A Bird of a Different Colour

The bird feeder is once again brimming and I am sitting at the kitchen table longing for something colourful on the wing.

It’s the wrong season and the wrong part of the country for that, of course. Vancouver, despite is its splendiferous natural backdrop is severely challenged when it comes to offering an array of brilliant backyard birds. It’s the same thing with butterflies in the summer.

I was spoiled by growing up in the centre of one of the great North American flyways..a pocket of Carolinian forest that was like living in the middle of an aviary. Scarlet tanagers. Indigo buntings. Wood ducks. Wow. And, of course, in the winter, a Cardinal at the bird feeder was a stunningly reliable splash of scarlet. What I wouldn’t give to see a Cardinal now.

But the birds at my feeder now are uniformly grey…just like the skies above. There are Sparrows and Juncos and Chickadees but no show stoppers. Once in a while a Flicker will zoom in providing a bit of drama. Steller’s jays can put on a show.  A couple of times a Pileated woodpecker has graced the yard and that is truly a memorable moment. But generally it’s dullsville out there. I look forward to a spring full of Goldfinches…and the Hummingbird buzz bombs of summer are still a thrill. But winter on the west coast is a time to do your ornithological duty by providing some sustenance when food is scarce. You have to be content with an earth tone display.

Right now, the neighbourhood cats who daily stalk the fence line are the most colourful chorus line in town.


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