Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Janitorial Duties

This handsome American Robin is looking for sumac seeds.

He will be lucky to find anything worthwhile on this decimated shrub.

In this, the last week of March, I'm getting anxious to inspect and clean out all of my bird boxes. In coming weeks, Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows will be returning and looking for suitable cavities to nest in. Putting on my janitor hat, these little apartments must be made ready for their inspection and approval.

The Eastern Screech Owls have now abandoned the two boxes they used over winter for roosting and for caching prey. Their preferred nesting location remains a mystery but is far enough away that I no longer hear their calls at night. I wish them success in raising their babies, wherever they are. Since the owls have not chosen the boxes for brooding, I'm adding entrance reducers to exclude European Starlings, which can be somewhat messy. Each autumn, the larger entrances are reopened and the welcome mat is back out for my favourite little nocturnal friends.

A pair of White-breasted Nuthatches considered this box for nesting.

Also, a pair of House Sparrows showed more than passing interest.

European Starlings had claimed ownership of this box.

Spring inspection and alteration in progress.

Sorry Mr. Starling, I've changed the locks. Landlady privilege.

A mouse started this nest in the Fall but never moved in.

A typical House Wren nest -- chock-a-block with twigs and peppered with spider egg sacs.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Usual Crowd

On this morning's CBC Ottawa radio broadcast, a weather reporter declared that March came in like a wet lion. I would call it more of a wet lamb. We have mild weather and lots of rain. Much of our snow has melted away. The usual crowd of birds are now returning from their winter vacations. Their early morning songs declare that winter's days are numbered.

Red-winged blackbirds and cowbirds forage in mixed flocks.

Starlings are all business as they energetically probe the lawn for edibles.

A soft maple tree now resembles a scene from the Hitchcock film, 'The Birds'.

The same tree still provides my red squirrel with nutritious maple keys.

Last week on this maple, my screech owl was scolded by two nuthatches.

Ellie Mae and my knees will soon part company when Spring beckons us outside.