Notes From a NW Ont. Backyard – November 2015

Another month has passed already and winter is right around the corner.  We had a really sloppy (for lack of a better term!) storm last week that brought some heavy rain in the morning before turning to wet, heavy, slushy snow by noon.  I picked that afternoon to take a snapshot of my backyard so you could see the area I write about every month.  As you can see in the photo, I have shown where the webcam is situated.  We are now streaming online worldwide for the current season of Project FeederWatch, running from November to mid April, 2016.  Catch the webcam here.

yard map

My backyard map showing my webcam (on loan from Cornell) and feeder set-up and where certain plantings are located in relation to them.

The morning after this storm, I went outside to fill the feeders and discovered mouse trails all over the yard!  They ran up & down the side of the garage, through the flowerbeds, etc.  There were little teeny-tiny footprints everywhere along with tunnels dug through the snow.  Really cool!

Mouse Trails in Snow

Mouse trails down the side of my garage and a tunnel out toward the main part of the backyard. They were busy critters!

At the end of October, I received a phone call from someone telling me that he had just seen a Snowy Owl on the ground beside our rec center, when he went by on his bicycle.  Hubby and I immediately drove up there to see for ourselves and this lovely girl was sitting there.  I got my best photos ever of a Snowy as she calmly sat there and let us watch her.  She was there for 2 days.  A huge thrill for me!

Snowy Owl

Day #2 of our Snowy Owl sighting. The first day, she was obviously tired but thankfully had a full belly as she had a kill still in her talons and blood on her face. The next day (in the photo) she was a whole lot perkier.

October also brought a thrilling sighting to my yard when I discovered a beautiful female Pileated Woodpecker in my crabapple tree one day!  I’ve always known these huge Woodpeckers were around … I hear them in the neighbourhood regularly … but to my knowledge, this is the first one actually IN the yard.

Female Pileated Woodpecker

Gorgeous female Pileated Woodpecker floated around my yard for about 5 minutes one day in October, much to my delight.

There have been many great sightings around my yard in the past month … some expected …. some not so much.  In the last week of October, Robins migrated through in big flocks.  I had 4 at a time in my yard but drove through neighbourhoods where I saw at least a dozen at a time fly away.


American Robin during fall migration

I have at least 7 Blue Jays visiting my yard daily.  I put peanuts out for the them and it is such great entertainment watching them battle the Crows and Ruffed Grouse for their share!

4 Blue Jays

This photo shows 4 of the 7 Blue Jays that visit the yard daily. The webcam and feeders are just to their right.

Evening Grosbeaks are back at my feeders steadily and will be here for the winter now.  I have about 25 visiting daily at this point.  I dearly love these loud, rambunctious, opinionated birds!

Pair of Evening Grosbeaks

Male (top) and female Evening Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeaks are now here for the winter too.  Whereas Evening Grosbeak are here all year round, Pines are migratory and only show up from late October to about late April.  They are my version of the Red Bird since I don’t get Cardinals here (altho’ a female was seen on the other side of town last week!).  I absolutely love the sound of the Pine Grosbeak’s super soft whistles.

Male Pine Grosbeaks

Male Pine Grosbeaks on my platform feeder

I noticed a flock of Waxwings this week, hitting my neighbour’s crabapple shrubs which were loaded with fruit this fall (unlike mine).  Once I stepped outside to get better photos, I realized instantly that the call of this bird was different and was not a Cedar Waxwing:  they were Bohemian Waxwings!  There were about 35 to 40 birds in the flock and they cleaned off this particular shrub in 3 days.

Bohemian Waxwings

Just 3 of the 35+ Bohemian Waxwings partaking of the fruit in my neighbour’s yard this week. Notice the beautiful rosy cheeks!

I still have a pair of Dark Eyed Juncos hanging around.  They might migrate any day now (like the rest of their flock) or they might stay part of the winter.  They are one of those species that could go either way.  I most certainly wouldn’t mind if they stayed.  🙂

Dark Eyed Junco

Dark Eyed Junco in my pine tree.

Fem. EVGB Drinking

Female Evening Grosbeak getting a drink from the heated birdbath. Contrary to popular belief, the water does not get warmed … it is heated JUST enough to prevent freezing so the birds have a drinking source.

Female Pine Grosbeak

Female Pine Grosbeak in the crabapple tree, waiting for her turn at the feeders.

We now have 3 Ruffed Grouse that visit the yard and feeders.  I have one here almost every day.  Sometimes, like yesterday, 2 will spend a whole day in the yard and every once in a while, the third one will come around.  One Grouse (in the photo) is smaller than the other two, making me think it might be a first year bird.

Grouse & Cranberries

Young Ruffed Grouse eating berries from my High Bush Cranberry shrub.

Grouse Tucked In

One of the larger Grouse tucked itself into my Spruce tree during last week’s storm. It was well protected from the precipitation and winds so it had a 2 hour on & off nap.

My most special visitor of this week came yesterday morning.  I logged onto Twitter and the webcam as I do every morning and one of the first things I saw was a post of a squirrel seen on cam before daylight.  Knowing that I’ve had 2 little Red Squirrels now able to get up onto the feeders this year (plants are just big enough for them to jump now!), the viewer thought that’s what it was ….. but Red Squirrels don’t come out in the dark.  This little critter is a Northern Flying Squirrel that flew in for breakfast yesterday at 5:45 am!  I’ve always known there are Flying Squirrels here but this is the first documented sighting for my yard!  🙂  You can also see the short video of its visit here.

Northern Flying Squirrel

And that’s the way the month has been!  When you next hear from me, it will be Christmas ….. thanks so much for reading!

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8 Responses to Notes From a NW Ont. Backyard – November 2015

  1. Tammie Hache says:

    Thanks, Gilda … it was!

  2. Tammie Hache says:

    Good, Angie! I’ll be waiting …

  3. Angie says:

    Such a fantastic variety! One day Rob and I are going to make our way to your yard too!

  4. Gilda Blackmore says:

    What a great November in your backyard!!

  5. Tammie Hache says:

    Thank you so much, Jane! 🙂

  6. Louie Kannar says:

    What a TREAT to see this Tammie! ..Love the snowy owl, the Woodpecker, the Junco & those waxwings, & every single one of those beauties <3

  7. Tammie Hache says:

    Thanks so much, Bea!

  8. NorfolkBea says:

    A fabulous read, Tammy. I enjoy watching the Ontario feedercam every evening UK time. So much more from colour in your garden.