Thursday, January 29, 2015

Birds I saw (ebirded) from my condo in December 2014

Thanks to the magic of ebird.... I'm getting warmed up for my first summary post on my 2015 big year!!!

Red dot is my condo building

Red mark is the blue area defined in the first map

Click for - BIG YEAR RULES

The birds! -

Cackling Goose - 2
Canada Goose - 728
Trumpeter Swan - 18
American Black Duck - 9
Mallard - 294
Northern Pintail - 2
Redhead - 75
Greater Scaup - 281
Lesser Scaup - 21
King Eider - 1
Surf Scoter - 760
White-winged Scoter - 2466
Black Scoter - 16
Long-tailed Duck - 26075
Bufflehead - 14
Common Goldeneye - 852
Hooded Merganser - 2
Common Merganser - 115
Red-breasted Merganser - 451
Red-throated Loon - 5
Double-crested Cormorant - 6
Northern Harrier - 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 3
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Bald Eagle - 2
Ring-billed Gull - 529
Herring Gull - 783
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 2
Glaucous Gull - 1
Great Black-backed Gull - 145
Rock Pigeon - 29
Mourning Dove - 44
Hairy Woodpecker - 2
American Kestrel - 1
Merlin - 4
Peregrine Falcon - 1
Blue Jay - 2
American Crow - 5
Black-capped Chickadee - 4
European Starling - 5
Snow Bunting - 1
American Tree Sparrow - 2
Dark-eyed Junco - 2
Northern Cardinal - 11
House Finch - 3
American Goldfinch - 49
House Sparrow - 368

Total species - 50

Total ebird checklists - 26
Complete Checklists - 20

Best birds of the month: King Eider, Cackling Goose (2),  Lesser Black-backed Gull (2)

Checklists of the month:

#1 -
#2 -
#3 -

Total species added to the big year this month: N/A
Highlight "big year" birds: N/A
Big year total to date: N/A

Target species going forwards: N/A

Previous summaries: N/A


This is a warm-up post for my 2015 big year summaries. I'm hoping to do these monthly! So far in 2015 I'm missing several of these December species... Some make sense (Red-throated Loon) while many others do not (American Goldfinch)...  I've also been trying to submit my checklists as complete - something that may get harder as more birds start to arrive, but we'll see how it goes. 

There is obviously a lot of overlap with these sightings as well. 281 Greater Scaup likely reflects 281 different GRSC... Whereas 368 house sparrows are likely no more than 40-50 birds max... Or 4 Merlins all being the same young female... 

Still neat though! Look for the next post in early February! 

Maybe i'll even include some condo-window-views from the specific month in these posts?! This one was from Dec 2013. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You can pick Canada's National Bird!

If you haven't heard, Canadian Geographic is running a contest to "pick" our national bird... I'm not going to post the link, because I'm pretty sure we've been through this (as Canadians) several times now... As of right now, these are the top five:

Common Loon
Snowy Owl
Gray Jay
Canada Goose
Black-capped Chickadee

With a resounding 11,000ish votes cast, I'm sure the remaining 35 million Canadian's will be happy with Canadian Geographic's (and their readers) selection... I could rant that most Canadian's could hardly name 5 species of birds, but this is not the time or the place!

In the past, I seem to remember something about our former (Ontario) premier backing the Red-tailed Hawk, which is doing quite poorly by Canadian Geographic standards... Speaking of Red-tailed Hawk, this article states that it was also one of the most popular choices in a poll conducted by the Canadian Raptor Conservancy? I had to check out the CRC website where I discovered their support for the Red-tailed Hawk. The endeavour when from funny to hilarious when they listed the Canada Goose as one of Canada's "animals"... I mean, I understand they mainly deal with raptors... But this is bad.. The quote is here:

"We have national products like maple syrup, we have national sports like ice hockey and lacrosse, we have animals such as the beaver, the moose, the caribou, the polar bear, the grizzly bear, the Canada goose, and the Canada lynx, but we do not have a national bird. "
- Canadian Raptor Conservancy 

Despite my attempts to poke fun at these various polls and petitions, a major problem remains. We do not have a formally recognized national bird! As a birder, this is appalling. As a Canadian - well - I'm a very proud Canadian, but my rank as birder pretty much trumps everything else... I guess I got ahead of myself...

Let's solve this issue right here and now!

Our national bird IS the Common Loon... Gavia immer... You can "Great Northern Diver" me all you want, but in North America, it's the Common Loon - and it's the National bird of Canada! Regardless of any formal recognition. (I'm not sure what wikipedia is thinkin)...

They're big
They're bad
They look awesome
They sound awesome
Their range covers a huge swath of Canada
They're easily recognizable
We associate them with our wild places and happy (summer) memories
They appear on our $1 coin (loonie!)

Our national bird - DONE! I know we have some issues, such as the Common Loon being the provincial bird of Ontario, and possibly even some other national or official bird somewhere else. But I don't think we should care. It is our one and only choice...

If (by some fluke chance) we select anything BUT the Common Loon, be ready for these future petitions:

Petition to replace _____ with the Common Loon as our national bird


Petition to annex the Common Loon from Ontario, to become the national bird... Which of course would be followed up with a petition/vote on what Ontario's new provincial bird should be. Heck, I'll start it now (just in case).

Peregrine Falcon
Great Blue Heron
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Eastern Bluebird
Northern Cardinal

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pro's and Con's of Facebook... Like a Kelp Gull in Pittsburg

Well, I have been avoiding this - but I guess I'll say it... I finally broke down and joined the world of facebook... I still don't like it, and I will still voice my displeasure... But dang, there is just too much information on there that is being blocked to non-facebook users...

Case in point:

KELP GULL in freakin Pittsburg!!!

I saw it first go online the "North American Gull Group" facebook page/thing in less than an hour before... Gives me hope that we'll get to enjoy one in Ontario someday!!! It's not really that far from Lake Erie...

Overall I've yet to really use facebook, other than checking out the gull group and the Ontario Birds group - which has been pretty dull so far... I guess (as with my past social media posts) that if you're lookin for a new facebook buddy - fire away!

Not much else to say... I guess it's a dull time of year! Have you noticed it's a a dull time of year? My condo checklist from this morning was so dull, I couldn't be bothered to post it on the olde twitter thing...

I guess at some point, I'll probably try and take advantage of the twitter-thing a bit more, but for now I've been happy to post my bird sightings a little more up-to-date... Whadda ya think? Is it workin?


Is there another deep freeze coming?

Long range weather keeps hinting at some more cold-shots for the Great Lakes region... Nothing really long-lasting though...

Also, have you noticed there has been very little snow this winter? What's up with that!


Have been working on a total re-do of my website (I guess not a complete overhaul, but the layout will be very different)... Using a new program and it's pretty exciting. Hopefully I'll find some time in the not-too-distant future and start getting things online!


Note: This blog post contains all of the (winter) age classes of the Glaucous Gull!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bloggers who blog - Natural History Style

Maybe my tech skills have deteriorated over the past few years... I feel that finding and following a good blog was just a "click of a button"... Whereas now, my blog reading-list is suffering! So I put out the post here - do you know of any good blogs I should be following?

There are some that I "know" to follow, but haven't' actually updated my list... Like Allen Woodliffe's blog here:

I also have a decent "reading list" now - which you can view on the right side bar of this page. Some of the pages with regular updates include:

Birding with Buckley:


Ontario Birds and Herps:

The Bruce Mactavish Birding Newfoundland Blog:

and the 'Burg Birder:

BUT - the purpose of posting this is to get some NEW blogs added... Which ones do you like? Who should I add? Don't shy away from shamelessly posting your own blog in the comments below. This is for everyones benefit!

Moar blogs!


Medium Range Weather Outlook - warmer?


Lake Ice building rapidly! I've noticed a lot of birds moving about because of this. (White-winged Gulls have increased at my condo, thankfully!)

Pretty normal for this time of year... 


Bad news bears (or whales) - stuff like this is just awful:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tweeting - not unlike a bird...

S# it's goin crazy...

I joined Linkedin a few weeks ago, and now I'm on twitter...

(Shameless plug:
(Shameless plug #2:

I keep thinking - why not put each day's condo birding on the blog? Why wait days (to weeks) after I see something to make it public? It's too short/boring for a listerv, and probably too short/boring for the blog... But the value/interest in bird sightings (especially dull ones) drops over time...

Now i've added a little twitter window to the side of the blog, and can post these boring updates readily!

Undoubtedly there will be some sort of overlap, and/or they'll each grow into their own thing (if I bother keeping it up)... But here it is... Tweeter's and tweeties be warned.

I also hope I may be able to increase the quality of blog posts this way... May not happen - but we'll see.

Check back for more tweetz!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Recent Birdy News: here comes the freeze

Condo Bird-ing! - some decent birds recently... Getting primed for the condo big year!

Dec 23rd: Cackler!

Dec 27th: Peregrine!

Dec 28th: Glauc!

Dec 29th: Trumpeters! LBBG!

Dec 30th:

Jan 2nd: Eagle! Iceland! Snowy Owl!

Jan 3rd: ugh

Jan 4th:


Here comes the freeze!

Mega-cold for the next week-ish... I feel like many interesting gulls (Glaucous, Iceland etc) are inland, but hopefully they'll return to the Great Lakes proper when all of their drinking water goes solid during this snap! 


Weazza Network! Apparently even the weather network had a dull fall for rarities in ON...

Stuper late Phoebe:


Late Nov Oriole:



Banded RBGR:


Cool rarities found elsewhere:

Common Eider in MI -

Redhead x Scaup hybreed -

Dusky Flycatcher in NS -

Pacific Wren in KS (sounds like costal BC to me - looks like it too!)

Couch's Kingbird in NY:

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Condo BIG YEAR

There is no time like the present.

After much consideration and consultation with loved ones, I have decided that 2015 shall be the year in which I try to identify as many species as possible from my condo.

As the only place on earth that I can consider my own, it seems like the prime situation for a reluctant twitcher such as myself. 2015 Condo Big Year - here I come!

Some ground rules:

1.) - I will only count birds observed while I am inside my condo/balcony.

2.) - The only other birds I will count will be within the grounds of the condo building itself

3.) - Rules 1 and 2 may be broken, if I see something while really close by - but am too lazy to go back onto the property to "tick it"

4.) - I will count species only accepted by my own personal damn records committee (PDBRC)

5.) - I will count all exotic free-flying species, except for Eurasian Tree Sparrow or any of the Bishop species (if I happen to see one).

6.) - I will not drive/fly/swim anywhere to add species for my condo-big-year

7.) - Taxonomic changes will totally effect the outcome of my total down the road. Except for "stupid splits". If I see one of these "species" from my condo in 2015, I will NOT count it:

Pacific Wren
Bicknell's Thrush
Northwestern Crow
Any more than 1 "species" of Red Crossbill

8.) - Likewise, If we ever "lose" one of these species, I will still count it anyways:

Thayer's Gull
Blue-winged/Cinnamon Teal
Hoary Redpoll

9.) I will count the following "subspecies" as species -

Audubon's Warbler
Oregon Junco
Any of the "other" Fox Sparrows
Common Teal

10.) I will occasionally count birds that I am not 100% sure of the ID, but only with just cause. This will be a case-by-case situation, with explanations appearing on the blog.

11.) "Heard only" birds will be reluctantly counted.

12.) The "big year" runs from sunrise on 2 January 2015 to 1 January 2016 at sundown.

13.) It's gotta be fun...

There you have it! Check back over the course of the year to see how I'm doing! I'll probably do my regular condo-birding-updates, plus monthly updates to track my progress throughout the year...

To give away a bit of fun - I had a great "big year" bird to start off the challenge today - a Snowy Owl flying along the shore going east!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping that your 2015 is filled with epic migrations, fallouts, and mega-rares!