Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Backyard birding

I love spending the summers in Richmond, because we see so many different birds than where I stay during the school year outside Montreal. Richmond is flat, marshy, and relatively open, as opposed to Terrasse, which is smack in the middle of a deciduous forest with lots of dense conifers in our yard.

Our strata in Richmond doesn't let us feed birds anymore (shake fist) so we don't get the variety we used to. But we have a regular troop of chickadees that come through, sometimes accompanied by a few ragtag juncos or bushtits. We have cedar waxwings that pick through the hedges, and the barn swallows and tree swallows like to wake me up with their buzzy singing from the eaves outside our window. We often hear the strange call of the flicker in the evenings, and I have been lucky enough to see a pair of golden-crowned sparrows hopping through the grass. Down the street a few blocks is a wide, undeveloped chunk of meadow patrolled by a huge red-tailed hawk. There are often up to five bald eagles riding the thermals over the Buddhist temple nearby. And my mother has told me that in the winter, hungry Coopers hawks perch in the trees around the backyard and eye the cats when she sits outside with them.

I took these photos of some cheeky chickadees a few weeks ago. They seem to have little fear of the cats; they'll perch in the lilac tree just a few feet away from what are supposed to be their predators, scolding and calling and fluttering back and forth from twig to twig. The poor cats go nuts, chattering and mewling, but their hunting skills have been dulled by domestication (and probably inbreeding) and they get no farther than pacing underneath the lilac.

Yesterday afternoon I was taking some more pictures of a necklace I was trying (which I ultimately scrapped; it didn't feel right to me) and a young chickadee and its parent landed in the lilac bush. The baby was squawking and fluttering its wings pathetically but the poor mom or dad seemed pretty harassed, and picked at some dead flowers before taking off, junior in tow.

This morning, I was outside doing, what else, photographing some new pairs of earrings that will go up today or tomorrow. I heard Llewellyn chattering behind me as the high pitched trills announced the arrival of a small crew of dark-eyed juncos. Unfortunately I didn't have my zoom lens on and I knew if I ran upstairs to get it the juncos would be gone, so my pictures didn't turn out very well at all. But you can see the dark head which makes this Oregon junco a different subspecies from the slate-coloured junco we get out east, which is entirely grey.

Also, it is completely irrelevant to this post, but I am badly craving a ham and cheese sandwich. My dad is picking me up for dim sum in twenty minutes, so hopefully I can survive until then.


  1. Awesome pictures...I think you really captured their cheekiness...

    And in answer to your question, yes, he's a professional clown...He used to perform with Ringling Bros.

  2. Lovely shots. Oh birdies, too cute :)


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