Jul. 2 - Bathing Beauties - Hygiene is essential for birds to maintain the conditioning of their feathers, but some birds just love the pleasure of a refreshing shower on a hot day.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch returned several times for its little spa treatment.
One of my resident male Purple Finches finally took a break from its singing to cool off.
Wounded Spottie - I was just looking for peeps at the Kaye Road drainage ponds when I ran into a family of Spotted Sandpipers. The two young ones disappeared in the bush while the adult (male?) impressed me with its wounded bird routine. I said "male?" because the females are supposed to be the free spirits while the males do the domestic thing.
Buttertubs Marsh holds many secrets from reclusive long-necked birds that skulk between the bulrushes to slimy organisms slithering in the mucky depths beneath the surface. If you're lucky, you may be privy to one of the mysteries like I was on July 3.
I spotted a Hooded Merganser diving repeatedly about 30 meters out. It was much too distant for a decent photo, but I was curious as to what kind of fish the Merganser was catching. If I were lucky, I would be able to see the fish well enough to identify it. Fortunately the photos turned out much better than anticipated.
The Merganser was having a difficult time but was finally in control of the situation. What kind of fish did she have?
I was amazed when I saw this mysterious aquatic apparition. No doubt it is a common organism to biologists, but I've never seen anything like it. Please email me if you know what it is.
After I left the Merganser, I found a Yellow Warbler. That wasn't difficult as Yellow Warblers are quite plentiful at Buttertubs.
The Yellow Warbler is one of my favorite birds. I don't think I'll ever get a better picture than the one that graces the cover of my second book, but it's fun to try.
The male House Finch is quite a striking bird. This one looks like a cross with a yellow variant.
A recently fledged Violet-green Swallow waited patiently for its mother. I was looking in the sun but thought the backlighting might provide an interesting picture. The Swallow cooperated by stretching and fanning its wings.
Purple Martins never cease to amaze me. Whenever I stop by for a short visit, it always lasts for at least an hour or two. This week I saw them at Campbell River, Oyster Bay, Deep Bay, and Nanoose. I was struck by a strange sight at Deep Bay. I saw several Purple Martins land in the small arbutus and willows by the parking lot. They appeared to be foraging for insects. I thought they were exclusively aerial feeders????
For those of us who have just recently taken an interest in birds, it's hard to imagine that just over twenty years ago the Purple Martin was on the verge of extinction on Vancouver Island and British Columbia. The population had plummeted down to about five known breeding pairs, all of which were located on southern Vancouver Island.
The decline in the Purple Martin population was attributed loss of breeding habitat from human activity and development along the shorelines of Vancouver Island and the concomitant arrival of the intrusive European Starlings and House Sparrows. In the competition for nesting cavities, the more aggressive Starlings and Sparrows prevailed.
Fortunately, the problem was recognized and addressed by members of the Victoria Natural History Society who installed nest boxes on the pilings at Cowichan Bay. In 1985 the first Purple Martins using the nest boxes was recorded.
Thanks to the tireless volunteer efforts of individuals like Darren Copley, nest boxes were soon installed in several locations in the Victoria area and as far north as Ladysmith Harbour. By 2004 nest boxes had been installed in many marine locations such as Nanoose Bay and Deep Bay and as far north as the Campbell River estuary. Successful Purple martin colonies were established in many locations and the provincial population increased to over 300 nesting pairs.
Despite the success of the Purple Martin recovery effort, the situation is still at risk. Many of the boxes are installed on aging pilings which are near the end of their life span. As well, there is no guaranteed funding to maintain the current nests and replace the aging pilings. The Georgia Basin Ecological Assessment and Restoration Society is currently acting as the steward for the Purple Martins, but their success depends on financial support from various sectors.
More Yard Birds - If I could have gotten the Black-throated Gray Warbler and Cassin's Vireo to shower, I could have included them with the "bathing beauties." It doesn't matter. They're special enough to have their own section.
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CAMPBELL RIVER - SAVE-ON FOODS
DUNCAN - VOLUME 1 BOOKSTORE
CHEMAINUS - Willow's Wild Bird Store
LADYSMITH - SALAMANDER BOOKS
NANOOSE - SCHOONER COVE MARINA
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TOFINO - BOTANICAL GARDENS
UCLUELET - WORDS END BOOKSELLERS
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