Foam Lake Birding No. 160

No. 160
            It has been awhile since my last article but surgery and subsequent recovery have caused me to delay my efforts in this regard.  Things are still going to be sporadic for awhile but I do hope to get into a routine in a month or so. 
            In the last several weeks there has been a flurry of bird activity in our yard.  There have been the usual White Crowned Sparrows, White Throated Sparrows, Pine Siskins, Juncos, Chickadees, Red Breasted Nuthatches and House Sparrows to name a few.  At the same time there have been an unusual number of uncommon (not rare) birds also.  These include Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Blue Jay, Red Crossbills and Ruby Crowned Kinglets. 
            I wanted to get a picture of the Hermit Thrush but was unable to do so.  My wife though managed to get a couple of decent shots of a pair of Ruby Crowned Kinglets feeding in our chokecherry tree.  The process was quite difficult as the birds were constantly in motion and before they could be zeroed in the range finder they were gone..  To add to the problem the day was heavily overcast which caused focusing problems as digital cameras need good light to get crisp pictures. 
            There are two kinglets in Canada, the Ruby Crowned and its smaller cousin the Golden Crowned, and both are present in our area.  They are related to Old World warblers and are our smallest of birds save for the hummingbirds.  The Golden Crowned is more of a conifer lover and can be seen in our area during spring and fall migration.  On the other hand The Ruby Crowned has nested right in town in the mature spruce trees by the RCMP station.  When my wife and I went on our evening walks we would stop there and listen to the male sing.  What is so extraordinary about its song is the sheer power of it for so small a bird.  Upon first hearing it one would expect to see a bird about the size of a robin.  Because of its diminutive size and green colouration the kinglet is hard to spot in a tree and the song seems to emanate from the tree itself. 
            Although rather nondescript it does have one field mark that readily separates it from similarly coloured warblers and flycatchers.  Overall it has a drab greenish topside and whitish underside but with prominent white and black wing bars.  The white bars are higher up the shoulder immediately followed by a black bar just below the lower one.  No other bird has such wing bars.  During breeding season the male's ruby crown is sometimes displayed further confirming identification. 
            In the two photos a Ruby Crowned Kinglet is feeding in the manner described above,  One photo shows the kinglet flitting ; the other shows the kinglet perched and reaching up the underside of the leaves for gnats and other small insects.  Although the pictures are not that crisp the wing bars are clearly visible in the photo of the perched bird.  Refer to a bird book for further field marks.