Saturday, May 28, 2011

Orchard Oriole

The Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) is the smallest North American member of the Icterids - the Oriole & Blackbird family (Icteridea).  This is an adult male.  The adult female and the juvenile have olive-green on the upper parts and yellowish on the breast and belly. Orchard Orioles are considered to be adults after their second year. One-year-old males are yellow-greenish with a black bib.  (Wikipedia)

Yesterday I thought all the orioles had left.   None visiting the orange/jam feeders.  It was lonely, I tell ya, after some ten days of high oriole activity in the yard and suddenly nothing - not one.  Then, the rain clouds moved in (sigh, we seriously don't need any more rain for a while) and a few Baltimores and two Orchards came into the yard. 

Interesting Facts from
 - A group of orchard orioles are collectively known as a "harvest" of orioles.
 - It is a late spring migrant, but it heads back southward quickly. Some orioles may return to their wintering grounds as early as mid-July.

The End

Click on pix for larger & clearer, if you want to.

Friday, May 27, 2011

House Wren

I bought this little wren house at the Farmer's Market in Kelowna 5-6 years ago.  I hung it in this particular crabapple tree and not once has a wren considered it habitable.  I mean, really, wrens use almost anything as a nest site.

But...this week, I noticed a wren checking it out.  A while later, it was bringing in little sticks.  How nice. 

All About Birds sums up the House Wren behaviour very well 
Bubbly and energetic, just like their songs. Look for House Wrens hopping quickly through tangles and low branches and, in spring and summer, frequently pausing to deliver cheerful trilling songs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Souris River Yesterday

We got more rain over the weekend.  Yesterday I went out to check the river levels.

At the bridge on #47 south of Estevan

South from the lookout/parking lot above the greenhouses at Shand Power Plant

At the bridge on #39 east of Roche Percee

At Taylorton Bridge

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Eared Grebes

Podiceps nigricollis californicus, or Eared Grebe, is one of my favourite diving birds.  This Spring, we have a lot of them.    According to All About Birds: 
The most abundant grebe in the world, the Eared Grebe breeds in shallow wetlands in western North America. It occurs in greatest numbers on Mono Lake and the Great Salt Lake in fall, where it doubles its weight in preparation for a nonstop flight to its wintering grounds in the southwestern United States and Mexico. 

This is what they look like in their Adult Summer (breeding) plumage.   The juveniles and adults in their wintering grounds don't look quite this spiffy - generally varying shades of dark grey.

Podiceps nigricollis is found on every continent except Austratlia and Antarctica.  In all those other, non-North American places, it is known as Black-necked Grebe.  From Wikipedia

The latter (name) was first used in 1912,  Ernst Hartert, in an effort to bring the common name of the species in line with its scientific name. The genus name of this species—Podiceps—comes from two Latin words: podicis, meaning "vent" or "anus" and pes meaning "foot". This is a reference to the attachment point of the bird's legs—at the extreme back end of its body. The specific epithet nigricollis is Latin for "black-necked": niger means "black" and collis means "neck". 

I also found this little tidbit in Wikipedia
Interestingly, the eared grebe is essentially flightless for most of the year (9 to 10 months), and serves as an example of one of the most inefficient flier among avifauna. Generally, this bird avoids flying at all costs and reserves long distance flight exclusively for migration. However, when migrating, it will travel as much as 6000 km to reach prosperous areas which are exploited by few other species. (Jehl Jr. et al., 2003)

[This grebe is] an excellent swimmer and diver, and pursues its prey underwater, eating mostly fish as well as small crustaceans, aquatic insects and larvae. It prefers to escape danger by diving rather than flying, although it can easily rise from the water. 

Follow the links for more info at All About Birds and Wikipedia.
Click on the pix for larger and clearer, if you want to.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yard Birds

This gloomy, cloudy, very windy Tuesday has been considerably brightened-up by the arrival of two male Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula).

I've had the oranges out for a few days awaiting their arrival.  It's too bad I didn't get my act together about washing windows - these photos were taken from inside my house through those same dirty windows.  Tsk.

As we speak, one is sitting near an orange and issuing a loud single note call while looking around to see if anyone is paying him attention.

The House Finches  (Carpodacus mexicanus) like oranges too.

There's about 20 American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis)  feeding at the niger sock and sunflower feeders - always a delight.

And the female Purple Finch returned for some seed as well.  I haven't seen her male counterpart.

Several Harris's Sparrows (Zonotrichia querula) are continuing their stay.  They are definitely my favourite sparrow species.

Click on pix for larger and clearer, if you want to.

Monday, May 16, 2011

White-tailed Jackrabbit

Lepus townsendii, just recently changed from the all-white winter coat to the fashionably neutral sandstone brown summer wear.

Leave me alone, please just leave me alone.

All right, I shall share bit of info if you promise to go away:  My ears are rather huge.  It's hot around here in the summer.  The large ears help to dissipate heat.  They also help me to hear very well.  Good thing, too, as pretty well everything wants to make a meal of me: coyotes, fox, cougars, bobcats, eagles, owls, hawks, you name it.  (Hey Mr/Mrs Jackrabbit - stay alert, there's a Great Horned Owl on a nest a half-mile away - with 2-3 hungry owlets to feed)

Large hind legs and feet  = running at speeds of about 50 kph/30 mph and jump 5 meters in the air to escape a predator.  Can you do that?  No, I didn't think so.  

Excuse me while I nibble at some fresh green stuff before I go to sleep for the day.   I am mostly noctural. 

Go Away

Information from:   Gosline, A. 2001. "Lepus townsendii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 08, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Estevan Flood Today

These are Larry's photos of the Woodlawn Park 'subdivision' as of this morning.  The Souris Valley Theatre, Woodlawn Park and Golf Course are included in this area, but not the city itself (we are up on the ancient river bank a half-mile north or so)

Click on photos for bigger and clearer, if you want to.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Flooding at Woodlawn Park and Golf Course

Larry Preddy took these pix yesterday afternoon.  This is the current state of the golf course.  It had dried out after the first bout of flooding.  People were golfing AND using their motorized golf carts.  But, the season has been post-poned again for a little while.