There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pigeon Guillemot

Ceppus columba

Medium-sized alcid (auk)
Thin, black bill
Red mouth lining
Red legs and feet
   Black plumage
   White patch on wing
Non-breeding: (below)
   Mostly white with mottled back
   Dark eye line

Listen to its call.

Taking advantage of the nice weather, my husband and I launched our kayaks from Island View Beach this morning. As I haven't been having much luck finding new birds on the land recently, I was pleased to encounter a wide variety of birds on the water. Unfortunately, I didn't have my usual camera along (for obvious reasons) but I managed to get a few shots of this bird with my old Canon PowerShot. 

Learn more about the Pigeon Guillemot.

Additional pictures:
breeding plumage
non-breeding plumage

changing to non-breeding plumage

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Common Yellowthroat

Geothlypis trichas

Olive above
Plain wings
Whitish-gray belly
Yellow throat, breast and undertail
  Black 'bandit' mask, bordered by white above
Female: (not photographed)
  No mask

Listen to its call.

This small warbler led me on a merry chase this afternoon in my attempt to photograph it. It was foraging in the dense undergrowth near Panama Flats, almost hidden by the thick vegetation. To get this shot, I had to wade through the shoulder-high grasses in which he was skulking. Who knows what else may have been in there? Thankfully, I didn't think of that until after I was back on the walking path. 

Learn more about the Common Yellowthroat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cedar Waxwing

Bombycilla cedrorum

  • Silky, brown head with short crest
  • Black mask, outlined in white
  • Black chin
  • Brown tapering to gray on back
  • Yellow belly
  • White undertail
  • Short, square tail , gray-black with yellow tip
  • Plain gray wings with waxy red spots (not always visible)

Listen to its call.

As I drove up the hill to Mt Tolmie, I noticed this bird perched in a tree at the edge of the road. Having only seen pictures of these birds in the past, I was struck at how beautiful it was. The contrasting black 'bandit mask', warm brown crested head and yellow belly made an attractive combination, especially with the sun shining down on it through the branches. After allowing me to take my fill of photos, the bird flew off in a flash of yellow to join another of its type further down the hill.  

Who was that masked man (or should I say bird) anyway?

Learn more about the Cedar Waxwing.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Chipping Sparrow

Spizella passerina

Tan back with dark streaks
Brown wings with wing bars
Unstreaked gray breast
Gray rump
Dark, conical bill
Slim, forked tail
    Chestnut cap
    White eyebrow
    Black eyeline
    Dull cap with streaks

Listen to its call.

I took a stroll in Mt Tolmie Park this afternoon. Its Garry Oak meadow is a lovely spot to wander through on a sunny afternoon. Although it was a bit windy today, there were still lots of birds to be seen and heard. I saw this fellow perched at the top of one of the old, gnarled oaks.

Learn more about the Chipping Sparrow.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hairy Woodpecker

Picoides villosus

Medium-sized woodpecker
Long chisel-like bill
White and black striped face
White underparts
Black upperparts with white bars on wings
White stripe down center of back
White outer tail features
Male - Red patch on back of head broken by a vertical black line connecting the crown and nape

Listen to its call.

I've been having a heck of a time finding one of these birds. I've often wondered if I had seen one on occasion only to mistake it for a Downy Woodpecker, as the two species look so similar in pictures. However, having finally seen the real thing in my backyard, I was struck by how much larger this bird is than the Downy. The bill is also significantly longer.

Learn more about the Hairy Woodpecker.