The annual Christmas Bird Count in Algonquin was extremely (and worryingly) low this year. We've been careful to keep our feeders well stocked, since it's been a bad year (from a bird's perspective) for seeds in the bush. Certain evergreens produce seeds on a cycle, and there will be hugely abundant years for seeds, followed by others, like this year, when the seed count is scant. Usually the birds simply follow the food, and move to other areas, but for birds that aren't nomadic, it's bad news and means a tough winter.
So it was delightful to discover this week that in a fifteen minute period there were over 17 blue jays, and 20 chickadees at the feeders. Along with two hairy woodpeckers at my feeders, another one up at the office at the same time, and a mittful of sparrows that defied counting. They were joined by three nuthatches.
Walking the puppy this morning, I found two pileated woodpeckers on the property. Not at the feeder... but drilling their way into a cedar tree. Still... they are a welcome sight. After all, not all our birds hang out at the feeding stations! Some of them are quite elusive, and rarely spotted.
And on that note, I must thank Mike Baum, from Dorset, for sending along these spectacular photos of a bird he found in his backyard last week -- a gorgeous Barred Owl, who drifted in to sit on the clothesline near his feeder, and later relocated to a handy tree. Along with the owl is one of our fearless, or foolhardy? chickadees, making this a truly special photograph. Thanks Mike!
This is one of the owl species that we call every summer when we're out on the lawn after dark looking at stars. The one with the typical "Who Cooks for You?" call... Also, the only owl that has brown eyes. All the rest have golden yellow eyes.