Making the Most of a Long Winter

Tufted TitmouseThe winter of 2013-2014 doesn’t seem to want to let go.  We are still getting snow adding to the 3 feet already on the ground and temperatures remain well below normal.  So what is a bird photographer to do, they add to their winter bird collection!  As you have read in previous blog posts, I have driven south of Orillia in order to find new birds such as the Screech, Great Gray, Long-eared and Short-eared Owls.  I have also been able to add some other rarities such as the Varied Thrush as well as some over-wintering ducks.  The Tufted Titmouse has been on my to-get list for some time now and this winter I have been encouraged by reports that they are being regularly seen and photographed in southern Ontario.  My good friend, Scott Martin and I hoped to get Tufted Titmice on our last trip out together but we were not successful so I was obligated to to try again.  My first destination was the Dufferin Islands Nature Park in Niagara Falls.  This is a small park with winding trails and plenty of hungry birds.  I saw all the usual winter birds that we would see in Orillia and the prize for the day, the Tufted Titmouse.  This small songbird is in the same family as the chickadees and the behaviour very similar.  The Titmice and Chickadees both take large seeds to a perch, hold it between their feet and break it apart with precise strikes of their stout bill.  The Tufted Titmouse song is often described as ‘peter, peter, peter’, is unmistakable and unlike any other songbird.  You can hear it’s song at this link from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Later that day, I was also able to find and photograph them at the Ruthven Historical site near Cayuga Ontario.  The Titmouse from Ruthven has the band on it’s leg.

Tufted Titmouse 1Tufted Titmouse 2Tufted Titmouse 3Tufted Titmouse 4

On one of my trips to Ottawa this winter I went out after work to follow up on reports of Snowy Owls in the area.  I did find a lone Snowy on a telephone pole perch but what I found more interesting was a flock of Snow Buntings that were readily feeding on seed left by someone else.  Along with another photographer, I spend the next twenty minutes trying to get images of the Snow Buntings in flight.

Snow Bunting 1Snow Bunting 2Snow Bunting 3

To end this post, I wanted to share some new images of some old favourites.

Black-capped ChickadeeHairy WoodpeckerRed-bellied Woodpecker - maleRed-bellied Woodpecker - female 2Red-bellied Woodpecker - femaleNorthern Cardinal 1Northern Cardinal 2White-breasted NuthatachHorned LarkRed-tailed Hawk

Come on spring!

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  1. Scott Martin March 25, 2014 at 1:27 am #

    Superb images as always Arni and I do think we made the most out of a long and cold winter. I’m glad you got the Tufted Titmouse and equally glad I did the same thing in Florida wearing shorts & a T-shirt 🙂

    • Arni March 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

      Thanks Scott, shooting the Titmouse in a T-shirt and shorts is much more appealing that getting frostbite like I did.

  2. Rob Smith March 25, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    Great time you had Arni. Those bunting shots are fabulous. Looks like you made the most of what was there on a winters day

    • Arni March 26, 2014 at 6:45 am #

      Many thanks Rob. I am glad to have gone out and experienced the winter and capture a few nice images instead of sitting at home and looking out the window.