Archive for bird watching

The Mourning Show

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 31, 2011 by davegerry

As I sit here writing this a mourning dove is cooing somewhere outside my window. It’s a gorgeous sound and it brings back so many memories of growing up in the middle of one of North America’s great migratory flyways.

I missed the sweet birds of my youth when I moved to the West Coast. Oh, there are lots of birds there but the most spectacular ones, like the bald eagles which congregate in great numbers , are somewhat difficult to embrace on a personal level. Nature is so routinely big along the Pacific rainforest that if you’re not careful it’s liable to swoop right down and scoop up your Shih Tzu !

I had a drink with a new Ontario neighbour a few days ago and while we were sitting there on the back porch enjoying the view of her summer garden a cardinal landed in one of her apple trees. I hadn’t seen a cardinal in more than fifteen years. I got a little thrill.

I remember cardinals gathered in the snow around our bird feeder in December and it always seemed like nature was embracing the Christmas spirit by decking all that white with those sudden bursts of red.

Bird watching is an all-consuming passion for some. They travel great distances and go to corresponding expense to log their sightings and build their ornithological resumes. I’m content to let it come to me. A cardinal in an apple tree and a mourning dove outside my window. I’m good.

A Bird of a Different Colour

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 18, 2010 by davegerry

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.