With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, a lot of our summer flappers are disappearing. Elizabeth says they go south where it is warmer, brighter and there is still plenty of food crawling around for them to eat. We still have a few around, though, and of course there are some that stay with us all year. I asked Elizabeth if we could try to get some pictures of them for you to look at. You know… since there aren’t very many new flowers to show you.
Last year, the Robin family decided to try nesting on the house. They built a nest right over the spot where the telephone line meets the wall. The eggs hatched and their puppies fledged. For the most part, they were very well behaved youngsters. They only got rowdy when one of the parental units came with food for them.
Elizabeth took a photo of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) chicks last year. I don’t know why we didn’t write about them then. Here they are, quietly awaiting their earthworm supper.
The next day these little fellows were flying out of the nest. That was a very good thing, because the very night they were gone, a huge storm blew in. Five trees fell on the telephone and hydro lines, not breaking them, but pulling over the hydro pole. This in turn pulled the wires the nest was built on right out of the wall! The nest fell to the ground.
This year, the Robins came back in the spring. They decided that maybe that spot wasn’t the best location for a nest. They built a bigger nest in a more sheltered place: right behind the attic fan cover, just under the eaves of the house. It was a smart place to build because the crows and jays were too big to rob the nest, and the fan’s motor drowned out the peeps of the babies. They were ultra secure there.
Papa Robin had a few anxious days when another male started hanging around the nest. Wouldn’t leave, even after Papa made a few threatening dives at the intruder. Elizabeth heard Mr. Robin at the bathroom window one morning and ran in to see what all the ruckus was about. It turns out his adversary was not another Robin, but rather his own reflection in the glass. Elizabeth shooed him away and he seemed after that to realise his mistake.
We saw one of the elder Robins with its juvenile the other day:
They look pretty cold, don’t they. I think maybe this chilly morning was enough to push them into following a warmer isotherm south. They eat a lot of insects so, after a frost, food get scarce fast!
By the way, our European readers will notice that what we call Robins here are a type of Thrush and not at all like European Robins. But the red breasts reminded immigrants of those little European flappers, and the name was passed on…
The Magpie has been back several times. It is still finding lots of grasshoppers to eat. It is extremely shy, however, so we have no new photos to show you.
We have other migrant insectivores that will be leaving very soon, too. Elizabeth captured one such on Sunday as it watched the surrounding area from a Paper Birch:
This Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) is watching for lunch on the fly. BOL
Not all flappers eat insects. Some eat other types of food that are only available in the summer.
This is a Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina). They are one of the first flappers to come back in the spring. I think these seed-eaters follow the flapper feeders North!
Some flappers stay with us year round, though.
Elizabeth told me earlier this Summer that she was feeling sad. For almost a year, there have been no Nuthatches around. Nuthatches have a special place in Elizabeth’s heart for some reason. They seem to like her, too. As she was trying to get a picture of an elusive warbler of some sort, a Nuthatch flew in and landed right on Elizabeth’s backside! It stayed perched there for a few minutes, listening for insects. Then it, too, headed over to the more productive Paper Birch.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) is a pretty little flapper. From its latin name, you can see that it must make a habit of sitting on Canadians.
It is also a voracious insect hunter.
It seeks them here, it seeks them there, it seeks those insects…
They have specially adapted toes that allow them to climb up and down trees. In the winter, they find the insects sleeping just under the tree bark. I guess they hear the insects snoring.
While she was busy celebrating the return of her old friends (these little fellows can live for over seven years), someone else decided to join the party for at least long enough to discover whether there was any kibble on offer.
No kibble for the Kibble Snatcher family this time. And no. Cameras are not edible! Fly away, you silly clowns!