Thursday, May 30, 2013

White-throated Sparrow - White and Tan Morphs: May Backyard Sparrow, Regina, SK (7)

White-throated Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
White morph White-throated Sparrow 
in the apple tree © SB
When I saw the first White-throated Sparrow this year in my Regina, Saskatchewan, backyard, I was puzzled by its markings.

The White-throated Sparrows I'd seen (or noticed, anyway) last year were crisply marked — white head stripes, white throat, yellow lores (spots between the eye and bill).

Even their bright throats were clearly outlined, like the bird at right, one of the later White-throated Sparrows to arrive in my yard.

This year's first arrivals, however, were drab and very generically little-brown-bird.

But when I took shots for identification and displayed them full-screen on my 24-inch monitor — and significantly lightened the exposure, shadows, etc. — I realized these, too, where White-throated Sparrows.

There are a couple of options for the IDs of these browner bird, and perhaps a reader can help clarify this?
  1. I've seen several similar White-throated Sparrows on photo websites posted as immature birds, but my Stokes shows the immatures as clearly white-marked... 
  2. There are also Tan-morphs of White-throated Sparrows, which my Stokes shows as looking fairly close to the brown birds in my photos, so perhaps that's what these are? And if so, I guess the bright white guys would be white-morphs... 
In any case, that's what I'm leaning to here: #2. Tan morphs. Below. 

And so, this year, both the White and Tan morphs of White-throated Sparrows showed up in my yard. 

Which doesn't seem all that unusual, as apparently mated pairs "almost always include one of each morph." (Sibley guides info on White-Throated Sparrows.)  And these birds pictured above and below were both in the same apple tree... 

White-throated Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
Tan morph White-throated Sparrow
in the same apple tree. 
© SB
White-throated Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
Tan morph White-throated Sparrow on the ground. (Even more difficult to see its murky markings) © SB

May Migrating Native Sparrows: (yes, there are likely more — these are the ones in my Regina, Saskatchewan backyard. And yes, there is also the ever-present House Sparrow, but it's neither native nor migrating...)
  1. Chipping Sparrow
  2. American Tree Sparrow
  3. Harris's Sparrow 
  4. Clay-Coloured Sparrow
  5. Lincoln's Sparrow
  6. White-crowned Sparrows
  7. White-throated Sparrows (White and Tan Morphs) 

What are these?  White-throated Sparrows, White morph Tan morph.
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan.
Photo date: May 11, 2013. 

~~~~~

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mourning Dove at Condie in a Shapely Brown Dress

I'd like a dress that flows like the back of this Mourning Dove, feather waist cinched, soft shawl collar flaring, brown narrow hips, and long long long long sleeves that go on and on and on and on...

(Edwardian? Victorian? I'm not clear on my period fashions.)

The Mourning Dove's eyes I could master with different glasses, but that's not the look that I'm going for. Green eyes, I have; googly rims, I don't need.

With this casual elegance, no need for a chair. Any old post or barbed wire will do.

Mourning Dove. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
A svelte and elegant Mourning Dove. © SB

What is this?  Mourning Dove
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, Saskatchewan.

Photo dates: May 28, 2013.

~~~~~



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Regina, Saskatchewan: Goldfinches in my Backyard

American Goldfinches started visiting our backyard feeders in Regina, Saskatchewan, a few weeks ago, sporadically, and in nothing like the numbers we saw last year. (But last year's Goldfinch visit was very brief. One day three finches showed up, then five, then 16, then 24, then no Goldfinches at all...)

These birds are small but highly visible, even in among the new yellow-green lilac leaves. And they are a true delight, even if they only stay for a short time.

(Still this week, they remain.)

American Goldfinches. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
2012: Feeder full of Goldfinches. © SB
American Goldfinch. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
American Goldfinch at the sunflower feeder.  © SB
Female American Goldfinch. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Female Goldfinch, on the lilac tree. © SB
American Goldfinch. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Goldfinch on a chain, waiting to assault the feeder. © SB

What are these?  American Goldfinches
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan.
Photo dates: May 16, 2012; May 23, 2013; May 15, 2013; and May 23, 2013.

~~~~~

Monday, May 27, 2013

White-Crowned Sparrow: May Backyard Sparrows, Regina (6)

Several White-crowned Sparrows have joined the in-migration flock of birds arriving in our Regina, Saskatchewan, backyard this month.

These native birds are larger than Lincoln's Sparrows and Clay-coloured Sparrows. They are also very dramatic with their clear, sharp colours. (I've noticed them in bushes, my attention attracted just by their bright, white stripes.)

White-Crowned Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
White-Crowned Sparrow in the shade. © SB
White-Crowned Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
White-Crowned Sparrow in the sunlight. © SB

May Migrating Native Sparrows: (yes, there are likely more — these are the ones in my Regina, Saskatchewan backyard. And yes, there is also the ever-present House Sparrow, but it's neither native nor migrating...)
  1. Chipping Sparrow
  2. American Tree Sparrow
  3. Harris's Sparrow 
  4. Clay-Coloured Sparrow
  5. Lincoln's Sparrow
  6. White-crowned Sparrows
  7. White-throated Sparrows (White and Tan Morphs) 

What is this?  White-crowned Sparrow
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan.
Photo date: May 11, 2013. 

~~~~~

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lincoln's Sparrow: May Backyard Sparrows, Regina SK (5)


Lincoln's Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Lincoln's Sparrow in Regina, Saskatchewan, backyard. © SB 
Lincoln's Sparrow was a frequent visitor to our Regina, Saskatchewan, backyard in early May.

This small native songbird looks less than half the size of our more common House Sparrows and House Finches.

Lincoln's Sparrow has a clear buffy chest with streaks, and multi-toned streaks on its head.

Often, this bird's head feathers are ruffled to create a peaked crown.

Lincoln's Sparrow's habitat ranges across North America: It breeds in the north (but not the very far north) and Rockies, winters in Mexico, and is on migration in between... All About Birds says it's even been seen in Cuba.

Lincoln's Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Close-up of Lincoln's Sparrow's head,
beak and chest.
© SB 
Lincoln's Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Look closely at this small, back-scratching bird, 
and you'll see Lincoln's Sparrow's peaked crown. © SB 


May Migrating Native Sparrows: (yes, there are likely more — these are the ones in my Regina, Saskatchewan backyard. And yes, there is also the ever-present House Sparrow, but it's neither native nor migrating...)
  1. Chipping Sparrow
  2. American Tree Sparrow
  3. Harris's Sparrow 
  4. Clay-Coloured Sparrow
  5. Lincoln's Sparrow
  6. White-crowned Sparrows
  7. White-throated Sparrows (White and Tan Morphs) 

What is this?  Lincoln's Sparrow
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan.
Photo date: May 10 & 11, 2013. 

~~~~~

Friday, May 24, 2013

Clay-coloured Sparrow: May Backyard Sparrows, Regina SK (4)

Clay-coloured Sparrows are one of my favourite native North American sparrows — they look so clean and crisp, with their pale buffy breasts, pink legs and streaked crowns.

These sparrows live in the grasslands and prairies, throughout the mid section of North America. They breed across Western Canada and the Northern U.S., winter in Mexico, and migrate across the central U.S. And yes, they visit Saskatchewan every summer, and hang out in spring in my Regina backyard.

Clay-coloured Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Clay-coloured Sparrow, in backyard lilac. © SB

Clay-coloured Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Clay-coloured Sparrow, in Regina park. © SB

May Migrating Native Sparrows: (yes, there are likely more — these are the ones in my Regina, Saskatchewan backyard. And yes, there is also the ever-present House Sparrow, but it's neither native nor migrating...)
  1. Chipping Sparrow
  2. American Tree Sparrow
  3. Harris's Sparrow 
  4. Clay-Coloured Sparrow
  5. Lincoln's Sparrow
  6. White-crowned Sparrows
  7. White-throated Sparrows (White and Tan Morphs) 

What are these?  Clay-coloured Sparrows
Location: Top photo, Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan; bottom photo, park, Regina, Saskatchewan. 
Photo date: Top photo, May 10, 2013; bottom photo, May 9, 2012

~~~~~

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Harris's Sparrow: May Backyard Sparrows, Regina SK (3)

Today's May Bird: Harris's Sparrow. I saw only one, but it posed well for me!

These birds, with their distinctive black face, throat and chest markings, are typically found only in the middle of North America — and breed only in Canada.

Harris' Sparrows also have that peculiar (to me) way of running forward while scratching backwards for food that many native sparrows display, and stop-motion moments are rare in my backyard.

Harris's Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Harris's Sparrow - taking a break in my backyard, during migration
from the southern U.S. to the Canadian Arctic.   © SB 


May Migrating Native Sparrows: (yes, there are likely more — these are the ones in my Regina, Saskatchewan backyard. And yes, there is also the ever-present House Sparrow, but it's neither native nor migrating...)
  1. Chipping Sparrow
  2. American Tree Sparrow
  3. Harris's Sparrow 
  4. Clay-Coloured Sparrow
  5. Lincoln's Sparrow
  6. White-crowned Sparrows
  7. White-throated Sparrows (White and Tan Morphs) 

What is this?  Harris's Sparrow
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan.
Photo date: May 11, 2013. 

~~~~~

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

American Dog Tick on Dandelion flower - Ick!

And now, a look at the dark side of prairie nature — an American Dog Tick (or Wood Tick) I saw today while I was out taking photographs of Dandelions and Early Blue Violets at the Condie Nature Refuge near Regina, Saskatchewan.

And yes, just seeing this image makes me itch! (I wore lovely light-coloured clothing and offered very little exposed skin to make myself as tick-safe as possible... If I look at this before I go out next time, though, I'll consider adding several additional helpings of DEET!)

American Dog Tick on Dandelion flower, waiting a meal... © SB

The marking on this tick's back indicate that this one is a Dog Tick, aka Wood Tick, and given its size, it's likely a female. Dog ticks aren't the species that carry the agent that causes Lyme disease, though I'm not convinced that any good can come of a tick bite! (For more on that, see tick-borne diseases at the link to CDC, below.)

Black-legged Ticks, or Deer Ticks, are the culprit for Lyme disease — although SaskHealth says they represent only about three per cent of Saskatchewan's ticks. Overall, the risk of contracting Lyme disease here in Saskatchewan is apparently low — but not zero. (You can read more on the Government of Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health Lyme Disease page.)

If you want to learn lots more about ticks — and really start your skin crawling — the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's Stop Ticks page is a good place to start. CDC also has information on Tick Removal(Hint, tweezers really are best). And, Madisson County in New York also has a comprehensively itch-inducing tick page, with links to a Tick Bite Locator.

(For those asking — no, I did not get any ticks or tick bites today. As far as I yet know... And I may now need a second shower. Seriously, I'm way too suggestible to read this stuff, even the parts I've written myself! So this is it! Time to post and share the joy with others.)


What is this? An American Dog Tick, aka, a Wood Tick.

Location: Condie Nature Refuge, North of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  
Photo date: May 22, 2013.

~~~~~

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

American Tree Sparrow: May Backyard Sparrows (2)

Two native sparrows that migrate through my Saskatchewan backyard, American Tree Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows, look very much alike. To me, at least. Both are grey and brown with red-capped heads...

But the Tree Sparrow a rufus/red eye line, The Sibley Guide to Birds explains, and the Chipping Sparrow has a black eye line, with white above it... And the Tree Sparrow has a two-coloured beak, yellow and black, while the Chipping Sparrow's beak is black alone... And the Tree Sparrow has a bit more colour on its breast... And...

In any case, the post below features a Chipping Sparrow, my first backyard Regina sparrow for May. And here is an American Tree Sparrow:

American Tree Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
American Tree Sparrow - with rufus eye line and half yellow beak © SB

May Migrating Native Sparrows: (yes, there are likely more — these are the ones in my Regina, Saskatchewan backyard. And yes, there is also the ever-present House Sparrow, but it's neither native nor migrating...)
  1. Chipping Sparrow
  2. American Tree Sparrow
  3. Harris's Sparrow 
  4. Clay-Coloured Sparrow
  5. Lincoln's Sparrow
  6. White-crowned Sparrows
  7. White-throated Sparrows (White and Tan Morphs) 

What is this? American Tree Sparrow.
Location: North of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  
Photo date: April 29, 2013.

~~~~~

Chipping Sparrow: May Backyard Sparrows, Regina, SK (1)

Several Chipping Sparrows have pecked around our yard in Regina, Saskatchewan, this month, and that's the first backyard Saskatchewan bird for my May list.

Chipping Sparrows, to me, look like American Tree Sparrows — or vice versa. Both have sparrow brown markings and red heads, but while Tree Sparrows have red lines by their eyes, Chipping Sparrows have black lines. (Yes, I know; a proper ornithologist would provide a more detailed, technical explanations and mention details like the Tree Sparrow's half yellow beak, but a proper ornithologist, I am not.)

Chipping Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
The Chipping Sparrow, with its red cap. © SB 

The Chipping Sparrow winters in the southern U.S., and summers in the rest of the U.S. and in Canada. Sensible migration!

I was intrigued to learn that some call them the "Hairbird" because of their habit of lining their nests with hair — smart birds! Audubon Birds (the app that's linked to eBird) says horse hair was a former favourite, but as Chipping Sparrows rarely see horses these days, they have been seen to "pluck strands from the coat of a sleeping dog." (I must brush my yellow dog Ginger more; when I brushed her a few days ago, I put her shed hair in a cleft of lilac branches and it soon vanished — though I doubt this lovely redhead took that prize.)


May Migrating Native Sparrows: (yes, there are likely more — these are the ones in my Regina, Saskatchewan backyard. And yes, there is also the ever-present House Sparrow, but it's neither native nor migrating...)
  1. Chipping Sparrow
  2. American Tree Sparrow
  3. Harris's Sparrow 
  4. Clay-Coloured Sparrow
  5. Lincoln's Sparrow
  6. White-crowned Sparrows
  7. White-throated Sparrows (White and Tan Morphs) 

What is this? Chipping Sparrow .
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  
Photo date: May 17, 2013.

~~~~~

American Robin: May Backyard Bird, Regina, SK

The American Robin was one of the first after-winter arrivals in my Regina, Saskatchewan, backyard. I love robins in spring, when their feathers are all still crisp and mating-flashy-new.

There are several pairs of American Robins in our neighbourhood now, swooping and chasing each other — but so far, in my yard at least, no signs of nests.  (Several years ago, they nested in our apple tree. It was a little alarming the first day the young fledged — what with rain and neighbourhood cats!)

American Robin - a sociable bird that usually looks cross.   © SB 
While some American Robins live year-round in the U.S. (and parts of B.C. and the Maritimes), others only winter in the south and then migrate back north to the rest of Canada (and Alaska) for summer and to breed.

So for us, these are spring birds, and their appearance is a welcome sign that winter is over. 


What is this? American Robin.
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  
Photo date: May 21, 2013.

~~~~~


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Baltimore Orioles in Regina: High in Wascana Park Trees

Baltimore Oriole. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Baltimore Oriole near the tree top. © SB 
High in Regina trees near sunset last night, I saw five Baltimore Orioles — four males, one female.

(Perhaps there were more female Baltimore Orioles, but they are not as easy to see, being a soft yellow rather than the fiery torch orange of the males — a colour that's even brighter in red sun rays.)

I was at Wascana Park, Regina, Saskatchewan, in and around the bird pond by the Conexus Arts Centre, and what a gathering of birds!

Canada Geese, Double-crested Cormorants, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, Robins, a Brown Thrasher, three kinds of Warblers (Yellow, Yellow-rumped and Orange-crested), various sparrow and lots of Red-winged Blackbirds.

But the Baltimore Orioles were my favourite, live energy glowing and crackling at the tops of the tree! I love that orange flash!

Baltimore Oriole. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Baltimore Oriole feeding
on (insects in?) old leaves. © SB 
Baltimore Oriole. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Baltimore Oriole - male. © SB 
Baltimore Oriole. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Baltimore Oriole - female.  © SB 

A reader posted to say that these birds are called Northern Orioles... Perhaps in some places, but recent printings of my guides continue to use the name, Baltimore Orioles. 

Cornell's All About Birds has this to say:
"The Baltimore Oriole hybridizes extensively with the Bullock's Oriole where their ranges overlap in the Great Plains. The two species were considered the same for a while and called the Northern Oriole, but in the 1990s, after genetic studies, they were separated again."
So, Baltimore Oriole is the name I'm using here. 


What are there? Baltimore Orioles
Location: Wascana Park, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  

Photo date: May 18, 2013.

~~~~~

Northern Lights: Faintly visible from Regina, Saskatchewan

A geomagnetic storm is underway — and I'm sure if I drove into the country, I'd see clear and vibrant Northern Lights, but even in my backyard, they are faintly, softly, visible.

Here's an image, taken a few minutes ago,  corrected for Tungsten; 11/16 mm, 2.5 sec at F2.8, 800 ISO.


Northern Lights, seen from Regina, Saskatchewan, backyard. Photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Northern Lights, seen from Regina, Saskatchewan, backyard.  © SB 

What is this? Streaks of green Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.
Location: Above my garage, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  

Photo date: May 18, 2013.

~~~~~

Friday, May 17, 2013

Brown Thrashers: Will they nest in my backyard again?

Brown Thrashers are the First of the Season bird of the day in my Regina, Saskatchewan, backyard. I saw a flash of rust-brown in the lilac trees, and then it flew away — but my luck held and it soon came back to peck at seeds strewn by House Sparrows on the ground.

Last year, a pair of Brown Thrashers nested somewhere nearby. For several days, we saw an adult keeping watch on the top of the garage, and then one morning, an adult walked the fledgling across the yard to the seeds. So cool to see the young birds greed and grey eyes! (The adults's eyes are stunning gold.)

I hope there is a nest again. And if there is, I hope I see the young Brown Thrashers this year, too.

Brown Thrasher. Photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Brown Thrasher - look at those elegant legs!   © SB
Brown Thrasher. Photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Brown Thrasher, posing for backyard photo © SB
Brown Thrasher. Photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
I'd love to know what the Brown Thrasher is looking at... © SB

What is this? A Brown Thrasher.
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  

Photo date: May 17, 2013.

~~~~~

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Yellow-rumped Warbler - my bandit bird is back!

Yellow-rumped Warblers make me think of bandits in old black and white TV shows — dashing Zorro-like outlaws, wearing black masks.

But the clearest identifying mark on Yellow-rumped Warblers is not, of course, their facial marking, but those vibrant flashes of yellow on their chest and — most of all — their rumps. An apt name.

Here's my first Yellow-rumped Warbler of  2013, in the bushes by Wascana Lake, east of Broad Street, in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Yellow-rumped Warbler. Photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Regina, Saskatchewan.   © SB

What is this? A Yellow-rumped Warbler
Location: East section of Wascana Lake, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  
Photo date: May 15, 2013.

~~~~~

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pine Siskin in my backyard: Regina, Saskatchewan

A Pine Siskin showed up at my backyard bird feeder in Regina, Saskatchewan, today. It sat with a red House Finch — and their apparent congeniality led me, at first glance, to think the Siskin must be a female finch...

But yellow-tipped wing and tail feathers were wrong — and so was that beak. (Pine Siskins have narrower, more delicate beaks than House Finches.) A search through finch-like birds in The Sibley Guide led me to the Pine Siskin page, and there it was — my bird feeder bird of the day: A Pine Siskin.

Pine Siskin. photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Pine Siskin - note the yellow feathers on wings and tail, 
and clear light wing streaks. © SB
Sibley says these birds are mainly found in open coniferous forests, which does not in the least describe my suburban, flat land, backyard! So this Siskin must be passing through, to parts further north and more conifer-filled. 

In backyard bird photography, the stakes always increase. My challenge now is to photograph a Pine Siskin with sunlight sparkling in its dark eyes. 

Pine Siskin. photo © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Eye reflection, check!
Pine Siskin on Finch feeder. 
© SB


Next, with its feathers open, to display those lovely yellow wing bars! 


What is this? A Pine Siskin.
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  

Photo date: May 11, 2013.

~~~~~

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek: Ancient dance, ancient birds

Sharp-tailed Grouse. Photo copyright  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Sharp-tailed Grouse displaying purple neck patch.  © SB
Recently, I had an awesome opportunity — to visit a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek near Regina, Saskatchewan, and watch these prairie birds perform their dance of dominance.

It's all about mating — but the female grouse didn't seem to care.

In fact, we only saw one bird that may (or may not) have been a female Sharp-tailed Grouse during the two hours we were there. (Males and females look alike, except when the males are actively lekking.)

I love that word, lek, whether in verb or noun form.

It so well describes the dominance displays of a few human males I've known, who apparently saw fashion (no jeans/running shoes, please!) as part of their corporate dominance plan.

The video, below, shows some footage I took of part of their lek dance.



And I loved seeing these birds! If any avian species has ever made me think of dinosaurs, their potential cousins or ancestors, Sharp-tailed Grouse in full lek would be it.

They prowl, they pounce, they prance, they dance. They make themselves very tall, then very broad. And then they stare. Long meaningful stares of threat... or forgetfulness. They sit down. The focus, perhaps wanders, or perhaps it's all a waiting game. Eventually, one male ambles off. A pause, and then the lek begins again.

Sharp-tailed Grouse. Photo copyright  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Low and broad, the Sharp-tailed Grouse strut. © SB
Sharp-tailed Grouse. Photo copyright  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
The Sharp-tailed Grouse also leap into the air
- and at other males. Beware! 
© SB
The birds I saw claimed a section of pasture near Regina — there used to be several Sharp-tailed Grouse leks near the city, but this seems to be the only one now left.

Every morning around dawn (that's now about 5:30 a.m.), the birds gather. They cluck, they chatter, their pinions rattle and they do a gobbling thing, a little like the sound of turkeys.

About 12 grouse were gathered for the lekking display when we arrived. The neighbour's dog chased them off by rushing across the pasture to meet our two cars, but dogs are easily bored and mating birds, determined... So the dogs wandered off and the grouse flew back to their chosen spot of trampled prairie. (Yes, this was a remnant of original prairie, with club moss and other low plants forming the fragile and essential base layer.)

The Sharp-tailed Grouse appeared to divide the lek space into sections, within which several individual dominance displays took place. They say not all breed, just the ultimate winners, so the gene stakes are high.

Sharp-tailed Grouse. Photo copyright  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Sharp-tailed Grouse on the lek. © SB
The Sharp-tailed Grouse has been Saskatchewan's bird emblem since 1945. I visited this lek with friends (including Trevor Herriot) from the Public Pastures - Public Interest group, to learn more about this amazing native prairie bird.


What are these? Sharp-tailed Grouse.
Location: Near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  

Photo date: April 27, 2013.

~~~~~

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

White-crowned Sparrows Return to Regina

White-crowned Sparrows returned to our Regina backyard this weekend — a stop-over on their migration to their northern breeding grounds (Northern Saskatchewan, Yukon, etc.) from their winter patch in the southern U.S.

White-crowned Sparrow, Regina, SK. Photo  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
White-crowned Sparrow, hunting for seeds in my backyard.   © SB 

I love watching new native sparrows and song birds pass through! And I welcome these White-crowned Sparrows, with their crisp black and white head markings, and jittery way of jumping back and forth while foraging for seeds under the feeders.

(And the grass itself has just started to sprout; a week ago, we had snow drifts in our yard.)


What is this? White-crowned Sparrow.
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  

Photo date: May 7, 2013.

~~~~~

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