Grey squirrel (black phase) with manitoba maple seeds
I know that many people don't like this tree species. It is not native to this area (but is native to Canada), and that is one reason it is disliked. It also seeds and sprouts prolifically, so that is another reason it is not liked. But those seeds feed many creatures, and in winter when most other seed sources are exhausted, these seeds help wildlife survive.
Grey squirrel (black phase) with walnut
Lots of squirrels in evidence today. They must know a big storm is coming too, and are busy gathering food and caching it. These guys scatter-hoard (that is, they dig holes here, there and everywhere and bury food), while the reds create big piles.
Starling in crabapple
One of many starlings angling for the crabapples near the ravine. Many Malus trees sit heavy with fruit long past when others have been stripped by hungry birds, but they fill a need at this time of year, when food becomes scarcer.
Lots of starlings!
The garden was alive today, with the cheery song of starlings, hundreds of them. This shows about 2/3 of the entire flock. I know that many don't like starlings because they are non-native. But I'm not native to this country either so maybe that is why I like them! We both come from the same place!
Bladdernut shrub seedpods (Staphylea trifolia)
I love the shape of these pods which give the shrub its common name.
American robin in mountain ash (Sorbus)
There were lots of robins around the garden today, big flocks of them flying from tree to tree, including this mountain ash near the ravine, one of several in that location. The fruit has almost vanished by now, but nearby are crabapples which still have a lot of fruit. These were also attracting robins and large numbers of starlings.
Robert Berry sent along a few photos he took around the FWG this week. Here mourning doves huddle in the woods near the OFNC feeder. For as long as I (Christine) can remember, the trees around the south edge of the ash woods, have provided roosting spots for mourning doves. They especially like the norway spruce on bitterly cold days, where in the past I have sometimes seen up to a dozen in winter.
Downy woodpecker, male
Robert also noted a number of both male and female downies moving through the garden, some heading toward the arboretum, others toward the ash wood lot. He photographed this one in the Backyard Garden waiting his turn at the suet block. Our smallest, and most common woodpecker, not only at the garden, but in the Ottawa region. Sometimes confused with the very similar, larger hairy woodpecker.
Dark-eyed juncos, like this one, can also be found around both feeders at this time of year. This species moves through the region in large flocks in autumn, with some of the birds continuing southwards, others remaining through the winter.
Robert remarked that this photo gave him a sense that the Butterfly Meadow was taking a breath before the winter closes in. It certainly illustrates the end of the growing season with the dried flower heads, bare branches, fall berries - "a kind of waiting."
The deep colour and pendant shape of this cluster of berberis fruits, is eye-catching against the bare brown twigs. An exotic plant, this species can be quite invasive in some areas. Around Ottawa it doesn't seem to be a big problem thus far, though I may wish I hadn't said this in another year or two!
Floating on the pond, this was one of two black ducks enjoying the open water. Once freezeup occurs, these guys will need to find another body of open water, likely where the water runs fast enough to keep it from freezing.