#Daves Feathered Friends

#Daves Feathered Friends

We love sharing resources and tips to help YOU connect with nature, not just more often, but in different ways. Observing and learning to identify local wildlife is not only a great way to interact with nature, but it is also fun and rewarding!

Friend to both BurlingtonGreen and our local feathered friends, resident Dave Tourchin, is teaching us about local birds. Our #DavesFeatheredFriends social media feature is all about showcasing birds you can observe locally, including how to identify them, where you may find them and even what they sound like.

Print out this handy Checklist for Beginner-Intermediate Birders (PDF), so you can check of all off the amazing birds you have been learning about and spotting at home and out in nature!

Check out the growing list of #DavesFeatheredFriends features:

This beautiful bird is common to our region each fall/winter. They can be seen flitting around near the ground, or perched low in a tree. Look for them on the edge of trails or walking paths lined by bushes and trees, in your yard or at a feeder. A key ID feature is their bright white tail edges that flash white when they fly. Their song is a steady trill.
Have you ever seen a different looking bird flocking with the Chickadees? Perhaps it was a White-breasted Nuthatch. It’s not uncommon to see them competing for seeds with Chickadees at a feeder. They live in our area year-round. Their cousin, the Red-breasted Nuthatch, usually dwells farther north, but this winter is special, so keep an eye out for them in our area as well.
It’s a Nuthatch Irruption! A bird irruption is when a species migrates in large numbers beyond its typical range, usually in search of food. In years of poor spruce and pine cone crops in boreal forests up north, many northern birds move south. This winter, Red-breasted Nuthatches have irrupted south to our region and beyond.
Watch for them at feeders or creeping around trees looking for insects. Where there are Chickadees, there might be Nuthatches tagging along (White-breasted or Red-breasted). Also, watch for them up north year-round, if camping or cottaging. Listen for their unique nasal calls, which often reveal their presence.

Redpolls in Burlington?  Finches that usually dwell farther north have moved south in search of more food. The cute Common Redpoll is the most likely finch you’d see, at a feeder or in large flocks in birch trees feeding on catkins. There’s also the odd chance of spotting an Evening Grosbeak, Pine Siskin, or White-winged Crossbill. They’re not everywhere, but a few are around, so if you do see one, consider it a special treat!
The Brown Creeper is common to our region and is fun to watch. You are more likely to see them in fall & winter. However, because they are small, and their brown backs resemble tree bark, they are easy to miss. They typically fly down to the base of a tree trunk, and creep up the tree in a spiral pattern in search of insects, then swoop down to the base of the next tree and repeat. Keep a keen eye out for them while walking on wooded trails in winter, or on the wooded edges of parks.

Who doesn’t love the super cute Chickadees? Did you know that the number of ‘dees’ they add to their namesake ‘Chickadee-dee-dee’ call can indicate their level of alarm? Did you know they also have a song? It’s 1 high note followed by 2 low notes, as if saying, “Hey, sweetie”. Listen for it the next time you’re in a wooded area.
Hear it and learn more.

Have you ever wondered, are Cardinals actually a brighter red in winter? Yes, they are!
Male Northern Cardinals molt and regrow their feathers in late summer and early fall, with the colour of the fresh new feathers reaching a peak in winter, just as mating season approaches. 
Learn more.
Do you ever wonder what kind of hawk it was you just saw?  Here are some quick ID tips:
75% of hawks you’ll see in the GTHA will be Red-tailed Hawks — but, their red tails aren’t always visible, or are absent in immature birds. More reliable field marks are:  a narrow “belly band”, and “patagial bars” on shoulders if overhead. If not present, it could be a Red-shouldered or Broad-winged Hawk (ie. large, soaring hawks), or maybe a Rough-legged Hawk (winter only).
If it is a smaller hawk with a long, narrow tail with thick stripes, it could be a Cooper’s Hawk, or the similar but smaller, Sharp-shinned Hawk. These are woodland hawks, but also visit yards to prey on birds at feeders. (Cooper’s have rounded tail corners, Sharp-shinned have square tail ends.)
If it flies very low over fields or marshes, with wings in a V-shape, and a white rump, it’s a Northern Harrier, which are fun to watch, too!
Learn more.

This small vocal bird is full of character! Listen for a loud “tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle” song and other loud calls, to help you locate them. They have the typical wren shape (plump body and narrow, upright tail), but their bold, white eye-stripe and yellow belly is unique. Watch for them low to the ground and in bushes. Good places to look/listen are along the LaSalle Park and Paletta Lakefront Park wooded trails.
Listen and learn more.

This medium-sized woodpecker has a vibrant red streak on the back of its head (yes, the name is misleading!). Resist calling this one a Red-headed Woodpecker, as those have a completely red head, and are a different and rare species. Find the Red-bellied Woodpecker by listening for its unmistakable call, or a loud drumming sound as it pecks on trees. They are common at LaSalle Park and Royal Botanical Gardens trails.
Listen and learn more.

Yes indeed, we have Bluebirds in the Burlington area, with a few even here year-round! They are related to Robins, in the Thrush family, and are easiest to spot where nest boxes have been installed just for them. Look for single or pairs of boxes spread out across a field (many close together are for Tree Swallow colonies).
Bluebirds breed in late winter/early spring. Spot them guarding their nest box or gathering food or nest materials nearby. Hot spots to see them are: Bronte Creek Provincial Park (east of parking lot A), McMaster Forest bluebird trail (Ancaster), RBG Arboretum trails, Gate of Heaven Cemetery (off Snake Road), or Hendrie Valley (RBG).
Also, watch for larger numbers migrating in late October/early November. Watch from a distance, don’t disturb, and enjoy these beautiful birds!
Spring is special, with so many birds arriving to breed, or migrate through our city. Most notable are the active and colourful warblers!
Birds migrate at night, landing in early morning to rest and forage. If you’re outside before 9am in the spring, you might get lucky and see many warblers. They typically don’t visit feeders, as they mainly feed on insects and larvae in trees and bushes. Warblers are among the last to arrive, and the first to leave in mid-August/Sept. on their long journey to Latin America.
Why not use this stay-at-home period to learn the warblers? Many are distinctive and visible near the ground or mid-level tree canopy – learn those ones first (we’ll help you!).
Learn more.

 Thank you to Dave, for all his valuable contributions to this fun and engaging initiative as we discover more about our local feathered friends.

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