Citizen science was definitely in action on December 26 as volunteers spread out over the entire city (and much of the Province) recording bird sightings and adding the results to world wide databases. This Boxing day tradition has been in action for many years and I have been involved for the last four years with numerous friends and family. Adding the acute eyesight of my two grandchildren has improved our accuracy of recording considerably. Mother nature had spent most of the night dusting the trees with a coating of icing sugar and seemed so pleased that she kept the wind under control to avoid spoiling the festive spirit. As if fulfilling an on-line order she also kept the temperature suitable for a glove-less hand to hold a pencil for data recording.
As the sun splashed pink cotton candy over the horizon I headed out to check out some known sparrow haunts prior to Cathy, Olive and Hamish joining in the count. An hour of patrolling back alley bushes gave us a great start with 8 bird species. After refuelling with left over Christmas dinner I headed out on my own. Five hours and fifteen km. later our final tally for the day included 11 species. House Sparrows, Chickadees and Magpies were the most abundant.
White-winged Crossbill (Female)
President Murray Park (almost my backyard) is considered a birding hotspot as a wide variety of bird species live and forage in the mature forest of spruce trees planted many years ago. The allure of seeing a Black-backed or American Three Toed Woodpecker or a Kinglet kept me in the park for more hours than is probably sensible and still I was skunked. However two days later my persistence paid off as I captured some sparring Crossbills and found the Black-backed Woodpecker working away at stripping the bark off mature spruce branches to reveal insect tracks and presumably tasty larvae.
Note the threatening posture to the incoming male Crossbill.
Not that I speak Crossbill but I feel the attacking male is saying !!##$$%%^^
Note how the sharp points of the bill that cross when closed allow manipulation of the spruce cone.
The illusive Black-backed Woodpecker.
Here you can see the tracks exposed after the bark is peeled away by the bird.