Sometimes it seems like if I just spend long enough on a visit to a local park, I’ll get given a chance to see something unusual. Today, I spent ages prowling around the paths at the Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga. I half-expected to see a new insect, so I took my macro lens with me. Instead, I saw a bird there I was really not expecting, especially in November.
A Few Other Interesting Creatures from the Riverwood Ramble
For the second time, I watched a male Cardinal vigourously attacking a dried up Wild Cucumber seed pod. I still don’t know if it’s after the large seeds inside or if it’s after an insect resting inside.
Eastern Bluebirds Migrate South Slowly
While down near the Credit River, I stopped to take photos and watch the high-energy antics of a small group of Kinglets. There was one Ruby Crowned and one Golden Crowned and two that kept moving so quickly I lost track of them before I saw the colour of their tiaras and the type of their eye markings (a circle or a line respectively.)
As I clicked away, I kept hearing a group of birds calling in a simple but new-to-me sound coming from behind me. Eventually I moved, trying to get the sun out of my eyes, to see if I could get a glimpse of the noise-making birds. Four flew abruptly from a tree top and my first thought was “starlings?” because starlings make a huge variety of vocalizations. But the bird that landed in a tree not too far from me was the wrong shape and colour.
When I focused on it, I was jolted by the bright blue and rusty red colour combination. It was an unmistakable Eastern Bluebird.
I caught up with the rest of the group and each one I could find was another Bluebird. By this time six birds were moving swiftly from tree to tree. I couldn’t see if the other two were Bluebirds or something tagging along like Robins. The group was moving upstream, away from Lake Ontario and their ultimate southern destination. Hopefully, they intend to move back down shortly.
Are Eastern Bluebirds Rare in the GTA in November?
Apparently not. According to eBird, they are to be expected still on November 2. There were flying insects aloft at the park today, from midges and hundreds of Asian Multicoloured Lady Beetles, to red Meadowhawks and even a butterfly; so if the Bluebirds need insects to eat there should be something available. There are also still wild grapes, Virginia creeper berries, and various other fruits.
Even so, I hope the birds I saw are on their way to warmer climes. Every year some birds don’t migrate early enough and perish.
Most of the trees have turned and the leaves are raining down so it was great to see such vivid colours on the bare branches today. I wonder what surprises await in the days ahead?
Have you seen any Bluebirds or other migrants in an unexpected place or at an unusual date? Please share your experience with a comment.