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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Common Redpoll

Acanthis flammea 

Small songbird
Short, notched tail 
Brown and white with heavily streaked sides
Red forehead
Small, pointed, yellow bill
Black feathering around bill
Two white wingbars
Pale red vest on chest and upper flanks (male)

Listen to its call.

While visiting Whistler, I saw a large group of these little finches perched in a deciduous tree along the roadside. It was bare of all leaves but was covered with tiny cones which the birds were feasting on. I think it was a Red Alder, one of the only deciduous trees with cones in the area as far as I'm aware.

Learn more about the Common Redpoll. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Long-eared Owl

Asio otus

Medium-sized, slender owl
Long, erect, black ear tufts with buff/orange fringes
Brownish feathers streaked with buff and black
Buffy-orange facial disc with blackish rim
Two vertical white lines between eyes
Yellow eyes

Listen to its call.

These owls supposedly roost in dense foliage, where their camouflage makes them hard to find. I think maybe this one needs to work on that a bit. He was sitting on a low branch next to the busy Lochside Trail walking path, full exposed for all to see.

Learn more about the Long-eared Owl.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Yellow-breasted Chat

Icteria virens
Medium-sized songbird
Thick bill
Long tail
Bright yellow chest and throat
Olive-green back
White spectacles
White belly and undertail

Listen to its call.

This bird, a rarity for Victoria, has been sighted many times in the last week feeding on suet in a private yard in Gordon Head. I had the good fortune to catch sight of it on my first visit to the residence today, which was a relief. It felt rather odd to be loitering in a stranger's driveway, camera in hand, waiting for the bird's appearance. Some of the neighbours must have thought so as well as we were getting some funny looks from people in the cars passing by.

Learn more about the Yellow-breasted Chat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Red Knot

Calidris canutus

Medium-sized sandpiper
Grey plumage
Dark primaries
Long, straight bill
Short yellow/green legs
     Rufous-red head and breast
     Mottled gray and black upper parts
     White-tipped wing feathers

Listen to its call.

This sandpiper has been reported by numerous birders in the last few weeks, both at Kitty Islet and on the beach at the end of Bowker Avenue in Oak Bay. It has been roosting on the rocks offshore with a large number of Dunlins and Black-bellied Plovers.

The Red Knot (on the right) is larger than the Dunlin (on left) but smaller than the Plover (in centre). It's straight bill is the same length as it's head. Although initially described as showing a reddish wash on its breast, this seems to have disappeared as it transitioned into its winter plumage.

Learn more about the Red Knot.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pied-billed Grebe

Podilymbus podiceps

Small, compact diving bird
Short, thick bill
Short neck
Brown plumage
Black throat in summer
Rusty tinge in winter
     White bill with black ring (pied)

Listen to its call.

Early last week, before the rain set in, I went for a walk around Swan Lake.  This little fellow was enjoying the sunshine and he was only too happy to pose for some photos.

Learn more about Pied-billed Grebe.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Purple Martin

Progne subis


Very large, broad-chested swallows
Slightly hooked bills
Short, forked tails
Long, tapered wings
Adult male:
    Black with glossy blue-purple sheen
    Brown-black wings and tail
Female and immature:
    Dark on top with variable amounts of gray on the head and chest
    Grayish-white underparts

Listen to its call.

When I took a stroll on the docks at the Oak Bay Marina last weekend, there were Purple Martins all around the nesting boxes installed there as part of the B.C. Purple Martin Recovery Program. Unfortunately, when I returned with my camera just a few days later,  only one fellow made an appearance. I'm not sure if the others had departed already or if it was simply the wind keeping them inside. 
Learn more about the Purple Martin.