When I ask for bird reports, they come flying in. Here are the reports so far, and thanks to everyone who keeps them a-fluttering into my electronic mailbox. Don't be shy! Do you have an interesting bird to tell us about? Call me at 458-2090 else post me at firstname.lastname@example.org
When you call or e-mail, please let me know whether I can quote you. This is particularly pertinent if you are leaving a voice message on my answering machine (and don't forget to leave me your telephone number, clearly, so I can verify your message if needed. Thanks!
Laura and Terry Stewart expanded on their first note to me about the Turkey Vulture which visited their feeder. Laura told me it was her husband Terry who first spotted it circling in the air, above their feeder, eyeing the suet. She wrote, "Once our dogs were contained, the Turkey Vulture settled onto the platform, which is about six feet off the ground, and proceeded to chow down, remaining on the platform for about 20 minutes. This is the my first confirmed "TV" sighting during the winter months, but, in hindsight, I have on many occasions seen large, high soaring (what I thought to be) raptors recently."
That report came from the Quyon area.
Mario Gervais is another keen birder who lives on Calumet Island. He e-mailed to report, "A young (brown-beige) Northern Shrike came to my feeders yesterday morning… regular but not frequent visitor (at least one mention per year) but I've noticed its presence only 34 times within the past eight (8) years or so…"
Last week Mario had a sad encounter with a Pine Grosbeak which had been injured by a car. He attempted to resuscitate it but it died. He had asked both me and Tony Beck what to do with injured birds, and this is a question that crops up relatively frequently. Please clip this information, so you have it handy, else bookmark the website in your favourites list, for your quick reference.
When you find an injured bird, the people to contact are the specialists at the Wild Bird Care Centre. (Check their excellent web site at www.wildbirdcarecentre.org). The Centre is located in the Stony Swamp Conservation area in Nepean, Ontario, just minutes west of downtown Ottawa. Telephone them at (613) 828-2849.
Ted Fort at Rutledge (near Quyon) is still enjoying the male cardinal that regularly visits his home at dusk and in the morning. No female has yet been spotted but it is wonderful news to hear that the cardinal - still uncommon here in the Pontiac - has become a regular at the studio/home of artist Marcio Melo and Ted Fort.
Tony Beck enthusiastically shares a sighting of a hawk owl near Eardley. Here is his posting.
"There is a Hawk Owl by the Ottawa River, near Eardley. It has been fairly regular (although hard to find sometimes) on the River Road, just past Quyon. I got some amazing photos of this beautiful, tame bird last week. Here are some directions I have modified from the internet: After Quyon (travelling east on Highway 148) just before the overpass. turn right on River Rd. Continue for a few kilometres. . . the bird frequents the area around #4130 River Rd, near the corner of Royal Rd. The bird often perches high in a tree beside the road. But, sometimes it is low in a bush by the ravine. The best thing to do is stop and scan with binoculars."
Birders: be encouraged! The Hawk Owl is truly there because Mario Gervais drove by and spotted it, as a result of Tony's posting to him and me. Thus, Mario was able to add a new bird to his life list (being a list that serious birders maintain, whereby they check off every new bird they spot).
But Tony also adds some alarming news of a disease that is plaguing some birds. His posting to me continued. There is "an outbreak of Salmonella with Redpolls. I have heard reports from Lac Leslie and Pembroke: Beware of sick or dead Redpolls! Make sure you use gloves (preferably latex) when handling feeders and [dead] birds. Then wash your hands thoroughly. Clean the feeders at least once a week, (preferably more.)
"Take any dead birds to the Fish & Game Dept of Quebec (there is an office in Campbell's Bay.) Wrap dead birds in plastic bags (preferably double zip-lock sandwich bags.) Tell the Fish & Game representatives that you suspect salmonella poisoning. They will probably do tests on the bird."
Salmonella is highly contagious and reports suggest that infection of different species is now occurring. American Goldfinches and Sickens are at risk, especially at this time of year.
How do we clean bird feeders to ensure they are not part of the problem? Bleach is considered the best cleanser… but I'm going to research this a bit more so we can see whether more eco-friendly solutions can be used. A 10% solution of bleach appears to be what is recommended, however, after a good scrub-down of feeders with hot, soapy water.
Many of you will read this and insist that we birders stop feeding the birds.
I know that many of you consider this to be a ridiculous and environmentally unsound past-time which only teaches wild birds to depend upon unnatural sources and kinds of food. Now, with salmonella being transmitted by feeders, this is an even more timely question to ask the experts.
I'll research this point, too.
Meanwhile, happy birding, everyone, and do be watchful for salmonella. Please keep me posted: let me know if you find infected birds.
Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer based north of Quyon.