Monday, 11 April 2011

Signs of Spring, Remnants of Winter

We took a scenic drive out to Canmore on Saturday and saw scattered but clear evidence that spring is arriving.  Just west of Cochrane were three Red-Tailed Hawks doing an impressive cartwheeling aerial display over the highway.  Further down the road, about halfway between Morley and Seebee, we spotted our first Mountain Bluebird of the year.

The real treat was Sunday morning, when I opened the door to discover a flock of 50+ Bohemian Waxwings. In contrast to the newly arrived bluebirds, these winter residents were clearing out the mountain ash trees in our neighbours' yards - presumably getting ready to move north to breed.
Bohemian Waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus, in Mountain Ash
Besides having a great Latin name, these birds have a couple of interesting behavioural traits.  Due to the concentrated and variable nature of their food supply they are highly social and will sit on branches passing berries down a line of birds.  This behaviour is also exhibited in courtship where males will pass berries back and forth with females.  If you'll excuse the anthropomorphism, this individual may not have been doing so well....
"Hey handsome, how about sharing some of those berries"
"Anything for a fine looking mate.  Here you go gorgeous."
"So, my nest or yours?"
"See you later sucker!"

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