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2012 total tied

October 24, 2013

At the end of August, when the bird observatories are in full swing sampling the trickle of migrants that can transform into a gush after a cold front passes, it occurred to me that some individuals of those species that nest by the millions in the boreal forest that had I missed in the spring, might spend a day or two feeding in the forest across from our place, or even in the trees in front of the balcony.  I just needed to check from time to time – something more difficult than it sounds as I was frantically trying to finish many work assignments prior to starting our vacation in Brazil.  So over the last few days in August and the first 5 in September, I spend a few minutes each day checking for bird activity from the balcony and the dining room window.  On September 1, I was surprisingly rewarded after pishing  blindly into the Japanese Elm in front of the balcony.  As luck might have it, a Black-throated Green Warbler flitted into view.    #82!   What was it doing there I wondered?  This suggested to me that anything is possible.   A few days later, I heard a different sound emanating from deep within the leafy veil of the same tree.  A few pishes and out popped an American Redstart – #83!   Suddenly I was within one of my 2012 total (despite very minimal effort).

Flower on the balcony attract birds!

Flowers on the balcony attract birds!

Just as I seemed to be on a roll, we went to Brazil, spending three weeks vacationing and visiting Cris’ family, but observing lots of birds which I will report on in my next post.  Surprisingly, I did not once lament about not being in our apartment or on the balcony adding to my list.

Upon returning, there was no time to bird but Thanksgiving was coming.  We were heading to the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory, where I would be bander-in-charge for the weekend, giving our station scientist a few days off.  On Thursday October 10th, we chatted on the phone about what to expect, and he told me that thousands of Golden-crowned Kinglets had moved through the station, and there were still lots around.  The next morning, before heading to work, I stepped out onto the balcony, and within seconds I heard the high-pitched tsit tsit tsit of a Golden-crowned Kinglet.  It revealed its lovely golden crown and even displayed red in the middle of it to us in response to my pishing.  Eighty four species, the same number as last year, with two months left.  If I am lucky, I could add another 6 species and hit 90, my new goal for this year.

I have not heard from Al yet, but I recall he was near his total of 108 last year, and may well have passed that by now.

My next strategy is to do some early morning birding to listen for finches that I missed in the winter, or waterfowl along the river once the leaves depart, or even gulls that fly over our apartment on route between the Gatineau River and the Ottawa River.  All I need is time:)

My first day back to work, October 1, I found myself doing media interviews for Nature Canada about Environment Canada’s freshly published reports on direct human causes of mortality in birds in Canada.  These publications attributed about 90 percent of human-caused mortalities to cats and windows (not including massive habitat loss, climate change, disease or natural predation).  I immediately cleaned out and washed the nyjer feeder and the sunflower feeder, as I didn’t want to be contributing to the human-caused mortality in birds by not cleaning and maintaining our own feeders.

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