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Ontario FeederWatch

Location: Ontario, Canada

Camera Host: Tammie & Ben Haché

November 26, 2014

Common Redpolls Fighting for Position

In this clip we see one individual displace another on the feeder tray. Individuals will lunge at others with a closed bill, or make nipping attacks during physical antagonistic behavior. Communicative interactions include the following displays ordered in sequence from submission to high-intensity threat and represent apparent progression of increasing intensity in attack tendency: Submissive- Individual fluffs plumage and maintains posture similar to that adopted by sick, cold, or resting birds. Defensive Threat- Individual fluffs entire plumage, withdraws head, and opens bill while orienting toward the other bird. Head Forward Threat- Individual crouches slightly, sleeks plumage, and orients head and body toward the other bird. Head Forward Threat with Chin-Lifting- Individual’s posture as in Head Forward Threat and lifts head “in a quick perfunctory manner,” possibly to expose the black chin. Head Forward With Gaping- Posture similar to Head Forward Threat and plumage more sleeked; opens bill. Wing-Raised Horizontal Threat- Posture as in Head Forward Threat and plumage extremely sleeked and closed wings lifted away from body, sometimes raised over back. 

November 25, 2014

Real Life Angry Bird

Aggression rates throughout the year between Evening Grosbeaks are low; few attacks are reciprocated. As we have previously mentioned during winter, males are dominant over females. This is possibly reinforced by plumage cues, especially characteristics of the head and possibly wings. Threat displays include the Crown Fluff (erection of the feathers on crown of head, often as prelude to another aggressive behavior), Vocal Displacement (displacement following single note call), Open-bill Threat (one bird orients toward another and opens bill, displacing second bird without contact), Repeated Bill Threat (series of Open-bill Threats, sometimes followed by physical contact). This particular individual in the clip appears to display all of these interactions along with a body posture that has actually been associated with courtship and nest building in scientific literature; wings are held close to the body and lowered while the tail is cocked upwards. 

November 24, 2014

Common Redpolls Visit Feeders

As energetic as their electric zapping call notes would suggest, Common Redpolls are active foragers that travel in busy flocks. Look for them feeding on catkins in birch trees or visiting feeders in winter. These small finches of the arctic tundra and boreal forest migrate erratically, and they occasionally show up in large numbers as far south as the central U.S. During such irruption years, redpolls often congregate at bird feeders (particularly thistle or nyjer seed), allowing delightfully close looks. More...

November 26, 2014

Common Redpolls Fighting for Position

In this clip we see one individual displace another on the feeder tray. Individuals will lunge at others with a closed bill, or make nipping attacks during physical antagonistic behavior. Communicative interactions include the following displays ordered in sequence from submission to high-intensity threat and represent apparent progression of increasing intensity in attack tendency: Submissive- Individual fluffs plumage and maintains posture similar to that adopted by sick, cold, or resting birds. Defensive Threat- Individual fluffs entire plumage, withdraws head, and opens bill while orienting toward the other bird. Head Forward Threat- Individual crouches slightly, sleeks plumage, and orients head and body toward the other bird. Head Forward Threat with Chin-Lifting- Individual’s posture as in Head Forward Threat and lifts head “in a quick perfunctory manner,” possibly to expose the black chin. Head Forward With Gaping- Posture similar to Head Forward Threat and plumage more sleeked; opens bill. Wing-Raised Horizontal Threat- Posture as in Head Forward Threat and plumage extremely sleeked and closed wings lifted away from body, sometimes raised over back. 

November 25, 2014

Real Life Angry Bird

Aggression rates throughout the year between Evening Grosbeaks are low; few attacks are reciprocated. As we have previously mentioned during winter, males are dominant over females. This is possibly reinforced by plumage cues, especially characteristics of the head and possibly wings. Threat displays include the Crown Fluff (erection of the feathers on crown of head, often as prelude to another aggressive behavior), Vocal Displacement (displacement following single note call), Open-bill Threat (one bird orients toward another and opens bill, displacing second bird without contact), Repeated Bill Threat (series of Open-bill Threats, sometimes followed by physical contact). This particular individual in the clip appears to display all of these interactions along with a body posture that has actually been associated with courtship and nest building in scientific literature; wings are held close to the body and lowered while the tail is cocked upwards. 

November 24, 2014

Why Are There More Male Than Female Evening Grosbeaks?

A skewed sex ratio is evident in wintering birds, with males more abundant in northeastern states and e. Canadian provinces, and females more abundant to the south. Differential migration is more pronounced east of 85°W than in region from 85°W west to the Continental Divide. Also adult males are the most common initiators of agonistic encounters; dominant over adult females, young males, and young females. Young males are also dominant over adult females and young females, which may be why a number of females are keeping their distance. 

October 26

First Pine Grosbeak Sighting of the Season

The largest and rarest 'winter finch' arrives. The Pine Grosbeak is a large, unwary finch, it makes periodic winter irruptions into southern Canada and northern United States.  

October 25

Rare Female Northern Cardinal Sighting

Northern Cardinals are year-round residents throughout range, however their recorded range does not reach as far north as the Ontario FeederWatch cam, located in Manitouwadge, north of Lake Superior. 

October 23

FeederWatch Cam Wallpaper

Check out our new FeederWatch Cam wallpaper, illustrated by artist Anna Rettberg, and featuring nine species from our two cams! Download your own copy at http://bit.ly/feederwatchcam_wallpaper or click 'More...' for the link. The species featured in the wallpaper are: top left- Rose-breasted Grosbeak, middle left- American Goldfinch, bottom left- Northern Cardinal, on the feeder, top- White-breasted Nuthatch, middle- Hairy Woodpecker and bottom- Black-capped Chickadee and on the top right- Evening Grosbeak, middle right- Common Redpoll, bottom right- Gray Jay. More...

Commonly Seen Species

Common Redpoll

Common Redpolls are brown and white birds with heavily streaked sides. Look for a small red forehead patch, black feathering around a yellow bill, and two white wingbars. Males have a pale red vest on the chest and upper flanks. More

Hoary Redpoll

A small pale bird of the high Arctic, the Hoary Redpoll is a rare winter visitor to southern Canada and the northern United States. Compared to a Common Redpoll, Hoarys are paler with faint, almost nonexistent streaking on the sides, a smaller-looking bill, and an overall stockier appearance. More

Pine Grosbeak

Male Pine Grosbeaks have a pinkish-red head, breast, back and rump. Their wings are dark blackish brown with white wingbars and tertial edges. Females are yellowish olive on their head and rump with gray underparts and back. More

Evening Grosbeak

Adult male Evening Grosbeaks are yellow and black birds with a prominent white patch in the wings. They have dark heads with a bright-yellow stripe over the eye. Females and immatures are mostly gray, with white-and-black wings and a greenish-yellow tinge to the neck and flanks. More

Hairy Woodpecker

A medium-sized black and white woodpecker with a fairly square head, a long, straight, chisel-like bill, and stiff, long tail feathers to lean against on tree trunks. The bill is nearly the same length as the head, and males have a flash of red on the back of the head. More

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are small black and white versions of the classic woodpecker body plan. They have a straight, chisel-like bill, blocky head, wide shoulders, and straight-backed posture as they lean away from tree limbs and onto their tail feathers. The bill tends to look smaller for the bird’s size than in other woodpeckers. More

Black-capped Chickadee

A bird almost universally considered “cute” thanks to its oversized round head, tiny body, and curiosity about everything, including humans. The chickadee’s black cap and bib; white cheeks; gray back, wings, and tail; and whitish underside with buffy sides are distinctive. More

Gray Jay

Gray Jays are dark gray above and light gray below, with black on the back of the head forming a partial hood. Juveniles are grayish black overall, and usually show a pale gape at the base of the bill. They are stocky, fairly large songbirds with short, stout bills, round heads, and long tails. More

About the Site

The FeederWatch cam is located in a residential neighborhood in Manitouwadge, Ontario. This northern site is an excellent location to see winter finches like redpolls and grosbeaks as well as two species of Jays and even Ruffed Grouse! The feeders sit in the middle of a large backyard with a large birch tree that the birds love, as well as a mixed stand of conifers and several fruit and berry producing shrubs. There’s a small swamp just beyond the backyard as well as larger stands of woods and a small lake.The feeder system is the product of the camera hosts’ ingenuity, making use of plastic piping to support the feeders high enough above ground to foil the occasional squirrel, and a rotating set of feeders that provide black oil sunflower seeds, nyjer seed, whole and shelled peanuts, and peanut butter suet in a homemade hanging log to the dozens of species that visit.

About the Hosts

Tammie and Ben Hache have been members of Project FeederWatch since 2002, meticulously counting their backyard birds to help better understand what birds are doing throughout the winter. The years of FeederWatching have brought amazing views to the Haches; some of the highlights included counts with over 200 Evening Grosbeaks seen at once, high counts of 20+ Hoary Redpolls, an extremely out-of-range White-winged Dove, and the constant buzzing of hummingbirds in the summer. A winter of bird feeding requires a lot of food, too—last year over 750 lb of sunflower seeds were consumed by the hungry birds!

About Project FeederWatch

Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Anyone with an interest in birds can participate in Project FeederWatch! There are people of all skill levels and backgrounds conducting FeederWatch counts, including children, families, individuals, classrooms, retired persons, youth groups, nature centers, and bird clubs.Learn More and Sign up Online

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