Volume 4, Number 2 - February 22, 1999
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Wk 7 FEB 14 -20
The first part of the week was cloudy and few centimeters of new snow accumulated, later warm days felt like spring but cold nights reminded its still February.
The finches are really singing now and a few GOLDFINCHES are even starting their spring moult. PURPLE FINCH numbers suddenly increased at week's end filling the air around feeders with their bubbly warbles whistles and chirps. WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were filling up on grit on Roxborough Rd east of Bracebridge on the 20th and a few are being run-down by the cars on Hwy 118E. At Vanoughnet the Graggs have had 30 or more EVENING GROSBEAKS all winter and a lone PINE SISKIN was at Glen Orchard on the 19th.
Also the 19th Ken Pray heard the Chickadees raising a ruckus in the cedars beside their house on Bailey St in Port Carling and was soon face to face with a roosting NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL. The owl was not perturbed in the least and soon the Chickadees got bored and all was quiet again. Another SAW-WHET was calling Feb 15 at the Whites near Utterson. On quiet nights listen for a repeating series of whistles that lasts for several minutes, it's supposed to sound like someone filing a saw.
A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER immature wandered in to Eleanor Wellmans feeder near Glen Orchard on Feb 18. It defended the feeder against all comers from 1:00 pm till dusk and was seen briefly again the next morning. This species is rare in Muskoka, usually only 1 or 2 sightings each year.
BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are still roaming around Muskoka, 60 were at Grandview Lodge on Feb 10 cleaning up the last of the Highbush Cranberry berries. In Gravenhurst a large flock of 200+ streamed over Pinedale Rd at 9:00 am on Feb 18, stopped briefly in a maple tree on David St., then disappeared across Gull Lake in less than a minute. Impressive! Makes you wonder what force guides so many individuals to act as one, wandering in search of the next meal.
A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was coming to Bob Burtons feeder at Skelton Bay on Lake Rosseau from mid Jan to early Feb. A few BLACKBIRDS have wintered in Muskoka, Doug Smith sighted a RED-WINGED Jan 2 on Lakeshore Rd near Huntsville. Wendy White had a brief look at a probable RUSTY BLACKBIRD near Utterson Feb 8 and the Graggs had a RED-WING male with a few streaks, likely 1st yr male, near Vankoughnet Feb 11. Of course down along Lake Erie and Ontario the migrants are already returning.
A MALLARD and a BLACK DUCK are wintering on the river below Bala Falls and were swimming with 2 GOLDENEYES on Feb 19, 6 GOLDENEYES were above the dam at Big Chute. Anybody counted the ducks at Huntsville Main St bridge lately?
A RED-TAILED HAWK was beside South Monk Dr west of Bracebridge on the 19th, check the big trees whenever you pass the corner, it's also a good spot for owls.
Very few GREAT-GRAY OWLs have been seen in the south this winter. One that appeared near Toronto last week didn't last long in the big city, it was hit by a school bus. A message posted on the ONTBIRDS mail-list reported that it was transferred to the Small Animal Clinic at the University of Guelph. The examination determined it was a female weighing 1200 grams so was not starving, it had a dislocated shoulder and a broken bone in the pelvis but was expected to survive.
The BACKYARD BIRDCOUNT is now over, the final results will be complete after March 1, the last date to submit data. On Feb 21 at the Sinclairs near Uffington we counted:
Blue Jay 4
Black-capped Chickadee 1 (usually have more)
Downey Woodpecker 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Purple Finch 55
American Goldfinch 16
Pine Siskin 2
White-winged Crossbill 1(flying)
Common Raven 1
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