Here is our very own native, North American ginger plant. This spicy plant is a digestive stimulant that relieves stomach pain. Native American uses include contraceptive tea. Unlike the ginger we buy in the grocery store to spice up our food, this plant is considered too dangerous for uneducated use. (Botany in a Day, Thomas J. Elpel)
These plant parts were collected & pressed on May 17, 2017
from the Beech-Maple Forest Region of Southwestern Ontario.
The forest floor of this particular woods was covered
with A. triphyllum & A. atroruben species.
In both size & appearance Merlins are similar to Sharp-shinned Hawks. I had ruled out Merlins as a possibility because my field guides indicate that in this part of Ontario they are migratory -- simply passing through this Beech-Maple area to Northern Hardwood country. It appears that these two uncommon birds have decided to stay. With deep gratitude, I wish them very good hunting! : )
According to my field guides, female hawks can be quite a bit larger than males -- but it's one thing to read this in a book and quite another to see in person. Today, I witnessed a very small hawk-like bird chasing off an American Crow, using the voice I have come to know. I was astonished at how much smaller the hawk was than the crow! I guess my mind wanted to hold onto a notion of birds-of-prey being large, in spite of what I learned from the pages in black & white. The Sharp-shinned is our smallest hawk here in the Eastern Bioregion.
Once hawk and crow disappeared, periodically the call was repeated, enough so that I could follow it to the source. Perhaps 800' from the tree where I originally saw this larger hawk, this time high up in a Cottonwood tree, two hawks perched. One a good 2/3rds larger than the other! And they called their call. Why am I only 99.9% sure these are Sharp-shinneds? The call has a higher pitch, with a slightly longer first note and quicker rhythm than the "Alarm calls near nest #2" voice on my Audubon Birds App. Perhaps this is a unique dialect for our Southwestern Ontario neighbourhood Sharp-shinned Hawks? : )
Apparently, in some populations juveniles make up 60% of all breeding females (The Birder's Handbook, p226). I have my eyes open for their nest -- perhaps in an old squirrel's or crow's nest way up high in the crotch of a conifer tree? Their young are born immobile, downy, and with eyes open (semialtricial 1). As nestlings they depend upon their parents for food. It takes about 23 days after birth before they are able to fly. This should give me plenty of opportunities to find & observe them. I'll keep you posted! : )
As an enthusiastic student of the natural world, I share my explorations of all that is wild with all of you — teacher, parent, and child!