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My breakthrough

April 2, 2012

Notice how much larger the Hairy is compared to the Downy in Gatineau

On March 12, having just observed species 19/20, I mused that my goal would be to match Al’s February 29th total of 31 species by the end of March.  This year I definitely had the weather on my side.  Warm air flooded into southern Canada shortly after that post, and for about a week, from the 16th to the 23rd, the temperatures soared to summer values of 26 degrees C.   The snow pack evaporated before our eyes, and suddenly new birds showed up.  On March 16th, a lone Killdeer, announced its return as it sailed high over the neighbourhood northward over Gatineau Park starting a flood of new species for me.  On the 17th, Red-winged Blackbirds appeared, as did a few Cedar Waxwings in amongst the Bohemians.   On the 18th, Common Grackles joined the neighbourhood fun, taking control of the tallest trees.  Scoping the river proved worthwhile for me, (I do this right out on the balcony, so that it does not look as if I am creepily peering into ‘houses), as I picked out a small line of Double-crested Cormorants moving west.  Mallard, Common Merganser and Herring Gull added to the number.

On March 22rd, I had some time to bird while preparing for a trip to Quebec City.  I knew that when we returned it would be colder, so, with the east window over rue Boucherville wide open to lean out over the roof and look and listen into the strip of Gatineau Park that is adjacent to the house, I heard a remarkably early Eastern Phoebe singing in the distance.  To cap it off, the Pileated Woodpecker announced itself with its loud ringing call, and flew from the park to a telephone post a few houses away.  This was the species that my wife had watched with delight, but which I still had not observed. By the time we closed the trunk of the car and began our trip I was already at 30 species.   Turkey Vulture and the strangely elusive Blue Jay rounded out the list on the 31st, putting me at 32 species.  Finally, I woke to the song of a White-throated Sparrow on April 1st.

It is worth noting that I identify many species from the bed.  The Blue Jay was another one that I heard while in bed.  Many birds sing or move around early in the morning at sunrise or a bit before when I prefer the warmth and coziness of the bed.  But my ears are always working hard.    This brings me to my final note.   I so much enjoyed this birding from the balcony business in March, that twice I woke up remembering dreams of birding from the balcony.   Yes, I am dreaming about birding from our apartment.  In the dream I remember, I was scoping the river and watched a Great Egret sail through my field of view.  A few days later I heard that Egrets are back around Montreal.  This leads me to a dilemma.   Should I start a third category (in addition to my list and the “family” list) of “all inclusive consciousness list” so that I can include dream birds observed from the balcony?  Should I highlight the ones heard while in bed?  More will be told later. . .

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  1. newbiebird permalink

    Very nice. How long have you been birding? I’m learning to identify birds by their call… it will be a long process for me!

  2. hehe. I would not call myself a newbie:) I got into birding seriously about 30 years ago, but even before that I was into birds, even as a kid. Learning birds by call notes is a great talent. Good luck!

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