I managed to visit Hurdman twice in the past ten days, and both times I found three species of finch. Both House Finches and American Goldfinches were abundant, as usual, but I was surprised to find one Common Redpoll on Friday and two the following Wednesday. Although a number of redpolls were visiting the feeders at Hurdman regularly in mid-January, they had disappeared toward the end of the month and hadn’t been reported since. Seeing them again really made my day.
A flock of Bohemian Waxwings had also been reported recently, and it was these I was looking for. Given the abundance of berries around Hurdman Park I figured they would show up sooner or later, as they had in winters past. I hadn’t seen them at Hurdman all season, however, and I missed them the day after they had been observed by Pat Blake.
The river has now frozen over almost entirely, and the only ducks I saw on my outings were the usual flock of mallards under the 417 bridge. The mergansers and goldeneyes had moved on, either downriver to Strathcona Park or further beyond to the Ottawa River.
The usual woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, cardinals and Mourning Doves were hanging out by the feeders with the chickadees and finches.
I spent most of my time near the finch feeder, hoping to get a photo of all three species. Although I couldn’t get a photo showing the House Finch, goldfinch, and Common Redpoll all together, I was able to photograph the three species taking turns at the nyjer feeder. The goldfinch below is still wearing his drab winter colours.
This goldfinch is just beginning to don his bright yellow summer plumage; note the small lemon-yellow patch on his breast next to the wing bar. In the background, a male House Finch is peering out from behind the feeder.
Male House Finches are brown and red; females are a drab, streaky brown and have no red at all. Unlike the goldfinch, the House Finch retains his colourful breeding plumage all year round.
Finally, this photo shows a female Common Redpoll at the feeder. Females have only a small red cap, whereas males also have a pale red wash on their chest. For some reason I’ve only been able to photograph females this winter. The redpolls are smaller and thinner than the House Finches. In fact, they aren’t much bigger than the chickadees which also feed on the nyjer seed from time to time!
On my first visit to Hurdman on Friday I managed to catch only a brief glimpse of the Hermit Thrush as it flew deeper into the bush. It spent more time in the open on Wednesday, picking up crumbs of suet from the ground. At one point it flew into the tangle of shrubs behind the feeder; however, when I began tossing seeds onto the ground below the feeders it came right back! I don’t know whether he was responding to the food I was throwing or if the timing was just a coincidence, but it was certainly an interesting moment!
As always, the feeders at Hurdman were full of activity and added a touch of nature to my day. It is certainly wonderful to have such a fabulous mix of habitats so close to work and so accessible.