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Posts Tagged ‘camouflage’

geese

Migrating Canada geese are moving through our area as they head north. At night, flocks assemble in the corn field to our west, and forage for food. At a casual glance, you’d never guess the field is playing host to thousands of birds. Their brown and black and white coloration allows them to disappear against the soil and snow.

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Unlike park residents, these geese are wary. The sight of me walking along the road causes them to retreat up the field. If I stop to watch, the closest geese take wing. Their alarm spreads like a wave through the flock and soon every goose is taking flight. The sound of their thousands of wings beating the air is a rumbling thunder. They swirl into the sky and begin to assemble into their iconic Vs as they prepare to move on.

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The flocks of Canada geese sometimes include a few Snow geese pairs. They are easily identified by their white wings tipped in black. Yesterday, I noticed a large drift of unmelted snow along the far edge of a field, and quickly realized the drift was not snow, but geese. The white birds are more conspicuous than their Canada geese cousins. For more on Snow geese, visit Snow Geese Heading North, linked here.

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Look closer…

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See him?

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A Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)

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When I was looking out the window recently, a little bird climbing on the burr oak caught my eye. A Brown Creeper! Although not rare in this region, neither are Brown Creepers (Certhia americana) common birds and I was pleased to spot this individual. As their name suggests, these wee birds creep up the trunks of trees, typically starting at the bottom and working their way up the trunk before flying on to the next tree and starting at the base again.

Creepers prefer mature forest habitat with trees of large diameter, so are not at their most abundant in the agricultural lands of southern Ontario. The population hot spots are Algonquin Provincial Park and Quetico Provincial Park and forested regions to the north. Trees with strongly furrowed bark are preferred for foraging. They probe the crevices for insects and spiders and other tasty, nutritious morsels. The cryptic colouring of creepers helps them to blend right in with the tree bark. In fact, they use their camouflage pattern when pursued, landing on a tree trunk and flattening themselves against the tree, wings spread and motionless.

In breeding season, the female builds her hammock-like cup nest in a gap between the trunk and a flap of loose bark on a dead tree. The male feeds the incubating female. The young can creep up trees from the time they are mobile. Fledglings will roost together in a tight circle, heads to the center. In Ontario, the Brown Creeper population appears to have been stable in recent decades as recorded in the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario.

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