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Dog days of summer

July 23, 2013

Sorry, this post is about birds not dogs.  Not even bird dogs, though I vaguely remember that Everly Bros song about birddogs.  Maybe that is what got me into birds.  Well, our balcony is a happening place these days.  The delicious summer weather means supper, and sometimes breakfast (always on weekends) for us on the balcony with the birds.  We have 4 water containers – two medium clear plastic olive containers that I have screwed to the posts on either side of the balcony, with wooden supports/perches beneath, a third on the ground as well as a small shallow earthen flower pot holder that is perfect for our newest mammalian visitor to our third floor, a Chipmunk.  Those messy chickadees and goldfinches scatter so much seed on the ground, it is really like they are working together with Pretinho (the black Gray Squirrel), the Chipmunk, Chipping Sparrow family, Cardinal, House Sparrows and their friends cleaning up the floor.  The Chickadees are all here now with the new family.  The sharply dressed babies look bigger than their dishevelled parents that appear to have been run ragged.  The new little dee dees are fearless, and relentless in their food begging that includes wing trembles, what must be irritating but cute calls that they incessantly make to mom and dad, as they awkwardly follow them around our complex balcony, moving from flower to bean stalks to planters, to hummingbird feeder, water feeder, sunflower feeder and the tree less than 2 metres away.  The birds have been loving the water.

I was away a lot in May including attending International Migratory Bird Day reception at Canadian Embassy in Washington

I was away a lot in May including attending International Migratory Bird Day reception at Canadian Embassy in Washington

We watched the dee dees drinking, then later House Finches, and Goldfinches.   Cris’s “boyfriend,” that macho Red-winged Blackbird appears to have moved on.  She hasn’t mentioned anything to me, but I have noticed that she has been a bit distracted lately. . .   Her favourite species though are the Goldfinches or Goldies as she calls them.  They will not come to feed or drink when we are sitting on the balcony.  Every day the Downy comes by, as likely does the White-breasted Nuthatches.  I expect to meet the new kids soon!  Speaking of new kids. last week, to my amazement, a little Red-breasted Nuthatch almost landed on me, while I was tending to the beans.  It proceeded to pass a few minutes trying to extract nyger seed from the feeder, before moving on.  That was the second one that I’ve seen this year!

So, the songbird migration this year did not dazzle and sparkle like in 2012.  There was no parade of warblers in front of the house, or mornings with Wood Thrush song to wake to.  No White-crowned sparrows, Tanagers and Grosbeaks wandering through the Japanese Elm like last year.   I did manage to spot or hear a few species that I did not last year during some stormy weather, including Common Nighthawk, Black-crowned Night Heron, and a smattering of warblers, thrushes and flycatchers, but not the numbers of last year.  However, despite being incredibly busy at work in June, that mid-June moment when unmated males wander paid off as I did hear a Scarlet Tanager singing a few houses over in our neighbourhood, and a few times have heard the call notes of Rose-breasted Grosbeak, including yesterday.    Last count I made of the year list was 78 species.  I added those two in June.  I am now waiting for the Purple Martins to wander my way as they young get ready to move to their pre-migratory roosts.   Though last year’s final  total was only 6 more birds – 84, I think I will be challenged to break this total in 2013 with a 3 week trip to Brazil planned this fall.

Last I heard from Al, he was near or at his total for last year.  New post will include an update from him.

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