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Mar 17, 2018

Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) at Schomberg Lagoon

Photo: Andreas Trepte /
Barnacle Goose in King Township
I added a new bird to my life list yesterday, courtesy of my friend and King City neighbour, Gerald Binsfeld, birder extraordinaire.   Gerald alerted me to a Barnacle Goose that was to be found in the midst of 800 Canada Geese in the pond just east of the Trisan Community Centre in Schomberg, just off Hwy. 27.   It was also a 'life bird' for Gerald and many, many other birders who came from across southern Ontario to see it.   There's probably been 200 observers at the site in just the past two days.   Gerald observed that this bird was resting much more than the Canada Geese around it.   It probably had had a rough journey from its northern European/Asian homeland, what with crossing an ocean and encountering Canadian snowstorms.   My personal observation is that the Barnacle Goose is even more attractive than the similar Canada Goose.   Now, if I could just figure out how to change that life list number, above, from 425 to 426.
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Mar 15, 2018

Eurasian Eagle Owl - Bubo bubo

Photo:Ozkan Bilgin / Anadolou /Getty Images

MNo look more compelling than an owl'sM
Eurasian Eagle owl is ready to be released after being treated at a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Van, Turkey.
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Mar 14, 2018

Bird Photographer of the Year - part 3

White-tailed Eagle
Hortobagy, Hungary
Photo: Ben Hall

Kingfisher diving
Photo: Mario Cea Sanchez

Rudy Duck
British Columbia, Canada
Photo: Jess Findlay
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Mar 13, 2018

Bird Photographer of the Year...part 2

Griffon vulture
 Photo: Pedro Jarque Krebs

Alexandrine parakeet
standing on swallows' nests
Photo: Georgina Steytler

Red-billed Oxpeckers
on an impala
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Photo: Edmund Aylmer
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Mar 12, 2018

Bird Photographer of the Year

The shortlist for the prestigious Bird Photographer of the Year awards has been announced by Nature Photographers and British Trust for Ornithology.   Herewith are some of the finalists which are in the running for awards, which will be announced at the Annual Birdwatching Fair in August of this year.   More photos tomorrow and the following day.

Toco Toucans 
in Pacone, Brazil
Photo: Petr Bambousek/BPOTY/Cover Image

 Northern Gannett 
with discarded netting in beak at Heligoland, Germany
Photo: Petr Bambousek

 Giant Cowbird 
takes ticks off a Capyrarain in Brazil's Pantanal
Photo: Petr Bambousek

 Snowy Owl 
in Canada
Photo: Markus Varesvuo

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Mar 11, 2018

No Pine Siskens in my backyard this winter

Photos by BarrytheBirder
I see reports that there have been many sightings of Pine Siskins in the Algonquin Park area of Ontario, but I have yet to see any at my backyard feeders this winter, north of Toronto.  We usually have them show up several times each winter, but not this year.

if you wish.


Mar 10, 2018

Sparrowhawk hunts near Pomanz, Hungary

Photo: Attila Kovacs / EPA
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
        (Accipiter nisus)       
Photo: Wikipedia

The Eurasian Sparrowhawk is also known as the Northern Sparrowhawk or just Sparrowhawk.   The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), a North American falcon species, is also commonly referred to as a sparrowhawk.   Hawk species include 21 different sparrowkawk species.   The Eurasian Sparrowhawk is found throughout Europe, in coastal northwestern Africa and in sub-arctic forests of Asia.

American Kestrel 
photo (left)
by Michael Sagatova

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Mar 9, 2018

Black Grouse: a.k.a. Blackgame or Blackcock

Photo (above): Ingo Gerlach / Barcroft 
Photo (below): Gary Jones
Black Grouse
(Tetrao tetrix)
Black Grouse are pictured above in a courtship and mating ritual in Hamra National Park in Sweden.   This large game bird in the grouse family is found across northern Eurasia in moorlands and bogs, close to woodlands.  The striking white tails of Black Grouse have been popular adornments for hats worn with traditional 'highland dress'.  The feathers are currently carried on in the dress glengarries of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, in Britain
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Mar 8, 2018

White-eye - a.k.a. Silvereye

Photo: Mei Yongcun / Barcroft Images
A White-eye (Zosterops lateralis) is seen gathering honey on a cherry tree in Fuzhou, China.

   Photo: Benjamint444 / Wikimedia

Over 100 species of White-eyes
There are at least 107 species of White-eyes in the Australasia part of the world and they are native to Sub-Sahara Africa, and south and eastern Asia.   Most species of White-eyes are endemic to single islands or archipelagos.  Some have been introduced as far away as Hawaii.   They eat insects, nectars and fruits, making ripe vineyards in Australia and New Zealand vulnerable to attack. 
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Mar 7, 2018

Fate on eagle's side...this time

                                                                                          Photo: Wojciech Pacewicz / EPA                               Surviving poisoned carrion
A rescued White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), also known as the Ern, Erne, Gray Eagle, Eurasian Sea Eagle and White-tailed Sea Eagle, is seen moments before it is released, back into the wild in Laszczowka, north of Krakow in southern Poland.   The huge raptor was thought to have consumed poisoned carrion but was nurtured back to health by rescuers.
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Mar 6, 2018

Meeting the challenge...

Photo:Patrick Pleul / Barcroft Images
Photo: John Anderson
Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicillia) is seen above being pursued by a pair of Hooded Ravens (Corvus cornix) over the River Oder on the German-Polish border.   The black and white Hooded Raven is commonly found in northern,   eastern and southeastern Europe and in parts of the Middle East.

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Mar 5, 2018

Gull versus cormorant...

Photo: Stephan Sauer/AP
Fish food fight
A lesser Black-backed Gull and a cormorant challenge each other for a fish in the harbour of the Baltic coastal town of Straslund, in northern Germany.   Food fights like this are common and either bird can be the winner.
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Mar 4, 2018

Mute Swans are not so mute...

Photo: Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images
Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) and gulls are seen above fighting for pieces of bread on the snow-covered banks of the Danube River in Begrade, Serbia.   Wikipedia states that Mute Swans are less vocal than other swan species, but they do, however, make a variety of grunting, hoarse whistling, and snorting noises, especially in communicating with their cygnets.   The also usually hiss at competitors or intruders trying to enter their territory.   Cygnets are especially vocal, and communicate through a variety of whistling and chirping sounds when content, as well as a harsh squawking noise when distressed or lost.   Mute Swans are the commonest Eurasian swan and not entirely silent after all.

                                                                                              Photo by BarrytheBirder
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Mar 3, 2018

Birds and the bees...

Photos by BarrytheBirder

Not all my photos are of birds...

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Mar 2, 2018

Found around the world...

Photo: Vivek rathod17/Wikimedia
Photo NickiStock
(Psittacula krameri)

The photo above caught my eye recently.   It shows a flock of Rose-ringed Parakeets attacking bags of seeds.   I've never heard of this species before, but it is common in about 20 countries in Africa and in and around India.   As a migrant and a introduced species, it is also found in warm climates and places around the world, such as Australia, southern USA, Great Britain and other western countries.   It is highly communal and moves in large flocks, as evidenced in top photo.   It has an IUCN 'least concerned' rating.
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Mar 1, 2018

Eliminated from England by the late 19th century...

Photo: AnnMarie Jones / BWPA / Natural Engl/PA

Red Kite reintroduced in the 1990s
The beautiful and spectacular Red Kite (Milvus milvus) is a mid-sized raptor that was eliminated from England 120 years ago by ruthless gamekeepers.   A century later, the decline in gamekeeper numbers and relenting attitudes towards this bird of prey and carrion-eater, allowed for reintroduction of the species in the 1990s.  Today, it is a thriving, widely admired birds in the English Midlands.   As evidence of the resurgence, near the village of Laxton, Northhamptonshire, there is a large kite roost where as many as 40 of the beautiful kites fill the sky with awe-inspiring aerobatics.  Red Kites continue to thrive elsewhere in western Europe and north-west Africa.   Thus ends a suitable tale of heartening prodigality.
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Feb 27, 2018

American Robin

Photo and haiku by BarrytheBirder
3 weeks to first day of spring
february's last day
and the snow has disappeared
how close the robin
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Patient pelicans...

Photo: GregNewton/Reuters
Brown Pelicans
(Pelicanus occidentalis)
Pelicans are seen keeping watchful eyes on a successful fisherman with his catch of Whiting fish, at St. John's County Pier, in St. Augustine, on the north-eastern Atlantic shore of Florida.
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Feb 26, 2018

Starlings at sunset o'er the Irish Sea...

Photo: Alamy Live News
A captivating, acrobatic display by tens of thousands of Starlings is seen as they look to roost for the night under Blackpool's famous north pier, on the Lancashire coast of northwest England.   Blackpool is famous as a seaside resort on the Irish Sea.
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Feb 25, 2018

Close cousin of the Bald Eagle...

Photo: Yuri Smityuk/TASS
White-tailed Sea Eagles
(Haliaeetus albicilla)
White-tailed Eagles are seen fighting over a fish in the ice-free Bay of Zolotoy Rog in Vladivostok where they spend the winter, before moving to the north-eastern coast of the Russian Far East.   This majestic bird is also known as the Ern, Erne, Gray Eagle, Eurasian Sea Eagle and White-tailed Sea Eagle.   It has the largest wingspan, on average, of any eagle.

Feb 23, 2018

Ubiquitous in the West Indies...

Photo by BarrytheBirder
(Coereba flaveola)
February in Canada is a time of year when I look back at pictures that I have taken of birds, on islands in the Caribbean Sea.    They always warm me up.  One of my favourite pictures is the one above, of a Banaquit on the island of Antigua.  Banaquits are found everywhere in the West Indies, and from Florida down to Argentina.   To me they are island icons in the Caribbean.   There are approximately 41 subspecies of this bird throughout its broad range and the birds have a highly variable appearance.   Not surprisingly, The IUCN Red List classifies this avian charmer as being of "Least Concern".

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Feb 22, 2018

Owls of Europe - most species are endangered

Great Grey Owl
All photos: Alamy Stock Photos

Owl Sense - by Miriam Darlington
There are 13 species of native owls in Europe and author Miriam Darlington, in her newest book, states that all 13 species are endangered and there numbers are all down.  She suggests the causes are new challenges of climate change and expanding human population encroaching on wild territories.   As examples, she writes that Eagle-Owls are down 60% in Finland, while in the UK, Barn Owls have sunk to less than 5,000 pairs.   And although owls have been around for 60 million years, the encroaching human tribe is a mere 200,000 years old.   Furthering that contrast, Darlington sardonically states there are, reputably, drug dealers in Liverpool, who use Eagle-Owls for protection rather than dogs.   Our world is forcing birds withersoever.   Then what?  

Tawny Owl
Eurasian Eagle-Owl

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Feb 19, 2018

Downy Woodpecker

                                                    Downy Woodpecker (Male)                                                 
                                                                                              Photos by BarrytheBirder
Downy Woodpecker (Female)

Downy came and dwelt with me,
Taught me hermit lore;
Drilled his cell in oaken tree
Near my cabin door.

Downy leads a hermit life 
All the winter through;
Free his days from jar and strife, 
And his cares are few.
                                    -- John Burroughs
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Feb 17, 2018

Endangered in New Zezland...

Photo: Murdo Mcleod / The Guardian
(Nestor notabilis)
The endangered Kea, captured here at the Ben Lomand Track at Queenstown in Fiordland, southern New Zealand, is the world's only alpine parrot.   It is a large bird (almost 50 cms.long) and one of the most intelligent of birds, but also mischievous and destructive.   It is known to make and use tools.
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Feb 16, 2018

At London's Natural History Museum...

Photo: Lakshitha Karunarathna

Finalist: Roller Rider
Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2018
London's Natural History Museum

Lakshitha Karunarathna was on safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve, in Kenya, when he spotted a Lilac-breasted Roller riding a zebra.  Normally, this bird perches high up in foliage.

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Feb 15, 2018

Chicken breed is completely black on the outside and inside

a.k.a. "Completely Black Chicken"
This chicken originated in Java, in Indonesia, and was introduced to Europe in 1998, by a breeder in Holland. The Ayam Cemani gets its black colouring from a genetic trait known as 'fibromelanosis', that produces black pigment cells.   Every part of this bird is black: inside and outside.  These chickens do however lay cream-coloured eggs, but they do not sit on their eggs.   Eggs are therefore hatched by artificial incubation.   Ayam Cemani are one of the world's most expensive chicken, with single birds having cost up to $2,500, and they are so exotic that it has been called the "Lamborghini of poultry".   They can be sourced online in Canada.

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