Balcony and beyond – A change is in the air

posted in: Bird Canada | 0

Cabin fever, anyone? This February has been pretty dismal, with lots of gray days, ice on all the park paths, and a couple of major snow storms. But despite all that, there’s a sense of change in the air. Maybe it’s because the Northern Cardinals are starting to sing their spring song. Maybe it’s because the days are a bit longer every day. Whatever the reason, breathe a sigh of relief and get outside!

Birding was painfully slow this month, so apologies for the short post. I did go on a trip out of town for a day, but didn’t venture out too often to my parks. The balcony action was very uneventful, until the end of the month, when the House Sparrows and other birds started checking out some nesting options. More about that later.

I did go to High Park a couple of times, and found one of the faithful Red-tailed Hawks sitting on a branch right over a path. I watched it for a while. Interesting that it seems so oblivious to people walking below, but whenever there was a dog, it definitely paid attention.

Most of Grenadier Pond has been frozen all winter, but at the north end there’s a creek that feeds into the pond and there’s almost always some open water. Great numbers of Mallards hang out there, and it’s fun to stop and watch them. On this day I saw what seems to be a resident duck, a Mallard/American Black Duck hybrid. I’ve seen it here on and off for a couple of years. It generally keeps pretty much to itself.

My second trip to High Park was on a warmish day. We’d had some rain earlier, and this Red-tailed Hawk had clearly been caught in it. It was all fanned out trying to get dry, but unfortunately there wasn’t much sun to help.

I haven’t seen too many Dark-eyed Juncos this winter, and was pleased to see two hopping around up on a nest, probably finding some insects. They generally feed on the ground, so it was a surprise to see them way up there.

Finally, a few balcony birds from the last day of February, a sunny morning that brought out some of the regulars. This tree branch has featured in earlier posts and I expect it will be a hotspot through the year again. There are at least two holes, one at the top, where this House Sparrow couple is investigating.

And one a little to the right, on the bottom. These holes have been explored by lots of birds, but I think the House Sparrows will take them over again this year.

Also checking out both holes today was this female Hairy Woodpecker.

A male Hairy Woodpecker wasn’t interested in the branch – finding food was more important.

There were actually three woodpeckers on one tree at the same time, and the two males seemed to be challenging each other, with their ‘wikka wikka’ calls. Another sign of spring! They chased each other around and finally all took off.

So ends my birding story for February. I did see other birds of course, the usual winter suspects. But there just weren’t a lot of days that lent themselves to getting out with the camera. I know March will bring many new and exciting surprises. Spoiler alert – I saw and heard Red-winged Blackbirds for the first time today, March 1. A sign of good things to come!

As always, thanks for reading, and good birding!

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