Mhairi’s bird of the day: Lesser scaup

Lesser scaup (Photo by Christian Artuso, CC BY-NC-ND-4.0)

Lesser scaup (Photo by Christian Artuso, CC BY-NC-ND-4.0)

Spotted on March 24, 2020 Lesser scaup Aythya affinis Aythya: from aithuia in ancient Greek, meaning “seabird” Affinis: “related to” in Latin Some birds are easy to identify at a glance, and some are fairly easy with a...

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An original poem: The Bluebirds Have Returned

Mountain bluebird (Photo by Leta Pezderic/ NCC staff)

Mountain bluebird (Photo by Leta Pezderic/ NCC staff)

Springtime is making its appearance across the country. Buds are starting to appear on bare branches, blades of grass turn green again and signs of critters abound. One feathered friend is particularly endearing, and a delight to welcome back: the...

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Tales of recovery: Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird (Photo by Cameron Curran/NCC staff)

Eastern bluebird (Photo by Cameron Curran/NCC staff)

There is perhaps no other bird that has endeared itself into our popular culture as the bluebird. It’s the helpful feathered friend in Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Bluebird is in the lyrics of over 500 songs, performed by...

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Mhairi’s bird of the day: Wood duck

Wood duck (Photo by Frank Vassen/Wikimedia Commons)

Wood duck (Photo by Frank Vassen/Wikimedia Commons)

Spotted on March 23, 2020 Wood duck Aix sponsa Aix: “diving bird” in ancient Greek For the last 10 years, I have been recording my bird observations on my daily bike commute to work, before we started working from home in light of...

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Mhairi's bird of the day: Song sparrow

Song sparrow (Photo by Stuart Clarke)

Song sparrow (Photo by Stuart Clarke)

Spotted on March 20, 2020 Song sparrow Melospiza melodia Melo: “song,” in ancient Greek Melodia: “tune,” “voice” For the last 10 years, I have been recording my bird observations on my daily bike commute...

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Mhairi’s bird of the day: Brown-headed cowbird

Brown-headed cowbird (Photo by Stephen Davis)

Brown-headed cowbird (Photo by Stephen Davis)

Spotted on March 19, 2020 Brown-headed cowbird Molothrus ater molos: “struggle or “battle” in ancient Greek throsko: “to sire” or “to impregnate” in ancient Greek ater: “dull black” in...

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Tales of recovery: Trumpeter swan

Trumpeter swan family (Photo by Karol Dabbs)

Trumpeter swan family (Photo by Karol Dabbs)

Their call is unforgettable. When you hear it for the first time, “trumpeter” makes perfect sense. Even when silent, a trumpeter swan remains impressive. With a wingspan that can stretch to three metres, this white swan is the largest...

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Tricks in disguise: Fools and facts in nature

Self-portrait of a Celebes crested macaque female (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

Self-portrait of a Celebes crested macaque female (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

A friendly exchange of practical jokes and hoaxes often poses no harm, especially on such a day as April Fools’ Day. But there are some real tricksters in nature that will fool even the most attentive eyes and ears. On April Fools’...

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Using migration patterns to understand bird population declines

A tree swallow sits on a barbed wire fence (Photo by Lisha Berzins)

A tree swallow sits on a barbed wire fence (Photo by Lisha Berzins)

I don’t know about you, but by this time of the year I am ready for winter to be over. I think birds feel the same way. As soon as the sun comes out of hiding and the temperature inches above freezing after a dreary Ontario winter, the...

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Look for these first signs of spring across Canada

Red-winged blackbird (Photo by Bill Hubick)

Red-winged blackbird (Photo by Bill Hubick)

With the springing forward of our clocks and the increased daylight, many Canadians are getting antsy for the arrival of spring. What can be more delightful than noticing the little signs that signal the arrival of a new season, such as the...

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