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.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Northern Shrike

Lanius excubitor

Medium-sized songbird
Large bill with hook at tip
White cheeks, chin and supercilium
Black wings with white wingbar
Long, black tail with white outer tail feathers
Black legs
Adult: (not photographed)
   Gray upperparts
   Faint gray barring on underparts
   Black mask
   Brownish-gray upperparts
   Distinct barring on the breast
   Less distinctive mask

Listen to its call.

This hasn't been a good birding month for me. Between the rain and the wind, I haven't been inclined to venture out much. However, this morning I woke up bright and early, determined to find a new bird for the day. When I arrived at my chosen destination, Panama Flats, I was disappointed to see that it was too flooded to approach without rubber boots, which unfortunately I wasn't wearing. However, as luck would have it, I saw a number of birds along the short path leading from the road.

It was this rather plump fellow's call, which was quite different from anything I'd heard previously, that first drew my attention. However, it was its size and hooked bill that kept it. Eureka! In spite of the conditions, I'd found a new bird after all.

Learn more about the Northern Shrike.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blue-winged Teal

Anas discors
Small dabbling duck
Medium-sized, dark bill
Pale blue shoulder patch, visible in flight
Green speculum with white leading edge
Male (winter plumage):
    Blue-gray head with darker cap
    White crescent on face in front of eye
    Scaled buff and dark brown upperparts
    Buff breast and flanks with darker spotting
    White band at rear portion of flanks
    Black undertail coverts
Female / Male (summer plumage):
    Pale head
    Dark crown and eye line
    Pale eye ring and loral spot
    Mottled gray-brown body with darker back

Listen to its call.

I saw this duck at Summit Reservoir earlier this week surrounded by a large number of Wigeons, Mallards and Buffleheads. From what I've read, it is unusual to see one of these ducks at this time of year. Most of them are gone from the province by mid-October, having migrated to warmer climates.

Learn more about the Blue-winged Teal.