Sunday, 27 April 2014

Still Holding The Fort

On this cold and windy April morning I took a walk to the back of our property and was pleased to see the bluebirds still holding their claim to one of the brood boxes. As I watched from a comfortable log seat at the edge of the bush I witnessed a vicious fight between the male bluebird and a male tree swallow. They were both on the ground under the disputed nest box and locked in serious combat for perhaps half a minute. When they disentangled, the bluebird flew to the roof of the disputed box in victory. Satisfied that his ownership was acknowledged, he flew to a tree branch nearby to smooth some battle ruffled feathers.

Looking West. The red arrow points to the bluebird box.

Looking East.

The male bluebird guarding his box against interlopers.

After a vicious scuffle with a tree swallow, the bluebird claims victory.

After fight feather repair.

Now missing some feathers, he is still king of the castle.

Lest you feel sorry for the tree swallows, let me point out that of perhaps two dozen bird boxes on my property, all are occupied by tree swallows except for the one above. Here are a few pics of some tree swallow holdings:

Near the pine trees.

A tree swallow pair watching over their box.

This box needs a new fastener on the cleanout panel.

Swallows facing into the wind under a mature ash tree.

This streamside box has an ABS pipe fitted for predator control.

The page wire fence makes a dandy perch.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Blue Sunday

Just got back from a walk to our bush lot and am pleased to report that a bluebird couple are very interested in two of the bird boxes there. Now, if only they can hold the fort against competing tree swallows!

The male bluebird having a good look around his holdings.

Considering Box No. 1 with an extended back board.

Also considering Box No. 2 with an extended roof.

I think she prefers Box. No. 2.

Yesterday I was very surprised to find a lone honeybee foraging for pollen in a patch of crocus blooms on my lawn. Since all my hives were winter killed and it will be at least a month before my replacements arrive, I can only conclude that a) a feral population is in the area or b) someone within a couple of miles is also keeping honeybees. Miss Buzz wasn't talking.

Young worker honey bee with crocus pollen on her legs.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Left Overs

The snowy owls have now departed from my patch, no doubt to continue on their way back up North.

I had a look beside a fence post where one was seen the most frequently and sure enough -- owl pellets. Curious to know what they were feeding on, I dissected the dry and odorless regurgitated lumps. They contained nothing but mouse fur and skeletons. And I mean nothing else! Every bit of digestible tissue and moisture had been removed before the dried out remains were horked up and out. What an efficient digestive system they must have. Since these owls were feeding only on small rodents, no wonder the local smaller birds weren't worried about them. They knew they were not on the menu.

Snowy owl pellets found at the base of a fence post.

The pellets contained only mouse bones and fur.

Mouse skulls and teeth.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Monday Walk

This morning my walk to the bush was cut short because the snowy owls are still here and I didn't want to disturb them. One was at it's favourite station beside the laneway and a second owl was half a field away on another post. It is exceptional that the snowy owls are here in such numbers and staying so late before flying back up North. Interestingly, the local birds are ignoring them completely instead of mobbing them like they would a resident owl or hawk.

Owl No. 1 scanning for game beside the laneway to the bush.

Owl No. 2, half a field away.

A pair of tree swallows on the same box a snowy owl used for perching yesterday.
Owl No. 2 is in the distance at right.

The same box with a view to the south, overlooking a small snow melt lake.

A more rustic box, but still 'home-sweet-home' to the tree swallows.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Little Boxes

Last year my brother, who is a carpentry whiz, constructed and painted seven bluebird boxes. Tree swallows soon moved into them and raised broods. Late this afternoon, I saw a snowy owl using one of these boxes as a hunting platform. Was it a coincidence that the owl chose a white box to help blend in? 

Spiffy homes for seven lucky bird couples.

A snowy owl was using a white bird box as a hunting platform.

In profile, this one seems to have bushy eyebrows, a la Groucho Marx.

My backyard wild bunnies must look pretty tasty to a large owl!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Snowies Still Here

Just took a walk back the lane to our bush lot. Was hoping to see blue birds. Instead, I saw two snowy owls which have not yet returned to the North. Large and regal looking, they are beautiful birds. 

Owl No. 1 watching from a laneway post.

It didn't like my intrusion so flew to the top of a post a field away.

A second snowie was perched atop a thin steel fence post not far from the first owl.

The lane is still snow covered and not yet fit for a small tractor to travel on.

After a long winter, it's so nice to hang the washing outside.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Spring Distractions

For days and weeks I have been intending to start my income tax return. Each day seems to turn into, "Well -- maybe tomorrow."

The trouble is that there are just too many distractions appearing outside my windows. We are finally getting some sunny and warm days after a particularly horrid winter. My deck is just begging for someone to grab a pair of birding binoculars and come sit on an Adirondack chair! Oh, just saw a tree swallow swooping in from the South!

Okay, nuff fooling around -- office work this afternoon for sure!

These gray partridge appreciate the brushy areas here.

How can one not stop and admire the colours of a cardinal?

And the blues in this blue jay -- gorgeous!!!

Mr. and Mrs. Purple Finch wondering about the cat.

No worries -- the window will protect us!

Cottontails are now foraging more in daylight hours.

Wake up, Ellie! There is a squirrel in the feeder!