In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Island bird report

April on McNutt's Island has been for the most part cold, windy, rainy and raw. Still, the migratory birds have been arriving and the over-wintering birds have become more active. The Mourning Doves, Song Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos spend some time each day checking out the side yard for the bird seed Greg has been throwing out there. They have arrived after a long journey from who-knows-where, and we are happy to supply a King's Bounty until they get on their feet again.

The Song Sparrows and the Juncos -- little, feisty birds -- run about on the ground with their heads thrust forward, using up lots of calories searching for seed or insects. 

We noticed the three Mourning Doves about a week ago, a few days after the Song Sparrows and the Juncos.  Actually, I saw a Mourning Dove in the oak tree one day in February, and thought I heard its call once, earlier. So perhaps these three have been here all along, but now are attracted to the free food. They are not as frenetic as those smaller birds, and can spend time standing very still. One of them has been running after another, flying up about a foot into the air behind it, spreading its wings in the air, then coming back to ground.  I can't tell whether this is intended to be intimidation or flirting. The object of this behaviour runs away.   

The other day Greg watched the Bald Eagle pair flying together, one almost perching on top of the other in mid-air.  I suppose this behaviour means that love is in the air, even though the air is still raw and wet and windy -- not very romantic. 

Our old friends the Robins have been especially busy around the yard for the past few days, finding worms in the soil, thawed and wet with so much rain. They are easy pickings, I'll bet. I hate to lose worms, but the Robins have worked hard all winter to survive on whatever they could scrounge. They deserve a little fatness. 

This week we watched a pair of Downy Woodpeckers busy in one of our most pitiful little apple trees. Though this particular tree doesn't look like much, evidently it is home to luscious insects.  We have glimpsed the Downy during the winter months, mostly in the forest.

On April 11th we saw the male Yellow Shafted Northern Flicker in the front yard. On April 12th, 2008, we hosted a pair of them, only for the day as I recall.  Could this be one of the very same birds? If so, he's on schedule, and I hope his mate is with him. He is such a beautifully and precisely marked bird. Too bad for us that we are only a way-station for them.  

The Common Loons in the cove have been calling out more clearly than they did during the colder months.  Then their calls were faint and tremulous. Now they call with greater confidence. 

Yesterday afternoon -- Easter -- we watched one Great Blue Heron slowly wafting across the shore below the apple orchard, moving from from south to north.  It was our first sighting for the year.

Images from Birds of Nova Scotia, courtesy of the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

1 comment:

Karen said...

What a beautiful menagerie of birds visint your island... I love the mourning doves and the juncos.. plentiful around here. My husband spotted a bald eagle sailing over the house the other day... we have them along the Connecticut River but their sightings are rare.