Search because it has a song...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Extra! Extra! A whole bunch of photos!

This sweet Red-winged blackbird is a fledgling! I will put up a video of him learning to fly tomorrow! It is so sweet, and he is so proud of himself....

Here are a few few shots from the feeders up around my place, and also of the Northern Ficker's nest...
Flicker bolts back to her nest after feeding on the paddle full of Suet we have hanging on our back porch. The male and both females feed regularly off of the feeder.
The feeders are shared by a variety of birds and no one seems to mind the other... like the Sparrow & House Finch for example...
This fledgling Starling makes a lot of noise when his mom is feeding, demanding to be fed like a big baby. She often feeds him. When she flies away, he hops back onto the feeder and feeds himself. I remembered that when I was a nanny, the kids often would rather I would feed them than feed themselves, like it was an exhausting effort to put spoon to mouth. Unless it was dessert, of course...
I am helping Eliza get her ETSY page up today, so I will just quickly post a bunch of photos of birds from all around Vancouver. Eli & I like to go junking. Actually for a while it was a bit of a compulsion. Now it's trendy and a lot of places we got cool stuff from have jacked up their prices. That's not so fun anymore. Even Value Village raised their prices to stupid levels - donated stuff, at inflated prices! Sure, in capitalist societies it's every money grubber for themselves, but when thrift shops raise their prices, and they want $500 bucks at the Sally-Anne because the levi's jacket has a big E, poor people can not dress nicely, not even in someone else's used give-aways.
Anyways, back on topic... We returned to the Great Blue Heron Colony to see if my lost cell was there. F(*&^. It wasn't... might go fully cell-less now. Seem to be saying I shouldn't have one since I have lost a cell about every 6 months or so.
It was raining so hard, but this guy just perched here on the driftwood that looks like a sign for I Love You... so it must be Bawlckey.
I haven't mentioned yet that there is a giant bunny population at Jericho. They live in the brambles... black ones, red ones, blonde ones, spotted ones, ones that look legitimately wild... right now, of course - because it's spring and these are bunnies there about a million babies! (Probably why this is also a place, where over which, you usually see an eagle or falcon flying...)
The geese are so sweet, I thought they deserved another look too. they look like dinosaurs when they are babies...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I did not know that.

When I was a kid my mom's mom lived with us from the time I was about three. Both of my parents worked full time jobs, so she was our guardian for most of the day during the week. One of the things I loved about her was that she loved watching TV. Carol Burnette was a favorite, and we used to think that we had a special bond with Carol, because as everybody who cares to know knows, Carol had a special relationship with her Grandma, Nanna I think she referred to her, and the whole ear tug at the end of the show was a holla! to her Nanna. So basically I was taught that TV was an example of good things and kindness and not much good for anything else.
I feel like I learned a lot of my compassion for animals from Johnny Carson, for example. I remember practically every animal Jim Hanson from the San Diego Zoo brought onto the show, and the little monkey that peed on his head was just one hilarious event that unfolded naturally before us on relatively real TV.
Jim would tell Johnny some obscure fact to which Johnny would respond his sincerest, "I did not know that." Oprah has her Ah-Ha moments- (which sounds annoying when anyone actually uses it besides her, or someone directly talking to her...) but Johnny has his I did not know that moments. I had one yesterday. And so begins today's post. Dedicated to Judy, leading us to a tradition in Stanley Park that I never knew about...

Judy, Eliza's mom came to visit last week and said she had been reading my posts on this blog and enjoying them. I think I had 2 at the time... A friend had mentioned that she should try to go see the Herons nesting across from the Sylvia Hotel in English Bay. Well one thing led to another and we didn't make it. Eliza and I both felt badly for not getting there with Judy, but made a point to get to it soon.
We decided to go yesterday afternoon, and I did a quick google search to see if anyone had mentioned anything about it so we didn't have to drive around looking for the area all day. Here's where my - i did not know that -moment happened-
Great Blue Herons have been nesting in Stanley Park in the exact same location, FOREVER. More than a hundred nests - together in one giant colony - high up, in TREES. If you don't look up, if you don't catch the yearly news coverage - you, like me have no idea this sight is even here! I immediately wondered who makes sure no one f#*@$ with them... Do the fireworks scare them out of their nests? Those annoying fireworks that continue to go off constantly in this city like we aren't in the middle of a climate crisis. At least we got rid of the Vancouver Indy. That was a nightmare each and every year for every corner of nature around these parts.
There is much protection surrounding The Great Blue Herons Of Stanley Park. There are also a ton of videos to check out on Youtube, or if you live in the city I suggest you go down there to get the full scale enormity of this Heron Colony.
Apparently they have been nesting there forever. There are MORE THAN 100 nests, all in only about 14 trees or so. In one tree, there were 8 giant nests! Here's the little video we made when we went yesterday. So enjoy the photos! It looks more like a colony of pteryodactoyls nesting, according to my Flinstones field research, but see for yourself.
Oh ya. and if you happen to go down there, and find a cell phone, I lost mine and really need it back! :)
There were a few shells on the ground already, so lots have already hatched. The eggs aren't much bigger than a goose egg, way smaller than an ostrich egg. I set it on a fence post for scale... My photos aren't nearly as good as the ones the Stanley Park Ecological Society have, so go there and take a closer look if you like.
And Happy Sunday!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Finally sun, so fotos!

Today was a another spectacular day on the planet, if you got to enjoy this day in Vancouver, especially.
We went out early with the dogs and headed to our favorite place. We brought a jug of crushed sunflower seeds and some shelled peanuts...

It took no time at all for them to recognize us, dogs and all and start landing for breakfast. I guess with a nest full of babies you consider doing a lot of things you wouldn't normally do for sunflower seeds and peanuts, when you are a Red-winged Blackbird.
All this time we thought it was a rarity for them to have fed from our hands in the winter. Now they try to land on me before I even have the seeds out of the jug and in my hand!
The fledglings are so cute, so awkward and their wings vibrate with anxious excitement. They see the mama land and want to do it so badly, but they are way too afraid. Which is great. The babies should be left alone by humans. We NEVER touch the birds. EVER. They land on our hand, and eat the proper safe clean food and leave when they want to.
There is a respect we have for them, and don't try to tame them or pet them at all. We just stand very still and let them eat, like we are human bird feeders.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May: Northern Flicker Report 3

The birch tree now has foliage, but it was bare when all this started. The flickers are very busy in the nest across the street. I am certain they are sitting on eggs, there is always someone in the cavity. They feed on our suet paddles at each shift change. They seem to take turns about every 3 hours roughly.
They have a definite habitual pattern to their day, and rain or shine they are shift changing and rotating. One thing I can't clearly make out is whether or not the two females are in rotation together or if he works both nests. I will see if there are two females there at once, but if they alternate between the male, I have no real way of differentiating.
When I was younger, my mom -spiritual teacher that she is- gave me a book written by Anne Cameron, called Daughters of Copperwoman. It's special book to say the least, with a lot of ponderable goodness throughout.
Like, "The only surviving census came from memorizers of the warrior society; from their perspective, a man had multiple wives, whereas the woman memorizor's view was that several women shared one husband." It's more than just a respect/ownership thing. Less about power, more about survival. I wonder how the Flickers feel. Does he have 2 wives, or do the females share one husband? because it looks like the females share one husband. Most of the mating ritual was between the females.
They danced through the branches of the birch tree tirelessly for weeks. He only came to watch their display during this time, there was no mating. That started after the dance between the females.
I haven't had time to thoroughly discover where the second nest is. It's close and down the back alley, but there are a few cavity nests in the hydro poles and I haven't seen any traffic to or from any of them yet. But I know there is one, because those eggs were taken with deliberate speed and to the same place each trip - not random drop sights. After the eggs were moved, there was another round of mating, my guess is to the second wife. And I think the second wife is in this tree.
What makes all this even more interesting, is that this egg moving business is a totally brand new discovery. No one has seen it, made any record of it, and we have video! 2 videos, actually.
When they were mating, the females bobbed their heads and flitted with each other around the birch for more than a week. If they were in between dances, they would rest together on the same limb. They would fly off together darting through the trees and around the rooftops. They would circle around their nest and the other one a block away and then fly back, both landing high in the bare tree, screaming for the male to come quickly, which he always did.
These days there is only some chatter in the wee morning hours, like around 5:15 AM. The it's all quiet, except for the changing of the guard... The shift changes go like this: She flies up and lands near the nest. He pokes his head out and sees her. He flies out and to either the roof or the suet paddle. She immediately lands on the nest entry-hole and hangs there a second before going inside. They know the Starling had been in and out of there during their mating dances. Now there's no chance for that to happen, because there is always someone in it or on the cavity hole!
After the shift change, she sits for about an hour and then he returns. She knows he is coming about a minute or two before he gets to the tree, so he must call and I just can't hear it - or they have a tight agreement.
He lands in the top of the tree and waits, her head poked out of the hole. He makes his way down to the cavity, limb by limb hopping down to her. He hangs on the hole as her head is poked out and then she flies away, always to the roof or the suet paddle, then to the other nest or yet one more location they come from across the street and south a block.
This is the female going into the nest. This is actually immediately after the second time they mated. She hangs outside on the cavity entry after mating, and those fluffy white feathers are all exposed, I like to make comments to Eliza like, look who has her knickers down again...
I am choked that I am still having trouble loading the videos onto this blog. I have been trying all day again and it always fails...
I love my desktop, but I worry her days are numbered... please hold out until afford to replace you, sweet eve. That's what I call my computer. And I called her that WAY before Wall-E. I called her that because she , eve, my Mac, is the mother of all creation. Which has nothing to do with evolution and everything to do with art...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

FEATURE: Random Bird Videos

As I mentioned in a previous post, Vancouver artists often use crows as subjects in their work. I forgot that I did too, I mean not just in my photography... Years ago, 3 friends & I made a short film for the Vancouver 24hour Film Contest, called PONTYSOUP. It's a silent film over music selected by the contest that we had to incorporate it into our movie. The only sound - a bunch of squawking crows! I had forgotten all about their cameo in our film...
I also noticed this really cool statue in North Vancouver a few months ago. The name of the statue is Out/Look and if you are interested in public art, here's a great link you can go to and look through all the installations around and about North Vancouver. The gal on the line when I called there was really helpful, so a shout out to Laurie at
I remembered the Pontysoup crows because I loaded a video onto Youtube I wanted to post onto this blog from my iPad, but am having technical difficulties. So if you want to see the cute Red-Winged Blackbird guy at Jerry's Cove, sorry ma - but you'll have to click here. Until I finally figure it out, or Blogger doesn't take an eon to upload it. :)

Also, a little off topic - here's the cutest bird video I have seen on Youtube in a while... mainly because of the sweet commentary... it's called Amazing Bird Fishes By Himself . Honestly, the cute man narrating is just awesome, and the bird is a real schrewdy...
A few days ago Eliza and I were coming back from walking the hounds, and we heard a serious ruckus on the roof of our building. Something Seagull sounding. So I climbed up onto the roof, and here's what I saw... Gull Fight Club I know mom, another click away from my page, but I'll keep working at the problem until it uploads onto this one!
I have no idea what the Gulls were doing. The one had the other guy by the beak for so long and just stood there... The Gull in these these photos looks a little like a rare Gull I noticed in the back of my Birds Of Canada, called a Slaty-backed Gull. I have seen a few of these around, and wondered it they were in fact here from Japan because of the terrible earthquake, horrific tsunami, and now, f(*&^ing nuclear crisis. No doubt, wings are an asset there right now.
The other night we went to the beach and I got a nice video of this Great Blue Heron eating minnows or something. He caught quite a few while we watched, until a frisky yellow lab pup played chase the giant bird...
I will post a link to that if I can't post it here. This photo will have to do for now. Just imagine him dunking his head under the water and coming out with a fish!
The Mallards have babies floating all over the surface of the pond and they are so cute. The moms and dads were all grooming in the last few moments of sun on the water, it was really pretty...
I hope tomorrow will be a more successful day of uploading videos...
The Ornithology Department at UBC is into my Northern Flicker video of them moving the eggs, it's a real discovery and they also like my Flicker pictures! Which is cool. It makes me sort of scientific without all the thinking and equating... or credibility...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What a palmful of sunflower seeds will get you...

One of the first sights & sounds of spring, is the spectacular and magnificent Red-Winged Blackbird. They are loud, happy and songful. At first glance you might think that the male has all the decor, all the flare and personality... but behind every successful man is a beautiful and more successful woman- in a lot of cases, so they say...
Jill's car stinks like something dead this morning so I drove her to work so I could take it in and clean it for her. We aren't sure what the heck is under the dog blankets in the backseat, but we are going to find out as soon as I post today's story. So starts today, and why we drove to the beach with the dogs in the middle of the week- I had the car. We decided to go to Jerry's Cove and see the birds. Jill left a bag of shelled sunflower seeds in the front seat so we carried those to the pond.
We often attempt to hand feed the Red-Winged Blackbirds, unsuccessfully except for 2 rare moments where Eliza fed a male, and a few months later, I fed a female. We are careful to get the proper food for the birds we feed. We do not feed the ducks bread like I did when I was a kid, apparently it's not good for them. Now we buy duck food or seeds & nuts. I reached into the sunflower bag and grabbed a palmful. I barely had my arm out stretched when the first bird landed...
She landed with no hesitation and stuffed her beak full with seeds. A few other females hovered over me waiting for their turn to land. They were very respectful of each other and took turns filling their beaks to the brim before flying off. If you want a closer look at the pictures I post, just click on them and they enlarge... This was the first close-up look at these gals we have ever had! They have a wonderful orange smudge on their shoulders, well some of them do, their markings are so beautiful.
We stood there feeding them for about twenty minutes before walking the dogs around the rest of the park.
Eliza feeds the hungry nesting mothers. We saw a few fledgling Red-Winged Blackbirds in the reeds near the bridge. We left a handful of seeds on the railing for them. It must really work up an appetite learning how to fly, and teaching someone to fly. Why are baby birds almost twice the size of their parents? Can you imagine if that were true fro everything that hatched out of an egg? Giant Eagles, turtles & alligators...
So we ran out of seeds and I have another errand added to my day. Once you start feeding a few birds, they seem to really make a point of letting you know that you now have a new responsibility. I learned to keep a balance with Bawckey, my backyard wild crow pet. Our pets are on the raw food diet, and I was giving Bawckey the leftover cat food - because it was too expensive to waste and not to name names, but Pippi (our cat) is Picki. Anyways, I would set out the cat dish and this one crow would eat it. I went away for a few weeks and when I came back, Sparrow (my dog) & I were on our way to the coffee shop, he swooped down and scolded both of us. So now he only gets fed occasionally. I save those leftovers and then every once and a while I feed him, like once a week or twice. But the bird feeders on the other hand feed a lot of different guys, so we try to keep that full. And the suet paddles are there for the Northern Flickers, and monopolized by the Starlings - who happen to be Jill's faves.
I just have a thing for the Red-Winged Blackbirds right now though. The day Eliza fed her first one, I told my mom about it and she mentioned hearing something about them in the news that day. Turns out that this particular bird has a strange phenomenon surrounding it. One that worries me and gets my head thinking about the conspiracy to hide the real facts about why, thousands of these birds spontaneously fell from the sky, more than once. Fireworks? I doubt it. And this isn't the first time it has happened... I am glad our friends at the Cove are safe for now. I shudder when I think that this happens to be located on some pretty valuable real estate. Our country is not as protected as we all like to think. Our National Parks are in jeopardy, they are over used and under funded. No one should ever have to fight to protect nature, it should be protected naturally.
If no one wants corporations polluting our water and our precious ecosystems, how do they continue to do it? I personally want to try to stop all of this planet raping from continuing in my neck of the woods. I was part of an International Greenpeace demonstration a few years ago, well more than a few now - but groups of us all over the planet were trying to get corporations to listen by just collectively boycotting one company and showing them all that we had the power and wherewithal to pull it off. A group of us simultaneously walked onto ESSO gas bars and chained ourselves to the pumps and asked folks to buy their gas somewhere else. It was the first time I had participated in something that would certainly lead to my arrest. It was an interesting study in human behavior. We were calm and peaceful, but many of the customers got really defensive. A lot of them were shouting that the climate crisis threat was all a bunch of crap made up by tree huggers like Greenpeace. It's so funny how someone can shout something at you and actually think it's insulting, "TREEHUGGER!" Anyways, I was arrested and thrown in the slammer. But that's another story.
Now to find out what died/is dead in the backseat of Jill's car... Have a nice day, if you are so inclined.