Yesterday was a beautiful late winter, almost spring, day in Cape Breton. The temperatures hovered around the 32 degree mark, but the skies were clear and windless. Checking out the windows all day has become an obsession, looking for FOY birds to arrive. My binoculars live beside my sewing machine as I stitch and watch the feeders out back in the rock garden through the sliding glass door.
Here's a shot of one of my birdfeeders that hangs from the front porch, with the small island in view across the harbor. This winter, American Goldfinch were the only permanent visitors to the feeders. They are always a delight, and are now beginning to change back to their lemon yellow color. It appears as though they are wearing yellow scarves around their neck, the first place to show the change. I love to step out the door to hear them chattering away, every once in awhile I hear, "j'eet? no, j'u?" At any given time, there are 20 or 30 flitting around the property and their delicate little vocalizations fill the air.
American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) are late nesters, not even beginning to nest
until midsummer. They plan it just right so the thistle and weeds are ready to go to
seed when it's time to feed those babies!
Too far away to photograph, the pair of resident adult eagles were perched in one of those trees straight ahead on the island. I was drawn to the scope and checked over and over again as they sat there for hours, until someone onn an ATV accessed the island at low tide and scared them off.
There were 8 male red-breasted mergansers and 3 black guillimots
feeding in the harbor this morning,
which I did attempt to take photos of, but they were just too far away!
I wandered down to the shore and sat for a long time,
drinking in the calm and tranquil early morning.
This morning dawned calm and clear as well, the surface of the water
in the harbor as smooth as glass.
A quick scan with the scope revealed 5 red-breasted mergansers,
4 males, 1 female.
The males were "strutting their stuff"!
According to Kenn Kaufman's Lives of North American Birds,
during courtship the "male stretches his neck forward and upward,
then suddenly dips his neck and the forepart of his body underwater,
with head angled up out of the water and bill wide open."
And that's exactly what they were doing!!!
Skimming the surface, darting and chasing each other away,
circling the female while trying so hard to make an impression,
THE impression - "Pick me! Pick me!",
back and forth in the middle of the harbor.
This display is called a "salute curtsy".
It was so comical and truly amazing to watch.
Any attempt to walk closer only causes them to swim away.
I wish I had a big, fancy camera!
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