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Glenn Eastman — obituary

EASTMAN, D. Glenn 1934-2024 On Friday, April 12, 2024,...

A pair of poems for spring

Editor's note: Chris Cavan sends these reflections...

Diana’s Quiz – April 13, 2024

by Diana Filer 1.  What device in effect...
Science & NatureWhat is That?What Is That … Bird in France?

What Is That … Bird in France?


We recently escaped the lingering vestiges of winter by visiting the Normandy region of north-western France and sailing up the Seine River to Paris.  During this adventure we observed and photographed many species of birds that are common in France.  As with other trips abroad, many of the birds we saw reminded us of birds we see at our cottage on White Lake.

The Common Blackbird is resident throughout France.  This medium-sized member of the thrush family grows to a length of 24 centimetres, similar in size to our American Robin.  This photograph is of an adult male with his characteristic yellow/orange bill.

The Common Chiffchaff is very common throughout France.  This drably coloured member of the warbler family has distinctive black legs whereas its close relatives have pink/brown legs.  Like the majority of warblers we see around our cottage, this species grows to 11 centimetres in length.

The European Goldfinch is similar in size to the American Goldfinch we see often at the cottage, growing to 12 centimetres in length.  However, the European Goldfinch has only one band of yellow across its wings.  Its most distinguishing feature is its red face and white cheeks.  This member of the finch family is common throughout France.

The Western Jackdaw is the smallest but possibly most vocal member of the crow family and is common throughout France.  Adults grow to 32 centimetres in length.  Their smaller size and light-coloured iris distinguish them from the four other species of the crow family that are found in France.

The Common Pheasant, which is a species of game bird introduced for hunting from elsewhere in Europe, occurs throughout lowland France.  Its populations are boosted each year with releases of young birds.  Adults can grow to 90 centimetres (including their long tail feathers).  This species was introduced to North America where it is called a Ring-necked Pheasant although we have yet to see any around our cottage.

The Rock Dove, also called a Feral Pigeon, is abundant in lowland areas throughout France.  It is an average-sized member of the pigeon and dove family with adults growing to 32 centimeters.  Their plumage can vary dramatically from those pictured here to include combinations of white, grey or black with purple or green sheens.  This species, one of five species of pigeon found in France, was introduced to North America and is now common throughout the continent, including Lanark.

Many of the species of birds we saw in France were familiar to us.  In addition to recognizing Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, and Herring Gulls in France, we also recognized species that were introduced to North America from Europe. The four new species of birds we saw in France were fairly easy to identify since they bear a clear resemblance to species belonging to the same families of birds that we see at the cottage.  Becoming familiar with the traits of various families of birds we find in Canada make it easier to identify birds while abroad.

We relied on James Lowen and Aurelien Audevard’s Birds of France and iNaturalist to identify the birds we photographed while touring around France.




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