Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Yesterday TBO had a seasonal Open House, unfortunately a lot of people couldn't make it due to other plans or travelling, but all that did come had a great time. We got to watch the capture of Christmas on video and of course see Christmas in person!

And we would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Some different visitors

Well it's been exciting in High Park the last few days, I wasn't there for about a week, and then I went for some birdwatching both yesterday morning and this morning. I was feeding the Chickadees, Nuthatches, Downies, and Blue Jays, when a very nosey and noisey visitor showed up. The Red Bellied Woodpecker!

Update* I thought that the red bellied was a juvenile male, but it has now been identified as a female

She was flitting around and being quite vocal, she did not come down to the food but sure was talking a lot. Today I was joined by some other guests, the Juncos came, and a Wren and a pair of Sparrows, also the Northern Cardinal couple flitted back and forth. I swear the Blue Jays are stealth Blue Jays they sneak in quietly without a sound grab a peanut and disappear! The Red Bellied came back again today and stayed at the very top of a tree having a conversation with the Blue Jay. A Flock of about 50 Robins started twittering and the dozen or so Downy Woodpeckers answered them. All in all it was very noisey in the meadow. Until the Red Tailed glided overhead then there was dead silence!

As I was leaving (because it was snowing (amazing I know, finally) because I'd been observing for about two hours and had gotten pretty chilly I hear a very loud woodpecker noise! And yes there was the Pileated. Yay! Too far away to get a decent shot of him, but here's the "Yes there really is a Pileated in High Park" shot! This was from another time, but my camera battery was dead so not the greatest of shots, but proof! LOL

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Seasons Greetings!!

Whatever it is you celebrate we at TBO hope you have a safe, enjoyable relaxing time with family and friends (and birds too of course!) Happy Birding if you get out to do some!

Not much news to report, a Jay trap has been built to catch the errant lovebird, but has not been successful yet, the budgie is still running with sparrows and Christmas is still doing well. He has a slight infection at the moment. He and Richard appeared on Global news again last night-quite briefly!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bird Busters

We spent some time this week at Dog Hill in the Park this week collecting signatures for our petition
(and yes I know I've said it before but please sign if you haven't done so already by clicking on the word petition, thank you :D) and I was struck by this dogs quite royal outfit, a bit reminiscent of Romeo?

I was joking that we should start calling ourselves BirdBusters, as in Ghostbusters? We still have not caught the elusive budgie, but we have left a mist net up there (furled of course) and I actually saw him fly in and immediately out-the only way I could have got him was if I had been right next to him when he did it. We also received a call about a Peach Faced Lovebird on the loose in the East End who is also running with the House Sparrows. We are working on getting him as well. Fortunately for these guys the weather feels more like Spring than December. I passed a Magnolia tree that is budding today!

Christmas is getting friendlier and friendlier but still will not step up onto your finger. And there is still no word from an owner, and I guess we will not be hearing of one.

While waiting to try and catch the budgie the other day I had the opportunity to get some photos of the Blue Jays in the Meadow.

Hopefully I will have some new updates for you before Christmas (the holiday, not the parrot ;)

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Christmas STAR!

Christmas, Richard and I are in Joe Fiorito's column today, here's the LINK

And a few more photos of mine of Christmas

He likes toast!

And those honey millet bars

And he's got such glorious colour in his wing!
Please don't forget to sign our petition HERE if you haven't done so already. Thanks!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Petition, Budgie and Sunsets

First off Christmas is still doing well. I expect to have new photos of him tomorrow or the next day, and he will be featured in a update column in the Toronto Star on Monday.

Today we were at the park getting support for our Petition, please sign HERE if you have not already done so, we need your support to continue our work. We did pretty well today, collected about two dozen signatures, there were lots of dog owners out this morning. I also watched a Blue Jay scold a squirrel for stealing his peanuts, and it worked the squirrel scampered away.

After the rescue of Christmas being on Global-the TV station received a call from a lady who reported seeing a budgie flying around her neighbourhood with a flock of birds, and wondered if we could help her. We said we would come and take a look and see if there was anything we could do. It was very strange seeing this bird in the cedar.

There was at least 30 House Sparrows, there were also six or eight Mourning Doves, a Red Winged Blackbird, and a Mockingbird! (and no I wasn't able to get a shot of the Mockingbird, sorry) At one point the flock flew off in a panic as a Coopers Hawk glided by overhead.

We watched to learn the Budgies pattern of flying, and did not try to put up a mist net today. We are going to try something over the weekend and perhaps go back on Monday.........will keep you posted. As we were leaving the most amazing sunset was happening, just gorgeous to watch on the way home.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Xmas Snaps

For some reason I couldn't add these to the other post, just one of Christmas in his cage (kindly lent to us by Elaine-THANKS Elaine!)

and a close up of the feathers that remind me of a Golden Pheasant!

and during his checkup Dr. Regan and Bozena Gawron giving him the once over at the Animal Hospital of High Park

Need more Christmas snaps? Click here

And So This Is Christmas

And so this is Christmas
Originally uploaded by makeupanid.
Not the best of all shots, but there will be more coming, at the moment Christmas is staying with the President of the TBO. He will eat out of his hand and today when we took the bird to the vet for a checkup you could see that Christmas is already bonding with him. He obviously has been handled by humans and was pretty amiable. We took him to Dr. Karen Regan, the same vet I use for my pet cockatiel, and she kindly did the work pro bono for us. Thank you so much Dr. Regan :D

Christmas is continuing to eat well, Dr. Regan was quite impressed with the shape he was in considering one bystander told us that he had been loose for at least three possibly four weeks. We (and he) are so lucky we caught him yesterday as this morning the temperatures went down to -15C with the Wind Chill. Not the best of climates for an Oz native! Rosellas are originally from Tazmania. In an article from The Society for Conservation in Aviculture they liked this reasoning behind the name Rosellas-" The second is the story that I like best. This is from a simple spelling mistake made in the middle of the 18th Century. It would seem quite likely that the name of "Rosetta Parrots", may have been given to the birds, being named after the Christian name of the wife of George Fife Angas(1789 - 1879), a pioneer of Southern Australia. Several place names are still to be found in Australia named after his wife such as Rosetta Harbour a small town on the coast. In a diary from John Gilbert(? - 1845) a slip of the pen - forgetting to cross the "t's" may have resulted in the name being used right up the present day." Though I kindof liked the first story he was refering to they were named after the area of Sydney where they were first discovered thus the "Rose Hill Parakeets"

Christmas seems to be in very good health, they did do several tests on him the results of which we will not know for several days. Birds often can be sick even though they do not appear to be and there was some slight discharge around his nose.

Joe Fiorito who wrote the article that brought Christmas to our attention, also came with us to the vet as he is planning to do another story in the Toronto Star in Monday's column. I will continue to update stories about Christmas here.

Oh and now we have been asked about helping a budgie flying with a flock of chickadees....oh my what have we started? LOL At least we'll get to band the chickadees too :D

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Christmas Present

Eastern Male Rosella
Originally uploaded by bluemist57.
Today was quite the interesting day for the Toronto Bird Observatory. It started off with me at my "day job" as usual, where I read an article in the Toronto Star about an escaped Australian parrot in downtown Toronto. I immediately called Richard-well okay not immediately since I saw it at 6 am I waited till a little later :D

So we headed down there. When I first called the Church to obtain permission I talked to a very helpful member who told me a lady was already there trying to lure it into a cage. She was thankful when we showed up because she had been trying for awhile and was cold and tired. So we took over and tried to get the bird to come to us, along with one other lady (a soon to be member of TBO I think) it looked very close a few times, but being a typical parrot (contrary) NO LUCK. One of us snuck up on it with a butterfly type net and almost got it but then the parrot changed its mind and flew to a nearby tree.

So we unfurled one of our mist nets, recruited several passersby and six of us headed towards the parrot holding the net while two others herded the bird so it would fly straight into the net-which it did all according to plan! YAY SUCCESS!. Then we had to get him out of the net......that part was fun, both of us got some nice bites which immediately bruised and mine was bleeding too, but we got him out and my goodness all of us involved were so, so happy! A Global TV news crew also taped the rescue and I just saw it on the tv a little while ago I have no idea if they will replay it on the later news show but possibly. We have named the bird Christmas, appropriate don't you think?

Here is a later follow up article about Christmas the original no longer seems to be available online

Thank you Bluemist57 for letting me use your wonderful photo.

Check for updates here!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Have you heard the news?

The Toronto Bird Observatory is looking for the publics support in our efforts in High Park.

The TBO have positively influenced hundreds of people from school children and their parents, to teachers, business people, and professionals with our message of the importance of birds in the city to the preservation/restoration of a healthy urban environment and our quality of life.

Our work is very important to the future of High Park and to green programs across the GTA. Our educational/training activities, public presentations, and work in the Park and elsewhere in the GTA are an inspiration.

Our activities to date include public demonstrations on Hawk Hill, banding programs in Spring Creek Meadow (with its beautiful naturalized fence), participation in Park activities, and public service across the GTA. Our work represents a tremondously positive approach to environmental education and conservation in our highly stressed environment.

Please help support these efforts by signing this petition so that the Toronto Bird Observatory can continue its programs in High Park.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Frost, Fog and a Hairy

Spring Creek Meadow at 9 am on November 25th was still covered with frost crunching under our boots. (A good reminder Christmas is a month away) We have been working on an perfecting an area where a new net lane is going to be-and today we had a team of helpers-YAY We couldn't open the other nets at first because it was too cold and damp-so until it warmed up we did lots of clean up.

The meadow is quite beautiful covered in both frost and fog. It's hard not to just stand around and stare sometimes :D

We had two new volunteers with us and could hardly wait for it to warm up so we could show them some birds. When it finally did warm up we didn't have long to wait this Red Breasted Nuthatch flew into the net while we were still opening it up!

We had planned on putting up at least two maybe three nets but we were kept too busy with just the one, I didn't get many pictures because it was so busy after that, we had Goldfinches, Juncos, Chickadees and the prize of the day a Hairy Woodpecker-I didn't even get a very good pic of him-but I did get this close up of his bill-quite the length!

Again we had several visitors, it was a warm day in the Park after all and a Saturday to boot, so lots of people were introduced to lots of birds-the sharing of knowledge continues :D

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Normal to Abnormal

Spring Creek Meadow November 21st

It was c-c-c-old! Well at least the humans were cold, even though the Sun was shining brightly and and there was not a cloud in the sky there was a bone chilling wind, which did not make for happy banders :D

We were surprised at the amount of birds we caught today-there were the usual suspects, quite a lot of Juncos, Chickadees and American Goldfinches who were foraging together

and a Downy Woodpecker who was a recap from just a little while ago, November 11th.

But then we caught a White Throated Sparrow just as we were going to close up after our rush of other birds, and he was a little abnormal. He had a deformed bill, looked like a Crossbill, as a matter of fact.

He was a first year male, and he had a healthy weight, I hope the little guy makes it, maybe he will be found by someone else and we will get to hear about him. After him we stopped because we needed to get WARM

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dee, dee to Towee towee

Spring Creek Meadow today where the first thing to hit the single net we had up was a flock of chickadees-most of which had already been banded, one from April Fools Day 2006. However we managed to band a couple of newbies as well. The park was hopping today we had lots, and lots of visitors in the form of dog walkers, runners and regular walkers as well.

After the chickadees, which I thought was going to set the pace for the day, we caught quite a few American Goldfinches, and one very protesting female Downy woodpecker. The Goldfinches were quite beautiful, but we were so busy processing them I only managed pictures of this one fellow who had quite a gorgeous tail.

and while we are talking about how

handsome he is how about those
wing markings?

In High Park we often see all the same people over and over again, and have become friends with quite a few.....some regular dog walkers and runners, etc. Often people there are daily park we are, or at least we try to be.

This lady is usually there daily-weather and her health permitting. As you can see here she delights in releasing a bird, and we are always happy if we have one for her when she comes by.

A short day, but fulfilling both bird wise and education wise.

Monday, November 13, 2006


We worked in Spring Creek Meadow today and we really didn't think that much would be happening birdwise-but as usual we were surprised! Funny how when you think you are going to be busy you aren't and vice versa. Several visitors came by to chat and admire the birds we caught. We recaptured quite a few Black Capped Chickadees, giving us a chance to catch up on their health and welfare. I didn't really get any pictures of the chickadees as we were too busy processing them and they were anxious to get back to their flock. Happy to say they seem to be doing well. We also recaptured a Junco from April 1, 2005, and she too seemed to be in good health, plus her wing length was a tiny bit longer than last time.

Another visitor was an handsome male Northern Cardinal-not one previously banded by us....and he was fully grown, not a Hatch Year. Except for using his beak to try to free himself from our grasps he was surprisingly amiable for a cardinal. He had lovely wings.

A male downy was also caught-he was another handsome male, but it was very hard to get a photo of him as he rarely stopped moving, or stopped pecking.

It was a lot of fun recapturing birds-like catching up with old friends.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More Visitors than Birds

We went to Thickson Woods today, and it turned into a teaching/sharing the joy of birds and banding day.

First we had a friend I had met on Flickr come by, and I'm pretty sure she'll be back next time too. Update, she got a beautiful picture of that female cardinal and she made this.

A couple of birders came by, someone from the Friends of Second Marsh, and a group of people out for a walk on their lunch hour. They lucked out because we caught the most beautiful Female Northern Cardinal, and she was very friendly, hardly biting at all. They all learned how to hold a bird in the banders grip, and then picked a number to see who would be the lucky person to release the bird. I thought the woman who won and did the release was going to cry she was so overcome with emotion. It was a joy to share the birds with so many eager, willing people.

Learning the banders grip!

Holding a female cardinal for the first time

We did not catch too many birds today, the Cardinal beauty, a Ruby and Golden Crowned Kinglet, and of course a couple of Black Capped Chickadees. I am posting a picture of the top of the Golden Crowned Kinglets crown, even though my photo did not turn out the best, because he had such a big patch of orange in his crown that I have to share it. The first bird we caught of the day we caught before we even finished putting up the net, we were still tying off the ropes, and she was a beauty as well, a very pretty American Tree Sparrow. But the small amount of birds were perfect because it made for excellent teaching and sharing conditions, without having to be cut short by other things. All in all a very good day.

Almost forgot to top off the day we both heard and watched the Great Horned Owl fly by! Hoo Hoodooo Hoooo Hoo!!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Frost in the Meadow

Above; frozen berries and a white-breasted nuthatch.

This morning I arrived early at Spring Creek Meadow, there was frost everywhere in the meadow and for the first time this year the Duck Pond was almost completely frozen over except for about a six foot patch that some Mallards were making themselves at home on. Also when I first arrived about sixty American Robins were feeding in the meadow on both sides of the creekbed.

Several volunteers arrived today and we set up four nets. One American Tree Sparrow was caught. We caught a fair amount of birds and then around 12:30 a chickadee flock hit the net closest to the creek. Several Downy Woodpeckers, Juncos, White Breasted Nuthatches and Black Capped Chickadees were caught and banded. That kept us busy for the next while. Several people dropped by while banding and were shown the delights of seeing a bird up close for the first time.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

She's a Lady

She's a Lady
Originally uploaded by makeupanid.
Went to Thickson Woods on the 25th and were not that busy but we caught three or four Northern Cardinals (ouch). One of the males was molting and had very interesting feathers will post his pics later. This was one of the females, she was pretty amiable!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Record Breaking Day on Hawk Hill

Saturday October 21, was an amazing day at Hawk Hill in High Park. We had a few birds, then a quiet hour and thought we'd collapse nets for awhile when RUSH HOUR struck. A lot of Golden Crowned Kinglets, a couple of Ruby, some chickadees, a couple of Brown Creepers, a few Slate Coloured Juncos, one Tennesse Warbler (a surprise) and a Myrtle Warbler.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fall Banding in High Park

Banding continues this Fall in High Park. Please contact Richard for more details:

r.joos @ (remove the spaces from the email address before sending)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Plans for TBO Spring Activities in High Park

TBO Call for Volunteers and Notice of Annual General Meeting

A number of you have been enquiring about our plans to band at High Park. Richard Joos, our President and Chair, has been busy finalizing arrangements with the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division to allow us to officially start operating at Spring Creek Meadow in High Park in the near future.

So that you can have the opportunity to become acquainted with our new site and to meet with your fellow members and the Directors of the TBO, you are cordially invited to our first Annual General Meeting to be held in High Park on Saturday, April 29th, 2006.

We will begin the day, weather permitting, at 10 am on Hawk Hill on the north side of the Grenadier Restaurant in the middle of the Park to see our Educational Demonstration Site. We will notify you by email or phone on Friday April 28th if it appears that weather will be a problem.

Then we will walk to the Banding Station Site at Spring Creek Meadow and do some extracting, banding and scribing.

After a break for lunch we will hold our Annual General Meeting starting at 2 pm at the Howard Park Tennis Club on Parkside Drive opposite Indian Valley Crescent (2 blocks south of Bloor). Our guest speaker, Gene Morton, will speak on 'What do OUR birds do in the tropics and how do they know how to do it?"

We do hope you will be able to attend, and not be caught up with too many other spring activities, and we very much look forward to seeing you on Saturday April 29th.

We are keen to get as many volunteers as possible to participate in the spring banding program. If you think you would like to participate, please contact Richard Joos directly and let him know which mornings best suit you.
Richard's email is: r.joos @ (remove the spaces from the email address before sending)

Mary Boswell
Membership Secretary
Toronto Bird Observatory

Email: mboswell @ (remove the spaces from the email address before sending)