Notes From a Northwestern Ontario Backyard – May 2017

Hello again and welcome to the May Long Weekend!

Spring has been very slow in coming up here.  We had a brutal ice storm at the end of April, just when many migrants were arriving.  It didn’t get too cold but we received nearly 6″ of ice pellets followed by an inch of freezing rain and then the temperature dropped to nearly -10C.  The 6″ of ice pellets froze into a solid block of concrete EVERYwhere.  The birds were absolutely desperate for food so word was put out online throughout the entire region:  Don’t even bother with feeders, just throw seed out by the handful, as much and as often as you can.  That’s what I did for 3 entire days, going through more seed in that week than I did in the entire month of February!

My foot-tall rabbit statue was half buried in ice.  A Robin showed up for cracked corn with the Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, Tree Sparrows & everyone else

A small portion of the birds feeding on top of the ice in my backyard in the days following the April Ice Storm.

I had quite the assortment of birds in the yard following that storm, including:

Two pairs of Yellow Rumped Warblers … they nibbled on cracked corn & the peanut feeder for a week.

A very unhappy male Yellow Rumped Warbler

White Throated Sparrows

American Tree Sparrows

Lots & lots of Purple Finches & Pine Siskins

A small flock of Rusty Blackbirds like this male with Grackles, Starlings & Red Winged Blackbirds.

Many Dark Eyed Juncos

There was a fall-out of Fox Sparrows throughout the region. I’m normally lucky to see 1 or 2 in a year …. at the end of April, I had *7* in my yard!

A single Mourning Dove

This poor Ruffed Grouse came flying in while I was throwing down cracked corn. She didn’t care how close I was, she dove right into that feed!

It was incredible the number of birds in the yard that week …. well over 200 at a time!  I was very glad I still had lots of seed left from the winter so I could continue to put out an assortment for as long as they needed it.  I put out black oil sunflower seed, cracked corn, peanut hearts, peanuts in the shell & a blend of safflower, peanuts, sunflower seeds & dried fruit.  They sure appreciated it since it was a good 4 days before that ice began to soften!

Spring finally started showing a bit after that storm and some lovely, colorful migrants arrived.

White Crowned Sparrows

Tree Swallows: their nesting season may begin a little later than normal due to the cooler weather but they seem to like the new birdhouse 🙂

2 very handsome Rose Breasted Grosbeaks arrived this week, the first ones I’ve seen in a couple of years.

A Common Loon with a perch minnow for breakfast.  A good assortment of Ducks have also returned.

Lesser Yellowlegs, a type of Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs, a type of large Sandpiper

A small flock of Goldfinches finally found my yard this week

A good number of Sandhill Cranes are back in the area for nesting season

Along with watching all of these recent migrants, my husband and I completed our first-ever American Woodcock Singing Ground Survey last weekend.  Like the Owl survey, you don’t watch for these birds, you listen for them after dark.  In our 10 scheduled stops, we heard the mating call (peent) of 4 Woodcocks and got buzzed by a Snipe that flew low & loud over our heads …. great fun!

During this upcoming long weekend, I will be completing my annual Great Canadian Birdathon.  I have surpassed my goal in donations so I’m sending out a huge thank you to all who donated.  Any funds I raise go to Bird Studies Canada for conservation & research.  I will post my results next month.

And in ending, in typical fashion for the upcoming May Long Weekend up here, we had another snowstorm today, May 18th!  It started with rain, turned to freezing rain & ice pellets, then turned into 4″ of heavy, wet snow.  Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll see my season’s first Hummingbird today.

Brand new feeder for the 2017 Hummingbird season … snowed in!

Enjoy the ‘first official long weekend of Summer’, stay safe & thanks for reading!

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11 Responses to Notes From a Northwestern Ontario Backyard – May 2017

  1. Angie says:

    Oh my gawd Tammie, I thought Spring was slow to start here! The Hummingbird feeder covered with snow just made me sad. 🙁 Love the Cardinal birdhouse. Hope the birds are doing ok.

  2. Tammie Hache says:

    The webcam in my yard only runs for Project FeederWatch, which is from November to April. It will be back online in November.

  3. Tammie Hache says:

    Thank you so much, Gordon. 🙂

  4. Emily A Cole says:


  5. Jane says:

    Thank you for sharing your backyard bird adventures Tammie… always interesting & informative. Thanks too, for all great pics of our feathered friends. What a thrill seeing the mourning dove, we both love them .Hopefully there won’t be too many more weather challenges for a bit & the birds can focus on caring for the next generation..P.S the swallow house is WONDERful!

  6. Myriam says:

    So many beautiful birds! Thanks for sharing your photos. The tree swallow in the northern cardinal birdhouse is my favourite. One of the coolest birdhouses I’ve ever seen! 🙂

  7. Gordon says:

    What a lovely post, i’m not going to comment on any one photo because they are all very good and interesting, but I have to say, you did a very fine job of keeping so many birds alive during a very bad spell of weather, well done you an excelent job.
    Take care, Gordon.

  8. gilda blackmore says:

    Looking forward to your report on the birdathon. And thanks for looking after the birds! The times and the weather sure are a’changin’

  9. mary ann kolb says:

    Thanks for all you did for the poor birds especially “my” White-throated Sparrows. I was in Texas several years ago when there was a “fall-out” and a bitter cold spell. People turned out to feed the birds but there was no way to save the swallows and martins. I will never forget the drifts of poor dead birds.

  10. Lee Bartley says:

    Wonderful pics…so many different and varied birds…I live under a cliff on Georgian Bay and we don’t get a lot of variety thru the winter….hoping spring comes to you and your feathered neighbours soon. Thank you.

  11. Becky Racaniello (kittez) says:

    wow, Tammie – – looks like you’re going to go straight from winter to summer! Beautiful birds, thanks so much for sharing, as I really miss your feeder streaming!