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 29, 2016

Brandt's Cormorant

Phalacrocorax penicillatus 

Large cormorant
Long black body
Long, slender neck
Short black legs
Dark bill with blunt or hooked tip
Pale patch at base of bill
     Blue throat patch
     White plumes on sides of head, neck and back
     Turquoise eyes
Immature: (photographed)
     Brownish-black upperparts
     Tan on underparts
     Pale "V" at the border of breast and neck

Listen to its call.

There are three species of cormorant commonly seen along the coast in Victoria: Double-crested, Brandt's and Pelagic. I frequently have difficulty identifying the two larger species at a distance. At this year's Christmas Bird Count, one of the more experienced birders gave me a pointer which I'm happy to pass along. Although the Brandt's Cormorant is approximately the same length as the Double-crested Cormorant, the latter holds its neck slightly crooked whereas the Brandt's Cormorant's neck is almost always fully extended in flight. 

Learn more about the Brandt's Cormorant.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Tropical Kingbird

Tyrannus melancholicus 

Large flycatcher
Heavy gray bill
Gray head
Darker eye mask
Grayish-green back
Brown wings and  tail
Pale throat
Bright yellow underparts

Listen to its call.

This photogenic bird was hanging out in Ten Mile Point last weekend. Although a rarity to the area, records of Tropical Kingbird sightings occur annually in southwestern BC.

Learn more about the Tropical Kingbird.

Red-throated Loon

Gavia stellata

Small, slender loon
Thin bill, tilted upward slightly
Red eyes
White underparts
Breeding plumage: 
     Black bill
     Triangular red throat-patch    
     Dark grey-brown back, head and neck
     Narrow black and white stripes on the back of the neck
Non-breeding plumage: (photographed)
     Pale grey bill
     Pale grey-brown back, speckled with white
     White throat and face, extending above the eyes
     Dark grey head cap and neck
     Pale grey bill 
     Brownish-grey plumage, with no pattern on back
     Pale neck

Listen to its call.

The lone call of a loon is haunting: similar to a wolf howling but more delicate somehow. This sorrowful sound is not, however, a sign of unhappiness at being alone. It is actually used to contact or attract the attention of a mate. 

Learn more about the Red-throated Loon.