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Sep 29, 2016

Condor complications

Photo by Nathan Rupert, Flickr Creative Commons
There is a tiny threat that's killing North America's largest bird.   The American Condor which has progressed from just 14 breeding individuals in the 1980s to over 435 individuals today.   But not every Condor chick born today lives to adulthood.   A lethal form of dwarfism, called chondrodystrophy, a condition which produces newborn chicks with very short extremities, and the chicks die right before or right after hatching.   But there is hope.   Go to the website and read the story entitled: "The Tiny Threat That's Killing North America's Largest Bird".   It seems if it isn't one damned thing, it's another.   Once again: there is hope.

Photo: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
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Barry Wallace

Sep 27, 2016

I saw a Fairy Bluebird yesterday...

                                                                                              Photo by Joshua James Reppert /
...but I can't add it to my life list.
The reason is because I did not see it in the wild.   To do that I would have had to be in south-east Asia or the Philippines.   No, I saw it in Canada, in the Indomalaya Pavilion of the Toronto Zoo.   I was there with my wife and the two eldest of my grandsons.   It was a day-off from school, for the boys, and we ended up being at the zoo for five hours.   There are many birds throughout the indoor pavilions at the huge zoo, and the Fairy Bluebird especially caught my eye.   Many zoo-goers are photographers and the birds are favourite subjects for the nature shutterbugs.   The boys loved their day and so did their grandparents.
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Sep 26, 2016

Goldfinches flock back

 Photos by Barry Wallace

From 2 or 3 a day, to over 80, in one week!
After just two or three Goldfinches per day through most of July and August, the tables have suddenly turned.   For the past week we have had 50 to 80 Goldfinches each day.   We are delighted, of course, but still unsure how these events came to pass.   It was an early and extraordinarily warm summer which may have advanced plant and seed growth keeping the goldfinches in the countryside.   Now, maybe that supply of seeds has been eaten out and the goldfinches have had to come back to the garden feeders.   Perhaps global warming has created a cause and effect.   Whatever the reason, we are pleased and hope they stay all winter.   Several neighbours confirm that they too had very few goldfinches throughout the summer.
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Sep 25, 2016

World's only alpine parrot faces extinction

                                   Photo by Andrew Walmsley / Kea Conservation Trust                

Keas (Nestor notabilis) are shown above in Nestor's Pass, South Island, New Zealand.The world's only known alpine parrot faces extinction thanks to predators, shootings, lead poisoning, baited small mammal traps and hunting by farmers, who consider them pests.   Keas are large birds, up to 19" long and weighing as much as 2.2 lbs.   They eat many things from seeds, insects, other birds and small mammals, including young sheep, and carrion.   Their numbers are down to a few thousand and they have been declared 'Nationally Endangered' in New Zealand.

Photo by Tom Vincent
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Sep 24, 2016

List of endangered bird species in Canada

                                                                                                        Burrowing Owl photo: Mongo
25 endangered bird species in Canada
The Canadian government has a list of animal and plant species officially recognized as 'extinct, extirpated, endangered, threatened and of special concern'.   The largest category, and the one of most urgency is the 'endangered' one.   The 25 species are listed as follows:

Henslow's Sparrow ~ Burrowing Owl ~ Greater Sage Grouse (urophasianus subspecies) ~ Piping Plover (circumcinctus subspecies) ~ Piping Plover (melodus subspecies) ~ Mountain Plover ~ Northern Bobwhite ~ Kirtland's Warbler ~ Acadian Flycatcher ~ Horned Lark (strigata species) ~ Whooping Crane ~ Yellow-breasted Chat / British Columbia population (auracollis subspecies) Loggerhaed Shrike (migrans subspecies) ~ Red Crossbill (percna subspecies) ~ Western Screech Owl (macfarlanei  subspecies) ~ Eskino Curlew ~ Sage Thrasher ~ White-headed Woodpecker ~ Vesper Sparrow (affinis subspecies) ~ Prothonotary Warbler ~ King Rail ~ Williamson's Sapsucker ~ Roseate Tern ~ Spotted Owl (caurina subspecies) and the Barn Owl.

Moreover, the 'Threatened' category includes 12 species and the 'Special Concern' category includes 16 species.   

It is quite sobering to realize that Canada's 25 most endangered bird species are officially more threatened than the Panda Bear, which has just been lowered from endangered to threatened, by IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) designations.   Fortunately, for the Panda, its world-wide high-profile status has meant vast amounts of money and effort have been expended on its survival.

Will our birds be as fortunate?

All endangered breeds need to be conserved as
an insurance against unknown circumstances.
                                                                                          -- Lawrence Alderson, Rare Breeds

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Sep 23, 2016

Scarecrow in the Holland Marsh

Photo by BarrytheBirder

Outstanding in their field
'Silent and ancient, they are the unliving
who stand over the living crop'

The cleverly-written lines above appear in an article in the August 3rd issue of the venerable British magazine 'COUNTRY LIFE'.   The piece was written by John Lewis-Stempel and is nicely illustrated with local photographs from the English countryside. However, it made me remember a photo I took in the Holland Marsh a few years ago, which you see above.   It's one of my favourite photos from the 'Salad Bowl of Ontario'.   I hope you like it also.   Now, I must return the magazine to the waiting room of my otolaryngologist,  Dr. William Kaul, in Richmond Hill, who after warning me to bring the magazine back, added: "We know where you live".   On my way Dr. Bill.

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Sep 22, 2016

Mourning Dove in the morning...

Photo by BarrytheBirder
Ready for its bath
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Sep 21, 2016

Common Loon in winter plumage

Photo by Len Blumin
Even in its winter plumage,
Common Loon is a sight to behold

Canadian Geographic Magazine has announced that the Common Loon is the overwhelming choice of its readers as Canada's favourite bird.   The survey is an attempt to initiate a national bird selection for Canada, which has no such official designation currently.   Selectors  favouring other bird selections say the Common Loon doesn't really qualify as it does not over-winter in Canada.   As I pondered this, I realized I had never see a Common Loon in its winter plumage.   Wikipedia satisfied my curiosity with the beautiful picture above, taken by american photographer, birder and blogger, Len Blumin of Mill Valley, California.   Great bird...great photo.

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Sep 20, 2016

2016 Audubon Photography Awards

Photo by Barbara Driscoll

Fine Art Winner
Green Violetear / Costa Rica

This photo is my personal favourite of the all the category-winning entries in this year's Audubon Photography Awards competition.   Google 2016 Audubon Photography Awards to see all of the category winners, including the grand prize winning photograph by Bonnie Block.   One can also view a random selection of the top 100 of this year's entries.   Goggle 2016 Audubon Photography Award: Top 100.   They are amazing.
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Sep 19, 2016

Proposed 16 km. wind turbine buffer for Great Lakes

The American Bird Conservancy has recently called for a 16 km. buffer zone around the Great Lakes for wind farm turbines.   The call to action is a result of a wind farm study recently released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.   Michael Hutchins, director of the American Bird Conservancy's 'Bird-smart Wind Energy Program' stated "It is highly problematic to build anywhere near the Great Lakes".

 Photo: Save the Eagles International
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Barry Wallace

Sep 16, 2016

How many Tawny Frogmouths in this photo?

Photo ~
Here's an interesting photo that has popped up on the internet in the last couple of days.   It is a Parks Australia photo that seems to show a tree-stump with a twig bird nest in the centre.   Upon closer inspection, there are two perfectly camouflaged Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) birds in the photo.   There colouration mixture allows them to blend in with their surroundings, as perfectly evidenced here.   The two are poised very close to each other, quite still, awaiting insect prey to approach their poised perch.
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Sep 10, 2016

British Wildlife Photography Awards 2016

 Highly Commended
Photo by Michael Durham
Predator & Prey (Sparrowhawk)
Dumfries, Scotland

 Highly Commended
Photo by Adrian Clarke
The Remains of the Jay (Sparrowhawk)
Staffordshire, England

Highly Commended
Photo by Peter Cairns
Life and Death (Golden Eagle)
Assynt, Scotland

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Sep 5, 2016

Common Loon tops poll as Canada's favourite bird

Loon carving by Ron Sadler 1983 / Photo by BarrytheBirder

 Loon has huge lead over Snowy Owl 

The Toronto Star newspaper has reported, on the front page of its Sept. 4th edition, that the Common Loon is the overwhelming choice of Canadian Geographic magazine readers who voted in its National Bird Project for Canada's favourite bird.   The loon garnered 13,995 votes compared to the Snowy Owl which got 8,498 votes.   The Grey Jay (a.k.a. the 'Whiskey Jack) had 7,918 votes, with the Canada Goose getting 3,616 votes.   In total , nearly 50,000 votes were cast. A panel of experts will make the final selection on Sept. 19.   The winner of the contest will be announced in the magazine's December, 2016 edition.   The final choice does not have any official status because there is no official Canadian initiative at this time to name a national bird.
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Sep 4, 2016

More of my favourite bird photos

All photos by BarrytheBirder...

Female Mallard Duck

Spotted Sandpiper / breeding plumage


Canada Geese

Female Baltimore Oriole

Ring-billed Gulls

Mourning Dove / preening

Pine Siskin in bird bath

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

Sep 3, 2016

New Canada Post bird stamps

The Canadian bird stamps shown here were issued on July 12, 2016.   They feature the official birds of five Canadian provinces and territories.   

The featured birds are the Rock Ptarmigan (Nunavut), the Great Horned Owl (Alberta), the Common Raven (Yukon), the Sharp-tailed Grouse (Saskatchewan) and the Atlantic Puffin (Newfoundland and Labrador).   

Stamp designers are Kosta Tsetsekas, Adrian Horveth and John Belisle.

Illustrations are by Keith Martin.

These stamps are the first of a three-year series celebrating Canadian birds.  

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Sep 2, 2016

House Sparrow ~ Passer domesticus

Photo by BarrytheBirder
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Sep 1, 2016

The modern saga continues...

Photo by Sara Zimorsk, Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fishories
First wild-hatched 'whoopers' in Louisiana in 77 years
Pictured above is female Whooping Crane L6-12 with her chicks LW1-16 and LW2-16, on April 13, 2016 in Louisiana.   The two chicks are the first wild-hatched 'whoopers' born in Louisiana since 1939.   The parents were a 4-year old female and a 3-year old male which were raised at the U.S. Geological Survey  Putuxent Wildlife Research Centre in Maryland, where researchers work to re-build free-flying populations of the big, endangered, bugle-voiced bird species.
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