Last year, Nest Cams were all the rage, and I’m sure they will be again this year. It was tremendous fun to watch bald eagles, great horned owls, and great blue herons raise their newest generation from areas across the country. Right now, though, I’ve got a new addiction (it’s running in another window right now while I write this!) – the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s FeederWatch Cam, hosted by Tammie and Ben Hache in Manitouwadge, Ontario. Their little feeder station welcomes dozens if not hundreds of birds throughout the day, all visible right from your own computer screen via the wonders of the internet!
Though I grew up in the Midwest, I’ve lived in Florida for quite some time now, so watching these far northern birds is a real treat for me. Manitouwadge is about 300 miles north of Traverse City, Michigan, in the wild woods of Canada. The birds that visit these feeders are so unfamiliar to me that I had to look them up. The photo above is full of simply adorable Common Redpolls (Acanthis flammea), which visit the feeders in large flocks throughout the day. These small finches winter as far south as the Northern U.S., but migrate to breed in the summers up to the Arctic. I love to watch their antics at the feeder, but I must admit that, for me, they pale in comparison to one of my new favorite birds, the Pine Grosbeak.
Pine Grosbeaks (Pinicola enucleator) are another – albeit much larger – member of the finch family, and they too live in the far north. In addition to being found in Canada and some of the northern U.S., its range also spreads across the northern edge of Eurasia. Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes this is “the largest and rarest of the winter finches”, but I’ve seen multiple Pine Grosbeaks every day while watching this webcam. The females stop by too, as shown below, lacking the red coloration but with warm orange-yellow patches on their head and under their rumps.
I’ve seen birds more familiar to me as well while watching this cam – Blue Jays and Black-Capped Chickadees seem to stop by pretty frequently. Hoary Redpolls are sometimes mixed in with the Common Redpolls, and watchers report occasional woodpeckers, Gray Jays, and White-Breasted Nuthatches. An unusual sight not long ago was a pair of Ruffed Grouse. The highlights of the cam are documented on the same webpage, so you can see what you may have been missing.
I don’t know if the Cornell Lab has plans to install more of these feeder cams around the country, but I sure hope so. I’d love to see one in the southwest for hummingbirds, and one in south Texas for the unusual tropical bird sightings. I’m betting the more folks that watch their existing cams, the more likely they’ll be to add new ones in the future, so click on over the this great cam today and enjoy some bird-watching from the frigid wilds of Canada!