August 23rd – An Experiment


Great shot of a hunting Black-crowned Night Heron. -MMG

My laptop was quite a good one…..when I bought it about 12 years ago. It did all kinds of things and saved all kinds of files. But I noticed that over the years it began to slow down and then slow down even more. [Evidently aging can do that. Who knew!?] And it was sort of finicky; e.g., although I could whip off a blog complete with pictures when I was at home, I couldn’t do it away from home. So I’d have to wait, build up material, and do my thing when I returned.

Well enough of that says I and I sought expert advice. And then I talked that advisor into picking out a good laptop for me and programming it with the stuff she thought I might need. And she did…..Presto! It was that easy!

So right now, I’m in a little motel in New Brunswick in Perth-Andover and I’m actually doing up a blog….complete with pictures. HUZZAH!!! I am moving (or have been moved) into the New Age.

A very young American Robin. Possibly the progeny of a third brood…. -MMG

We had a young robin just like this one that was hanging around our back deck waiting for the Baltimore Orioles to drop cherries from the jam feeder. The robin would whip in an swallow it whole.

A young Gray Catbird. -MMG

An adult (note the red eye – juvenile irises are brown) Red-eyed Vireo. This one was foraging in a family group of 4 birds. -MMG

Seems to be lots of caterpillars around this year, which is good for this Black-billed Cuckoo. – RdeB


August 22nd – Get Ready!


One of our most colourful birds: Blackburnian Warbler. This handsome male was caught and banded at Ruthven this past Spring.

Migrants have been working their way south since the end of July but haven’t been all that noticeable (to me anyway). The thing that tells me that the migration is really getting underway is when I see a long-distance warbler that I know breeds north of here and thus is on its way if I see it here.

Yesterday I was doing my “usual” count around town – I meander through the streets, along the river and then do a loop in the countryside along Gowland Road, which takes me past farmers’ fields and a small woodlot. It was in the woodlot that I noticed a small bird gleaning its way through the foliage. Through my binos I discovered that it was a male Blackburnian Warbler (still pretty colourful despite wearing its “basic” – or Winter – plumage.

The centre of its range is in the Southern Shield area, so well north of us down here. Most spend the Winter in montane forests of the northern Andes but also in Amazonia and northern South America. So…..this bird has a looong way to go!

August 16th – Getting Ready…..


We’ve seen as many as 5 birds trying to access the same feeder. -DOL

One thing about this damned virus is that it’s given me a chance to catch up on my reading- all that stuff I had put into various piles (based on subject matter, fact vs fiction, etc.) meaning to work my way through it on a “rainy day”. Well those days are here, evidently, and I’m working my way through…. Now my reading spot of choice is a corner of our back deck where I can take in our 2 oriole feeders and our hummingbird feeder as well as a heavily-flowered trumpet vine that attracts both orioles and hummers.

For the past 2-3 weeks the oriole traffic has been….spectacular: as many as 10 can be seen at one time directly around the feeders. Then they fly off in one direction only to be replaced by a bunch coming in from another direction. I would love to know the absolute number that have used them during this time. Most appear to be young birds (some very young) but there’s a couple of adult males that mix in as well.

And, wow!, they sure are going through the jam – a bottle a day. I’m finding that their favourite is a President’s Choice Twice the Fruit Six-Fruit Flavour concoction that includes large numbers of cherries. The birds pick away at these and sometimes carry the larger ones off to a branch so they can tear them apart. Occasionally a cherry gets dropped but there’s a young Robin that likes to clean them up, swallowing them whole.

The young ones are doing a lot less begging now – most not all. They’re content just to bicker and vie for a spot (sometimes completely ignoring an empty feeder right beside them – it seems they’d rather fight). But this isn’t going to last too much longer. One night…soon…the sun will go down and about half an hour later this group of orioles will take off heading south. The next morning will likely find them a couple of hundred kilometers south of us, some on their way to Belize where I encountered them this past January.

In the meantime some folks have been getting out and about. Eila and her dad (Darren) did a back country kayak trip in the Kawarthas (no pictures!); Maggie and her family were at a cottage “up north” (nice pictures but too small to post); and Karen took her family on their annual pilgrimage to Algonquin Park. Here are some of her pictures:

2nd year male American Redstart just moulting into its full adult plumage. -KP

A “confusing fall warbler” – Black-throated Green Warbler. -KP

Adult Common Loon. -KP

Well-hidden Common Yellowthroat. -KP

Eastern Wood-pewee. -KP

Hairy Woodpecker. Note the very limited suffusion of red on its head indicating it’s a young (HY) bird. -KP

Another “confusing Fall warbler”: Magnolia Warbler. -KP

Male Myrtle Warbler. -KP

Pileated Woodpecker. -KP

Red-breasted Nuthatch. -KP

White-throated Sparrow – look for these guys in large numbers starting in October. -KP

Black-backed Woodpecker. -KP

Two Black-backed Woodpeckers. -KP


White Admiral. -KP

Monarch Butterfly. -KP

There is a large patch of milkweed over by the campground office at Mew Lake, and that’s where I’ve collected caterpillars and milkweed leaves for them to eat in the last few years while I’m here. Last year I probably found ten or so, and raised them in the relative safety of my mesh habitat for release. This year- one. I’m not sure what to make of that. I have seen maybe three adult monarchs flying around in different places so far which I think is fewer than usual. Lots of food available for them… just no monarchs. There is an old airfield over there too, usually dense with scrub blueberry- the little bushes are about half as high as usual, and not a berry to be seen. Maybe some unusual spring weather caused the berry drought. Makes you wonder which of these things are related- but really they all are, one way or another, aren’t they?
Tonight we will trek to the beach to enjoy the annual Perseid meteor shower, one of the wonders of the park at this time of year. The light pollution even in our relatively rural area is still significant when you compare it to the utter blackness here. Tonight, at the peak of the event, you can see 50-100 meteors per hour! It’s really something to see.

Milkweed Tussock Moth. -KP

Chowing down! I notice that when I find these guys, monarchs can be scarce… I only found one caterpillar in the large patch of milkweed I looked through today. I’m not sure if that’s an actual thing or not, though, just an observation.

Autumn Meadowhawk. -KP

Female Canada Darner. -KP

Rosy Maple Moth. -KP

Rosy Maple Moth caterpillar. -KP

Russet Alder Leaf Beetle. -KP

So…. this guy is in a family called ‘calligrapher’ beetles, because of the fancy markings on the shell. This particular variety only has 12 other iNaturalist sightings in Ontario, and this was only the 4th one in Algonquin Park. So that’s kind of fun!

Spotted Tussock Moth. -KP

Two-striped Grasshopper. -KP

Variable Dancer. -KP


July 9th – Demanding Adults…Demanding Children

An adult male Baltimore Oriole is joined at the jam feeder by a young one – which is making quite a racket with its begging calls with wing quivering for emphasis. -DOL

The whining pays off as the male stuffs some jam into the young one’s mouth. -DOL

Since early May, when the returning migrant orioles found our two jam feeders, there has been constant traffic from the trees to the jam, back to the trees. Initially it was pretty frenetic and I think we were attracting birds from quite a wide area. [I watched one bird fly from the other side of the Grand River directly to our feeder and then back again, a distance I would estimate of at least 300 meters.] Once territorial disputes were sorted out and nest-building commenced, the flow slowed down – but never stopped. We knew females were sitting on eggs when their presence was just occasional even though the males came often.

Note the jam on this bird’s bill. They have “brushes” on the end of their tongues which make gobbling up jam (or flower nectar) quite easy. -DOL

Throughout this time the adults were very definite in what they thought we should be providing. We would take the martini glasses in at night to clean them and then refill them in readiness for the next day. But if they weren’t out there by the crack of dawn we heard about!

It’s been interesting to watch the young ones learn how to “navigate” the jam feeder. Initially some have done face plants into the sugary confection and others have stumbled into it and have to wade across (later picking the jam off their feet and legs). -DOL

Then, around the beginning of July, another chord (or I guess I should say dischord) was added: the incessant begging chatter of the juveniles:”FEED ME”!!! The adults tend the young for about 12-14 days after fledging. The young birds have a lot to learn: how to fly and navigate through trees and shrubs; how to feed and what to feed on; what to be vigilant about. It’s been interesting to watch the juveniles around the jam feeders. The adults get them as far as perching on the basket rim and will feed them in that position but the young ones have to learn how to navigate the wire on their own. I have seen this result in “face plants” into the jam or a tumble into it resulting in their having to wade to the other side (and then slurp the jam off their legs/feet). But they’re learning quickly and mistakes are happening less and less frequently. Soon the adults will cut them loose – the juveniles will be completely on their own while their parents find a safe place to go through a complete moult, replacing all their feathers before they head south.

We’ve seen as many as 5 birds trying to access the same feeder. -DOL

A good look at a young Baltimore Oriole. Note the light (and somewhat shorter bill and the tan wing bars. -DOL

Adult male Baltimore Oriole. Note the white wing bars and the relatively long, pointed dark grey bill. -DOL

When that happens the young birds will remain in the general area but will begin to expand their radius (“disperse”) as they scope out the various local habitats with a view to where they might like to set up a territory next Spring. In the meantime they will have to watch out for predators. I have yet to see an accipiter in the yard but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before the “noise” attracts one.

A young Cooper’s Hawk. This must be a wonderful time of year for accipiters: so much “food on the table”.