Temagami is well-known for its rich varity of song birds, both large and small, as well as several other birds of prey and game birds that call this area home. On this page I have presented only a few of these wonders of Nature. A few are easy to photograph while others are nearly impossible to get close enough to with a camera to capture magnificent photos. Some shots were taken with a normal lens length of 50 to 80 mm. while others required a lot of patience, a sturdy tripod and a 500 mm. telephoto lens. Believe me when I say that these photos were not the only ones of that particular bird that I captured.
While riding my ATV on a local old logging road, I spotted this young fledgling Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) about 50 feet in front of me. Cautiously aware of my presence but unafraid, it just sat and posed while I took several photos of it, each from a slightly closer perspective. I finally got ahead of it and with better natural lighting, this photo was taken from about 5 feet or 1 1/2 meters. Then to my surprise, it walked even closer to me to about 2 feet away. It was close enough that I could have easily reached out and touched it but I didn't want it to start making a noise and summoning mom to the rescue and having me ending up with her talons sunk into the back of my head. Before leaving, I watched it walk away and hoped it didn't end up as dinner fare for a fox, fisher or lynx. 1/60 sec., f/4.5, ISO 450, 55 mm.,1.6 m., Nikon D7000, hand held, August 14, 2023.
This blue heron was intent on catching something for lunch .... until I came along and then it paid more attention to me than to the dinner menu. I knew I had to shoot fast as they don't hang around too long in front of people. I already had the "500" on the camera body so it was an easy take and all I had to do was choose a desirable background and then click away. Of the 3 quick shots before it flew away, this photo said it all. How they can stand motionless for extended periods of time on one leg without falling over is a miracle in itself. 1/500 sec,. f/5.6, ISO 320, 500 mm. lens, Nikon D7000, make-shift tripod (vehicle window glass), July 19, 2021.
This female Pileated Woodpecker(Dryocopus pileatus) was kept quite busy supplying ants, grubs and whatever else she could find for her male and female offspring. She had built a nest in a new pressure treated hydro pole and we were watching it carefully to see when the chicks had enough feathers to distinguish their sex. After getting these photos, I returned 5 days later for more, ony to find that they had fledged and "flew the coop" in late June.
This male Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) wasn't bothered by my presence as he scratched gravel looking for something to eat. After a few minutes, he flew up onto a rock and provided a much better backround for this photo. Buntings have more white feathers than any other songbird and this one is just starting to shed his winter tan colors on the head, shoulders and breast. He will soon be heading to the summer range in the Arctic where he will be just black and white.
I found this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sitting in a tree overhanging the lake and I assume it was waiting for a fish to come close enough to swoop down upon for a tasty meal. It was well aware of my presence but made no attempt to fly away while I grabbed a few shots of it.
Like the eagle above, this Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) was a relatively easy bird to photograph. It was swimming in the bay and when I grabbed my old goose call and made a few calls with it, the goose swam over, jumped up on the breakwall and looked around to see where its new-found friend was. It called back a few times and soon realized it wasn't there so it dropped back in the water and swam away.
For countless years, I've listened to male Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) do their drumming dance in the spring to attract females but I could never get close enough to one for a decent photo. This guy was different. He couldn't care less about me or a few friends that basically walked up to him while he was preforming every five minutes or so. We all captured several photos like this before we retired to a safe distance and let him continue with his spring courtship ritual.
While hiking in the White Bear Forest one autumn day, I came across several hen Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) that were feeding on the forest floor. Most scurried away but this bird decided it was safe enough to sit up in a pine tree and watch me from that position. I only took 5 or 6 pics but this one said it all.
A few friends and I were ATVing local trails when we came across this male Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis) feeding on the ground in front of us. The males are easy to tell from the hens by the red stripe over the eye. I followed him on foot along the trail for several yards but couldn't get the pic I wanted and he soon tired of me so he decided to go into the bush. As he turned sideways, I made a short sharp whistle which stopped the bird for a split second and he turned his head towards me. That's all the time it took to capture one good photo.
The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is a large bird that feeds on ants and grubs found in dead or dying softwood trees such as cedar, spruce, pine or birch. As you can see on this birch, they drill elongated holes with near square tops and bottoms on them. Such holes found at or near ground level are almost always on the south facing side of trees where the winter sun warms the tree and ants are more active. Later on in the summer, the feed holes can be anywhere around the tree at varying heights. It's been said that "Pillies" can hear ants moving and eating inside a tree from distances up to 50 yards/meters and know exactly which tree contains its next meal. This male has the identifying red mustache.
A friend told me he had a woodpecker feeding at his feeder on a daily basis. When he called me, I grabbed the telephoto lens and quickly paid a visit. This female Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) was gorging on the fat in the hanging bag that was put there for other birds to enjoy during the coldest part of winter.
All summer, there are several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) enjoying the sweet nectar in several of the garden flowers. This female, with its charactistic grey throat, was filling up on the bergamont or bee balm flowers. As the only bird known to be able to fly backwards, it can hover in front of flowers before moving in to extract the sweet nectar. It is also capable of instant accereration when moving to a new flower or to escape perceived danger.
It is extremely rare to ever see a hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) at rest. This female was taking a break and watching her bird feeder and would instantly chase any intruders away that were planning on coming in to steal her food supply. As if there wasn't enough to go around for everybody, eh?
Northern Junkos, or Slate-Gray Junkos (Junko hyemalis) are slightly larger than the typical sparrows and, like them, are usually found in small flocks. They feed on the ground and are quite quick to move around during daylight hours while looking for morsels of food. Pink bills and legs differentiate them from other junkos.
White Throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) are easily identified from the yellow spots between the eyes and the beak, as well as the bright white throat. They feed on the ground and also move quite quickly when searching for another morsel of food.
The Whiskey Jack, or Canada Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) are year-round residents but are most commonly found in the autumn months when they are gathering food to store for winter feeding. It is said that they can remember hundreds of secret stashes and will return to them as needed. Travelling in small flocks, they will easily feed from your hand when offered bread, crackers, meat, fat or other food items and can be quite vocal when your supply runs out.
The Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) is a migratory top-of-the-foodchain predator that is very efficient at catching his prey. About the size of a crow, it can glide quietly on its wide wings and use its sharp talons and beak to catch and shred small birds, rabbits, squirrels or anything else it finds for lunch.
Downey Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) are easily identified by the white backs (as do Hairy woodpeckers) but they have a much smaller and darker bill. Males have a bright red spot at the back of the head. This female is a common guest at a winter feeder and searches for bags of suet or fat.
The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is one of the hardest birds to approach and photograph. I got this photo from inside the house through the front picture window. With keen eyes and large feet, they stand or wade in shallow water and look for minnows or anything else that passes by them. Standing up to 4 feet tall and with a 5 foot wing span, they can be a formable opponent when on the hunt. Trivia point: Herons cannot swim or float (there are no protective oils on the feathers) and would drown in deeper waters.
Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) are migratory scavengers and can be seen soaring with a shallow V in their wings as it rocks unsteadily in the air on 6 foot wingspans. On the ground, they stand nearly 3 feet tall and the bald red wrinkly head of the adults is quite visible. With an unbelievabe sense of smell, they locate and eat carrion from roadsides and other locations.
This Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) was spotted resting on a fallen tree in a swamp where it was catching a few warm rays from the afternoon sun.
The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a rare sighting in the Temagami area but I seen this (and my first) one sitting on a rock near the house and I presumed it was looking for mice or anything else that might scurry across the snow. I know it was watching me long before I ever spotted it but it didn't feel threatened by my presence at all. More common in the far north, it must have journeyed south in search of a better food supply. The white V under the chin is characteristic of a juvenile female which will be all speckled grey as she matures into an adult in another year.
Ravens (Corvus corax) are shiny black and much bigger than their cousins, the crow. It is a scavenger that feeds on mostly meat and can shred a garbage bag very quickly is search of food. They are one of the most intelligent of all birds and can remember where they have located past caches of food. This one was feeding on chunks of meat from left-over winter trapping baits that I had tossed out onto the lake ice for it to eat. The shine on the side of the bird is a reflection of the camera's flash.
This pair of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were seen floating along reeds and grass in the spring during the annual mating season. Having their picture taken was the last thing on their minds at that time of year.
This female Red Breasted Merganser (Mergus merganser) was busy tending her brood of chicks and teaching them the basics of catching minnows and other food sources. Ignoring both me and the boat, she kept a steady conversation going with the family as they paddled along the shoreline.
The Common Loon (Gavia immer) is the unmistaken symbol of northern wilderness across Ontario. Lakes, depending on the size, can have several breeding pairs but each will have its own bay or territory. They feed exclusively on fish and other marine life forms where they usually eat minnows or small herring but have been seen swallowing a 2-pound bass. Their piercing voice in a variety of patterned calls can be heard both day and night. Each bird has an identifiable "necklace" that is as unique as fingerprints. This male can be coaxed up close to boats or shores and will readily pose for photos.
This is the mate to the above male Loon (Gavia immer) and although somewhat shyer than he is, she will approach my boat after she recognizes my voice calling her. Here, she is showing off her newly hatched one-hour old chicks.
This is our resident male Loon (Gavia immer) again and he is not happy with me being in his private fishing area. And he is not shy about trying to chase me out of there either. After a couple of quick photos, we decided to move on and left him to believe that he won that arguement.
Evening Grosbeaks (Hesperiphona vespertina) are common birds at winter feeders. A very vocal and social bird, they arrive in flocks to feed on sunflower and other large seeds which they can easily open with their powerful beaks.
Barred owls (Stria varia) are medium large birds with excellent camoflauge and feed on small birds and mice. Photo credits: Bob M.
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