario by the ice sheet. We are about 100m above the lake so get cooler weather all year.  Most of that 100m comes when we ascend a ridge about 10 km south of here; the thermometer in my car usually drops a couple of degrees (Celsius) in the space of 2 km.

Laurie asked why I started putting a copyright watermark on my pictures.  A lot of people seem to pirate photos from the web.  “CC” is for “Creative Commons” – you are welcome to use my pictures as long as you attribute them, and the watermark makes it easy.

Woodcarving Woodpeckers and an Oriole

Although these carvings were made by talented humans, they slowly rot and need some maintenance. So who would you hire, but a professional woodcarver to do the maintenance?

Flicker woodcarving
Flicker woodcarving

I posted this picture in an earlier entry but it fits the theme.

Woodpecker carving
Woodpecker carving

This oriole came to sit on the hummingbird feeder, even though it can’t feed from it, but it seemed like it wanted to keep an eye on what was going on inside.  It stayed about half an hour, just looking around, so I was able to get this close up.

Oriole close up
Oriole close up

Orioles and White-tail dragonfly

Orioles are pretty so we buy them sugar water. Dragonflies earn their keep, by consuming large quantities of mosquitoes.

No, not cookies.

We have oriole feeders in the garden but they seem to be monopolised by woodpeckers.  In any case, the orioles seem to prefer the hummingbird feeders, even though there is no perch and they keep falling off.

Oriole-2
Oriole on hummingbird feeder
Oriole-1
Oriole

Here is a welcome, hardworking guest, taking a break to eat the mosquitoes he just caught while flying around.  We have three ponds, each with a single male dragonfly.  I haven’t seen the females yet – they don’t have the same broad white, almost luminous tail.

Male White-Tail Dragonfly
Male White-Tail Dragonfly