The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘Magpie’

Winging Through Wednesday

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 robin chicks last year. I don't know why we didn't write about them then. Here they are, quietly awaiting their earthworm supper.

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 cold morning was enough to push them into following a warmer thermoclime south. They eat a lot of insects so, after a frost, food get scarce fast!

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

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 birds to come back in the spring. I think these seed-eaters follow the bird feeders North!

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 bird...

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 is also a voracious insect hunter.

It seeks them here, it seeks them there, it seeks those insects...

It seeks them here, it seeks them there, it seeks those insects…

everywhere!

everywhere!

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!

No kibble for the Kibble Snatcher family this time. And no. Cameras are not edible! Fly away, you silly clowns!

Birthday & Other News

Friday was my Birthday! I turned five years old (That’s two-legger years. According to the chart at the vets’, I’m about 42 dog years old.). We aren’t much for celebrating birthdays around here, but I did get some extra treats, an extra walk and a whole lot of love. I always get a whole lot of love.   ~|o}=

I did have to work at the bookshop on my birthday, though. I didn’t mind at all. As it turned out, we had some interesting two-leggers in to say hello – two-leggers from far, far away. We had a couple Elizabeth knew from her university days drop in to say hello. They were from a place called Victoria, the capital city of Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia.

There was a couple of motorcycle dudes from Lac du Bonnet, which isn’t that far away, but it is in another province, too: Manitoba. Elizabeth says that Lac du Bonnet is also on the mighty Winnipeg River, some distance down from us. I could swim there if I really wanted to. But I’m more Great Pyrenees than Newfoundland Dog, so, I’ll be keeping to my end of the River, thank you! Anyway, these bikers were wanting a better view of the road than they’ve been getting from their motorcycles, ’cause they asked for books on aviation… bush flying in particular. Elizabeth had several, but they didn’t buy any.

Then a couple came in from Geraldton, a town in Northwestern Ontario. Why mention that, you might be thinking. Well, Northwestern Ontario is a very big area, and these folks had travelled even farther than the biker dudes from a different province. Geraldton (now called Greenstone) is almost 750 km away! That’s a long way to come shopping for books. But then, our bookshop is the biggest bookshop in all of Northwestern Ontario, so they knew what they were doing!

Some local regulars came by, too, including a man who’s father was an author (he wrote about naval history). Just after he left, Elizabeth was emptying an incoming box of books. In it was one of the two books this man’s father had written! That’s a bit spooky considering just how many books we have to deal with in here…

But it was on the way home that I had my biggest birthday surprise. We were driving around the famous Kenricia corner in Kay’s Growly Beast. Two men were standing on the corner waiting for the pedestrian light. Elizabeth knew them, and she waved hello. They waved back, and one of them, someone I’m sure I’ve never met before, called out, “Hello, Stella!” to me through the open backseat window. He must know me from coming here to read my stories! A fan!

I’m going to have to get me some sunglasses…   ~:oD=

OTHER NEWS

Interesting goings on on the ‘Estate’, too. All of the flapper puppies are fledged and learning how to survive in the world. This makes for some interesting viewing from my station on the front step. Robin pups are learning to pull worms from the ground. Phoebe pups are learning where to catch the best insects for eating and how to despatch them. Hummingbird pups are learning which flowers have the tastiest nectar. And the Kibble Snatchers are back teaching their pups to trust Elizabeth to hand-feed them tasty chow.

On Saturday, though, we had some flapper visitors that I’ve never seen before. Elizabeth says she’s seen them here once before, when she was a child. Kay was the first to see one this time, and she called Elizabeth to tell her what it was. Elizabeth ran for her camera. There was no time for a tripod, and they are shy flappers, so she wasn’t able to get close. But she did manage to get some photos that weren’t too bad so that I could show you what they looked like.

The Magpie looks like a colourful, long-tailed version of the Black Cawing Flapper.

The Magpie looks like a colourful, long-tailed version of the Black Cawing Flapper.

They are a bit smaller than Black Cawing Flappers, though, Elizabeth thinks. But they are from the same family as Crows and Whisky Jacks and other Jays.

They are a bit smaller than Black Cawing Flappers, though, Elizabeth thinks. But they are from the same family as Crows, Whisky Jacks and other Jays.

They're rather beautiful, we think. Some two-leggers consider them nuisance birds. They are more common to the west of us, in the prairie/parkland. Maybe they interfere with crops.

They’re rather beautiful, we think. Some two-leggers consider them nuisance birds. They are more common to the west of us, in the prairie/parkland. Maybe they interfere with crops.

Sometimes I’ve heard Elizabeth say that she is a bit of a Magpie. She means that she likes picking up pretty, shiny things when she sees them on our walks. She’s particularly vulnerable to this habit, she says, when she walks along beaches.

This Magpie wasn't interested in shiny things, however. He was hunting Grasshoppers! And he's welcome to all he can catch - both Kay and Elizabeth said so!

This Magpie wasn’t interested in shiny things, however. He was hunting Grasshoppers! And he’s welcome to all he can catch – both Kay and Elizabeth said so!

AND FINALLY…

I have one last item of good news to impart before I go…

There has been rain all around us for the last week, but all of that has avoided us. Our lawn is brown and the woods are very dry. But yesterday, it finally decided to rain on us!

There has been rain all around us for the last week, but all of that has avoided us. Our lawn is brown and the woods are very dry. But yesterday, it finally decided to rain on us!

 

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