Notes From a Northwestern Ontario Backyard – September 2018

posted in: Bird Canada | 3
Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird on Zinnia blossom

And just like that, summer is over. The Hummingbirds have left for the season & we have had frost now at least a half dozen times. Not killing frost yet … mostly on rooftops … but it won’t be long until Mother Nature steps in & shuts the growing season down completely. I’m ready for it.

My last sighting of the stunning Rose Breasted Grosbeaks came earlier this month. Within a week, I saw 4 of them in my yard, a record number for such a short period of time! At first, 2 immature males came by and stayed a week or so. A female showed up after they left and she was followed by an adult male who was here for just a couple of days. I never had any Rose Breasted Grosbeaks pass through the yard last spring at all so this kind of made up for it.

Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak with Purple Finches on the feeder


Stunning male Rose Breasted Grosbeak in my Crab Apple tree.


I have had a good number of Pine Siskins, Purple Finches and Goldfinches visiting this season. I have even had my highest number of juvenile Goldfinches this year. I never really get to see them as the nesting season for Goldies is pretty short up here but this year was phenomenal. Conditions must have been just right for them as I had at least a dozen young Goldies this summer. Excellent!

Male Pine Siskin, 1 of at least 30+ that spent the summer in my yard.


Immature Purple Finch having a lovely bath one day. 🙂


Immature Goldfinch – 1 of at least 12 that were here for weeks this summer.


I haven’t seen the Downy Woodpeckers in quite some time now. Their visits to the yard are very sporadic & I haven’t seen them now since the adults sent the juveniles packing to fend for themselves. I have a single female Hairy Woodpecker visiting daily but have not seen any young from the Hairies.


Female Hairy Woodpecker


In recent weeks, it has been Sparrow & Warbler season around my yard and I look SO forward to that every fall. I’ve had a lovely assortment of both in the yard and I especially look forward to the challenge of identifying autumn Warblers. DEFINITELY a challenge!

First some Sparrows:


White Throated Sparrow


Savannah Sparrow – I came upon a flock of 12 or so recently in a field at the top of my street.


White Crowned Sparrow – I have had a mixed flock of adults & immatures in the yard for nearly 2 weeks now.


Lincoln’s Sparrow – I watch for this species in the yard every fall. One of my favourite Sparrows!


Now some Warblers:



Northern Parula


Palm Warbler


Blackpoll Warbler – very exciting as this was a first-time sighting for my yard!


Blackpoll Warbler (top) & immature Bay Breasted Warbler

My highest count of different types of Warblers in my yard in one season is 9. Hoping to match or beat that this year.

Another interesting (and QUICK!) visitor to my yard recently was this Least (I think!) Flycatcher. I only spotted him in the yard twice that evening & only got this one photo of him. Again, a first-time sighting for my yard. 🙂

Least? Flycatcher


Blackbirds have been making their way back to my feeders recently. I had a small flock of 5 Red Winged Blackbirds visit just one day. They were either all females or a blend of females & first year males. No adult males with the group.


Female Red Winged Blackbird


Here’s a webcam snapshot of a few of the 40+ Grackles that have been around about 2 weeks now. I honestly don’t mind having them around, I just need to control how much food they get at the feeders in a day. They could empty the platform & the feeder on the left within 2 days so they are on rations! I do love their colouring in the right light. They look like they’ve been dunked in an oil slick.

Webcam snap – Grackles


This immature Crow was hatched in the woods behind my backyard this year. There is actually a family of 5 but I seldom see them all together. This Crow is here a few times per day. On this day, a little Nuthatch chanced grabbing a seed from the platform at the same time. Now THAT is some size difference! Again, taken with the webcam.

Webcam snap – Immature Crow with Red Breasted Nuthatch


My husband and I took a run out to our local landfill site last weekend. I went with him looking for Bald Eagles. Never saw a single Eagle but saw my highest number of Turkey Vultures ever for up here. There was a flock of at least 25 to 30 of them there. Most were resting on the ground when we pulled up but they soon took to the air & caught the thermals. It was an incredible sight. 10 years ago, it was exceptionally rare to see a Turkey Vulture up here. Now, they are verging on common.


One of at least 30 Turkey Vultures at the local landfill site last weekend.


On our way home, we spotted a small family of Sandhill Cranes in the same field at the top of the street where I saw the Savannah Sparrows. A pair of adult Cranes with one youngster.  I never get tired of seeing or hearing the Cranes. They’ve been doing quite well around here the past few years.


Immature Sandhill Crane


Leaves are changing colour, Geese have been flying over and the nights have been getting pretty nippy. That can only mean one thing (okay, 2 things!): summer is nearly over & webcam season will be here soon! Project FeederWatch begins on November 10th & runs until April 5th, 2019. The webcam in my yard will likely be up & running sometime during the first week of November. I hope you will consider signing up for Project FeederWatch!

Thanks for reading!

3 Responses

  1. Wanda Todoroff

    Just a lovely article as usual Tammie! Frost already? It was 95゚ here in Troy Illinois yesterday. A near record!
    I loved the photo of the least flycatcher! Such a charmer!
    Looking forward to the Feeder Cam season! Thanks for all you dF

  2. Linda Kontol

    This was very delightful and i enjoyed all the photos and posts! Thank you !

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