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.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Red Phalarope

Phalaropus fulicarius

Smaller wader
Straight bill
Short legs
Lobed toes
     Distinct white stripe down the wing
     Dark stripe down the tail
     Contrasting color on sides of rump
     Breeding plumage:    
         Rufous neck and underparts
         Dark brown and black above
         White cheek patches
         Yellow bill
         Black cap (female) / Brown cap (male)
     Non-breeding plumage: (photographed)
         Light grey above, unstreaked
         White below
         White head
         Black ear patch behind the eye
         Black bill with lighter base
     Black backs edged in buff
     Buff underparts and head
     Dark patch through the eye  

Listen to its call
Although phalaropes are sandpipers, which are typically shorebirds, these birds spend most of the year out at sea. They are also one of the few birds where the female of the species is more colourful and larger than the male. This is because the females are polyandrous. They have to look good to attracted the attention of multiple males. In contrast, the males need to be duller to avoid detection of predators while providing most of the parental care.

Learn more about the Red Phalarope.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus

Medium-sized blackbird
Long, pointed, conical, black bill 
   Black body
   Bright yellow head and breast
   Black face mask
   Distinct white wing patches
  Grayish-brown body
  Dull yellow head and breast
Immature male:
  Similar to female
  Dark smudging on yellow head
  Some white at bend of wing

Listen to its call

I took a short walk on the Galey Farms trail by Blenkinsop Lake today and spotted this bird in a field among a large flock of Red-Winged Blackbirds and Starlings.  Another was perched on a wire with hundreds of other birds of similar size and shape.  Luckily for me, they stood out in the crowd.

Learn more about the Yellow-headed Blackbird

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Western Gull

Larus occidentalis 

Large gull
Dark gray back
White head and underparts
Dark grey wings with black tips
Large, yellow bill with red spot near the end
Pink legs

Listen to its call.

When feeding young gulls at the WildArc where I volunteer, we are told to put the food in red dishes. Why, you ask?  I can only assume it is to mimic the small red spot near the end of the adult's bill that chicks peck in order to stimulate feeding.

Learn more about the Western Gull