Tuesday, March 30, 2010
While I was waiting for the beaver to reappear a robin started chirping by the observation tower. That is the first robin of the year for me. I got a blurry photo of my bird, a male, sitting on top of a spruce tree. There was another one calling further away toward Maxwell Lake.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Sometimes a woodpecker pair will return years later to an old abandoned start and complete it for use as a nest cavity. There's some evidence to suggest that the original test hole might have actually introduced the fungus to the tree, in which case the woodpeckers are helping their own cause. Clearly the original tree met their requirements, but it didn't have enough rot. No problem, just inoculate the tree and come back later. A neat process to ensure a long-term supply of suitable nest trees.
I've watched squirrels clipping the tips. They're pretty quick, clipping the twig, turning it to bite off the bud, and dropping it almost in one motion. The first time I watched this activity I had a hard time picking up the bud removal part even with binoculars. To complicate things, sometimes the squirrel clips the twig and just drops it. I don't know if that's deliberate, but I suspect it is. Maybe the squirrels can discern whether or not the bud is a good one, or maybe the protective nest of needles on some buds is too much trouble.
Monday, March 22, 2010
After I hung the second box I detoured off the trail to check one of my old pileated woodpecker cavity trees and got rewarded when a boreal owl stuck it's head out of the hole right at dusk. It didn't stay at the entrance for more than 15 seconds and no amount of scratching on the tree could get it to look out again. There were downy feathers stuck to the entrance which could mean this little owl might have been using that woodpecker hole for some time. Two owls in one evening was pretty good fortune in my books. Some of the Whisky-jack club folks went out last Saturday night and got a northern saw-whet owl calling on the downstream boardwalk loop along Happy Creek. This is the time of year when one is most likely to find an owl or two calling from just before dark on into the night.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
It was pretty windy, so the photo looks a little messy from all the windblown dirt. That will fall to the lake bottom when the ice melts and the platform will look even better when the grass sprouts.
While I was there a troupe of chickadees was calling over by the lake tower, and several birds were noisily calling the "fee-bee" song that's always an early sign of spring. Pussywillows are out too at the end of the lake. All we need is an extended period of warm days and winter's grip will be broken.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Every spring I watch for the arrival of the thrush cousins, the American robin and the varied thrush. It seems to be a race between the two - some years the robin arrives first and others it's the thrush. Sometime in the second week of April is about right for Hinton. Who will be first in 2010?
This weekend I'm going to put up some duck nesting boxes around Maxwell Lake in the hope that a few cavity-nesting species such as the common goldeneye and bufflehead will make the area their home this spring. Watch for the boxes mounted on trees and let me know if you see any ducks entering or leaving.