Welcome back to our Toronto backyard and slightly beyond…
It’s hard to believe we are nearing the middle of October already. Fall migration this year gave us some pleasant surprises here at home.
A Blackpoll Warbler found our fountain. An exciting moment as it was our 70th backyard bird species.
Then about one week later a Black & White Warbler appeared in our backyard, spending the afternoon here. Another new yard bird species, making #71.
Two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers stopped in over the last couple weeks. Prior to these two, we only ever spotted one a couple Decembers ago. Not a rarity in Ontario but a rarity here at home.
A Brown Creeper also spent an afternoon with us, just going up and down the trees, back and forth.
Both species of Kinglets have also made brief appearances this fall migration. For whatever reason fall is the only time of year that we really notice them at home.
What’s odd this Autumn so far is the lack of raptor activity. A couple Cooper’s Hawk sightings and one Sharp-shinned Hawk mid-September, and that has been it. Normally by now some bird of prey (or two) is setting up shop in the neighbourhood.
Cooper’s Hawk last Autumn.
Our local Pigeon community are not complaining about there being no hunting Hawks. This is one of our special visitors, we call him “Charlie”. He’s smaller than a lot of the others and gets pushed around quite a bit. But Charlie figured it out that coming to me, he gets a better feed than eating from the ground… better quality food of sunflower chip and peanut bits over the white millet and/or cracked corn I toss to the others, and not having to “fight for his supper”.
As we stray slightly from the backyard, a couple other fall migration surprises appeared, birds I can honestly say I’ve not spotted in the fall migration before. I admit that neither of us bird that hard in the fall as we do in the Spring.
This Scarlet Tanager threw me for a moment as I may see 2 or 3 adult males in May and that’s it.
A Field Sparrow on October 7th was a pleasant surprise too!
A pair of Great Horned Owls have been calling in the woods near our home. I wonder if one of them is this Owl I released there 3 Octobers ago? A juvenile Owl that spent the Summer at The Owl Foundation. This was in October of 2015 and since around December of 2017, a pair have been heard hooting away randomly, but no reported sightings. I’ve heard them with my own ears a couple times this fall.
Eastern Screech Owls are also calling in the same woods, but much deeper in. There was one “whinnying” in our backyard about 6 weeks ago.
We have a couple suitable boxes set up out back for a Screech Owl.
This box had a Screech in it for one day the other Winter.
Squirrels took over the box and had a family within this past Summer (which was highly entertaining to watch the young first come out of the box and explore the big world around them). Despite some stove piping around the tree, the Squirrels found a way in, climbing up the tree next to this one, then coming down from the top.
This newer box is pretty much Squirrel proof with the piping around the post and I trimmed back any branches that a Squirrel could jump from. Now we’re just waiting.
Hopefully in a couple months we will be reporting of a new resident.
Thank you for taking a moment to step into our world with the birds around us. See you in November!