June 9, 2008
The past week has been spent close to home except for a second visit to visit the Qualicum White Ravens. I couldn't resist at least one more visit as they are simply mesmerizing. How often do you get to see such an amazing spectacle so close to home? I have some new photos and comments to share later. Meanwhile, feeder activity in the yard has been as hectic as ever. New juveniles included a second Hairy Woodpecker, Chipping Sparrow, Purple Finches, a new group of Pine Siskins, Spotted Towhees, and more Rufous Hummingbirds. The usual array of adults has also continued, including the male and female Black-headed Grosbeaks and the juvenile Cooper's Hawk. The latter two species are still on my photo wish list despite a couple of brief face-to-face encounters.
Besides the White Ravens, my other focus of the week was the juvenile Rufous Hummingbirds. As usual, there has been a decline in feeder activity which seems to follow the first round of fledglings. My feeder consumption has plummeted from 6 to 8 cups a day to 1 or 2 cups from last week to this week. Most of the hummers now seem to be juveniles with only a few adult females remaining. Harry, my dominant male is still lurking in the nearby holly trees, but I haven't seen him at the feeders for a couple of weeks. It could be that he is completely fatiqued from a vigorous breeding season which is still continuing as some of the females seem to be preparing for a second brood while others are still brooding and others are still feeding their nestlings.
My focus was actually for juveniles, but when I saw that there was still a lot of activity at the bulrushes, I decided to catch the last few adult females presumably working on their second nests.
Would you believe that I'm currently on my third set of bulrushes? In past years I've only required one set. I assume there have been a lot more females and nesting activity than in past years.
I expected only to see adult females in action at the bulrushes, but I was in for a surprise.
Mommy Training? - What I didn't expect was young juveniles plucking the bulrush down.
My first thought was, "Do the juveniles reach sexual maturity in the year they were born?"
"Or, were they just in "mommy-training" for next year?
"What do I do with the fluff?" This little hummer wasn't sure about what to do with the fluff, but others seemed to be heading for the trees to build a nest. I better ask Cam Finley about this activity.
The regular parade of Northern Flickers has continued much to my delight as they are beautiful birds.
Some people say that the red mark on the back of the head is supposed to indicate an intergrade with the yellow-shafted subspecies. I would like to see confirmation by DNA. I'll send in the next feather I find to the bar-coding project.
It's always a joy to see the American Goldfinches at the feeders. I know they love niger seed, but with so many Pine Siskins around, I'm just sticking with the black oil with some white millet mixed in.
House Finches are less common than the Purple Finches, but they always show up with their new "tufted" fledglings in tow.
It is a welcome change to see the House Finches.
One of the recent newcomers to the feeders is the juvenile Purple Finch.
Of course, the adult Purple Finches are still very abundant at the feeders.
The White Ravens of Qualicum
I must admit that I am fascinated with the White Ravens of Qualicum. Did you know that originally all ravens were white? Of course, that's only according to various myths and legends. Apparently because of some misdeeds and/or misfortunes, the white ravens ended up covered with mud or soot and became black ravens. Sorry, I'm digressing - back to Qualicum. I arrived at the ball fields about 8:30 AM on June 8 and could hear the ravens in the distance. I drove around to Eagle Park and found the raven family in the distant trees which were too far to photograph. I decided to go back and wait by the ball fields. I spent the time trying to photograph Swainson's Thrushes, Warbling Vireos and a Pacific-slope Flycatcher. An hour and a half slipped by quickly when the raucous "awking" of the signalled the arrival of the "unkindness" of ravens. Two black and one white raven landed in the western corner of the field while the others stayed in the trees. I slowly approached to within 20 meters and took a few pictures. They seemed unconcerned about my prsence and were preoccupied by their little games. One raven would pick up a clump of grass or a stick and the other would try to take it away. Sometimes a little playful tug-of-war would ensue until one of them gave up. After about 10 minutes they flew over to a sand bank and were immediately joined by another white and another black raven. I originally thought there were four siblings, but there are actually five!
Apparently the sand bank is one of the favorite playing spots for the ravens, and they were busy with their scavenger hunts and fooling about. Again they didn't seem to mind my company as I cautiously eased into shooting position. The same couldn't be said for the parents as they kept a safe distance away in the trees. I wondered several times why these ravens were so confiding. Was it because they were born in such a high traffic area that they have become habituated with humans? Or were they just enjoying their celebrity status and ready for the paparazzi? For whatever reason, I certainly took advantage of the situation.
It is remarkable to see one White Raven. Two is amazing. Now I've seen four in two years.
If you saw a white bird flying overhead, what would you be guessing?
The is always the thought that the White Ravens will become outcasts. So far, the blacks and whites seem to be getting along just fine.
You're not seeing double. I wasn't kidding you about the pair of White Ravens.
I am totally amazed at how confiding the five fledglings have been. I was easily within 8 meters of the 5 siblings for about 30 minutes.
Here's looking at you, Mike! The pair of whites didn't mind posing for the camera.
More fun and games. It never stops.
Just one happy family. For awhile I thought I was in a raven playschool. The main difference from a human playschool was that everyone got along and there was no squabbling. Maybe that confirms that birds are more intelligent than humans.
Hot off the Camera - A couple of last minute shots.
The Chipping Sparrows are regular customers to my feeders. Their seed of chioce appears to be white millet.
It's not too often that the Chipping Sparrows perch for more than a split second. That's why I keep the camera ready on the window sill.
Who hit the window? A couple of days ago I heard a loud "thud" against a kitchen window. When I looked out, I was face-to-face with a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. It flew as soon as it saw me. Checking outside, a stunned juvenile Robin was writhing on my patio. I held it for a few minutes than released it under the rhodo bush. I saw if fly off to the forest ten minutes later. This morning my wife spotted a Cooper's on tree near the forest about 30 meters from the house. I took a few record shots despite the rain. When I downloaded the photos it looked like the hawk had been in a collision. I wonder if it had also hit the window. I think it needs to check into emergency.
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