Thursday, December 4, 2014

Study Breaks

This morning Rohan van Twest discovered a Bohemian Waxwing feeding with a flock of Cedar Waxwings on the University of Guelph campus, and as I hadn't seen one since March 2013 I immediately walked over and easily saw it. This species is a very irregular visitor this far south, although they sometimes arrive in numbers. There was a large invasion in winter 2012-2013 and I had a maximum of 260 in a single flock in the arboretum.

Note the grey belly, reddish undertail and white markings on the wings. Bohemians are also much larger than Cedar Waxwings.

 These berry trees always attract flocks of waxwings, starlings and robins in early winter.

Although Cedar Waxwings are not quite as tame as Bohemians, they often still offer very good looks well pigging out on berries.

Several European Starlings were mixed in, looking very spiffy in their fresh winter plumage. These buffy tips will wear off, allowing the bird to completely change its appearance for the spring without having to molt.

Cedar Waxwings sometimes have tails tipped in orange rather than red, as seen on the bird in the background here. This a result of diets high in certain berries, and seems to be more common in Guelph than most places.

Cedar Waxwings have an interesting annual cycle locally. Many birds winter, but numbers seem to dwindle into the spring. A large wave of migrants arrives very late around the middle of May or so, and the species is abundant through the summer and fall. Most of our species that overwinter being migrating north much earlier (March or April).

Although they are now fairly common in cities, Pileated Woodpeckers were once restricted to pristine woodlands and were almost absent from much of Southern Ontario. The story is similar for Common Ravens which now also seem to be returning en masse.

Fox Sparrows seem to be lingering quite late all over Ontario this winter, such as this bird visiting feeders in the arboretum.

The local Northern Shrike was showing off this afternoon. This is the same tree and most likely the same bird as one of my very first posts to this blog!

Overall an excellent haul for a day which I mostly spent inside studying! My last exam is tomorrow morning, and I intend to spend lots of time outside over the next little while.

1 comment:

  1. Nice bird shots, Reuven. The U of G arboretum is a great spot for birds!