Monday, June 15, 2009

Fun with Nature, #14

Of all identification books, I highly recommend the Lone Pine series. A few years back when we still resided on the westcoast, I invested in several of these books and never regretted the cost, that is until I found them in Costco for almost half the price! Word to the wise, check out Costco before making a purchase for such books, and I must also give you all a heads-up that I heard wind the same chain store has carried our beloved "Fun with Nature" book for a fraction of the cost in the past too. Dust off your Costco card and check out the book aisles everyone, and heh, do leave a message here and tell if you found a treasure or five. (grin)

When a family moves almost clear across the country, previously gathered identification books are no longer of use, so currently on my own personal wish list of desired new identication guides are the Lone Pine Bugs of Ontario, Trees of Ontario, and Wildflowers of Ontario.

I know I paid just under eight dollars Canadian rather than upwards to twenty dollars for my identification books in the past just by shopping the Costco aisles. As per usual every Costco store carries a different selection of books each season so continue to be patient and don't forget to rummage through boxes at garage sales this summer and thrift stores. Are there any more delightful places to shop, the joys of the find are many in these places aren't they?

Today I'd like to share a precious find with you, a continuing birding education where birds are the main topic. Everyone has been witness no doubt to viewing eggs of various sorts in bird nests for sure, but how about a new colored and yet identified egg? A new bird not yet seen? And how about if the wee but deep nest was assembled and perfected to mold onto the now dead cedar tree in a planting pot. Yes, sadly my small beautiful green cedar tree we brought along to this home never made it through the winter.

Actually in my defense it made it through the winter just fine, but when spring came and it was time for the pots to be placed outdoors once more and the weather was perfect for re-introducing them to the outdoors, the weather turned suddenly a few days later and plummeting freezing temperatures fell upon us to shock this tree in particular to its dying end. Now resting in its pot at the back of our home against the stone wall, instead of continuing with deep disappointment for its perishing end, it has become a haven for a "Hoary Redpoll" who has the neatest twittering series of trills, so soft and sweet to listen to in the daytime.

Here's our new friend appearing and singing daily;
A Hoary Redpoll

This new bird species was first attracted to one of our feeders, visiting often and singing its song. Obviously when researching more about this little feathery friend, we found it nested near a food source because it requires a high intake of food in colder weather to keep it from dying from hypothermia. Rather than risk freezing temperatures they eat and eat all winter long, so having our feeders up kept this little fellow and his current brood alive.

Aren't they sweet?

Sweet baby birds in their low to the ground and deep nest

I am happy to report since the original day of finding a black bear in our back yard, it has yet to return and for that we are very grateful. The natural resource folks are keeping tabs on our area as several black bear continue to appear locally, a very unusual year for this they say. Yes, the bird feeders were all removed and stored away immediately following his visit to our home so further tempation wouldn't be a factor for him to call upon us again.

We did notice later on one of our feeders was indeed missing, one filled with peanuts for the critter and woodpecker populace. It was some distance away from our feeder poles, on the ground, opened up and all content completely gone. Perhaps the bear did get some nourishment at our expense, or was it the multitude of critters in their tunnel city under the earth who nabbed them instead. Appearing daily it seems now are chipmunk with strong evidence of new finds in their cheeks as they appear expanded to their limits.

Full pouches would indicate there's no shortage of food

Nevertheless, I am a sucker I know, but for this sweet little birdie nesting within ten feet of our back patio deck, during the day I place a feeder on the railing specifically for him, though a few other feathery friends do appear from time to time. She is often there, singing to us and it would appear almost thankful for her food source each time.

A robin's nest perched high in one tree out front

Other birdie nests appear round the property in earnest, perhaps a direct reward for initially implementing feeders in abundance, not sure. I'd like to think that I attracted them to our area because of all the places they COULD be, they chose to be here. Thank you birds for remaining despite not having all the feeders out for you any longer as more mosquitoes are hatching and we need you here. You are welcome to say, as long as you wish.

We reach for this book almost daily right now.

So far we've been grabbing our bird identification book, sometimes daily to reference new bird sightings. It's amazing how many are in the local area here, some not ever seen before. I especially love all of the woodpeckers living nearby, and how they double duty by ridding the trees of insects for us. Come on birds, stay awhile with us this season okay?

And just so you know, being a bird lover and using great identification books are only as good as the knowledge inside, rather for us with several of our reference projects - only as good as the selected inclusion of photos included to compare what we see to what they could be identified as. As in all things there are times when we become completely stumped. Take for instance the bird in the photos below who came to visit today. Do you think we can figure this one out? He just doesn't appear to be what we can see on the pages of our guide. Might you know? Can you offer a lead to more clues, resource links or other? With thanks in advance everyone.

Do you know this bird?