Notes From a NW Ontario Backyard – February 2017

Hello again!

As usual, I find it hard to believe that we are nearing the end of another month already.  The months just seem to be zipping by.  That’s alright though:  it means that spring ….. and access to my flowerbeds ….. is getting closer!  Right now, I can’t see much but WHITE out there but the Ruffed Grouse don’t seem to mind.  🙂  I’ve had 2 of them visiting my yard in recent weeks.  I actually think I have at least 3 coming around but I’ve only ever seen 2 at a time.  A friend of mine down the street has seen *5* in her yard!

Two Ruffed Grouse taking advantage of my daily offerings: black oil sunflower seed, striped sunflower seed, white millet, peanut hearts, corn & peanuts in the shell. They are partial to corn & peanut crumbs.

Below is my resident female Ruffed Grouse.  In this photo, she is not happy about the Blue Jays floating around the yard.  She is noticeably smaller than the male Grouse (the one on the ground in the photo above).

Female Ruffed Grouse getting her snack just before dark.

The next photo is also of my resident female Grouse.  She has a favourite perch in my spruce tree.  On this day, she was tucked into the tree from 9:30 am until 5:20 pm!  That’s when she wandered out for her evening snack before flying off to roost or bury herself in the snow somewhere for the night.

Ruffed Grouse have incredible camouflage, even when they are right outside your window!

I’ve been having great fun this winter with the Raven in the photo below.  This is the yearling Raven …. you can still see the red mouth interior very clearly.  And he/she still loves the suet!  I think I’m going to be finding all kinds of it on my back lawn come spring.  He/she keeps flying away with these big chunks but ends up dropping them in the snow about 10 feet from the feeder.  Yesterday, the resident pair of Crows worked at this piece in the snow but I think it got buried too deeply for them to reach.  They now have to wait until the snow melts to get at it.

Webcam Snap: Yearling Raven with eyes much bigger than its beak! He/she dropped the chunk of suet into the snow a few feet from the feeder, never to be seen again until spring!

My resident pair of Crows is still visiting daily.  Gimpy, the Crow on the left, is the one with the injured leg/foot.  The bird is managing quite well with its disability.  Its mate is almost always with it.  They sometimes spend hours in my pine tree on the left of this photo.

Webcam Snap: Resident pair of Crows.

The healthy Crow, being curious when it saw me at the patio door 🙂

The 3 Gray Jays are still coming around a few times per day although they are not always together now.  I believe the mated adult pair below have sent the third one packing to get its own territory.  This pair will be leaving any day now to begin this year’s nesting season.  Gray Jays are, I believe, the earliest nesters up here, laying their eggs in late February/early March.  Pretty impressive!

Webcam Snap: Adult mated pair of Gray Jays

Thank you, Lord, for this water we are about to receive ….

Such a handsome bird that will officially become Canada’s National Bird this summer!

Handsome, fluffy Gray Jay … one of my most favourite birds of all time.

Blue Jays are in the yard most any time I look outside.  If I have the webcam on (which I do 90% of the time!), I can hear all manner of calls & noises from them throughout my neighbourhood.  They have quite the repertoire!

Pretty Blue Jay in my pine tree

The winter finches are in pretty low numbers this season.  Pine Grosbeaks are one of the most common species in my yard this winter with numbers near 20 at a time where I would normally see 30 to 40.

Male Pine Grosbeak

Female Pine Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak numbers in this area are really low this winter.  I’m lucky to be able to count 10 at a time where I would normally have well over 50+.  I’m hearing that they are being seen in higher numbers around the Chapleau – Cochrane, Ont. areas.

Male Evening Grosbeak

Male & fluffy female Evening Grosbeaks on a particularly cold day

One day, I actually watched this female Evening Grosbeak pick & eat a pine needle.  I had no idea that they would eat pine needles!

This female Evening Grosbeak clipped off the tip of the pine needles and ate the rest. Interesting!

Webcam Snap: Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks & Redpolls feeding together

Redpoll numbers have finally picked up a little for this season but, like the Grosbeaks, they are significantly lower than normal.  I’ve had a high count so far of only 35 where I would normally have well over 100 by this time.  I’ve heard that many of them stayed in the Arctic this winter instead of migrating down this way.

Webcam Snap: Common Redpolls

I’ve seen 3 Hoary Redpolls so far this season.  I love seeing them in my Crabapple tree like the photo below ….. they look like little fluffy snowballs!

Hoary Redpoll (right) with Common Redpoll.

And that’s it for this month.  Maybe …. just maybe …. I’ll have some Juncos or Purple Finches by the time I do up my March post.  You never know.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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10 Responses to Notes From a NW Ontario Backyard – February 2017

  1. Tammie Hache says:

    You never know, Maggie: one or two Juncos and/or Purples may be here by March’s post! 🙂

  2. Tammie Hache says:

    Thanks so much for your kind words, Wanda! 🙂

  3. Tammie Hache says:

    Hahahahaha!! I love it, Rosie!! I’ve had so many people tell me that the Blue Jays have gotten them that exact way over the webcam and it cracks m up every time …… they’ve done it to me too!!

  4. Tammie Hache says:

    Thanks, Angie 🙂 Yes, I knew you’d love the photos of ‘Fancy Chicken’! 😀

  5. Tammie Hache says:

    Thanks so much, Rachel! 🙂

  6. I love your photo of the female grouse – it’s easy to think of grouse as ‘plain’ birds, but they really are so pretty! And of course I love the flashier Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, too – I have never seen them but they are on my bird wish list 🙂

  7. Angie says:

    What a colourful and impressive bunch of birds! I call them “Winter Birds” as we usually travel to Algonquin every winter to see most of them. The Crossbills can be hit and miss, but the others are pretty much guaranteed. We didn’t make the trip up there this year, so I especially enjoyed your blog. How lucky you are to have them visit your yard. You know how I love your “Fancy Chicken!”. 😛

  8. Rosie LaLonde says:

    I have your feeder cam on during the day but not always visible on the computer and smartboard in my 8th grade classroom. The times I do show it, the students really enjoy watching. One day I forgot that I had the sound up ( the view was hidden), and as the students worked quietly, a very loud blue jay call startled everyone in class! Talk about a wake up call.

  9. Wanda Todoroff says:

    These photos are stunningly beautiful! Thank you Tammie for all you do, I look so forward to your newsletter!

  10. Maggie Schut says:

    Pelican greetings from the Florida Keys to your Grouse of NW Ontario!
    Thank you for your wonderful photographs of those beautiful birds…
    yes, even the crows and ravens! I can just imagine how much you
    are looking forward to the jumcos and purple finches.