A Birdwatchers Delight
The Pickerel River area has the unique advantage of being located in the transition zone between the Eastern Woodlands & The Boreal Forest. The unique aspects of this area are noticed by birdwatchers in every season. Birds only found in the Northern Boreal Forest reside or visit here, as well birds from father south. This lends tremendous opportunity for birders and naturalists alike. Below is a small selection of some of our favourite feathered friends.
This page lists birds common to our area that spend the majority of their life on or around land. For water birds such as ducks, geese, herons, loons etc please visit the Aquatic page.
Black Capped Chickadee
A “cute” bird due to its oversized round head, tiny body, and curiosity about everything, including humans. The chickadee’s black cap and bib; white cheeks; gray back, wings, and tail; and whitish underside with buffy sides are distinctive. Its habit of investigating people and everything else in its home territory, and quickness to discover bird feeders, make it one of the first birds most people learn.
The chickadee can be convinced to eat out of your hand if you remain still. These happy playful birds remain in the area year round. Their Chick-a-dee-dee call is unmistakable. The Black-Capped Chickadee hides seeds and other food items to eat later. Each item is placed in a different spot and the chickadee can remember thousands of hiding places. Every autumn Black-capped Chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and environment even with their tiny brains.
Large crested songbird with broad, rounded tail. Blue Jays are smaller than crows, larger than robins. Their feathers are various shades of blue with black & white markings, greyish white underside.
Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period.
Blue Jays make a large variety of calls that carry long distances. Most calls produced while the jay is perched within a tree. they are ususally silent while flying across open areas, especially during migration. Blue Jays stuff food items in their throat pouch to cache elsewhere; when eating, holds a seed or nut in feet and pecks it open.
Blue Jays have been known to give an alarm call in the forest when they think and animal or human is "sneaking" around. Their alarm call sounds much like "sneeeeeak sneeeeeak sneeeeaaaak!!"
The Evening Grosbeak is a large finch. Males have a brownish black head with black crown. Yellow forehead and eye stripe wing, tail, and upper tail converts to black. Dark brown nape fading to yellow on back. Dark brownish throat fades to brownish-yellow underparts, becoming brightest under tail. Females head and upperparts are mostly grayish brown. Weak dark malar stripe. Yellowish wash on sides of neck. Uppertail is black with white spotting. Wings and tail black with white and gray patches in wing. Throat and underparts pale grayish brown.
These robust, gregarious birds remain in the area all winter, drawn by the seeds of conifer cones. They also converge in droves to bird feeders often cleaning them out. They body check each other at the bird feeders mobbing in to gobble up the feed. Grosbeaks also love the fruit of pin & choke cherries. The large firm beak on these birds enables then to crack hard nuts and seeds. Grosbeaks also enjoy devouring the spruce budworm, which keeps outbreaks under control.
The birds pair off in April or May, males can be seen challenging each other by wrestling with their bills locked together. Both male and female sway and posture to get each others attention.
Rose Breasted Grosbeak
Female rose breasted grosbeaks are bland, they are streaked brown and white with a bold face pattern and enormous bill. The males are bursting with black, white, and a rose-red breast. These birds are a delight to see due to their bold colouring. Males flash pink-red under the wings; females flash a yellowish tint.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks breed in eastern forests; you can find them among both deciduous trees and conifers. These chunky birds use their stout bills to break & eat seeds, fruit, and insects. They are also frequent visitors to bird feeders, where they eat sunflower seeds with abandon.
The sweet, rambling song of a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a familiar voice of eastern forests; their sharp “chink” calls are distinctive. This bird’s sweet, robin-like song has inspired many a bird watcher to pay tribute to it. A couple of early twentieth-century naturalists said it is “so entrancingly beautiful that words cannot describe it."Males sing to establish territories and attract females. When a female approaches, the male rebuffs her for a day or two before accepting her as a mate.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks build such flimsy nests that eggs are often visible from below through the nest bottom.
Goldfinches are closely related to the domesticated Canary.
These birds breeding season coincides with the ripening of weed seeds in June/July. Thistle seeds are a favourite of the Goldfinch, also hemlock seeds, birch, alder and various grasses.
Males are bright yellow with black wings, tail, cap and white rump. The females are much more bland, with an olive green to dull yellow breast, black wings, tail and white bars on their wings. In the fall, both males and females turn a buff olive colour.
The call of the goldfinch is long, musical and canary like. The make a series of chips, twitters and trills.