A Murder of Crows, A Parliament of Owls…

Speed BumpRecently, en route to Le Nichoir from my home in St-Lazare, I was happy to see a flock of Wild Turkeys in a field close to the road. Having not seen any for about a year, I stopped to watch them. This was delightful, as the male was in full courtship display! As I admired them, I wondered, “What does one call a group of turkeys?”

Many people may be familiar with collective terms such as a “murder” of crows, a “parliament” of owls and a “gaggle” of geese. But was there one for a group of turkeys? I decided to do some research and soon discovered that there were numerous collective nouns (terms which denote a specific group of persons, things or animals) for all sorts of birds. [Read more…]

Help birds prepare for the journey south

BluebirdMost of us may be busy unpacking from our summer holiday, but for many of the birds currently roaming the Quebec skies, the travel season is just about to start.

As fall approaches, many songbirds and insectivorous species, like hummingbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, swifts and swallows, begin the process of preparing for migration to the southern United States, Mexico, the Caribbean or even further into Central and South America. The preparation process, which starts as early as August and can last up to three weeks, is crucial for helping birds to survive the long journey south.

Help birds get in top-feather condition for migration by following these simple steps. [Read more…]

Putting out the welcome mat for early migrants

Song SparrowSouthern Quebecers will soon be hearing chirps and flutters again, as spring approaches and the first of the migrating birds return from their long winter sojourn further south. Two songbirds to watch for in the coming weeks are the Song Sparrow and that sure sign of spring, the Red-winged Blackbird. Other birds, like the Ring-billed Gull and the Common Grackle, make their arrival in late February and March.

Why an early return
Migratory birds return to their breeding grounds as food supplies surge in springtime, touching down between mid-February and the end of May. Light, wind, and weather in particular influence the birds’ timing. With climate change leading to a warmer planet, recent studies have suggested that long-migrating birds are returning earlier than in the past. This year may be no exception, as Environment Canada expects warmer-than-normal temperatures in February.

Spotting early migrants
Red-winged Blackbirds are among the first to make the journey back to Canada, arriving as early as mid-February. You can easily spot the male by its black coat and distinctive red-streaked shoulders (epaulettes). The female, smaller in size, is more conspicuous with its brownish plumage, although the white streak on its breast may give it away. [Read more…]