Sparrows and nuthatches

One of the things I like about our townhouse is that it has more different kinds of birds than our old house. I hung a bird feeder and the birds have finally discovered it. Today there was a large flock of sparrows, a rustling carpet of them with certain brave souls staking out the feeder itself. When the sparrows flew away, a couple of nuthatches would swoop in, take one seed, and swoop away again.

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The lost pigeon

Several years ago, a white pigeon showed up and tried to eat from my wild-bird feeder, which was too small for it. Then a couple of days later I found its body in the lane. At that point it had been run over a few times and I thought it was a seagull. I picked it up to dispose of it and found that it had bands on its legs. So I called someone, maybe the humane society, so they could get the migration information. They took a look at it and told me it had been someone’s homing pigeon that got lost.

They also said I should have called the Racing Pigeon society, whatever it’s called, and reported it, so someone would have come to coax it back into captivity. The bands would identify its owner. If it ever happens again, I will.

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Red bird

An unusual bird showed up at the bird feeder last evening. It seemed to have more red than a house finch, which is usually light underneath.

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It had a red rump. Maybe it was a purple finch.

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It had a thick, heavy beak. I’d say it was a pine grosbeak, but they are further north at this time of year.

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Perhaps it was a crossbill–I don’t have a good image of the tip of the beak. The grey bird above it could be a female of the same species.

Any opinions?

Yellow bird

An unusual bird showed up in our cherry tree early this morning. I’m not sure what it was.

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It might be a pine warbler.

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What do you think?

Biking Saturday

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Today we had a fun ride. LotStreetWiz, AtheticKid, SilentLight, and I all biked down to the Leslie Street Spit, around the outer road (three times for L & A), and back again. We put in about 17 miles plus a few extra for our athletes. We took the Don Trail both ways to find a gentler slope. I generally brought up the rear. At the entrance to the park SilentLight and I hung back to have something to eat. I felt more energetic after that.

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The Spit had a community event with nature lookout points and bird boxes for swallows or perhaps bluebirds. Apparently it was part of Doors Open Toronto. At our turnaround point, just before the road turns to gravel, there was a display including some bird skins, so we were able to compare herring gulls, ring-billed gulls (a little smaller), and common terns (a lot smaller). We learned that a pair of great egrets are nesting, or at least hanging around, past our turnaround. That was about our only stop as the emphasis was on letting AthleticKid get in some training time.

still, we saw a lot of birds: cormorants, Canada Geese, gulls, terns, swallows–barn swallows?–and lots of smaller ones. We heard a lot of robins. The red-winged blackbirds are everywhere.

The beaver lodge in the big pond is higher and we saw freshly gnawed and felled trees back by the park entrance. So either there are two beavers with different territories or one wandering animal.

Wanted: licensed bird bander

The research station at Toronto’s Tommy Thompson Park, AKA the Leslie Street Spit, are hiring a licensed Bird Bander.

Hermit thrushes

The cats have brought in three birds in the last week, which I think are hermit thrushes on migration. Out of their territory, the shy birds are easy prey.

You can see field marks for various spotted thrushes here.

The birds might also have been white-breasted nuthatches.