Friday, June 3, 2011

Common Raven nestlings

I came upon a raven nest in the trestle of the C.P. Rail line crossing the Pic River, east of Marathon. The photos were taken from between the railway ties. The large stick nest was situated about two metres below the tracks.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Northern Mockingbird at Penn Lake Park, Marathon

This morning, a Northern Mockingbird was quietly foraging for insects in the short grass at the edge of Penn Lake, in the Town of Marathon. Although they occur in our region every year, this was the first I've seen in northern Ontario.

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Orchard Oriole in Marathon

A few minutes ago this first year male Orchard Oriole paused in our yard after briefly exploring the oriole attractants at our feeding station. It disappeared after I snapped a few quick shots.

Orchard Orioles are unusual on the north shore. Until the spring of 2009, the Ontario Bird Records Committee had confirmed only three sightings in northern Ontario. Between May 14th and May 29th of 2009, a rash of OROR sightings, five of them, were reported from the Thunder Bay District.

Two days ago (on May 31st) another first year male OROR was banded at the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory (via NWOBirds)

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Updated at 8:00 am:

The oriole returned to sample a fresh dollop of grape jelly

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I̶c̶e̶l̶a̶n̶d̶...err, Thayer's Gull at Marathon landfill

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This gull was in the company of a few hundred Herring Gulls at the Marathon landfill site on Penn Lake Road this afternoon. My first thought was first year Iceland Gull.

Alan Wormington and Kirk Zufelt made the case for Thayer's Gull. Their comments may be of interest to others:

I need to see the spread tail and wing, but this could just as easily by a Thayer's Gull. In fact, it looks identical to a Thayer's Gull that was at Point Pelee about 10 days ago. Could be the same bird! Of all the large gulls, first-year Thayer's and Lesser Black-backed retain an all-black bill the longest. This appears to be the situation here. By now Iceland could / should have some paleness starting at the base of the bill.

If the bird was an Iceland, then the wingtips would be immacualte white. First-year birds can have varying amounts of light brown in the wingtips, but since the bird is sun-bleached any such darkish markings would have disappeared long ago. But brown coloration is still present in the wingtips, which also suggests Thayer's since juveniles have very extensive brownish wingtips and this would be slow to vanish even if severely sun-bleached. Also the darkness on the chest also looks more like Thayer's.

The bird is certainly a first going into second cycle Iceland or Thayer's or intergrade. I concur with Alan on the bill issue but would add that the head shape (Herring Gull-like kinda blocky looking) and bill size seems much more Thayer's Gull like- while Iceland tends to have a rounder "dove-like" head. It would be rather difficult to be absolutely definitive in a very worn bird like this but I would definitely be leaning fairly strongly towards Thayer's.
Thanks, Alan and Kirk, for sharing your expertise.