Garden Birds – November 2020.

During this “lockdown and go nowhere” year Bird Protection Quebec have replaced their weekly guided birding field trips with a series of interesting virtual alternatives. Basically, they have been saying, here’s a challenge, go and do it and then tell us all about what you found.

For the month of November the challenge was quite broad – with six categories including big days, a big month and similar variations from which J and I decided to compete in two categories, namely;

**“Backyard List”** – record all the species observed from your property throughout the month

**“Photograph of the Month”** – Submit your best 5 or fewer (- the rules actually said ‘less’ but I choose to be generous and not criticize) bird photographs taken during the month.

Now, this perhaps reveals a defect in my soul, but one thing that I really enjoy doing is making lists. Indeed, for all my life I seem to have listed the strangest things – plus I have been birding for years and birders are the second greatest compilers of lists in the world. The first listers being train spotters and I am emphatically not one of that tribe.

For all that, since retiring seven years ago I have not been terribly serious about my bird lists. That is to say, I have assiduously been adding to my existing lists and reporting them to the eBird database, but I seem to have mostly lost the urge to do so competitively. Hence Big Days and their like have become a thing of the past. In brief, after 72 years I have realised that I like neat, orderly lists of things but I no longer really care if my lists are longer than your lists.

And so … getting down to the results. On the right is a list of the 30 species of birds we recorded in the garden or from the garden during the month of November. We were disappointed not to have had House Finch or Brown Creeper but other than that think we did pretty well – a lot of hours staring our=t of the windows went into this.

Our garden is a moderate sized 15,000 sq.ft. site in the outer, western suburbs of Montreal. In the 20 years we have been here we have assiduously managed and planted the garden to attract wildlife which means lots of mature trees and shrubs, plenty of standing seed heads from the summer just behind us, and a battery of seed and suet filled bird feeders. In other words, we have stacked things in our favour as much as is possible in suburbia.

Below are a few choice photographs. This has been such fun we are considering keeping a regular monthly list from now on – contest, or no contest.

Female Evening Grosbeak

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren torn between peanuts and suet for a snack

Female Purple Finch

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker – taking peanuts form a tray feeder which we acquired this year and which seems to be especially favoured by this daily visitor.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Blue Jay and a female Downy Woodpecker

Fox Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco eating Viburnum berries

American Goldfinches feeding on sunflower seeds left for the birds instead of “tidying” the garden

Common Grackle

30 November Species
– in order of observation

1 November
Downy Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Northern Cardinal
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Mourning Dove
American Goldfinch
Dark-eyed Junco
Fox Sparrow

2 November
Hairy Woodpecker

3 November
American Robin

4 November
Evening Grosbeak (single female)

5 November
European Starling
Pileated Woodpecker

7 November
Snow Goose (flyover, of course)
Canada Goose (ditto)

9 November
Carolina Wren (frequent visitor to feeders)

11 November
Common Redpoll (with a group of Goldfinches)

12 November
Red-bellied Woodpecker (female – daily visitor to feeders)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Pine Siskin
American Crow

15 November
Common Grackle

17 November
Purple Finch

21 November
Sharp-shinned Hawk
American Tre Sparrow

23 November
Song Sparrow

27 November
Great Horned Owl (heard)