Bird Watching Hamilton Harbour
Tuesday January 2012
Broad Winged hawk
A small, stocky, forest-dwelling hawk of eastern deciduous forests, the Broad-winged Hawk is hard to see on its nesting grounds. It becomes more conspicuous on migration when it congregates into flocks and passes by hawk migration lookouts in the thousands.
This common, large songbird is familiar to many people, with its perky crest; blue, white, and black plumage; and noisy calls. Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period.
Chipping or Song Sparrow
A rich, russet-and-gray bird with bold streaks down its white chest, the Song Sparrow is one of the most familiar North American sparrows. Don’t let the bewildering variety of regional differences this bird shows across North America deter you: it’s one of the first species you should suspect if you see a streaky sparrow in an open, shrubby, or wet area. If it perches on a low shrub, leans back, and sings a stuttering, clattering song, so much the better.
The active little Downy Woodpecker is a familiar sight at backyard feeders and in parks and woodlots, where it joins flocks of chickadees and nuthatches, barely outsizing them. An often acrobatic forager, this black-and-white woodpecker is at home on tiny branches or balancing on slender plant galls, sycamore seed balls, and suet feeders. Downies and their larger lookalike, the Hairy Woodpecker, are one of the first identification challenges that beginning bird watchers master.
The Female Northern Cardinal
The male Northern Cardinal is perhaps responsible for getting more people to open up a field guide than any other bird. They’re a perfect combination of familiarity, conspicuousness, and style: a shade of red you can’t take your eyes off. Even the brown females sport a sharp crest and warm red accents. Cardinals don’t migrate and they don’t molt into a dull plumage, so they’re still breathtaking in winter’s snowy backyards. In summer, their sweet whistles are one of the first sounds of the morning.
Black-crowned Night Herons
Black-crowned Night Herons are small stocky, short-legged compared to other herons. They are handsomely attired in a tri-colour plumage of black, grey and white, with two long plumes on the nape.
Song: Both sexes sing clear, slurred whistled phrases that are cabulary of several phrase types which it combines into different songs. One common song pattern sounds like purdy purdy purdy… whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit. Another resembles what-cheer, what-cheer … wheet, wheet, wheet, wheet.
Call: The common call is a metallic chip, given as a contact call and in situations of alarm.
An intense bundle of energy at your feeder, Red-breasted Nuthatches are tiny, active birds of north woods and western mountains. These long-billed, short-tailed songbirds travel through tree canopies with chickadees, kinglets, and woodpeckers but stick to tree trunks and branches, where they search bark furrows for hidden insects. Their excitable yank-yank calls sound like tiny tin horns being honked in the treetops.
Information: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Wikipedia
Photographer Lois Mcnaught