Saturday, May 30, 2009

Backyard Birding at Sunset

The variety of birds at the feeders this evening was amazing! Starlings, Red Winged Black Birds (male/female), Brown Headed Cowbirds (male/female), House Finches, Gold Finches (male/female), Lesser Finches, House Sparrows (male/female)…a thug of a crow, and…*sigh*….pigeons galore. Still haven’t figured out how to deal with the pigeons. At first, we thought they were pretty and rather novel. That changed when one pigeon led to another…and then another…and before we knew it…we had a family of 20+.


house sparrow (female):

Brown-headed Cowbird (female):

Brown-headed cowvird (male):

American Goldfinch (male):

House Finch (male):

Red-Winged Blackbird (female):

Red-Winged Blackbird (male):

The weather is suppose to be spectacular (sunny and 30º C) all weekend so, on Sunday, we’re heading back to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Ladner, B.C. More pictures to follow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cuteness Overload : Fledglings @ the Feeder

After a rather long day at the office, I came home to a backyard fence lined with adorable little House Sparrow fledglings. Where one went, so did the rest of ‘em. A noisy bunch too.

I know the house sparrows receive a round of negative publicity in the United States and in parts of Canada, however, I do not see many of these at my feeders. The vast majority are either American Goldfinches, Purple Finches, or Red-winged Blackbirds.
If and when the house sparrows become a problem, I will deal with them accordingly by changing the variety of seed I use. I know, for one, they do not like the Nyger Seed so I may make a switch. We will have to see how it goes. For now, I will sit back and enjoy the fledglings.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Birds : In Focus

When my kids asked me what I wanted for my birthday, it wasn’t hard for me to think of something. I wanted a Canon Rebel XSi with a decent telephoto lens. I wasn’t asking for much, right? What’s approx. $1,200.00 between friends, right? They could have easily sold their toys for money, right? Well, considering my children are 8 and 4 years of age, it would have been a bit of a struggle for them (even with their dad’s help).

So, I gave them another option – a telephoto/wide angle lens kit for my Canon Powershot G7. A far more reasonable request, I thought.

Today, my boys presented me with a gift – something that fits perfectly on my Powershot. Can you see a difference? These finches would have felt my breath on their fine feathered necks (without the upgrade). Now, I just need a tripod…or a steady set of hands.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

About Me

When I was little, my dad and I would sit on the front deck of our rancher in Surrey, B.C., Canada, and watch birds come and go from the feeders my dad strategically placed in the yard. Back then, the yard was lined with trees and clamatis covered trellises ~ providing lots of landing/launch pads for many different species of birds. Every season brought a different variety and, in winter, my dad would set-up the big bird house in the center of the yard, next to the wishing well. As the snowflakes flew, the birds found comfort in our yard.

Sadly, the neighborhood I grew up in and called home up until my 18th birthday, had changed drastically over the years. Gone are the trees, replaced by larger houses with paved front yards.

In July of 2007, my dad passed away from Cancer. To honor his memory, I added a feeder to my own backyard the following Spring. Days gave way to weeks and not a single bird came to the feeder. We tried many different varieties of seed. Still. Only Silence.

One day, I was home, sick with the flu. As I sat at the kitchen table, looking out at the naked feeder, I looked up to the sky and said, “Dad, if you’re up there….send me a bird”.

An hour or so later…I heard it. The loud chirp of a red-winged blackbird. The very first visitor to my single feeder.

Now that I have two children of my own (both boys, 4 & 7 years of age), I can pass on the tradition my dad and I shared throughout my childhood….birdwatching. We grew our own trees and clamatis covered trellises and added a few more feeders to accommodate even more birds.

In addition to birdwatching, we, as a family, enjoy many other things together. Whether it’s reading, hiking, or going to the movies…we try to do as much as possible….together.

I will share the most remarkable observations here.