Garden adventures and advice…

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Spring….and baby robins

Every so often when you least expect it, nature provides you with amazing gifts.

I came home a couple of weeks ago to this new little guy just sunning himself on one of my garden decorations.

Mom was on the roof of the barn-shed next door, holding a worm, chirping with determination, probably yapping at me to get out of the way so she could feed junior.

And feed junior she did – the shot’s a tad blurry, but you’ll get the idea.

Here’s a few Robin Facts:

Baby robins are helpless at birth but reach the size of their parents after just two weeks! They’re also fuzzy and rather than the orange/red breast of the adult, have a spotted, mottled look to them.

Robins fly at 17 to 32 mph

Robins have about 2,900 feathers

The best way to see a robin in your garden is to dig or water the lawn.  Within minutes one may perch on a fence or branch nearby waiting to inspect the newly-turned soil for earthworms.

Once the female has laid her eggs, she stays in the nest for up to two weeks, staying low over them, well concealed with only her back visible.  The male brings her food, sometimes as often as three times in an hour.



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Hummingbirds amaze me.

Have you ever seen them dance and play through the light shower that the sprinkler provides? Every time we water, there they are – swiftly spinning and flying through the drops, sparkling in the sunlight and enjoying their quick bath. I guess bird baths are typically too deep for them so perhaps this is how they get around it??

The ruby-throated is what spends the summer in our yard each year, and they have remained close by again this summer. Three or four times a day they make their rounds from plant to plant and stop by the patio table to hover for a second or two, as if saying hello, before they fly off to the next bright flower.

A few interesting ruby-throated facts:

– They beat their wings roughly 55 times per minutes.

– It’s short legs prevent it from walking or hopping (answers the bird bath quandry!). The best they can do is shuffle along a perch. It scratches it’s head and neck by raising a foot up and over its wing.

– They prefer to feed on red or orange flowers. Like many birds, they have good color vision and can see into the ultraviolet spectrum, which we cannot (However, the one that came to visit pictured above seems to be quite happy with large, pink zinnias).

– They also catch insects in midair or pull them out of spider webs.

They’ll soon be heading south, to warmer climates for the winter season, so as the summer blooms begin to fade, remember to keep the hummingbird feeder full to give them plenty of food and energy for the long flight!

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Owl Prowl!

Yesterday I joined the area’s birding club for their annual owl prowl – a trip around the rural roads in search of the owls that frequent the area. Last year’s event was held at night and we were able to hear the call of the screech owl. Unfortunately he never came close enough for pictures, but just hearing the sound up close was amazing.

This year, we were lucky enough to spot a snowy owl, off in the distance. The snowy is a large owl, typically up to 28 inches long, with a 60 inch wingspan. An arctic bird, the snowy owl does move south in the winter, and this winter has been noted as a larger than usual migration year, with thousands of these stunning birds being spotted throughout Southern Canada and the United States. Their diet consists mainly of mice and lemmings – up to 12 mice a day and 1,600 lemmings per year!

This was taken from quite a distance, the binoculars made a difference, but he can be seen in the first picture, sitting on the ground.

We also spotted a couple of hawks, and for a time, were observed by a family of deer.

For an update on the entire event visit:


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Well, our on again, off again winter has finally arrived. We’re expecting a few inches of snow, high winds, and cold! Which it should be in winter – we’re just a tad spoiled here with these above zero (C) temperatures we’ve been receiving.

At least I was able to get outside and get all the branches that fell over the winter picked up – so I’m already ahead on my spring clean up.

There’s been quite a few snowy owl sightings in the area this year, and a fair amount of speculation as to why – many of these Arctic dwellers are  being spotted farther south than they usually are during this time. For those in Southern Ontario – keep an eye out, late in day, and you just might see one of these magnificent birds resting on a fencepost.

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Hawk Cliff

Had an interesting day at Hawk Cliff near Port Stanley, ON. Saw harriers, kestral’s, and cooper’s. The weather was perfect for a day outside, not sure how many we’ve got left though, the chill is definitely in the air at night.

It was amazing watching these majestic birds as they flew – apparently there were over 50,000 sightings earlier in the week in the area. Their migration continues through October, where up to 15 different species can be seen during that time. Higher volumes are there now, higher variety in a couple of weeks. There are a number of hawk watching locations throughout North America where people can relax in the warm fall sun and watch the birds fly by.

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Hawk Migration!

We’re on our way to Hawk Cliff this weekend to hopefully see some live action! Hawk Cliff, near Port Stanely, ON has become a popular hawk migration viewing area. Up to 15 different species can be seen and at times, thousands of birds each day as they pass through – and it’s also part of the Monarch migration trail, so there’s something for everyone.

I’ll report back on Sunday – and hopefully will have a picture or two to share.

Here’s the Hawk Cliff website –

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Great Backyard Bird Count

February 18th – 21st was the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. And the birds were out in full force just waiting to be counted. Here’s what came to visit in our yard from 9 – 11 am on Sunday February 20th.

Black capped chickadee – 6
Northern cardinal – 4 (two male, two female)
Downy woodpecker – 2 (one male, one female)
American goldfinch – 3
House Sparrow – 18
Dark-eye (slate) Junco – 11
Red breasted nuthatch – 1

It will be interesting to see which of these little creatures are brave enough to visit us again tomorrow and face the winter storm that Environment Canada has issued so many warnings about. Mwahaha…….more snow appears to be just over the horizon.

And the count continues…….