Ottawa Citizen

Birds busy as March begins

Columnist Elizabeth Legeyt says sightings are increasing,

- ELIZABETH LE GEYT Send birding reports to Elizabeth Legeyt, specifying location, by calling 613-821-9880 or by emailing elegeyt@rogers.com. The Wild Bird Care Centre for orphaned and injured birds is at 613-828-2849.

The extra leap year day this past week brought a mix of sun, wind and cloud, heralding a storm to come. The birds seem to know when bad weather is coming and they came to the feeders here at Orchard View in Greely all day to fill up.

The robin that has been at Orchard View for several weeks now has a companion, possibly the mate he had last year. She was seen going into the spruce tree where she nested last year.

On the weekend after the storm on Feb. 24, there were reports of increased activity at the feeders throughout the area. Kathy McConkey in Barrhaven had cardinals, chickadees, juncos, various finches, pine siskins and a downy woodpecker. She also saw a blue jay fly by. In St. Isidore, Marie Malette reported juncos, purple finches, goldfinche­s and mourning doves. She also said a male cardinal likes to perch on the top of a tall spruce tree in the sun where he will probably be heard singing now. Bill Rombough reported a male

rufous-sided towhee at his feeder in Russell. They are most often seen scratching vigorously in a patch of earth or among dead leaves.

Out in Cormac, Frances O’malley watched a strange event at her feeders, where six or seven blue jays were joined by a mourning dove. There was a lot of squawking and the dove pinned one of the jays to the ground. There was pecking and flapping from both birds, feathers flying. After about 45 seconds, the jay managed to break free and fly away. The dove also flew — in the opposite direction. There was no activity at the feeders for some time after, until the jays decided to come back late in the day. There was no blood, just plenty of feathers and dander and an outline in the snow around the pinning.

In the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club area just south of Manotick, Linda Ryan heard birds calling softly to each other. She found a considerab­le flock of 40 to 50 birds, a mixture of Bohemian and cedar

waxwings. They were up in a tree eating the seeds, their silky plumage shining in the sun. In the middle of the group, she saw one male

house finch resplenden­t in his scarlet feathering. Also, in her garden, there was a white-throated sparrow.

A Carolina wren has spent the winter feeding on the crumbs that fall from Marianne Fournier’s peanut feeders that are used by chickadees, nuthatches and squirrels.

A brown thrasher has been with John Cook all winter, eating at his feeder and possibly sheltering under his deck. He is doing well and will be ready to welcome his relatives back from the south.

Trevor Lewis was surprised to see a brown creeper at his feeder. This is a bird that spends a great deal of time climbing up one tree, going to the bottom of the next one and starting again in search of food in the bark.

Carl Mitchell found a very friendly barred owl perched in a tree. The bird sat quietly while pictures were being taken about five feet away. Then Mitchell fetched and set up a ladder, virtually coming face to face with the owl. He stayed for 20 minutes, talking quietly to the bird and took more amazing close-up pictures. He thanked the bird and after he left, the owl closed its eyes and went to sleep ...

In Perth, Brenda Kirkham saw a large owl sitting on the ground under the pine tree. It stayed quite a while, looking around and later returned to the same place. This time, it was eating what appeared to be a rabbit. It was probably another barred owl. Pat Rich had a good view of a

northern shrike outside his window at Canadian Medical Associatio­n national office on Alta Vista Drive. It supplanted all the sparrows before it flew away, although it did not appear to be hunting. Neither did the shrike that Tom Stemp saw in Kinburn in the same tree as a chickadee. Stemp also reported a single pair of Bohemian waxwings and had an immature bald eagle flying over nearby fields.

Lise Balthazar saw an eagle flying over Sheridan Rapids. She also reported two pine siskins and heard a pair of pileated woodpecker­s drumming and answering each other in a bonding routine.

Lynn Ball has been in Texas, at Aransas, to see the whooping

cranes. He located and photograph­ed a single adult and two juveniles. He also took a photo of a flock of white pelicans resting on a beach with a single brown pelican standing in the foreground. It looks so tiny beside its large, white relatives.

Wilson Hum has been out many times in search of a hawk owl. He found one on Feb. 27 and took several pictures, including one taken in the glow of a setting sun.

Paul Page spotted a male pileated woodpecker near the Ottawa River in Orléans. A chipping sparrow in winter plumage was found by Giovanni Pari. Was it a migrant or an over-wintering bird?

Jennifer Bennett has been in Vancouver, where she went to see the 20 to 30 snowy owls that have spent the winter in Boundary Bay sharing the abundant small rodents with the eagles and other raptors also hunting there.

March came in “like a lion” on Thursday with a snowstorm and strong winds. The wild turkeys arrived here at Orchard View that morning before 7 a.m., more than 25 of them at the window, under the little trees scratching and searching for fallen seeds.

In Ashton, Maryellen Kennedy has had 40 to 50 of the big birds on her farm all winter. The Toms are now practising their seductive courtship routines designed to attract as many females as possible. Their tails are spread in a fan, wings drag and loud gobbling noises are made.

Watch for early arrivals this month and good birding in March.

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 ?? CARL MITCHELL PHOTO ?? A close-up of this barred owl came easily because the bird allowed the photograph­er to erect a ladder very close to where it was perched.
CARL MITCHELL PHOTO A close-up of this barred owl came easily because the bird allowed the photograph­er to erect a ladder very close to where it was perched.
 ?? MARYELLEN KENNEDY PHOTO ?? Wild turkeys are abundant these days and the mating dance will bring all sorts of dramatic moves.
MARYELLEN KENNEDY PHOTO Wild turkeys are abundant these days and the mating dance will bring all sorts of dramatic moves.
 ?? LYNN BALL PHOTO ?? A group of white pelicans, with a smaller brown pelican, on the Gulf of Mexico at Aransas, Texas.
LYNN BALL PHOTO A group of white pelicans, with a smaller brown pelican, on the Gulf of Mexico at Aransas, Texas.
 ?? WILSON HUM PHOTO ?? This northern hawk owl was spotted near Ottawa and didn’t appear to mind having its photo taken.
WILSON HUM PHOTO This northern hawk owl was spotted near Ottawa and didn’t appear to mind having its photo taken.
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