Chickadees out in full force this calm, snowy morning, two nights and one day into this heavy snowfall.
A mystery bird came to the oak trunk and clung upside down there, closely followed by a female Downy Woodpecker with its smart black and white back.
The mystery bird is about twice the size of the chickadees, a little smaller than the woodpecker. Bigger than the nuthatches that frequent this area. Creamy buff breast and darker, greyish back. Shaped like a nuthatch or woodpecker with their short stubby tails.
The Downy meandered up the ant-sheltering oak trunk for a while, hunting, while the mystery bird just hung out, upside down, sheltering on the leeward side of the trunk.
A passing chickadee stopped at the tree and watched the woodpecker hopefully for a while.
A wonderful moon! Gateway to Autumn, easing us in slowly, deliciously…
It began with the first inklings of summer’s end:
Two bright yellow jewels in the green grass – the first fallen leaves.
Six geese making their pilgrim way across dusk-darkening sky at 9pm.
It shines brightly now on comfortably cool nighttimes; darkness falling ever-earlier.
Mornings are moonless at this time: sunrise presides over crisp morning walks,
under bright clear skies trailing high clouds that capture ever-shifting colours.
Elm trees presenting a single, stark, yellow-clustered branch among the summer-green.
And it will end with the autumnal equinox, ushering out Summer.
Absent since spring migration sightings, a few robins have reappeared in the neighbourhood briefly.
Two juvenile robins… or possibly another type of smaller-sized, adult thrush… hopped and hunted their way through the yard – subtly rust-coloured, mottled breasts.
A single adult robin seen nearby another day. Most recently, an adult robin lying dead in the alley with a throat wound… the same bird?
Other places are alive with birdsong in the summer, while this area seems quiet by comparison.
I bear witness to the truth of this recent local newspaper article – in this neighbourhood owned by magpies and squirrels, “few town-nesting American robins ever succeed in raising a clutch of eggs to hatching.”
A week ago in the park, unusual feathers covered the ground. They were fluffy, with blunt tips. Yellowish fuzzy tendrils so fine that they clung to everything the feathers touched. Brown and white, barred with darker brown. It was hard to find any good ones to bring home because they appeared to have been through a lawn mower.
I assumed from all the feathers that a bird had met its fate there – perhaps a passing coyote?
I’m not familiar with identifying birds by their feathers (except for the brilliant yet ubiquitous Magpie) but my guess was an owl, based on my amateur intuitive reasoning that if the shape of the parts resembled at all the shape of the whole – that squarish, blunt shape & bars just seems owlish!
Today passing through the park again, I was surprised to see fresh feathers, these ones unmown and in great shape. This batch was less fluffy than last week’s, and didn’t have such square tips. Perhaps the bird is alive and well, after all!
It dawned on me that there may be a juvenile owl just getting her first adult suit – from the fresh supply and the reduced baby-fuzziness. Peering into the treetops in the bright sunshine I couldn’t see any sign of the little(?) one, though. If it is an owl, it’s come to the right place – plenty of young jackrabbits to meet any carnivorous appetite in these parts!
Looking again at the colouring, I remember the last mystery bird in the neighbourhood – the Ring-necked Pheasant… Maybe I’ll have to do some research on this one!
This week baby magpies left the nest in the neighbourhood. So cute with their little tails, concentrating hard on short, inexperienced flights.
This morning I saw something I’ve never seen before – young magpies with light grey markings* where normally they are blue-black. They look so different I wouldn’t have thought they were the same kind of bird, but they were behaving like other young magpies, making the same calls with other magpies, and seemed to be part of a family of normally marked magpies. Possible!?
(*Not pictured here – didn’t have my camera with me!)
They are late this year! Finally saw one perched on a neighbour’s chimney after the big rain earlier this week. In other spring signs – rhubarb is up. And this morning my dog enjoyed her first taste of new green grass for the season. 😉