Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Yellow and Gray Immature Male American Redstart

I decided to go birding through my photo files and discovered this American Redstart, a small warbler that dropped in to visit our Regina, SK, backyard a few years ago. It stayed only a few minutes — but spent those posing on the branch that sticks out from our lilac trees towards the feeders.

Female American Redstart. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved,
Immature Male American Redstart.   © SB
Female American Redstart. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved,
American Redstart. (He flitted and fanned his tail - then left!) © SB

I'm told that at this stage, immature male (and female, which look very much the same) American Redstarts are sometimes called "yellowstarts", as a way of affectionately indicating their colour phase. And yes, females are also gray and yellow — but the blackish feathers on the rump and the salmon orange glow at the bend of its wing apparently mark this one as a young male. (It would be so nice if he'd come back in his high contrast black and orange feathers!) 

What is this? Immature male American Redstart  (Paruline flamboyante)
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo date: September 7, 2013.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Cedar Waxwing in Caragana Blossoms

Looking through my photos from the summer, I found this shot of a Cedar Waxwing. What a perfect match between the yellow tips of its tail and the yellow Caragana flowers of its perch. There was a small flock of about five birds at the Condie Nature Refuge that day; some hid, some — like these two — posed.

Cedar Waxwing. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Adult Cedar Waxwing, standing guard in the Caragana tree.  © SB
Cedar Waxwing. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Another view of an adult Cedar Waxwing,
showing off its yellow tail and red waxy wingtips.  © SB

What are these? Cedar Waxwings (Jaseur d'Amérique)
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo date: May 29, 2016.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Juvenile Cedar Waxwings in Regina's Lakeridge Park

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Juvenile Cedar Waxwing  © SB
On a birding walk through Regina's Lakeshore Park, we saw a large flock of Cedar Waxwings with many juveniles, all softly wheezing in the trees.

I hadn't seen Juvenile Cedar Waxwings before, although I'd like to think I could have recognized them by the yellow tails, black eye patches and head crest feathers, even without the help of fellow birders with Nature Regina

But... I can be blind at times, and many eyes are more far likely to see what's hiding than only mine.

There were no adults in these trees, but one perched high on a nearby tree, watrching the young ones, watching us.

Sometimes, I think Waxwings sound like the breath of trees. Not that I know what trees sound like when they breathe, but these birds' high whistling wheeze makes me think of an old pine catching its breath while gently creaking in the wind.

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Juvenile Cedar Waxwing, with soft tan belly stripes   © SB
Juvenile Cedar Waxwings. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Several of the Juvenile Cedar Waxwings.  © SB

What are these? Juvenile Cedar Waxwings (Jaseur d'Amérique)
Location: Lakeridge Park, Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo date: September 10, 2016.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Three stages of American Coots in Regina Saskatchewan

American Coots feature stunning contrasts as adults, with black heads, red eyes, and white bills. As babies, they are amazing — picture this: bald heads, bright orange-yellow feathers and red bills (or visit this page, which shows an American Coot with a baby in a Saskatchewan slough). And, as juveniles they are again different, with feathers of varying shades of gray.

Coots breed at a local lake, in Lakeridge Park near where I live in Regina, Saskatchewan, and when I dropped by with a group from Nature Regina to see what birds were there, three stages of American Coots swam by: An adult, a young juvenile, and a slightly older juvenile Coot.

Adult American Coot.  Copyright © Shelley Banks. All rights reserved.
Adult American Coot - a study in contrast, red, white, gray and black. © SB
Juvenile American Coot.  Copyright © Shelley Banks. All rights reserved.
 A Juvenile American Coot, whose head is starting to darken. © SB
Juvenile American Coot.  Copyright © Shelley Banks. All rights reserved.
A younger, smaller, paler, Juvenile American Coot.  © SB 

What are these? American Coots -  Foulque d'Amérique)
Location: Lakeridge Park, Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo date: September 10, 2016.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Juvenile American Pelican near my Regina neighbourhood

I photographed this juvenile American White Pelican in a local lake when I visited with a group of birders from Nature Regina earlier this month.

Juvenile American White Pelican, in Regina, SK.  Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
This looks like the great outdoors, but this Juvenile American Pelican is really swimming
in front of a series of lakefront, er, water catchment pond frontage, houses.  © SB

Summer and fall are such great times for birding — and for seeing juvenile birds of many species, as they are arriving back through the city now, in preparation for their winter migration south. 

This young American White Pelican still has the light brownish feathers on its head, neck and back that mark it as a juvenile.  

Juvenile American White Pelican, swimming in front of house in Regina, SK.  Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
This is a city drainage pond.
This is a juvenile American White Pelican.
This is a house in the background.
Oh, Regina.   © SB


What is this? A juvenile American White Pelican (Pélican d'Amérique)
Location: Lakeridge Park, Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo date: September 10, 2016.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

American Coot: Big Foot on the Loose in Regina

American Coot - feet. Copyright © Shelley Banks. All Rights Reserved.
These are seriously the feet and toes of an American Coot,
even though they strongly resemble the segments
of my Thanksgiving Cactus.   © SB
I had no idea that Big Foot was a bird — until I saw a young American Coot flap out of the water at a local Regina park.

At first, I thought pond weeds had been caught on its droopy, elongated, fat toes, but no, what I saw as greenery was in fact its green skin.

Coots are waterbirds, but not ducks, and so they don't have webbed feet. Instead, their feet are adapted to swimming with the addition of wide lobes of skin that act as toe flippers.

(And these big feet also, says All About Birds, support the Coots' weight on marshy ground.)

There were several American Coots of varying ages in the park, which is one of their local breeding spots in Regina, Saskatchewan. One black-feathered adult, a few darkish gray juvenile Coots, like this one, and a younger, smaller, light gray bird.

My thanks to the Nature Regina group I went bird watching with!)

American Coot - feet. Copyright © Shelley Banks. All Rights Reserved.
What big floppy feet, you have, young American Coot!  © SB
 American Coot - feet. Copyright © Shelley Banks. All Rights Reserved.
Walking is easy, when you're well grounded. 
American Coot, Regina, SK  © SB
American Coot - feet. Copyright © Shelley Banks. All Rights Reserved.
Young American Coot, Regina, SK. 
(When it gets older it will turn black. What a range of colours these birds have, 
including bright orange when very young!)  © SB
  
What is this? A young American Coot, showing off its awesome feet. (Foulque d'Amérique)
Location: Lakeridge Park, Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo date: September 10, 2016.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ross's Goose flying with Canada Geese

Ross's Goose. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Ross's Goose flying over a park in Regina, SK  © SB
A small flock of geese circled the park — all brown, except for one white Ross's Goose.

And colour wasn't the only difference: The Ross's Goose was also dramatically smaller than the rest.

Ross's Goose breeds in the Arctic and passes over Saskatchewan on its migratory flight path to and from California and other spots in the southern U.S.

All About Birds says looks like a miniature Snow Goose. None of these were flying in the park for on-the-spot comparison, but the Ross's Goose was certainly far smaller than a Canada Goose!

Ross's Goose with Canada Goose. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Tiny Ross's Goose, flying beside a Canada Goose. Regina, SK  © SB 

What is this? Ross's Goose (with a Canada Goose) — Oie de Ross
Location: Lakeridge Park, Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo date: September 10, 2016.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mud-digging Northern Flickers: Wascana Park, Regina

I've always thought of Northern Flickers as tree birds not ground birds, bark drillers not dirt diggers. But when I watched several Flickers in Regina's Wascana Park on Friday, these large brown woodpeckers were spending far more time in the mud than in the trees. (And even those on the trees had muddy beaks to show that they, too, had been digging. Or they'd just finished scraping their beaks against the bark, to get them clean.) 

Northern Flicker (yellow shafted). Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Northern Flicker, taking a break from dirt drilling.  © SB 

Northern Flicker (yellow shafted). Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Northern Flicker resting on a tree, with muddy beak.
The line of yellow wing feathers is also visible.  © SB

Northern Flicker (yellow shafted). Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Blurred, but shows the colour of these
Northern Flickers' feather shafts. © SB

What is this? A Northern Flicker (yellow-shafted); or Pic flamboyant 
Location: Wascana Park, Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo date: September 9, 2016.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Immature Ruby-throated Hummingbird drops by: Regina, SK

Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird resting in the lilac trees between feedings. © SB
I was planning to put away the hummingbird feeder when I saw a Ruby-throated Hummingbird buzz by it. So I refilled it with fresh sugar water, and have been told to continue doing so for several weeks yet. Hummingbirds may be migrating, but they are not yet gone — and there are often strays that arrive later in the fall looking for sustenance.

At first, I thought the Ruby-throated Hummingbird we saw throughout the day yesterday and the one that's been busy here today was a female, because its throat is quite pale. On a closer view, though, there are a fair number of dark speckles on her/his throat, which makes it more likely that this is an immature male...

Unless, of course, there are two birds taking turns in our yard? But I think it's just that with feather colours, so much depends on the light.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
This Ruby-throated Hummingbird has me trained - I see it, I fill the feeder.  © SB  
Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
I think this is the same bird - it's possible it's not, as this was taken yesterday,
and the ones above were taken today. The light was different, which affects colour. © SB
Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
A front view, yesterday's Ruby-throated Hummingbird, resting.  © SB
Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Another look at the feathers of today's Ruby-throated Hummingbird. © SB 
  
What is this? An immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Colibri à gorge rubis
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan
Photo date: September 8, 2016.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Juvenile Chipping Sparrow: New baby bird for our Regina yard

Juvenile Chipping Sparrow. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Juvenile Chipping Sparrow in the garden sprinkler 
We had several new-to-us young birds this summer, including a juvenile Chipping Sparrow with fresh baby bird feathers that differ just enough from the adults' to be confusing.

For example, its trademark red cap had not yet grown in, and its breast was streaked, not pale buffy gray. But the close presence of the adult — who frequently fed it, as well — confirmed that this streaky brown baby bird really was a Chipping Sparrow.

I knew that some Chipping Sparrows stayed for the summer in parts of Regina, Saskatchewan, but this was the first time I've been aware of one nesting near my part of town.

Adult Chipping Sparrow. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Adult Chipping Sparrow © SB
Juvenile Chipping Sparrow. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Juvenile Chipping Sparrow © SB
Adult and Juvenile Chipping Sparrow. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Feeding time for the Chipping Sparrows © SB
Adult and Juvenile Chipping Sparrow. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Dependent and demanding! Chipping Sparrows. © SB
Juvenile Chipping Sparrow. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Brown speckled juvenile Chipping Sparrow   © SB
Adult Chipping Sparrow. Copyright © Shelley Banks, All Rights Reserved.
Adult Chipping Sparrow - no, to streaks, and yes, to a red cap. © SB 

What are these: Chipping Sparrows - an adult and a juvenile.  (Bruant familier)
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Photo dates: July 31 to August 2, 2016.

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