Sunday’s hooks

 

It is a rule of thumb that a hooked bill is used to tear meat to be eaten. Yet, of the hooks seen during last Sunday’s drive, some don’t quite fit the rule. 

Perhaps a dozen Turkey Vultures were seen through the day. A migrating species, this bird will soon head south. This one was circling low over a spot on the roadway that had the distinct odour of road kill. The vulture does use the hook of its ivory-coloured bill to tear carrion. 

The Bald Eagle has a hooked bill used for tearing flesh to be eaten. This one is eating a Kokanee, which strikingly, also has a hooked jaw. The males of these land-locked salmon use the hook solely to bite rivals during competition for females. The Kokanee’s hook, seen below the eagle’s, proved an inadequate defence here.

The bill of the Red Crossbill is certainly hooked, although it is not often classified as such. The strangely crossed bill is used to open the cones of conifers so as to extract seeds. A slightly open bill is thrust between the scales of the cone. The bill is closed so opposing tips spread the scales. The head is twisted and the tongue extracts the seed. Crossbills seem to have roughly equal numbers of left- and right-crossing bills. Each is shown here.
 

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Osprey adult

 

And yet another posting about an Osprey and a fish?

Yes, for today I managed a picture of an adult Osprey that complemented the juvenile posted two days ago. That one showed a juvenile with orange eyes and dipped-in-cream wing feathers.

This shows an adult with yellow eyes and plain wing feathers.

It is mid September and the adults will leave for Central America or Venezuela any day now. The juveniles will follow within a couple of weeks. Ospreys will soon be gone from around the Lake for the year.

This is an adult Osprey (yellow eyes and plain wing feathers) hoarding a partially consumed Kokanee Salmon.

For no better reason other than I like the shot, here is the same adult flying off with its partialy consumed fish.

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Riveting orange

 

Juvenile Ospreys have now been driven from the nest (see last year’s, It’s time you went) and are now out fishing on their own. 

Juveniles are distinctive, and now is the brief time to see them before they migrate and return in a few years as breeding adults. The wing feathers of the juveniles are tipped in white, almost as if they have been dipped in cream. And unlike the adults, which have yellow eyes, the juveniles rivet you with an orange stare. 

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Killdeer

 

Throughout the summer, I wondered why I had not seen a Killdeer, our most common plover. Granted, I had seen a number of other shorebirds: Spotted Sandpiper, American Avocet and Wilson’s Phalarope, Semi-palmated Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper.

Yesterday, I finally saw a Killdeer. 

The Killdeer was foraging along the lakeshore.

Killdeers, as do all plovers, hunt mainly by sight—unlike sandpipers, that hunt by touch.

The Killdeer retrieves what might be a fish egg. It is quickly consumed.

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Cooper’s Hawk

 

When the bird darted across my path, I guessed it was a Merlin. However, a Merlin is smaller and prefers forest clearings to the denser brush where this bird was hunting. This was a Cooper’s Hawk, albeit an immature one. 

The infrequent local sightings of Cooper’s Hawks are usually made in late summer and early fall when hawks are migrating south for the winter. There are three pictures of this bird, below.

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Flower sharing

 

I have watched many nectar sippers on flowers. The arrival of a second one usually drives the first away.

Today, I was watching both a Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax) and a Western White Butterfly (Pontia occidentalis) roam around a field of Asters (Canadanthus modestus?) as they sipped nectar. What was unexpected was that at one point they shared the same flower for a while with no apparent sense of conflict.

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Marauding menace

 

A search of news services reveals that a number of municipalities in the Province either have implemented or anticipate implementing deer culls. 

As a public service for locals who might mistakenly view visits from deer as one of the delightful perquisites of rural living, I offer this morning’s shot for easy identification of this marauding municipal menace.

I am personally committed to shooting them on sight.

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Birds 4, fish 0

 

Fish shown recently were being eaten by an eagle, a loon, and a heron. The fish shown now is in the clutches of an osprey.

Birds have not been shown being eaten by a fish. Apparently, fish are not at the top of the food chain.

An osprey settles in to eat a fish (a kokanee, see comments below).

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Kingfisher returns

 

Yesterday’s posting, Heron’s good minute, resulted when a kingfisher was trumped by the greater drama. The juvenile Belted Kingfisher (possibly smarting from the earlier neglect) returned this morning and posed. 

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Heron’s good minute

 

I have sought shots such as these for years. 

It is surprising that in all the time I have spent watching the Great Blue Heron hunt for fish, I had not seen it catch and eat one (although, I had seen one catch a vole). In under a minute yesterday morning, I watched a heron alight, catch a fish, and swallow it. That one meal might sate it for days. 

I had wandered out with my camera to watch a kingfisher, but that delight was quickly eclipsed when a juvenile heron landed in front of me and immediately reached for something in the shallows.

It retrieved a Large-scale Sucker. However, the fish, being athwart the bill, was not aligned for swallowing.

So, the fish was dropped and picked up again near the head. The imbalance caused the body of the fish to rotate more in line with the heron’s bill. 

That being done, the whole fish quickly vanished down the gullet.

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