Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking UP for 2008

Hope everyone has a Happy, Healthful, Peaceful New Years!

See you in 2008

Monday, December 24, 2007

Seasons Greetings from TBO

Twas Christmas Eve
Originally uploaded by makeupanid
and this male Northern Cardinal who lives in High Park and we banded in 2005. He's usually pretty sneaky and hard to get shots of but the day of the blizzard of the 16th he was pretty amiable about showing himself in return for food!

The Christmas Bird Count was in the Toronto area yesterday and what a terrible day it was for it weather wise. We had to really search for birds-we didn't find owls despite repeated tries-no other raptors at all-only one female cardinal-no Downies, Hairy's, it even took us til 2 o'clock to find a Canada Goose! We did find 4 Tundra Swans and one Bonaparte's Gull. A Great Black Backed and a Glaucous upped our Gull species as well.

Please Note

The Annual Christmas Gathering of the Toronto Bird Observatory will be December 30, check back here or your emails for details.

and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Birding not Banding

We have been doing some banding but not so much due to travelling, etc. We've managed to get some birding in though and I thought I'd share two recent birds we have seen here.

Yesterday we saw the Yellow Breasted Chat that was reported in ONTbirds at Ashbridges Bay

It looks like a first year male and he was quite enjoying the berries on the
European euonymus-
they seem to be his

He posed quite nicely for me too-I just got this new camera and have now quite figured it out yet-not sure why the shots aren't sharper but you get the idea!

and earlier in the Fall we got wonderful views of a Virginia Rail at Colonel Sam Smith Park-the bird came out repeatedly from the reeds and was quite tolerant. We managed to share this sighting with a birding group that was passing through.

While still
trying to identify him
I got quite the good look
at his beak as you can
see when he managed to
just stick it out

making just
a little bit easier :D

In news from San Francisco they have released some of the birds from the oil spill-you can again read a wonderful posting about it in How's Robb Blog How fabulous there were wonderful volunteers to help-I only wish I could have been one of them!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Disasters and what you can do

How sad is it to read again about oil spills threatening our wildlife? Two spills this week-one in the Black Sea and one in San Francisco Bay. Both in important bird migration routes.

Here is a link with some information on the SanFran one and the Russian story here

Save our Shores -has some great info on which species are at risk and how you can help-what to do if you find an oiled bird and where you can donate!

There is a great Blog from someone who is out volunteering right now at the Wildlife Centre handling the birds in San Francisco it is full of information and some stunning photos!

It has been 18 years since The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, which occurred on March 24, 1989 and as can be seen from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assoication's Ocean Service site "In summer 2001, roughly 10,000 pits were excavated as part of a shoreline survey of Prince William Sound. Oil was found at 58 percent of the 91 sites surveyed, which is approximately equivalent to 5.8 km of contaminated shoreline (Short et al., 2001). (Photo credit: NMFS, NOAA"

Here's a link to a petition against bunker fuel like that spilled in San Franciso.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Finch Alert!

Running a fowl....
Originally uploaded by makeupanid
Just a quick post to show you this House Finch the first one banded by TBO in recent years that we know of I'm sure there have been others but we haven't been around for them!

The reason I'm posting this is because of the Finch Alert I just saw in ONTBIRDS-I'm going to copy and paste it here

We are experiencing the biggest winter finch irruption since the "superflight" of 1997-1998, when many boreal finches went well beyond their normal ranges. The cause is the largest tree seed crop failure in a decade across more than 3200 km (2000 mi) of boreal forest from Saskatchewan into Quebec. Today in Toronto, I had a Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins and Purple Finches migrating along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. Boreal winter finches are being reported in many areas of southern Ontario and the United States, where some species such as Pine and Evening Grosbeaks haven't been seen in years. There is no telling how far south this "superflight" will go and how many finches will remain in Ontario this winter. Stock your feeders.

Winter Finch Forecast 2007-2008 is stored at two sites.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What a difference a year will make

Originally uploaded by makeupanid
Another time we got out we managed to catch a Hatch Year Male Indigo Bunting-so hard to believe that the next time we see him (hopefully ;D) he will be all blue!

(Blogger having trouble uploading a BLUE one try clicking here)

I love Indigo Buntings they are one of my favourite birds so I was quite happy when we caught this fellow-the same net run we caught an Indigo female as well-but I don't think I got any shots of her. (I'll have to check that if I do I will post-them being one of my favourites and all) When we have gotten out we seem to either be really busy or just about to get rained on (hard to believe we so little rain this year!)

I'm hoping to have some time this week to do some catch up posts

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Much Delayed but Highly Anticipated

Male Mourning Warbler shots

Hope nobody minds a Spring Banding shot in the Fall-I realized I had never gotten around to posting the Male shot when I promised I would

He is a Hatch Year Male with not a lot of black on his throat as you can see :D

Monday, September 24, 2007

Making a difference for migratory birds

Dr. Bridget Stutchbury has an excerpt from her book Silence of the Songbirds printed in the October 2007 issue of York U Magazine. It's a great piece (PDF of the issue is available here - the article is pages 24-27).

At the end is a list of things you can do to help migrating songbirds. I thought it was a great list, and hopefully she won't mind if I reproduce it here:

How You Can Make a Difference

What to do: Buy shade coffee or sustainable coffee that is organic and fairly traded.
Why: Increases tropical forest habitat for birds and other wildlife; conserves soil; provides fair profits for farmers; fewer pesticides in the environment

What to do: When buying produce from Latin America, such as bananas and pineapples, choose organic when available
Why: Reduces the amount of dangerous pesticide use in the tropics; fewer birds killed; safer for farmers and consumers

What to do: Buy organic, or avoid altogether when possible the North American crops that post the greatest risk to birds: alfalfa, Brussels sprouts, blueberries, celery, corn, cotton, cranberries, potatoes and wheat
Why: Reduces the amount of dangerous pesticide use in the tropics; fewer birds killed; safer for farmers and consumers

What to do: Buy wood and paper products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
Why: Increases amount of forest being logged sustainably and responsibly; better habitat for birds and a healthier forest

What to do: Buy disposable paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, tissues) that are made from recycled paper and that are not bleached with chlorine
Why: Reduces logging pressure on forests; increases habitat for birds; creates less pollution

What to do: Turn off the lights at night in city buildings and homes during peak migration periods
Why: Fewer birds killed an injured by hitting buildings; saves electricity

What to do: Keep your cat indoors
Why: Fewer birds killed; healthier and longer lives for pets

Here and There

We have been busy with various paperwork and educational sessions but have gotten out for some banding sessions at one we found this Hatch Year male Wilson's Warbler

And another time found this quite handsome young male Red Eyed Vireo (also Hatch Year)

Soon I will do a post on an exciting day we had at the McMichael Gallery of Canadian Art.

Happy Fall Everyone!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I know I have been remiss in posting here there really hasn't been much to post but last weekend we went to visit another banding station. The CLCD MAPS banding station in Allegany State Park. We had a wonderful time. It's always fun seeing how the "other guys" do it. Mon@rch was our host and he is a bander, biologist and naturalist (not to mention a friend!) working out of the Park, he wrote a wonderful Blog entry here about it.

Here's a couple of shots I took there; a juvenile Yellow Warbler

and a Chestnut Sided Warbler (perhaps their most common visitor of the warbler family)

The highlight for me was the juvenile Indigo Bunting that we caught on the final net run. Would you believe two days later he caught a Scarlet Tanager and a Blue Winged Warbler? Didn't those birds know they were supposed to be there on Saturday?

Be sure to bookmark Monarch's Nature Blog so you can keep up with Mon@rch's adventures. Thanks again and we'll be back for Saw Whet Banding if not before!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Sorry I haven't been posting much in here lately, I will catch up with the male Mourning Warbler soon, but for now a quick post of this Willow Flycatcher

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Good Mourning in the afternoon

Once again we were back at Thickson Woods on May 28th we had three nets up and the results were astounding to us, two of us working and a LOT of birds every single net run. No time really to take pictures except for two particular birds.

The first was a female Mourning Warbler

We were pretty excited by her, up until her we were catching many, many Maggies (Magnolia Warblers) in fact I'm sure if she hadn't showed up this day would have been known as Maggie Day ;D I think we banded at least 20 Magnolias! Just to make it interesting there were a few Canada Warblers in there as well.

Check out how much white is on the throat

I'm not going to post the male Mourning Warbler yet, I'm going to save him for the next blog entry!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thick with Birds and People

I am pretty, oh so pretty
Originally uploaded by makeupanid
We worked at Thickson Woods on the holiday Monday of the Victoria Day weekend and were visited by many people who came to us through Project CHIRP a songbird habitat initiative. Lots of people participated in putting up the nets, going on net runs and mainly observing the banding process. We had a fairly steady stream of birds but we caught our best birds in the last net run of the day (or should I say night?) it was getting pretty late, but we still hadn't heard the owl ;)

This Northern Waterthrush was the last bird we caught in the net-good looking isn't it?

The second last bird that we caught was the one that caused us the most trouble it was a Empidonax but what kind? It wouldn't honour us with a song while in hand. And it had a very, very green back-see

But after much measuring of the primaries, and using formulas to figure it out P10-P6, etc...., it was decided it was a Willow Flycatcher.

A birder came along to watch and we held it up and said what is it? And he laughed and said a flycatcher? Make it sing!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Orange Delight

Thickson Woods during Spring Migration is an amazing place to be, you can easily count 75-100 species there.

We banded 51 birds the other day and we only had three nets up! They were filling consistently with a variety of birds, Warblers of course (Canada, Magnolia, Northern Parula, Nashville, Ovenbird) and some others, Orioles, American Robin, Veery, Downy Woodpecker. We only had 3 recaps, two American Goldfinches and one Black Capped Chickadee. A nice surprise was this warbler an Orange Crowned Warbler (aptly Vermivora celata

We had quite the audience of photographers as well and I wouldn't be surprised to see photos of this one all over the web ;D Even though it was the birds that were the main attraction I had a taste of what being a movie star with a million big lenses pointed at you was like. :D Hey if any of you guys/ladies are reading this please comment with a link to your photos we'd love to see them.

I actually did not get that many shots of this guy as I was busy scribing.

Then when I was ready,
the bird had
had enough
The attitude was more like
"No More Pictures!" and of
course we do not put
any undue stress on
the birds, so that was
it for our modelling session

But here's the requisite wing shot, I think that with all the shots I've been taking for our personal "database" I could publish a book focusing on the primaries,
secondaries, rects, greater and lesser coverts! It's handy to go back and study these shots later to confirm your observations.

Oh and I forgot to thank you sonja for your comment on my bird photos, so I'll do it here, thanks!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy International Migratory Bird Day!

Nashville Warbler banded at Thickson Woods Tuesday May 8, 2007

Here's a link for some info on climate change and migratory birds

Happy International Migratory Bird Day Everyone!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sparrow Day

On Tuesday May 8, we worked at Thickson Woods, we had several volunteers, birds and visitors, in all we were very, very busy. We expected to catch several species of Warblers and we did get quite a few but the real stars of the day were Sparrows, seven species in total. We actually caught four Lincoln's Sparrows a little surprising!

Sometimes we were a little too busy, I did not get photos of all seven species, but I did get a few of them-here is the Swamp and the White Throated Sparrow that we banded

I think calling it "Sparrow Day" was a good assessment!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Voices of the Boreal Forest

Here's an event that looks interesting:

Join Ontario Nature and the Toronto Field Naturalists to celebrate spring migration and take action to protect the boreal forest.

Recent evidence estimates that 300 species and 2 BILLION individual birds breed in the boreal forest before migrating south. The boreal forest is recognized as THE single most important breeding ground for birds in North America.

Join Ontario Nature and the Toronto Field Naturalists for a fun and inspiring multimedia experience about the BILLIONS of songbirds that breed in the majestic boreal forest. You will hear about the threats their breeding grounds face, as well as the tremendous conservation opportunity to protect this special place and what you can do to help!


* Stunning multi-media presentation on the boreal forest and its songbird inhabitants by Caroline Schultz, Executive Director of Ontario Nature and bird conservation specialist
* Silence of the Songbirds book signing with author and songbird expert, Dr. Bridget Stutchbury
* Special in-concert performance by BODHI
* Dr. Bridget Stutchbury describes the threats songbirds face during migration as well as practical conservation solutions
* Actions you can take to help protect the boreal forest

When: Monday, May 7, at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Jane Mallett Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street East
Tickets: $25 available for purchase online at, by calling 416-366-7723 and 1-800-708-6754, or in person at the STLC, 27 Front Street East

For more info, see

Friday, April 20, 2007

What are you doing for Earth Day?

A Misnomer on Feathery Friday
Originally uploaded by makeupanid.
We will be celebrating here!

Come join us if you can

Thursday, April 05, 2007

First Bird of the Year

I am having computer problems which is delaying blog posts these days, but on March 27, 2007 we headed to Thickson Woods for the first day of banding of the year. Had some fun untangling the nets and getting them up but we eventually succeeded!

The first bird of the year was this one-A Golden Crowned Kinglet-we caught a few of those and some Juncos as well.

After the Golden Crowned Kinglets we had a couple or recaptured Black Capped Chickadees, this one was a perfect example of their cheerful charm.........

It was a short first day though not as short as our second day where it started pouring right after we put up the nets, down they came, LOL!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Winter birds and urban landscapes

Some interesting news from former TBO board member Paul Smith. He has recently published a paper titled "Characteristics of Urban Natural Areas Influencing Winter Bird Use" in the journal Environmental Management (Volume 39, Number 3 / March, 2007). This paper uses data collected by volunteers, including some from TBO. In Paul's email he said:
Many of the winter bird population studies that were used in this paper were undertaken through the Toronto Bird Observatory, quite a few years ago when I was on the Board. Quite a few volunteers were involved in that work. In addition the paper also used historical data collected by many prominent birders in the Toronto area.

You can find an abstract of the paper, as well as the full text here.

Great work Paul! And thanks for letting us know. It's great to see published work using data from volunteers - especially TBO volunteers!

Paul also mentioned that he has previously published an article in the Canadian Field Naturalist (Volume 117, Number 2, Apr–Jun 2003) titled "Winter Bird Use of Urban and Rural Habitats in Ontario", which uses some of the same data. Unfortunately, this article is not available online.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Looking for a Mate

Originally uploaded by makeupanid.
Finally I have a good shot of the Pileated even if I do say so myself!

She's gorgeous isn't she, don't you think she will be able to attract a mate and raise a family in the Park, we're keeping our fingers crossed.

That and getting the chance to band her of course :D

Click on the photo to look at it larger and see a couple of others

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Deep Freeze

Everyone was waiting for Winter to arrive and now it has with a vengeance. Last week while at the Park I saw a flock of twenty American Robins, down by the south duck pond. They are looked puffed up and cold and were pecking at berries that were surely frozen! I am going to report this sighting to Journey North an online tracking database for Robins, you can report any sightings of yours there as well.

When I arrive at the Park I call the chickadees to come and usually the first bird to arrive is a female Downy. She has landed on my camera and then looked up at me as if the say "Can I eat it? Where are the peanuts?" Then the Juncos, Chickadees, White and Red Breasted Nuthatches, more Downies, and anywhere from one to four Hairy's arrive. Yesterday there were also four White Throated Sparrows and a Carolina Wren. The Wren has been coming for awhile now. The Red Bellied Woodpecker usually appears to look things over and once she took some food. We are hoping both she and the Pileated will attract a passing mate and raise a family in the Park, and then maybe we will get to band all of them!

The White Throats look like tennis balls with tails!

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Gorgeous Winter's Day

This is actually from last Thursday when I meant to post this. It was a beautiful gorgeous sunny very cold day and I felt guilty because I had not been to the park to feed or observe the birds in awhile, I stopped and bought a suet feeder on my way to the meadow.

The snow was pristine, the sky was blue and the air was cold, it was afternoon and the shadows were long across the pond.

Before I got to the meadow I saw a photographer with a big lens aimed at a tree on the east side of the road, Pileated I thought, and yes that's what it was. She was in good light, and I got the best pics I have gotten of her yet. Still not perfect I can only imagine what his shots were like.

When I got to the meadow the Chickadees were happy to see me, as were the Juncos and the Hairy stopped by, the Red Bellied made only a brief appearance. Only one Downy showed up but she knew immediately what to do with the suet.

After observing for about an hour or two I had to leave it was getting pretty chilly by then. I went back this weekend and saw some more activity which I will post in a day or two.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Christmas has a tail!

Well finally Winter has arrived and it is now too cold to go banding, so there isn't really much to report here, but I did want to let you know that Christmas now has a tail.

He had a slight infection, but we think it has cleared up now, his tail has grown back and he is being trained to "step up" Here's some shots of him for you (featuring the underside of his tail, which is the most lovely colour of blue!)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More on Eastern Rosellas

I didn't realize that Joe Fiorito wrote another column about Christmas-well more about the events leading up to and the mail that he has received. You can access it HERE

Monday, January 01, 2007

White-browed Woodswallows

White-browed Woodswallows
Originally uploaded by AlexandraPhotos.
I was telling people at the TBO Open House about this wonderful photo of these wonderful birds-the White-browed Woodswallows so I asked the photographer for permission to blog it here and she kindly gave it to me. Don't you just love the expression on the mothers face and isn't she a gorgeous bird? I just adore this photo and wanted to share it with others. If you click on the photo you can see it larger and to see another beautiful woodswallow shot taken by her click HERE Oh by the way did I mention these birds are from Australia, just like our Crimson Rosella, Christmas?

Thank you very much Alexandra for sharing your beautiful photos with us!