The Backyard's Bird Walks are starting up soon.

Our bird walks will resume on Sunday, Feb. 5th and Tuesday, Feb. 7th. February 5th we are going to Buttertubs Marsh and we meet at the end of Buttertubs Drive.
February 7th is at the Englishman River Estuary, Shelly Road side and we meet at Shelly Road.
All our bird walks are weather permitting. Updates and cancellations will be posted to the blog by 8am the day of.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

 

The Backyard Wildbird and Nature Store

Nanaimo Bird Report

September 28, 2022

“EXPLORE NATURE” --- GO BIRDING:

To report your sightings phone the Store at 250-390-3669 or e-mail us at thebackyard@shaw.ca. Please remember, when reporting a sighting to leave your name and phone number along with the date the species was seen and location of your sighting.
*********************************************************


Surf Scoter (R. Hocken)

Tuesday September 27, 2022:

The Tuesday Bird Walk went up to Deep Bay. The weather was sunny, winds calm, tide was going out and 14 degrees. A few highlights from the walk were, a pair of Marbled Murrelets seen close to shore at the point, a Western Grebe just of the shore near the mailboxes, and lots of scoters and Bonaparte Gulls to see.

13 birders saw and heard the following 49 bird species:

Canada Goose

Harlequin Duck

Northern Pintail

Surf Scoter

Black Scoter

White-winged Scoter

Common Merganser

Common Loon

Pacific Loon

Red-necked Grebe

Horned Grebe

Western Grebe

Pelagic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Black Oystercatcher

Killdeer

Bonaparte’s Gull

Short-billed Gull

Thayer’s Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull

California Gull

Marbled Murrelet

Pigeon Guillemot

Rock Pigeon

Anna’s Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Downy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Common Raven

American Crow

Steller’s Jay

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

American Pipit

American Robin

European Starling

Brewer’s Blackbird

Spotted Towhee

Golden-crowned Sparrow

White-crown Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow


 White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile, brown & tan instead of black and white markings

(R. Hocken)

Sunday September 25, 2022:

The Sunday Bird Walk went to Maki Road Trail in South Nanaimo. The weather was sunny and 13 degrees. We saw a Northern Harrier flying around the estuary and then followed a thermal up providing great views of the bird. A few other raptors seen were, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Bald Eagle, Merlin, and a Kestrel. There were a few ducks on the marsh including an American Coot and a Greater Yellowlegs was seen on the riverbank for the trail.

18 birders saw and heard the following 37 bird species:

Mallard

Green-winged Teal

Common Merganser

Hooded Merganser

American Coot

Pied-billed Grebe

Pelagic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Northern Harrier

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Merlin

Kestrel

Killdeer

Greater Yellowlegs

Glaucous-winged Gull

Anna’s Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Common Raven

American Crow

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Brown Creeper

Bewick’s Wren

American Robin

Cedar Waxwing

European Starling

Spotted Towhee

Song Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-winged Blackbirds 


House Finch (R. Hocken)

Backyard Bird Notes:

It is interesting how the birds react to a slight change in the weather. Today with the cooler overcast day we are hearing more birds and seeing a little more activity at the bird feeders. The mornings have been very quiet but with today’s overcast weather it is great to hear all the chatter again. One species to watch for is the Dark-eyed Juncos who will start moving in for the winter. There’s always lots of activity going on when they are around. Also watch for the Spotted Towhees and Song Sparrows returning.

If you don’t have time to tend to the garden this fall, that is ok. The birds will enjoy the seeds produced from the flowers left over the winter.

Question, can I put my feeders out? Yes, you can feed the birds. According to the Canadian Food inspection Agency “The use of bird feeders is still safe but they should be removed from areas that are open to poultry and other domestic animals”, https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/migratory-game-bird-hunting/avian-influenza-wild-birds.html#toc3 . Clean your bird feeders regularly, at least once a month, with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Use this mixture to also clean your bird bath and hummingbird feeders. Also remove old bird seed from under your bird feeders.

If you have any birds to report or need help identifying, just email or call the store, thebackyard@shaw.ca or 250-390-3669, toll-free 1-888-808-BIRD (2473).

The Backyard Bird Walks

Our bird walks go out Sunday mornings in Nanaimo and Tuesday mornings in Parksville and Qualicum Beach area, are easy walks that go for two to three hours (back for lunch is the plan). Bring binoculars and a field guide. The walks are weather pending.

Please check our blog (www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com) for any cancelations.

The Tuesday Bird Walk, October 4, 2022

The Tuesday Bird Walk will be Going to Englishman River Estuary – Shelly Road.

Meet at the Parksville Tourist Information Center parking lot, located by Hwy 19A, Northwest Bay Road and Franklin’s Gull Road in Parksville, at 9:00 am or meet at the end of Shelly Road in Parksville at 9:10am. Weather cooperating.

The Sunday Bird Walk, CANCELLED

This week’s Sunday Bird Walk will be cancelled but will resume on October 16th.

Check the blog for updates and location.

For cancelled bird walks due to weather, please check The Backyard blog at www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com on the day of the bird walk. A notice will be up before 8:00am if there is a cancelation.

Good birding! Colin Bartlett

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Clear Skies - The Moon, Planets, ISS, and Satellites

 Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars


The very bright “star” that is visible in the evening in the southeast and then high in the south around midnight is actually Jupiter.  On Sunday, Sept. 26, it was at opposition, which means it was directly opposite the Sun in relation to the Earth, however it will remain bright in the night sky for some time.

Given that it is so bright, it is a good target for binoculars.  Jupiter has four bright moons, the so-called Galilean moons in honour of Galileo who first observed them through a telescope.  They have very short orbits around Jupiter so their relative positions change noticeably from night to night.  It can be quite interesting to observe them over a few nights with binoculars as they do the celestial dance from one side of Jupiter to the other.

Saturn is not as bright as Jupiter but it can be picked out in the southeastern or southern sky though the evening.  It is only about 25 degrees above the horizon at its highest (around 10:30 p.m.), but it is a bit brighter than any of the stars near it in that part of the sky.  With any small telescope or spotting scope you may be able to make out its rings. 

Mars is now rising in the east northeast just after 10 p.m.  It will rise a bit earlier each evening and will become brighter and brighter as it does so.

Venus and Mercury rise in the east just ahead of the Sun, so cannot be easily seen right now.

 

The Moon helps identify the planets

We had a New Moon on Sept. 25, so in a couple days you can look for a thin crescent Moon low in the west just after sunset.  It will reach First Quarter (half-lighted) on Oct. 3.  On Tues/Wed, Oct. 4 & 5, you can use the Moon to help you find Saturn.  On Tuesday, Saturn will be just the width of your fist at arm’s length to the upper left of the Moon.  A day later, it will be a bit closer but to the Moon’s upper right.

On Friday, Oct. 7, Jupiter will be a fist’s width to the upper left of the Moon, and on Saturday, Jupiter will be only half that distance to the Moon’s upper right.

On Thursday, Oct. 13, the Moon will be just below the Pleiades, a pretty little star cluster, which by the way is what is represented by Subaru’s logo.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, the Moon will rise around 9 p.m.  Reddish hued Mars can be picked out very close to the Moon’s lower right throughout the rest of the evening.

 

International Space Station (ISS)


There are several evening passes of the ISS between 8 and 10 p.m. over the next week or so for Vancouver Island and the lower BC mainland.  Here are the best of them.

Tonight (Sept. 26), ISS rises in the west at 8:01 and climbs very high towards the north, skirting very close to Polaris, the North Star, at 8:05, after which it will drop towards the eastern horizon, disappearing at 8:09.

Tuesday, 27 Sept., ISS will rise in the WNW at 8:50 and climb almost directly overhead, passing between the two bright stars that make up the top of the Summer Triangle, Vega and Deneb respectively.  Shortly after passing Deneb, ISS will fade from sight as it enters Earth’s shadow.

Wednesday, 28 Sept., ISS rises in the WNW at 8:00 and climbs very high in the north, passing by the end of the handle of the Big Dipper five minutes later, and then crossing through the Great Square of Pegasus in the east before fading from sight at 8:08.

Sept. 29, Thursday, will see the ISS rise in the WNW at 8:49, climb past bright Arcturus low in the west, and then finish our tour of the Summer Triangle by passing very close to Altair, the lowest of the three bright stars making up this shape.  Moments later it will fade from sight as it enters Earth’s shadow.

The final great pass will be on Friday, Sept. 30.  ISS will rise in the WNW at 8:00, climb above Arcturus, pass through the four stars that make up the “drinking cup” shape in Hercules, and then pass through the Summer Triangle, disappearing just above the ESE horizon at 8:07.

 

SpaceX Star Link Satellites

Some of you have been observing lines of satellites crossing the night sky.  These are constellations of small satellites, each set launched by SpaceX on a single rocket.  They continue to orbit in their close configuration which provides us with a rather unusual sight. 

 

Clear skies.

David

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Nanaimo Bird Report September 21, 2022

 The Backyard Wildbird and Nature Store

Nanaimo Bird Report

September 21, 2022


“EXPLORE NATURE” --- GO BIRDING:

To report your sightings phone the Store at 250-390-3669 or e-mail us at thebackyard@shaw.ca. Please remember, when reporting a sighting to leave your name and phone number along with the date the species was seen and location of your sighting.
*********************************************************


Greater Yellowlegs (B. Denham)

Tuesday September 20, 2022:

The Tuesday Bird Walk went to the Englishman River Estuary – Plummer Road. The weather was sunny, winds calm, tide was out and 16 degrees. Birds on the estuary were a little quiet but we had a great look at a Greater Yellowlegs. A couple of highlights seen on the strait were, Parasitic Jaeger, and Marbled Murrelet,

12 birders saw and heard the following 40 species:

Canada Goose

American Wigeon

Mallard

Gadwall

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Common Loon

Red-necked Grebe

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture

Killdeer

Greater Yellowlegs

Parasitic Jaeger

Bonaparte’s Gull

Short-billed Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull

California Gull

Marbled Murrelet

Eurasian Collared Dove

Anna’s Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Northern Flicker

Common Raven

American Crow

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

American Robin

Cedar Waxwings

European Starling

Spotted Towhee

White-crown Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

House Finch

Purple Finch

American Goldfinch

Pine Siskin


 American Goldfinch, male, winter plumage (R. Hocken)

Sunday September 18, 2022:

The Sunday Bird Walk went to Buttertubs Marsh in Nanaimo. The weather was sunny with a light breeze and 16 degrees. The walk started off with a bang, hearing Virginia Rail at the parking lot entrance, seeing 10 Pectoral Sandpipers and a Baird’s Sandpiper on the marsh and hearing a Common Yellowthroat but unable to see it.

16 birders saw and heard the following 33 bird species:

Canada Goose

Wood Duck

Mallard

Green-winged Teal

Pied-billed Grebe

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Virginia Rail

Killdeer

Pectoral Sandpiper

Baird’s Sandpiper

Band-tailed Pigeon

Anna’s Hummingbird

Northern Flicker

Common Raven

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Bushtit

Marsh Wren

Bewick’s Wren

American Robin

Cedar Waxwing

European Starling

Common Yellowthroat

Spotted Towhee

Song Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-winged Blackbirds

House Finch

Purple Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

Spotted Towhee (R. Hocken)

Backyard Bird Notes:

Reports of a new backyard bird species with a different plumage are visiting the backyard feeders.

Both are common birds that we see regularly but their winter or non-breeding plumage makes them look quite different.

The first is the American Goldfinch. First thought when you hear the name is a bright yellow plumage that lights up the backyard, but in the fall, they molt and change plumage to a dull beige/yellow colour. They still have the black wing bars and no streaking like a Pine Siskin. Some goldfinches do stay for the winter, but most will migrate south till next spring when they return and molt into the yellow plumage we are used to seeing.

The other species is unique with white spots all over the feathers that have a brown outline. These birds also move in large flocks and can take over the lawn. Sorry, they are just European Starlings in their non-breeding plumage. It is unique, as starlings only molt once a year and those spots on the feathers are like a waxy substance that wears off for next breeding season providing them with what looks like new shiny feathers. Another change is the bill colour, from yellow in the spring to black in the winter.

Fall can be a fun time identifying birds, as some birds have a complete plumage change and juvenile birds will start molting to their adult plumage. Unfortunately, the field guides do not always show the different plumages, so a little detective work is needed.

Remember to give all your bird feeders a good cleaning with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water and to clean them regularly, including your water source.

If you have any birds to report or need help identifying, just email or call the store, thebackyard@shaw.ca or 250-390-3669, toll-free 1-888-808-BIRD (2473).

The Backyard Bird Walks

Our bird walks go out Sunday mornings in Nanaimo and Tuesday mornings in Parksville and Qualicum Beach area, are easy walks that go for two to three hours (back for lunch is the plan). Bring binoculars and a field guide. The walks are weather pending.

Please check our blog (www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com) for any cancelations.

The Tuesday Bird Walk, September 27, 2022

The Tuesday Bird Walk will be Going to Deep Bay.

Meet at the Parksville Tourist Information Center parking lot, located by Hwy 19A, Northwest Bay Road and Franklin’s Gull Road in Parksville, at 8:45 am or meet at the marina parking lot in Deep Bay at 9:15am. Weather cooperating.

The Sunday Bird Walk, September 25, 2022

This week’s Sunday Bird Walk will be going to Maki Road Trail in Nanaimo.

Meet at The Backyard Wildbird & Nature Store at 9:00am or at the end of Maki Road by Living Forest Campground at 9:15 am. Weather cooperating.

For cancelled bird walks due to weather, please check The Backyard blog at www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com on the day of the bird walk. A notice will be up before 8:00am if there is a cancelation.

Good birding! Colin Bartlett

Monday, 19 September 2022

The Planets and the International Space Station

 The Moon and Jupiter




Let’s start with a little trivia.  September 16th's Full Moon is the so-called Harvest Moon (occasionally the Corn Moon).  We are approaching the Fall Equinox, and the Moon’s orbit keeps it visible from evening to evening a bit longer than at other times of the year.  Before modern lighting, this meant that the fall harvest could be taken in with the help of moonlight, giving farmers more time each day to do so.  Hence, the label “Harvest Moon.”

The highlight of the night sky right now is Jupiter, shining very brightly in the east southeast.  It rises just after 8 p.m.  Jupiter will make a lovely pairing with the Full Moon when the Moon will be just to the right of Jupiter - the brightness of Jupiter will make it a suitable companion. Sunday the 17th evening, the Moon will have moved almost the same distance to the other side of Jupiter.

Jupiter is as bright as it is right now, since it is approaching opposition, which means it will be directly opposite Earth from the Sun on September 26, and will therefore be highest in the sky near midnight over the next few weeks.

With a pair of binoculars, you can often see the four bright Moons of Jupiter, as they perform a dance around it from night to night (but I would wait a couple days until the bright Moon isn’t so close by).  If you don’t see all four, one or more of them may be directly in front or behind Jupiter.  Sometimes they will be all to one side or the other of Jupiter, but you can see their changes easily from night to night.

Saturn

Saturn is nowhere near as bright as Jupiter, but if you look towards the south southeast in the evening, you might see one “star” that is clearly brighter than the others.  That is Saturn, sitting about 20 degrees above the horizon around 10 p.m., which is a little less than the distance from your thumb to your little finger on an outstretched hand at arm’s length.  With a spotting scope, you might be able to discern the slight bulge in its shape due to its rings, or perhaps you might even be able to make out the rings themselves.

Venus

Venus is visible in the predawn light, low in the east.  Since Venus is rising just before 6 a.m., it will be hard to spot it unless you have a good low horizon.


A sure sign of Winter

If you are up in the early hours before sunrise, you may see the three stars that form the belt of Orion rising in the east.  Orion is a distinctly winter constellation, and it will be rising earlier and earlier until by the beginning of November Orion will be rising before midnight.

The International Space Station

For those of us on Vancouver Island and the lower BC mainland, we will have few nice evening passes of the Space Station over the next ten days or so.  There will be other passes, but these are the best.

On Thursday, Sept. 15, ISS will rise in the southwest at 8:52 p.m.  It will remain quite low in the southern sky.  What makes this pass special is that just after it passes above Saturn, it will fade from the sky as it enters Earth’s orbit.

ISS will do another nice disappearing act on Friday, Sept. 16.  It will rise in the west southwest at 9:40, and just three minutes or so later, when it’s about half way up the southwestern sky, it will fade from sight.

Saturday (Sept 17) will give us a nice bright pass. ISS rises in the southwest at 8:51, climbs nicely up the southern sky, passing very close to the bright star Altair, which is the bottom star of the so-called Summer Triangle.  Look above that, more than the width of your outstreched hand for two other very bright stars that make up the triangle.  As it approaches Jupiter, but higher in the sky than Jupiter, it will fade from sight at 8:57.

Sunday (Sept 18) will give us two chances to see the ISS.  ISS will first rise in the southwest at 8:03.  It will cross the southern sky, a bit below Altair, and after passing above Jupiter in the east, it will fade from sight just above the horizon.

Since the ISS orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, it will come back around again, rising in the west at 9:40.  This will be a short pass, climbing nicely up the north northwest sky before fading from sight at 9:44.

The brightest pass of this series will be on Monday, Sept. 19, when ISS will rise in the west at 8:51, climb very high overhead, a bit to the north (not too far from the top stars of the Summer Triangle), and then fade from sight in the east northeast at 8:57.

Clear skies.

David

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Nanaimo Bird Report September 13, 2022

The Backyard Wildbird and Nature Store

Nanaimo Bird Report

September 13, 2022

“EXPLORE NATURE” --- GO BIRDING:
To report your sightings phone the Store at 250-390-3669 or e-mail us at thebackyard@shaw.ca. Please remember, when reporting a sighting to leave your name and phone number along with the date the species was seen and location of your sighting.
*********************************************************


Pacific Golden-Plover (G. Fowler)

Tuesday September 13, 2022:

The Tuesday Bird Walk went to Columbia Beach, French Creek. The weather was overcast, winds calm, tide was on the way out and 16 degrees. A few highlights from the bird walk were, great looks at a Pacific Golden-Plover on the beach, a Rhinoceros Auklet feeding with a flock of gulls and a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers in the bushes.

15 birders saw and heard the following 40 species:

Canada Goose

Mallard

Surf Scoter

White-winged Scoter

Harlequin Duck

Common Merganser

California Quail

Common Loon

Red-necked Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture

Merlin

Black-bellied Plover

Pacific Golden-Plover

Killdeer

Black Oystercatcher

Greater Yellowlegs

Spotted Sandpiper

Black Turnstones

Western Sandpiper

Bonaparte’s Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull

California Gull

Rhinoceros Auklet

Eurasian Collared Dove

Rock Pigeon

Anna’s Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Northern Flicker

Common Raven

American Crow

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Orange-crowned Warbler

Spotted Towhee

Golden-crowned Sparrow

White-crown Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

House Sparrow


Savannah Sparrow (R. Hocken)

Sunday September 11, 2022:

The Sunday Bird Walk went to Neck Point Park in Nanaimo. The weather was sunny, smokey, water was calm and 18 degrees. A few highlights from the walk were, Black-throated Gray Warbler in the trees near the parking lot, American Pipits on the rocks near the boardwalk, Rhinoceros Auklet and great views of a pod of Orcas near the shore with a Humpback Whale further out.

11 birders saw and heard the following 20 bird species:

White-winged Scoter

Double-crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Black Oystercatcher

California Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull

Marbled Murrelet

Rhinoceros Auklet

Anna’s Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Northern Flicker

Common Raven

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

American Pipit

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Spotted Towhee

Savannah Sparrow

Purple Finch

 

Orca pod

Humpback Whale

Sea lion


House Finch (J. Morrison)

Backyard Bird Notes:

It has been an interesting spring and summer for the birds. With the wet, cool spring and then a flick of the switch it was hot and dry. Water was a very important for the birds this summer and the bird baths were busy.

At our feeders the birds have been a little quiet through the summer, but we are seeing House Finch and American Goldfinch, in winter plumage, visiting the sunflower feeders. The suet feeder is always busy starting in late August. The Bushtits are flocking together, and I see about 20 at a time on the suet feeder as they make multiple visits during the day, along with a family of Northern Flickers, Pileated Woodpecker, chickadees, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

There was a pair of Dark-eyed Juncos that hung around and nested through the summer and now we are starting to see a few others visiting the feeders. Usually, it is around mid-September that the flocks of juncos begin to return to the backyard feeders.

So as the weather begins to cool and a little moisture falls, activity in your backyard will get a little busier as the birds establish their winter feeding area. Watch for Dark-eyed Juncos, Spotted Towhees, Song Sparrows, and Golden-crowned Sparrows the arrive in your backyard.

Don’t forget about the Anna’s Hummingbirds as they are busy starting to nest again. I have a male Anna’s Hummingbird busy doing their display dives in my backyard and we have seen females taking nesting material.

Remember to give all your bird feeders a good cleaning with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water and to clean them regularly, including your water source.

If you have any birds to report or need help identifying, just email or call the store, thebackyard@shaw.ca or 250-390-3669, toll-free 1-888-808-BIRD (2473).

The Backyard Bird Walks

Our bird walks go out Sunday mornings in Nanaimo and Tuesday mornings in Parksville and Qualicum Beach area, are easy walks that go for two to three hours (back for lunch is the plan). Bring binoculars and a field guide. The walks are weather pending.

Please check our blog (www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com) for any cancelations.

The Tuesday Bird Walk, September 20, 2022

The Tuesday Bird Walk will be Going to Englishman River Estuary, Plummer Road.

Meet at the Parksville Tourist Information Center parking lot, located by Hwy 19A, Northwest Bay Road and Franklin’s Gull Road in Parksville, at 9:00 am or meet at the parking area at the corner of Plummer Road and Shorewood Drive at 9:10am. Weather cooperating.

The Sunday Bird Walk, September 18, 2022

This week’s Sunday Bird Walk will be going to Buttertubs Marsh in Nanaimo.

Meet at The Backyard Wildbird & Nature Store at 9:00am or at the marsh entrance at the end of Buttertubs Drive off Bowen Road at 9:15 am. Weather cooperating.

For cancelled bird walks due to weather, please check The Backyard blog at www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com on the day of the bird walk. A notice will be up before 8:00am if there is a cancelation.

Good birding! Colin Bartlett