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Matador Area Birds

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  • zedbander
    Harvest is finally done, although we barely beat the rain. There are a few birds out there that don t seem to like the wind and cold - House Sparrows, native
    Message 1 of 25 , Oct 1, 2009
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      Harvest is finally done, although we barely beat the rain.

      There are a few birds out there that don't seem to like the wind and cold - House Sparrows, native sparrows, warblers and blackbirds - but some seem to enjoy it.

      There are 34 Tundra Swans on the South Dam, along with several hundred Canadas, White-fronts and a handful of Snow Geese that seem quite content. Very few ducks - a pair of Redheads and a few teal were all I saw just before noon.

      We normally have very few Sandhill Cranes here - they are generally closer to Galloway Bay to the west - but this year there are several hundred hanging around. I thought they would congregate on the combined fields,but they have tended to hang out on the hay fields.

      I think the Swainson's Hawks may all be gone from here. There was one immature erythristic bird still around on Tuesday, but I haven't seen it since.

      This marks the first year since I started netting that I didn't catch a Northern Saw-whet Owl in September. But, the juncos are here in big numbers today, so, if Stoffel's theory is correct, the saw-whets won't be far behind. Since I first started calling for saw-whets in 2003, others have started trapping in better locations - Marten at Saskatoon, Mike at Langham, Ross at Last Mountain Lake, Jared at Edenwold, and the current champion, Harold, east of P.A. However, it still amazes me that I've been able to catch over 500 saw-whets in a part of the province where the "experts" didn't expect me to catch any. And, we only catch a fraction of the migration - the timid ones and most of the males generally don't come close enough to get caught.

      I had been seeing at least one Prairie Falcon every day, but I didn't see one yesterday and I haven't seen one so far today. There is a Merlin that I see most days - it really likes to zip downwind on these windy days - and there were still a couple of kestrels around earlier this week.

      There aren't as many Red-tails roosting overnight in the yard as in the past few years- yesterday there were just two.

      While I watched the swans and geese at the South Dam, there was a harrier over the field shelterbelts, living up to its slow flight reputation by hanging almost motionless in the wind, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew by checking out the willows on the water's edge, where some White-throated Sparrows looked miserable.

      After seeing very few magpies and catching none since June, there has been a flurry of activity in the last week, with half a dozen juveniles tripping the hawk trap. None of them were banded.

      Dan
      Matador, Sk
    • zedbander
      Just 48 hours after seeing my first Bald Eagle bird hunt, I got to see another one, and I didn t have to go 20 miles away - it happened in sight of our yard. I
      Message 2 of 25 , Oct 12, 2009
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        Just 48 hours after seeing my first Bald Eagle bird hunt, I got to see another one, and I didn't have to go 20 miles away - it happened in sight of our yard.

        I was sitting just north of the South Dam watching a dark Red-tailed Hawk in a willow by the water, either a dark morph Red-tailed or a Harlan's Red-tail (I'd caught a beautiful juvenile Harlan's earlier in the day), when an adult Bald Eagle flew between me and the hawk. It headed east over the Big Ditch and towards the couple of thousand geese, ducks and cranes on the other side of the shelterbelts.

        After witnessing the goose hunt on Saturday, I wanted to see what happened when the eagle got to the field birds.

        I'd sat watching them earlier from less than three hundred yards away - mostly Snow Geese, Mallards, some White-fronts and maybe a hundred Sandhill Cranes - and they didn't seem to mind at all. But, when the Bald Eagle topped the trees, the whole works took to the air.

        By the time I got there, the eagle had picked out a young crane and was tailing it just as the eagle had done with the goose on Saturday.

        This time I thought I could see why the eagle had picked this young crane, as it seemed to fly awkwardly (but what did I know). They headed out over the flat east of the farmyard with the eagle closely tracking the crane from slightly below, and I figured I'd see another kill.

        Not this time. The eagle turned the crane quickly, but as they headed back, they came right over my truck. The crane never broke beat, but the eagle pulled up sharply to avoid going over me. By the time the eagle got back on track, the crane had a big lead on its way back to the dam.

        The eagle didn't give up. Within seconds it was pumping hard and closing the gap. But, then they both disappeared over the shelterbelts. By the time I got around the ditch and to the water's edge, all I saw was an adult Bald Eagle joining four other eagles in a poplar on the far side.
        Same eagle? I don't know. Maybe the crane was lucky this time. But, man, there doesn't seem to be a lot of quit in these Bald Eagles. Imagine the terror if you were a goose or crane and an adult Bald Eagle locked onto you.

        It was a good day to watch predators. On the ice at the dam, there were two coyotes trying to sneak up on some ducks. Along with the two dark morph Red-tails/Harlans', there were at least three other typical light plumaged Red-tails in the yard. I caught a Sharp-shinned Hawk and saw two others playing tag. Two Prairie Falcons, also playing tag but much faster, streaked across the dam on their way south to Lake Diefenbaker. I saw two different Harriers along the Big Ditch. Finally, there was a Cooper's Hawk sunning itself near the Big Ditch earlier this morning.

        I also saw a Swainson's Thrush, a Brown Creeper and about fifty Brewer's Blackbirds in the yard today, along with the Purple Finches, juncos and White-throated Sparrows.

        Dan
        Matador, Sk
      • Kate Johnson
        Certainly have enjoyed your accounts of the hunts, Dan. Kate ~http://goldengrainfarm.blogspot.com Life at Golden Grain Farm~ [Non-text portions of this
        Message 3 of 25 , Oct 13, 2009
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          Certainly have enjoyed your accounts of the "hunts," Dan.

          Kate

          ~http://goldengrainfarm.blogspot.com
          Life at Golden Grain Farm~





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • zedbander
          It was an odd day in that there didn t seem to be a lot of birds around. And yet.. At 8:00 A.M., the juncos all started clicking away, and I looked up to see a
          Message 4 of 25 , Oct 21, 2009
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            It was an odd day in that there didn't seem to be a lot of birds around. And yet..

            At 8:00 A.M., the juncos all started clicking away, and I looked up to see a juvenile Merlin high in a poplar. It let me walk under the tree and past before leisurely (for a Merlin) flying toward the barns.

            At noon I caught the first Northern Shrike of the fall, a plump juvenile.

            At 4:00 P.M. I briefly watched three late season female Red-winged Blackbirds at the lagoon as they moved up and down through the cat-tails.

            At 5:00 P.M. and 6:30 P.M. I got to handle first a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk and then a young adult Sharp-shinned Hawk, both females in good shape.

            At dusk, one of the juvenile Great Horned Owls started squawking and hasn't stopped for the last three and a half hours. It keeps changing perches, sometimes just a few metres from the house.

            Meanwhile the saw-whets were arriving in pairs.

            Not bad for a "slow" bird day.

            Dan
            Matador, Sk
          • zedbander
            What fantastic weather to be outside. We ve been able to get some fieldwork done, so I ve spent some time on a tractor the last few days. Yesterday I saw the
            Message 5 of 25 , Nov 5, 2009
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              What fantastic weather to be outside.

              We've been able to get some fieldwork done, so I've spent some time on a tractor the last few days.

              Yesterday I saw the first Short-eared Owl since early September.

              While I waited for help to fix a flat tire, I watched a Golden Eagle soaring over the S Sask River hills.

              I've had three Northern Goshawks in the yard in the last five days, one of them the first adult female I've handled. Big and very strong.

              Two Harlan's Hawks were in the yard yesterday, one of which perched on the very top of a spruce in my yard and didn't leave until I moved. Not banded, unfortunately.

              And, finally the Snowy Owls have arrived in numbers. I saw two white owls yesterday and had reports of three barred ones.

              I have few birds at the feeders, but there is one RB nuthatch, one Chickadee and one Common Redpoll that visit most days.

              As I go up and down the fields, I'm seeing little flocks of Snow Buntings and occasionally single buntings, which I thought odd.

              Dan
              Matador, Sk
            • zedbander
              Sadly, the snow is mainly gone from this part of West Central Saskatchewan. That means the Snowy Owls that were resident most of the winter have moved north.
              Message 6 of 25 , Mar 14, 2010
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                Sadly, the snow is mainly gone from this part of West Central Saskatchewan. That means the Snowy Owls that were resident most of the winter have moved north. There are still owls passing through but they are mainly white-probable males.

                I did find an area south and east of Rosetown yesterday where I could see thirteen owls from one spot. It is very flat there and I could probably see most of four square miles, but still...

                This morning I went out at daybreak to see if there were still owls on our cultivated land, since we do have a little snow left. It was about -7C, but completely calm and clear. From the elevated vantage of the Matador Pasture Bull Field, I could see five Snowy Owls, which is three more than I saw at any time through the winter. One of them appeared to me to be a juvenile, the rest were very white. From that spot, I also saw six coyotes, a dozen Mule Deer, 35 pronghorn antelope, many Horned Larks and Snow Buntings, and a dozen Canada Geese. No Merlin or Prairie Falcon this time.

                The starlings are back in our yard, setting up house at a couple of yard lights.

                We had a Hairy Woodpecker here on and off all winter, and there was one here on Friday.

                I had as many as thirty redpolls at the feeders through the winter. There are still a few around.

                There was a Red-breasted Nuthatch at my feeders all winter, and I suspected there might be another, but this morning was the first time I saw two together.

                So far, we have four Great Horned Owls visible on nests, and quite a few yards where we've heard owls calling. In one abandoned yard northwest of Kyle, I watched a Great Horned Owl, likely the male by its call, go out in a field and catch a rodent, bring it back to the roof of the barn, and call until the other owl came to take the offering. Pretty good chance that that yard will have a nest.

                There was one Golden Eagle on a nest last weekend, but that seems early. It was on a new nest near the old one, so I suspect it was a trial sitting.

                Dan

                Matador
              • zedbander
                Just enough rain to keep us out of the fields- seeding plan needs major revision but the grass looks a whole lot better. Last year I had a Northern Flicker
                Message 7 of 25 , Apr 29, 2010
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                  Just enough rain to keep us out of the fields- seeding plan needs major revision but the grass looks a whole lot better.

                  Last year I had a Northern Flicker raise five chicks in one of my kestrel boxes. I was told by a researcher familiar with the species that use of nestboxes was rare. A couple of days ago, I could hear a flicker hammering near a box I'd just put up, but I couldn't see the flicker. When I got closer, a head popped out of the box and froze there. When I left, the flicker resumed hammering away, inside the box! I've heard it several times since, so maybe I'll have a second brood of flickers in a nestbox in two years.

                  On Monday there was a Eurasian Collared Dove here at the farm. They have been in Kyle for several years, but this is the first time I've seen one here.

                  Also on Monday I saw my first Sharp-shinned Hawk of the year. It flushed the sparrows and pigeons near the shop, but didn't catch anything while I watched.

                  The White-throated Sparrows showed up on Sunday. This morning there was a Lincoln's Sparrow with the WTSPs below the feeders.

                  I've caught a few Common Grackles lately. The young ones are quite passive, male and female; the older males are much more confident and use their beaks well.

                  I've been told of Burrowing Owls returning to three sites around Kyle, but I haven't seen any yet.

                  Another Ferruginous Hawk nest taken by a Canada Goose (CAGOs deserve their "rats with wings" designation in my opinion, being destructive and invasive-I know rats have their place too, but preferably only as prey).


                  Dan
                  Matador, Sk
                • zedbander
                  The first American Tree Sparrow of the year for me showed up with the redpolls this morning. The three Red-breasted Nuthatches that were around all winter seem
                  Message 8 of 25 , Mar 4, 2011
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                    The first American Tree Sparrow of the year for me showed up with the redpolls this morning.

                    The three Red-breasted Nuthatches that were around all winter seem to have gone, but the lone American Goldfinch was just here again yesterday.

                    A Hairy Woodpecker came to the feeders yesterday, ignoring the suet blocks and eating some mixed seeds instead.

                    One of the Great Horned Owls was perched in plain sight this morning up against the trunk of a poplar. Usually I have to look deep into one of the spruce to find it.

                    It has been a strange year for raptors. Snowy Owls have been scarce lately while falcons seem more abundant. There is a Prairie Falcon that roosts most days on the Pioneer elevator in Kyle, I've caught four this winter near Kyle and the last one I saw was unbanded. Marten S. and Mike B. have caught five or six Gyrfalcons this winter and have seen more. And, there is at least one Merlin in Kyle.

                    Dan
                  • zedbander
                    Just enough rain to toughen the straw and stop the seeding. The first Lark Bunting of the year for me was working the fenceline in the Matador Pasture Bull
                    Message 9 of 25 , May 17 3:25 PM
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                      Just enough rain to toughen the straw and stop the seeding.

                      The first Lark Bunting of the year for me was working the fenceline in the Matador Pasture Bull Field early this morning.

                      I've seen Harris's Sparrows here before - we had one hanging around on the Christmas Bird Count in December - but I've never seen this many at one time. At times they have outnumbered the White-throated Sparrows scratching below the feeders.

                      The Tree Sparrows and Purple Martins have been here for a while, but I've just noticed the Barn Swallows the last couple of days days.

                      Six American Goldfinches this morning, and , a rarity for me, several Pine Siskins as well.

                      The grackles come and go. When they come, everyone else leaves, but the little ones are soon back. There were eight grackles on the ground just now, one of which was banded.

                      My best sighting recently was of two Evening Grosbeaks, the first I've ever seen here. The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were here last week, but I haven't seen them since.

                      We appear to have had another change in our resident Great Horned Owl pair. I caught a GHOW in the yard sometime Saturday morning, which turned out to be one that we had banded twenty miles away as a nestling in 2008. I thought it might be a floater, but when I let it go it headed across the yard to where the resident male likes to stay. I have no idea when the switch happened. By all the measurements that I can do, and by the fact it had no brood patch, I think it is a male, but I can't be sure. The previous male was a quiet bird. This one was angry, constantly trying to get me. I'm sure it was thinking "I can take him". I've banded five times as many adult Snowy Owls as I have adult Great Horned Owls, but there is no question in my mind which is the more dangerous. Even though Snowy Owls are bigger and heavier than Great Horned Owls - I've banded female SNOWs that weighed twice as much as this GHOW - I'm never as intimidated by a SNOW as I am by GHOWs.

                      As I put the fertilizer truck in out of the rain, I watched a flicker go towards the nest box where a flicker has been hammering for days now. Another flicker popped its head out of the box to greet the first one, so I'm hopeful they will use the box.

                      Both pairs of kestrels keep a low profile, but are quick to attack any harriers or Swainson's Hawks that come near their respective boxes. I've seen a Merlin fly through the yard a few times since the kestrels came back, but have not seen any interaction between them.

                      No Burrowing Owls yet and just one Loggerhead Shrike (perhaps my favorite summer bird) so far.

                      Dan
                      Matador
                    • zedbander
                      Today was a pretty good day. Seeding is essentially done, with just some oats for green feed left to seed. The early canola and lentils are away to the races.
                      Message 10 of 25 , May 22 8:56 PM
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                        Today was a pretty good day.

                        Seeding is essentially done, with just some oats for green feed left to seed. The early canola and lentils are away to the races. And, we had just enough rain overnight for me to play hooky for a bit.

                        The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are back in numbers- I've been catching some, and I don't see the banded ones again so there must be quite a few passing through. I also caught a cowbird. I don't band them, but I did weigh it. It's just a sample of one, but did you know cowbirds can weigh more than RBGRs? I wouldn't have guessed it looking at the two species together.

                        This morning I was able to find a couple of new Ferruginous Hawk nests (although a long time nest tree blew down in the high winds of last week).

                        This isn't supposed to be Red-tailed Hawk country, more a fringe territory for them, but I saw as many nesting RTHAs today as I did Ferruginous Hawks. One of the Red-tail nests is less than two hundred metres from an active Great Horned Owl nest. Stuart Houston used to think the owls liked to nest near Red-tails to use them as a convenient food supply when the owlets became more demanding for food. Although I don't spend much time on Red-tails, I hope to check this nest out to see if the hawks and owls co-exist or whether the hawks become lunch.

                        I was also able to confirm a Ravens' nest. It's not the first one I've seen here, but the other one, in 2007 I think, failed. This one appears to have little raven chicks in it, so I hope to visit it later.

                        And, I was able to find the new nest a local Golden Eagle is using. It's in an almost perfectly hidden location. Very sneaky.

                        The only nesting Long-eared Owl I know of in this area is just hatching her brood today - two chicks and three eggs so far.

                        Oh, and the first Burrowing Owl of the year for me was guarding a burrow that was used last year. It flushed when I got too close, but then it returned to the burrow when I backed away. It was clutching a Bumblebee - doesn't it know Bumblebees are having a hard time, too?

                        Dan

                        Matador
                      • zedbander
                        Swainson s Hawks, American Kestrels, Loggerhead Shrikes, Purple Martins, and Mountain Bluebirds all feeding young today near or in our yard. The hawks,
                        Message 11 of 25 , Jul 12, 2011
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                          Swainson's Hawks, American Kestrels, Loggerhead Shrikes, Purple Martins, and Mountain Bluebirds all feeding young today near or in our yard.

                          The hawks, kestrels, shrikes, and martins aren't too surprising, but the bluebirds are, since I don't think there are any occupied boxes nearby. Arguably MOBLs are an invasive species here, since there weren't many suitable trees in this area before fire suppression, but a few bluebirds are nice to see. The same might be said of Purple Martins, definitely an invasive species here; I never understood why they are preferred to House Sparrows, since the sparrows are much more "beneficial", eating unwanted weed seeds and many grasshoppers, while martins eat my favorite insect, the dragonfly, and leave the pesky mosquito alone. But, a few martins are nice to see, too. I think we have eight adults and two broods of nestlings in the martin house, just about the right amount for me.

                          Merlin action in this area range from flying youngsters to a set of possibly viable eggs on Sunday.

                          We visited more Ferruginous Hawk nests than ever, although productivity was down slightly from the best years.

                          Prairie Falcon productivity doubled from last year's disaster, although still down from 2009.

                          Something is going on with the Golden Eagles along the South Saskatchewan. Just four successful nests, where I used to find twelve or more. I know the coyote trappers catch eagles through the winter - the eagles are often released but starve since their feet no longer work. I hope this isn't the reason so many long time nests are now unoccupied.

                          Dan
                          Matador, Sask.
                        • zedbander
                          I was able to visit forty-six active Swainson s Hawk nests this year. Just one nest had four live young (the average of all nests was slightly over two live
                          Message 12 of 25 , Aug 10, 2011
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                            I was able to visit forty-six active Swainson's Hawk nests this year. Just one nest had four live young (the average of all nests was slightly over two live chicks per nest). That nest was one of two active nests in our farmyard. By the behavior of the adults, I estimated that those young had hatched in the last week of June. Today, all four youngsters from that nest were sitting together on the railing of a bale enclosure about 100 m. from the nest. I've never seen this behavior before. In my experience the young tend to disperse somewhat, which is likely the prudent thing to do.

                            Also, early this morning I saw two juvenile Merlins together on a fence line bordering our crop land. I don't remember seeing young Merlins together once they've left the natal area.

                            And, yesterday I saw my first Cooper's Hawk juvenile of the summer taking a run at the pigeon flock.

                            On Sunday I accidently flushed a Mourning Dove off a nest. This morning she was still sitting on eggs - those little ones will have to grow up in a hurry. But, then I also saw two tiny Killdeer yesterday that couldn't have been more than a couple of days old.

                            Dan
                            Matador, Sk
                          • zedbander
                            Yesterday I thought something must have happened to 3U, one of the four Swainson s Hawk chicks from the laneway nest. The other three, 4U, 5U, and 6U, were on
                            Message 13 of 25 , Aug 15, 2011
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                              Yesterday I thought something must have happened to 3U, one of the four Swainson's Hawk chicks from the laneway nest. The other three, 4U, 5U, and 6U, were on fences near the nest, in eyesight of each other but much more spread out than last week. I checked several times through the day, but never saw 3U (most likely a male by measurements). This morning, however, all four were strung out on the fences.

                              I thought that would be my highlight for the day.

                              But later on, the aerial display of the dozen or so adult Swainson's Hawks dropping out of the sky into the lentil stubble, as the combines uncovered voles, was nothing short of spectacular. A couple of the hawks hit the ground so hard I thought they might break something. Most years, I can't tempt SWHAs with rodents at this time of year, the hawks much preferring the superior protein content of grasshoppers to mice or voles. But, we have very few grasshoppers this year. The hawks ate so many voles that I wondered if they might be too heavy to fly. As we moved out of the field, the hawks were just standing around.

                              So, I figured that would be the highlight.

                              But... just after dark, when the lentil straw toughened, and lightning flashed in all directions, we shut down and headed for home. The sweet clover is three feet high on the edges of the road and the crops are very good, so the narrow road is the only open area. Fortunately, I wasn't going fast so I was able to brake before hitting the owl as it rose right in front of me. I really like Short-eared Owls, so it's always a treat to see one. But then, there was another one, and another, and another. Altogether, there were six Short-eared Owls on the way home, all rising from the middle of the road, ducking and diving into the night.

                              Very cool. The highlight of the day.

                              Dan
                              Matador, Sk
                            • Don Wilson
                              ... -- http://www.stsk.ca Small Town Saskatchewan - Videos from the Heartland http://www.Crowsnest-Highway.ca The Virtual Crowsnest Highway (306) 585-0374
                              Message 14 of 25 , Aug 16, 2011
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                                :-)

                                zedbander wrote:

                                > Yesterday I thought something must have happened to 3U, one of the
                                > four Swainson's Hawk chicks from the laneway nest. The other three,
                                > 4U, 5U, and 6U, were on fences near the nest, in eyesight of each
                                > other but much more spread out than last week. I checked several times
                                > through the day, but never saw 3U (most likely a male by
                                > measurements). This morning, however, all four were strung out on the
                                > fences.
                                >
                                > I thought that would be my highlight for the day.
                                >
                                > But later on, the aerial display of the dozen or so adult Swainson's
                                > Hawks dropping out of the sky into the lentil stubble, as the combines
                                > uncovered voles, was nothing short of spectacular. A couple of the
                                > hawks hit the ground so hard I thought they might break something.
                                > Most years, I can't tempt SWHAs with rodents at this time of year, the
                                > hawks much preferring the superior protein content of grasshoppers to
                                > mice or voles. But, we have very few grasshoppers this year. The hawks
                                > ate so many voles that I wondered if they might be too heavy to fly.
                                > As we moved out of the field, the hawks were just standing around.
                                >
                                > So, I figured that would be the highlight.
                                >
                                > But... just after dark, when the lentil straw toughened, and lightning
                                > flashed in all directions, we shut down and headed for home. The sweet
                                > clover is three feet high on the edges of the road and the crops are
                                > very good, so the narrow road is the only open area. Fortunately, I
                                > wasn't going fast so I was able to brake before hitting the owl as it
                                > rose right in front of me. I really like Short-eared Owls, so it's
                                > always a treat to see one. But then, there was another one, and
                                > another, and another. Altogether, there were six Short-eared Owls on
                                > the way home, all rising from the middle of the road, ducking and
                                > diving into the night.
                                >
                                > Very cool. The highlight of the day.
                                >
                                > Dan
                                > Matador, Sk
                                >
                                >


                                --
                                http://www.stsk.ca Small Town Saskatchewan - Videos from the Heartland
                                http://www.Crowsnest-Highway.ca The Virtual Crowsnest Highway
                                (306) 585-0374
                              • Ray or Adele Dueck
                                Thanks so much for sending this, Dan. Highly entertaining. What a great birding day! Adele in Lucky Lake
                                Message 15 of 25 , Aug 18, 2011
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                                  Thanks so much for sending this, Dan. Highly entertaining. What a great
                                  birding day!

                                  Adele in Lucky Lake

                                  On 15/08/2011 11:34 PM, zedbander wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Yesterday I thought something must have happened to 3U, one of the
                                  > four Swainson's Hawk chicks from the laneway nest. The other three,
                                  > 4U, 5U, and 6U, were on fences near the nest, in eyesight of each
                                  > other but much more spread out than last week. I checked several times
                                  > through the day, but never saw 3U (most likely a male by
                                  > measurements). This morning, however, all four were strung out on the
                                  > fences.
                                  >
                                  > I thought that would be my highlight for the day.
                                  >
                                  > But later on, the aerial display of the dozen or so adult Swainson's
                                  > Hawks dropping out of the sky into the lentil stubble, as the combines
                                  > uncovered voles, was nothing short of spectacular. A couple of the
                                  > hawks hit the ground so hard I thought they might break something.
                                  > Most years, I can't tempt SWHAs with rodents at this time of year, the
                                  > hawks much preferring the superior protein content of grasshoppers to
                                  > mice or voles. But, we have very few grasshoppers this year. The hawks
                                  > ate so many voles that I wondered if they might be too heavy to fly.
                                  > As we moved out of the field, the hawks were just standing around.
                                  >
                                  > So, I figured that would be the highlight.
                                  >
                                  > But... just after dark, when the lentil straw toughened, and lightning
                                  > flashed in all directions, we shut down and headed for home. The sweet
                                  > clover is three feet high on the edges of the road and the crops are
                                  > very good, so the narrow road is the only open area. Fortunately, I
                                  > wasn't going fast so I was able to brake before hitting the owl as it
                                  > rose right in front of me. I really like Short-eared Owls, so it's
                                  > always a treat to see one. But then, there was another one, and
                                  > another, and another. Altogether, there were six Short-eared Owls on
                                  > the way home, all rising from the middle of the road, ducking and
                                  > diving into the night.
                                  >
                                  > Very cool. The highlight of the day.
                                  >
                                  > Dan
                                  > Matador, Sk
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  >
                                  > No virus found in this message.
                                  > Checked by AVG - www.avg.com <http://www.avg.com>
                                  > Version: 10.0.1392 / Virus Database: 1520/3839 - Release Date: 08/16/11
                                  >
                                • Val T
                                  Hi Dan. That was really a good read and a good day for you. It s a wonder it could turn dark at all with all your high lights !! Five days ago Doyle took a
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Aug 18, 2011
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                                    Hi Dan. That was really a good read and a good day for you. It's a wonder it could turn dark at all with all your high'lights'!!

                                    Five days ago Doyle took a photo of 28 Purple Martins gathered on an old TV antennae we have about 40 feet up in the air. They've all gone now. There were 16 Killdeer flying about also and our front yard has again become a lake so driving out on the lane yesterday we stopped to see both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and a Solitary Sandpiper wading. Two families of Blue-winged Teal were swimming on the south lawns. Funny year for sure.

                                    Val T - McTaggart

                                    --- In Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com, "zedbander" <danzaz@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > Yesterday I thought something must have happened to 3U, one of the four Swainson's Hawk chicks from the laneway nest. The other three, 4U, 5U, and 6U, were on fences near the nest, in eyesight of each other but much more spread out than last week. I checked several times through the day, but never saw 3U (most likely a male by measurements). This morning, however, all four were strung out on the fences.
                                    >
                                    > I thought that would be my highlight for the day.
                                    >
                                    > But later on, the aerial display of the dozen or so adult Swainson's Hawks dropping out of the sky into the lentil stubble, as the combines uncovered voles, was nothing short of spectacular. A couple of the hawks hit the ground so hard I thought they might break something. Most years, I can't tempt SWHAs with rodents at this time of year, the hawks much preferring the superior protein content of grasshoppers to mice or voles. But, we have very few grasshoppers this year. The hawks ate so many voles that I wondered if they might be too heavy to fly. As we moved out of the field, the hawks were just standing around.
                                    >
                                    > So, I figured that would be the highlight.
                                    >
                                    > But... just after dark, when the lentil straw toughened, and lightning flashed in all directions, we shut down and headed for home. The sweet clover is three feet high on the edges of the road and the crops are very good, so the narrow road is the only open area. Fortunately, I wasn't going fast so I was able to brake before hitting the owl as it rose right in front of me. I really like Short-eared Owls, so it's always a treat to see one. But then, there was another one, and another, and another. Altogether, there were six Short-eared Owls on the way home, all rising from the middle of the road, ducking and diving into the night.
                                    >
                                    > Very cool. The highlight of the day.
                                    >
                                    > Dan
                                    > Matador, Sk
                                    >
                                  • zedbander
                                    ... And, there was a full moon, too, Val - lots of light!! Today, Saturday, the four Swainson s Hawk chicks from the laneway nest are still alive. At noon, I
                                    Message 17 of 25 , Aug 20, 2011
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                                      --- In Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com, "Val T" <val_doyle_thomas@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > Hi Dan. That was really a good read and a good day for you. It's a wonder it could turn dark at all with all your high'lights'!!
                                      >

                                      And, there was a full moon, too, Val - lots of light!!

                                      Today, Saturday, the four Swainson's Hawk chicks from the laneway nest are still alive. At noon, I watched one of them perched on a fencepost, eating the last of a Richardson's Ground Squirrel. The other three juveniles were perched on other poles and on the ground, within eyesight, keening away- I imagine hoping to be next in line for a meal. I wish I could have been there earlier to see the delivery of the gopher, to see whether the gopher was given to the loudest chick or whether there was a fight for it. The adults were high overhead and there were a couple of gophers above ground.

                                      Sadly, 4Z, one of the two chicks from the south nest in our yard, was dead on the road near its nest yesterday. The other chick flew off the road when I went by yesterday - vehicles still have their speed up at that point if they are heading west, so I don't have much hope for the second one if it keeps sitting on the road. The anodized aluminum colour bands cost me $7.50 apiece- I removed the 4Z band to reuse on another hawk.

                                      The Mourning Dove nest I was watching was abandoned after ten days, and now the eggs are gone, too. According to the Birds of North America, the MODO migration at this latitude starts as early as 1 September, with the immatures going first. I was hoping this nest would be successful and I could monitor the dispersal of the chicks. Jack, did your Mourning Doves near Balcarres hatch any young?

                                      There was one Short-eared Owl on the lentil field we did yesterday, and I saw a juvenile Loggerhead Shrike yesterday as well- the first one I've seen in several days.


                                      Dan
                                      Matador, Sk
                                    • Jack Monteith
                                      I m afraid my Morning Dove abandoned her nest too. I even tried to catch her on the nest at night. The nest is too high to check for eggs, unless I find a 16
                                      Message 18 of 25 , Aug 24, 2011
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                                        I'm afraid my Morning Dove abandoned her nest too. I even tried to catch her on the nest at night. The nest is too high to check for eggs, unless I find a 16 foot step ladder.

                                        Some birds that were regular summer residents weren't here this summer, but passed through recently. Eastern Phoebes and Cedar Waxwings in particular. I'm seeing a lot of very young ducks now. They should have been that size a month or two ago. Coots are everywhere. One Hummingbird buzzed by yesterday.

                                        Jack
                                        North of Balcarres
                                      • William Davenport
                                        We did a Rosthern to Wakaw drive yesterday and were also surprised at the great many young broods seen during the trip ... highlights included a Ruddy Duck hen
                                        Message 19 of 25 , Aug 24, 2011
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                                          We did a Rosthern to Wakaw drive yesterday and were also surprised at the great many young broods seen during the trip ... highlights included a Ruddy Duck hen with seven young ones and over seventy-five American Pelicans resting on a small spit of land into a slough.
                                          Bill
                                          Saskatoon
                                          ----- Original Message -----
                                          From: Jack Monteith
                                          To: Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com
                                          Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:46 PM
                                          Subject: [Saskbirds] Re: Matador Swainson's Hawks and Mourning Doves



                                          I'm afraid my Morning Dove abandoned her nest too. I even tried to catch her on the nest at night. The nest is too high to check for eggs, unless I find a 16 foot step ladder.

                                          Some birds that were regular summer residents weren't here this summer, but passed through recently. Eastern Phoebes and Cedar Waxwings in particular. I'm seeing a lot of very young ducks now. They should have been that size a month or two ago. Coots are everywhere. One Hummingbird buzzed by yesterday.

                                          Jack
                                          North of Balcarres





                                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                        • zedbander
                                          Four Prairie Falcons between Kyle and Lacadena today. One of them finished a small bird meal in a stubble field and then flew up to a power pole, where the two
                                          Message 20 of 25 , Oct 15, 2011
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                                            Four Prairie Falcons between Kyle and Lacadena today. One of them finished a small bird meal in a stubble field and then flew up to a power pole, where the two of us watched a Golden Eagle flush thousands of geese half a mile to the north. The eagle circled the area for a while, but must not have seen any cripples. A second PRFA chased a flock of pigeons near Tyner, but also left without a meal. One Merlin near the correction line north of Kyle.

                                            Two Red-tailed Hawks in our yard this morning, but I didn't see any between Kyle and Lacadena, and just one Rough-legged Hawk on the circuit.

                                            I saw my first Northern Shrike on Thursday between the farm and Kyle, and then this morning a juvenile showed up at the farm. At fifty-nine grams, it's the lightest one I've handled, but it seemed healthy--well able to draw blood.

                                            Both Northern Saw-whet Owls and Long-eared Owls migrating through, but the migration has been slow with the good weather.

                                            I stopped to check a small bird dead on the Matador Road this afternoon. A Snow Bunting! A little further on , a live Snow Bunting, which was determined to pick at something just at the edge of the gravel. If I got too close, it moved a bit ahead but stayed on the edge of the road. Even after I passed by, I could see it return to the gravel's edge. I don't like its chances.


                                            Dan

                                            Matador
                                          • zedbander
                                            In some ways it has been a quiet fall here - few warblers earlier, and few juncos or native sparrows any time this fall. But there have been some welcome
                                            Message 21 of 25 , Nov 18, 2011
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                                              In some ways it has been a quiet fall here - few warblers earlier, and few juncos or native sparrows any time this fall.

                                              But there have been some welcome visitors.

                                              Bluejays usually make such brief visits here in the fall that every sighting is a treat. However, this year, so far, has been a little different. I was able to band two BLJAs on 28 October (hatch year males, as far as I could tell), and, as of today, they are still around. They are so energetic, arriving from and leaving in all directions, that I keep thinking that there may be more of them. But, so far it has always been just the two banded birds.

                                              Five Pine Grosbeaks showed up here in late October, and decided they liked green ash seeds- they were still here this morning. Very approachable -are they always so tame?

                                              Several times this month, including at noon today, there has been an American Goldfinch at the feeders- always just one, so it may be the same bird.

                                              Redpolls showed up just this week.

                                              Most days there is a Prairie Falcon somewhere along our road to the highway. I think it's the same bird - it behaves like a bird that has been caught before, but I've never been close enough to see a band.

                                              Most of this month, there has been an unusually tame Golden Eagle on the highline south of the yard. Usually they lift off and leave even if I stop a mile away to watch. This one let me get within a few hundred yards.

                                              More and more reports of Snowy Owls- two on Wednesday, three yesterday and four today, although I've seen just two this fall, including one today.

                                              More and more Ravens here every year. Stoffel thinks the increasing number of Ravens around Saskatoon is the reason Snowy Owls have been scarce there in recent years. I hope he is wrong.

                                              I caught a magpie today that I'd banded in October, 2009. Noticeable thinning of the aluminum band- I think because their scaly legs are so abrasive. Maybe that's why there have been no encounters of really old banded magpies. I've started using stainless steel bands even though they aren't as easy to apply correctly.

                                              Dan
                                              Matador, Sk
                                            • zedbander
                                              I can add Prairie Falcon and American Goldfinch to the winter list. One of two PRFAs yesterday was along the Matador Road, a probable adult female that I see
                                              Message 22 of 25 , Dec 4, 2011
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                                                I can add Prairie Falcon and American Goldfinch to the winter list.

                                                One of two PRFAs yesterday was along the Matador Road, a probable adult female that I see often and can't tempt. The other was a probable juvenile sitting motionless on the antenna of the Pioneer elevator in Kyle and scaring the dickens out of the pigeons returning to roost on the roof.

                                                I now have two American Goldfinches coming to my feeders, joining several redpolls and the two Blue Jays (the BLJAs are nothing if not persistent -I've caught one of them three times and the other four times as I try to trap magpies for banding).

                                                Most years the Snowy Owls that we catch are in good to excellent shape, which is supports the theory that, without predator/prey imbalance, only the fittest owls are going to think about making the long trip from the Arctic. This year however, the high number of juveniles we are encountering suggests a good owl hatch and not enough lemmings to sustain them. It appears some of the young owls are being forced to head south. And, some of them are losing condition on the way. Five out of six juveniles encountered so far have been underweight. A juvenile female that I caught yesterday weighed just 1330 grams, little more than half of a good condition bird.



                                                Dan
                                                Matador, Sk
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