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Ontario FeederWatch

Location: Ontario, Canada

Camera Host: Tammie & Ben Haché

November 13, 2014

Hairy Woodpecker Chases Off Blue Jay

As we can see from this clip the Hairy Woodpecker puffs up her feathers and spreads her wings a little. This is rather a mild interaction. If the Blue Jay stuck around a little longer we may have seen some displacement pecking, but the Jay wisely left. When attacked or during a close territorial conflict, a Hairy Woodpecker will hold its wings over its back at about a 45° angle. This “Full-wing Threat Display” posture may even be assumed in flight. In a threat display, the head is often held high and back in an exaggerated position. Winter territoriality may be infrequent under natural conditions, but increased in the vicinity of feeders.  

November 12, 2014

The Rattler Returns

This time we get to see the rattle in action in the presence of another Blue Jay. Check out their spacing, posture and general movements. It is assumed that only females give the rattle call. Is this jay just excited or could she be giving an alert call?  

November 05, 2014

Blue Jay 'Pumphandle' and 'Rattle Call'

Blue Jays make a large variety of calls. The most often heard is a loud jeer. They also make clear whistled notes and gurgling sounds. Blue Jays frequently mimic hawks, especially Red-shouldered Hawks. The calls we hear in this clip are possibly what ornithologists call the pump handle and rattle call. The pump handle call is described as clear, musical whistles, usually with a liquid or bell-like quality, sometimes with harsh or “gurgling” overtones. Many sound like an old-fashioned hand-operated water pump or clothesline pulley, or a squeaky gate. This call is usually associated with bobbing, which is the head movement we see the bird perform in the clip. The call has a break but no obvious inflection (cleeop; tull-ull; twirl-eel) it can serve as a “low-intensity alarm” or “alert” call. Combined with a rattle call, a series of rapid, dry, raspy clicks, we may assume that this individual is a female. Observations of captive and free-ranging color-marked birds indicate only females emit the rattle call. Rattle calls are often emitted by females engaged in early spring and autumn flocks, especially in times of heightened excitement of the flock. It is also given when a pair encounters “intruding” jays, and perhaps when a predator or human approaches or passes through the area (= alert call). Click ‘More...' for a similar sounding pump handle call recorded in Florida from the Macaulay Library.  More...

November 13, 2014

Hairy Woodpecker Chases Off Blue Jay

As we can see from this clip the Hairy Woodpecker puffs up her feathers and spreads her wings a little. This is rather a mild interaction. If the Blue Jay stuck around a little longer we may have seen some displacement pecking, but the Jay wisely left. When attacked or during a close territorial conflict, a Hairy Woodpecker will hold its wings over its back at about a 45° angle. This “Full-wing Threat Display” posture may even be assumed in flight. In a threat display, the head is often held high and back in an exaggerated position. Winter territoriality may be infrequent under natural conditions, but increased in the vicinity of feeders.  

November 12, 2014

The Rattler Returns

This time we get to see the rattle in action in the presence of another Blue Jay. Check out their spacing, posture and general movements. It is assumed that only females give the rattle call. Is this jay just excited or could she be giving an alert call?  

November 05, 2014

Blue Jay 'Pumphandle' and 'Rattle Call'

Blue Jays make a large variety of calls. The most often heard is a loud jeer. They also make clear whistled notes and gurgling sounds. Blue Jays frequently mimic hawks, especially Red-shouldered Hawks. The calls we hear in this clip are possibly what ornithologists call the pump handle and rattle call. The pump handle call is described as clear, musical whistles, usually with a liquid or bell-like quality, sometimes with harsh or “gurgling” overtones. Many sound like an old-fashioned hand-operated water pump or clothesline pulley, or a squeaky gate. This call is usually associated with bobbing, which is the head movement we see the bird perform in the clip. The call has a break but no obvious inflection (cleeop; tull-ull; twirl-eel) it can serve as a “low-intensity alarm” or “alert” call. Combined with a rattle call, a series of rapid, dry, raspy clicks, we may assume that this individual is a female. Observations of captive and free-ranging color-marked birds indicate only females emit the rattle call. Rattle calls are often emitted by females engaged in early spring and autumn flocks, especially in times of heightened excitement of the flock. It is also given when a pair encounters “intruding” jays, and perhaps when a predator or human approaches or passes through the area (= alert call). Click ‘More...' for a similar sounding pump handle call recorded in Florida from the Macaulay Library.  More...

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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