Steve posted an event on his Facebook page. I attended high school with Steve from 1970 until 1973, when we graduated and I moved north, back to Canada, while most of my peers from Great Falls, Montana, ended up moving to Montana Universities. This guest speaker event sponsored by Swan Valley Connections, appealed to me from the moment I saw it, probably because I’ve watched a Bald Eagle family nesting in a very special spot on the edge of the Bow River for going on eight years. I have learned so much from these beautiful raptors over the years, but realize after last evening, that I have so much more to learn.
Kate Davis lives in the Bitterroot Valleyin Western Montana and is an acclaimed photographer, steward, educator, writer and presenter who has studied and educated the public about Raptors for years. Kate’s biographical notes can be found here.
Steve lives in Condon, Montana in the Swan Valley, a wonderfully rich ecosystem and landscape teaming with multiple species of mammals, fish, birds, plants and trees and raptors. I am really grateful to Steve for posting and hope to be included in future Swan Valley Connections events.
Kate has written several valuable books/resources and is truly, an expert in this field of study. As a result of this presentation, I will be picking up some of the books as they will be helpful in my identification of a variety of raptors and to further my knowledge in the behaviours and abilities of these. When I capture photos of hawks, while circling my place at the river, I always have to share them to the group, Alberta Birds, because I am unable to make a proper identification without the help of others.
The evening’s talk was riddled with rich narratives coming from Kate’s memories and research, but interspersed were the introductions to three raptors that live with Kate
I am always one to be concerned with the shrinking habitats of species along the Bow River and the horrendous impact the development of the Southwest Ring Road has had for our local populations of birds, mammals and other species.
Next, we met Sibley. Sibley is one of 18 non-releasable and falconry birds that live in enclosures next to Davis’s house, and this evening, was present IN Kate’s house. What a profoundly beautiful creature!
And finally, we met Owen, the Sawet Owl. Most entertaining was Kate’s ability to make the various calls of owls. This was such an entertaining and informative presentation. While Covid-19 keeps us from an authentic connection, we are blessed that technology brings us into space with one another in a different way. I am so thankful to the Swan Valley Connections for making this happen. Ramona, and some of my birder-friends from the Bow River would enjoy such as this and I’ll make certain that I invite them in enough time to connect for future presentations.
65% of Raptors do not live their first year. They are hit by cars. They go hungry, finding it difficult to locate and kill prey that ‘doesn’t want to get caught’. Their struggle to breed and raise young in primarily hostile environments is extraordinary. The fact that I am blessed enough to watch our Bald Eagle family so regularly is a true gift. If eagles are not stressed, they will live for forty years. That is just so absolutely amazing.
Kate’s primary message to the public is not necessarily to get the big work done in terms of the protection of these species (although that would be nice)….but, her message is to GO OUTSIDE and when you do, leave your cell phones behind.
I feel a bit of a cold coming on. Max and I just returned from the river and I’ve had two pieces of toast slathered with peanut butter and raspberry jam and I’m presently sipping my third and last cup of coffee.
Before heading to the studio, I want to write a brief post to acknowledge just how beautiful it was to visit the river, in the rain. Every day brings its shift in weather and atmosphere and every day brings to mind a different perspective, colour and life force. I am just so grateful.
At the prompting of my friend, Nina Weaver, I read, with great attention, the first chapter of John’s gospel and I felt, as I read, that I am getting stronger over these difficult days. Restorative yoga has been very beneficial to me, in the fact that daily, I am more conscious of breath…taking in healing and releasing suffering. It’s a bit of a daily prayer for me now. Life will always be different, without my brother’s booming voice being a part of it, but let’s face it, I carry him with me. And so, today, I will bring him with me, into the studio to paint.
Watching the birds at the pond and now the river, is such a part of my mental, emotional and spiritual health. I can not explain to my readers how entering into the watchfulness and presence of such vulnerable creatures is healing and even sustaining. Focus moves away from self and ego and returns to the other…and to what is necessary to wholeness and health. I am inspired every day.
Why did I decide to post today? Well, I gain much through the act of writing, the practice of writing. I don’t want to lose touch with that. It was very hard to be caring for brother at the same time as my computer sunk like a stone. Yes, I filled some journal pages and I wrote in the margins of my Bible, but writing didn’t feel as available through that period. Writing allows my heartache to tumble out, releasing a particular tension. I don’t want to take the purchase of a laptop for granted, just as I never want to take the act of painting for granted again.
First to come in the spring, were the Magpies. Then, the Canada Geese, the Mallards and the Common Goldeneyes. At the same time, before snow left, the Robin’s song could be heard. The House Sparrows gathered once again, in a flurry, at my back yard bird feeder. European Starlings, Common Mergansers, Red Necked Grebes and more. My friends at Frank Lake have photographed so many gorgeous birds. At my river, I don’t see the American Avocets or the Stilts. However, I have been amused and in love with interactions with these birds in the past. I am very much about staying close to home these days; my energy is still quite low and so, I certainly don’t look for places to go or things to do. The next few photographs represent a few of the birds I’ve enjoyed this spring and ones that have built up the life force within me.
You may wish to click on the image to enlarge. As well, here are two photographs of Mr. as he returned to the nest with a fish off of the Bow River. For those of you know me, I don’t know how to pan, so the fact that I managed even two poorly focused images of Mr. in flight, is quite an accomplishment. Have a beautiful day!
It has been a cool and wet few days in Calgary, even to the point where we received a skiff of snow in September! I was cautioned that I had no room remaining on my cell phone, so yesterday I downloaded from my album onto my desktop hard drive. The thing about downloaded photographs is that I was, once again, reminded that life has sped by, filled to the brim, even in the most simple or dark circumstances. There is so much that I haven’t written about or recorded.
I’ve read several books since spring and would really like to update my reviews, even if they are sparse. So, that will likely still happen. But, for today, I feel my thoughts are incredibly influenced by the book I am presently reading, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. It is my new favourite book. I am profoundly moved by it and I’m hanging on every word.
As a result of this reading, I want to post a few photographs from recent walks at the Bow River. Yesterday, Max and I headed out in the rain.
When the earth is wet, there is such a rich and beautiful aroma that surrounds me while passing through the woods and beside the river. I am at a loss for words to describe this because any description would not do the experience justice. Also, there is a hush, apart from the drops of rain coming down from the tree canopy…it is a mystical silence…peaceful, even though I know that the entire landscape is vibrating with life in hiding.
Yesterday, stepping about in tall overgrowth, Max and I took pause…listened. I heard a hollow clomping sound on round river stone, just to our right. Uncertain, we remained still. I held my breath and listened. Max was alert. I was alert. A few more steps. Stop. A few more. Stop. When once we began again, with a great explosion, a young deer sprung out and wildly flew deep into the trees. Max erupted into a fit of barking and it felt like everything around us woke up!
I watched the juvenile Bald Eagle, an Osprey, a Hawk, Cormorants and Pelicans all struggle to find sustenance. It was so amazing to watch the dynamic and to appreciate the effort involved. At a point, the Bald Eagle, displaying his remarkable wingspan, swooped down upon an American Pelican. He is not yet adept at his hunting and is frequently cutting corners by having others do his work for him. Similarly, he dove into a gathering of Cormorants, investigating the possibility that there might be food among the opportunists.
The Osprey, tucked secretly in the dark shadows of trees, swooped out aggressively, in order to give chase to the Hawk…crying out desperately as he flew so fast that I couldn’t identify him. He had shared the east side of the river with me for a while, tearing into the hedges and thick shrubs and sage, likely in pursuit of rabbits and other small animals. There was never a chance to get a good photograph.
The Bald Eagle juvenile was looking intently from his low perch, at these Killdeer…there were scores of them across the river from me. If you’ve heard a single Killdeer, you may understand why the Bald Eagle is drawn to a location where twenty…maybe thirty…are calling out.
Can you spot two in the photograph below?
Can you spot the Osprey here?
I have watched the eagles for a little over a year now…given Michael’s prompting to leave the pond during the rip and tear of the Southwest Ring Road development. I am so grateful for the life I have been able to observe at this location and for the healing experience this daily walk has begun in me. As I write this post, I am feeling very blessed for a whole lot of reasons. I hope that if my readers feel sometimes that life, like a sweater, is unraveling, one source of divine life and love can be found in an intimate relationship with nature. I know that it’s helped me. Here are a few other moments with the raptors this year.
I have been blessed by my walks at the river this weekend…I keep saying to myself, through winter, I don’t want to forget the purple. I don’t want to forget the gold and red. I will carry it with me.
The past three days, we have been pulled out of the deep freeze and into a melt. I can not walk through the tall woods at the river, without hearing the constant mating thrums of Northern Flickers and without seeing the wild flurry as males, out of urge and instinct, chase the females, dodging in and out of branches. I can hear the echoing drum of the Pileated Woodpecker on the opposite side of the river and thrill to see my Alberta Birders’ archives of the splendid colour, later, on my computer at home. It is as though everything has come to life, suddenly. For so long, the world slept.
It all began with the Magpies. My neighbourhood, even as snow mounted on our quiet circle, was abuzz with the squawking gathering of dead branches that were tightly woven into the growing bulb of nests, peppering the remaining Elms.
Evenings, I stood in contemplation while the adult Bald Eagles, flew west and east and west and east, gathering up lining materials and tall grasses, returning again and again to the nest that was clearly visible all winter long. The juveniles have mostly disappeared, leaving the two regal raptors to forge out a life for the new. It has been an intimate and powerful encounter to watch these families throughout such a harsh winter.
While these aren’t the best of shots, I have a wee archive of the interesting approach to gathering. I can only imagine living in one of the ‘big’ houses along the ridge and having access, every day, to such wonder, just outside my windows.
I celebrate, every day, the access I have to such wonder. I really can only equate it all to an experience of grace. My friend, Michael, is someone who knows and understands what I mean by that. A person just wants to sing, at the top of their lungs…”HOLY! HOLY!”
Whether one enjoys the nesting behaviours of an eagle, or the simplicity of sparrows that nest in a stove vent…it is all so amazing.
Mr. & Mrs. 2018
As my children have become adults, I have experienced a sense of loss. Some days my heart feels empty. But, then I step out into nature and I observe what surrounds and once again, my heart sings. I am reminded that God made all of this for me. I am reminded that I need to take responsibility for such astounding beauty. Sometimes it can all be very brutal, but at other times, it is pure fragility and tenderness.
For a girl I know it’s Mother’s Day
Her son has gone alee
And that’s where he will stay
Wind on the weathervane
Tearing blue eyes sailor-mean
As Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler’s Green
His tiny knotted heart
Well, I guess it never worked too good
The timber tore apart
And the water gorged the wood
You can hear her whispered prayer
For men at masts that always lean
The same wind that moves her hair
Moves a boy through Fiddler’s Green
He doesn’t know a soul
There’s nowhere that he’s really been
But he won’t travel long alone
No, not in Fiddler’s Green
Balloons all filled with rain
As children’s eyes turn sleepy-mean
And Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler’s Green
Winter is oppressive this year. I consider myself to be fond of all seasons, including winter, but as the snowbanks grow, I am in awe of the challenges this weather brings. I have begun my journey of Lenten observances, but my Nativity display is still parked on the front yard, with no hope of being wedged out of the snow until some of it disappears. I would guess that the accumulation is somewhere around the three foot mark at this point.
I came upstairs this morning, put on the coffee and then decided to sit and finish reading I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism by Lee Maracle. Outside, the snow was coming down steadily and there was evidence that it had been piling up all night long. Maxman was okay to chill out with me and we both eased into morning, without any attachment to screens at all.
By 10:30, the book was finished and I felt completely depleted. Interesting that in the very last section, titled, Last Words, Maracle stated that most readers would have stopped by that point. I had hung in…decompressing at times, but certainly interested in the honest approach to dealing with the topics that other writers might easily skirt around. It was a difficult book, heart-breaking in so many ways…only 140 pages, compact, intense but, most important for understanding.
I continue to be very moved by the journey and history of my indigenous brothers and sisters. With this reading, I received new revelations to the struggles…for women, especially.
This morning, the snow became a wall for me, insurmountable, while carrying the weight of the contents of this book. I thought that getting down to the Bow River might create respite from my own thoughts. Instead, I encountered the desperation of hungry animals.
My eyes seem to be wide open when I am at the river’s edge. I feel blessed that way.
The first thing I noticed was the gobble gobble sound of a male pheasant as he valiantly took flight, gliding quite a distance from the hill across from me. A scattering of snow and a coyote bounded from that same location, toward me and Max. I hadn’t even left the parking lot, at this point, and already spotted the female pheasant in a neighbouring shrub. She was going no where!
I was pretty certain that this coyote was one that I’ve been observing lately, easily identified by an evident limp and a mangy coat. As the weeks of bitter cold continue, a generous food source, in the way of mice, voles and such is becoming very challenging. The predators are looking gaunt.
Stepping onto the trail, into the deep woods, and along the dark turquoise river, I noticed canine tracks in the fresh snow, unaccompanied by any human presence. I looked down at Max and told him, “Let’s go another route today, Max.” As I took pause and looked up, there, only a few meters away, stood one of the juvenile Bald Eagles about half way up a tree. His back was hunched and covered in a transparent blanket of snow. As Max and I moved to go around his territory, he took flight, his huge wings opening up directly above us. Having taken the more traveled route, it wasn’t far and we met two of our friends, both intensely engaged in something else.
It took Max a short while to respond. I think he was curious, more than anything. But, out of nowhere, he let out a wild and crazy barking-frenzy and in response, nine deer took flight and bounded across the landscape. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have opportunity to react. The coyotes followed the deer, without hesitation.
A moment’s pause and then, slowly and methodically, three other deer appeared. I have a sense that these are the younger three and that the adults had reacted to Max’s barking. Is that possible? Dunno… Tentatively, these guys carried on in the direction of the action. Max and I headed north on the river.
I wondered about there even being a possibility that coyotes might feed on deer during the winter. I suppose if one were to fall ill or if the coyotes worked together, their clever approach to community-hunting might provide for a meal of venison. I just know that in the cold and the snow, I felt compassion for all…the pheasant, the eagle, the deer and the coyotes.
For years, I’ve logged on to a Live Eagle Cam at Duke Farms. I’ve just recently seen that a second egg has been laid at the nest. Last year, surprisingly, no eagles nested in that location. Tonight, the camera is capturing an adult sitting on the nest in a horrible snow storm…
The Struggle is Real. Please take a moment and check in.
Reading and then meeting Kyo MacLear affirmed, for me, everything that’s been formulating inside me the past several years…about birding, art, nature and life. Many things have formed me into this person who shows up at the Bow River around 10 on a winter’s morning, taking pause above the river and observing wildlife.
My friends and family wonder and ask…mostly not asking anymore, “What are you painting? Why don’t you paint?” and at those questions, I can only sit with who I am and be grateful for the grace of anything and everything that led me to this place where I find myself. As I drove up from the parking spot this morning, I just kept saying, aloud, “I love my life. I love my life.”
I will paint again. But, the truth is…painting was a lot about ego. It was a lot about around-the-clock commitment. It was about trying to balance full time work, raising children and keeping it all together. My stomach sometimes hurt as deadlines for shows approached. I was terrified in front of blank canvases. I couldn’t assert myself with dealers, set boundaries or say what I needed. I didn’t have money to buy those outfits that seem to be required if you are an artist, especially a female artist. Painting had lost its magic and so, when I paint again, it will be profound because it will be for all the right reasons, not for all the wrong reasons.
Doris McCarthy said, “Paint every day.” I think more about her as days go by, without painting, than anyone. She explained how those muscles work. She explained how time also rushes by. Doris was my friend and she gave me a lot of strength. I think about Doris when I know that I will physically paint again.
Now…did the painting really stop? I argue, “No”. I have been intensely researching my next body of work for years now…having painted about 15 panels related to a Covenant series, I then began to connect again with the landscape. It just happened. It happened at the reading of two poems, the first, The Wolf Between the Trees by George Bowering. I used his poem, with permission, embedded in the poem along with a cup full of ash…remains of personal papers I had burned in the studio. This is the painting…
and secondly, a tribute poem written by Paulette Dube for the Caribou. I’m including her words, here. I hope you will read them.
In the new days, magic was on the surface of things, the shine of it all, quick and bright and fast as new rivers.
Now Rivers winds Under Earth, has to be convinced, to play her deep song, entreated , to show herself.
The Celts call these « thin places », where the other side is so close, the veil shivers your arms as you reach through.
The First People travelled (sic) these sacred pieces of earth, to think on things in the presence of Creator.
I know them as mountains. I see them with my spirit eyes, walk them with blood and bone legs. They teach, as clear as bird song or scolding squirrel lesson, bracing as clean water through moss.
This alpine terrain is grey onion paper, thin as ash. Feet must be wide to avoid lace-like flower and moss, spider web and lichen. Be mindful.
The Creator’s ear is earth as we do not see it. Make joyous noise if you want to be herd. Get yourself a song and string from bone to bone, a home of light and wind.
She moves. She feels her calf, inside, taking nourishment from her own bones and teeth. The calf moves (as my son once did) deep in the dreaming place. The cow’s thickening body keeps the Small one warm, keeps him from hunger, keeps her moving.
Born where the dark forest gives way to lake, loon’s perfect call – silver sharp tremolo – traces the surface of this morning sky : clear as mountain water scythes the earth.
Loon calls from the lake face, that voice – shapes my form- coming through the trees.
The land reacts to our presence when we belong
Noise of a sow grizzly and her two cubs. To each a place, to each, a means of prayer and play. To each, the necessary silence.
Sacred whorl of grey and brown, blow open the gate. Allow a wild glimpse of self.
When you descend to leaf litter, feathered legs and all, you are an angel – touching Earth.
The engine that is me, hears the song that is you…
…coming together is a song I cannot bear for long. Satiated by my own irregular rythmes.
Promises shape who we are, what we will become –
His brow is unfurrowed. Streamlined, he walks the wind, easily.
Healing is water over stones, wind over grass, gaits – fearless.
Feral hearts wander – oblivious to fences of human design.
Survival embodies existence but – does not define it.
He moves through sunlight to scrub, deliberate – elemental – muscle.
Hummingbird hears colour – Coyote knows crack in a leaf is direction – Bear walks trail made of wind.
If Humans could once again divine the essential – would we find home ?
A candle in a church is a thing of beauty – a flame in the wilderness is a miracle.
Find something big to pit against – to throw loneliness into – Amid bone, snow and stone – caribou. The precious, the delicate of design – we live here.
Fire and earth – water and air – there is no room for anger.
Memories permit us to speak of things –
our heart tends to in the night.
The resulting painting, upon hearing this poem is posted below. The words to the poem are written into the painting. It was at this punctuation mark in my life, at this painting and the other, that I realized my painting would always be about ‘place’.
So, as an artist, what I’ve been doing ever since is sorting that out….the surface, the paint, collage, text, subject matter. It might take a lifetime to make sense of it. I don’t know. But, in the meantime, I am energized and interested and creative and LOOK! I write!
Everything I’ve been doing, in the sorting, has made for this wondrous life of mine. It’s taken me out into the landscape. It’s caused me to notice more. It’s manufactured poems, paintings, photographs and connected me with videographer, Liam of Beam Media and the photographer, Jack Breakfast.
And this morning, I met Doug Newman. It was after two cups of coffee at home and after two posts about books that I have read that I headed out into the cold with Max man. The roads were bad, so I decided to get us down to a parking lot that edges the Bow River and to explore the first wintry day on the river. There was only one other car in the lot…a man speaking on his telephone. Max and I headed out.
This is what I wrote once back inside the car…and after snapping four photos on my cell phone…and after turning up the heat and settling in with CKUA.
I didn’t bring a camera with me, but hiked the edge of the Bow River this morning. I watched a Bald Eagle fish, its wings, so powerful. Three times, it landed on tree tops to the left of me, by 200 meters. The geese, exhausted and resting, lifted off of the dark water, along with the cacophony of gulls each time the eagle dove toward the water. Two deer swam, gracefully, from this side and shook off like wet dogs, once arriving on the shore across from me. A perfect morning.
From an interview with Kyo MacLear, writer of Birds, Art, Life… this…
While typing that paragraph, I saw the gentleman leave his car, carrying a camera and sporting a huge lens. I watched, discreetly, as he took photographs. I saw him pan as geese took flight. I saw him quietly observe for quite a long time. Finally, as he turned to get back into his vehicle, I rolled down my window and we began to chat.
It turns out that Doug also posts photographs to Alberta Birds. We introduced ourselves to one another and I began to ask him questions about photography, equipment and we shared some of our ‘bird’ moments. It is such a pleasure to discover another birder along the quiet pathways of my every day. It was nice to experience his enthusiasm and his excitement. He opened up his photograph of a goose taking flight and I was in awe of the detail and the strength captured in that single image.
Teachers, when you have that short bit of time to observe a Live Eagle Cam with your class, log into one of these two spots and have your students make observations, write about the eagle behaviours, draw them, paint them…it’s so beautiful to watch!
Either today or tomorrow or the day after that, the eggs should hatch at Duke Farms.
The weather today has been quite lovely at Duke Farms in Virginia.
Horrible weather…sleet…rain…slush and wind in Decorah.
Grade twos made amazing observations of the eagles, rubbing off their chalk every time Mom changed her posture in the nest and began to sketch again. After the sketching practice, the students added their colour with different media.
The female eaglet, #1, has left the nest. She’s done a couple of flybys at the Duke Farm’s eagle nest and parents have been diligent about continuing to bring food to the nest, but our little guy, #2, is looking lonely. I first discovered #1 was going into the realm of fledging on Thursday at lunch. I had a preparation period and saw this all on my own. I actually had a tear because of the wonderful memories the grade threes and I have shared, watching the adults birth, hatch and raise their two young ones.
February 2015 Two Eggs
Here they are on April 19th.
This was the nest yesterday on June 13, 2015.
The student observations have been so beautiful, I’ve taken a selection of photos of some of their illustrations and recorded observations. These warm my heart…absolutely precious.
Hmmm…as I’ve been downloading the student observations, little lady has been back to the nest to feast on a fish that her mama just brought. Presently, she and her sibling are cuddling on a branch and clicking their beaks together. The biologists have indicated that she’s been doing a lot of flying today and might just hang out at the nest for the time being.Now, for the student observations…read their entries…they are beautiful.
At the Decorah Nest, their #1 of three fledged today! WHOOT!
I haven’t written many blog posts lately! I’m very busy teaching a four month grade three contract these days. I began the last week of February. I really enjoy my students, but we are super busy! Each student, taking on an altar ego and the mantle of a super hero means that school is a very busy place. When not a super hero, then there are always the roles of mathematician, engineer and wildlife biologist to fulfill! It’s a busy life we live.
As a result of all of the ‘busy’, my body flops onto the red sofa shortly after dinner and sometimes I even nod off. I just can’t even believe what heroes teachers are to take on such a huge part in children’s lives. Since retirement, I think I’ve become one of the most outspoken advocates of teachers I know. It’s one thing to support teachers in theory; it’s another to know and understand what they are living each and every day.
In the morning we have quiet focus time on the mat…I log onto Duke Farm’s Live Eagle Cam, much as I did during my grade one contract a couple of years ago. I made up a booklet that was grade specific, using the content provided for a higher level study. Duke Farms provides a wealth of information. This year we have two eggs on the nest and the weather has been brutal in the east. We have some sad moments as we observe female or male sitting until their own bodies are absolutely covered by snow. I think I captured a screen shot one day…yes…here’s the nest on March 1 and that snow crept up a few times so that only the adult’s beak was exposed. The children seem to be enjoying observing life on the nest and I am holding out hope that the eggs will successfully hatch over the coming week. Here are the blog posts directly from Duke Farms.
I have a few photos of my little nest, but it hardly captures the intensity of the space when the children enter and begin swirling through their day. There is never a pause. There is so much to learn.
In the morning, each morning, for just about ten minutes, I read aloud from the BFG by Roald Dahl. When I asked my adult daughter what she remembered about grade three, she told me that she remembered Roald Dahl and all of the wonderful books that he wrote. And so, just for wind down time, the children and I are sharing those words.
The BFG makes us laugh…and he shares some very intelligent, however nonsensical, words.
Books for inventions and schematics of every kind…this week…a dream making machine. INVENTORS!
Each pod of desks is a city in India (Mumbai and New Delhi) or the Ukraine (Kiev and Odessa) or Peru (Lima) or Tunisia (Tunis). The students are just getting their pavilions researched and constructed. This makes it very easy for calling up a rep from each city to pick up things or deliver things to their group. They share responsibilities and connect it to their place in the world. Sorry for the out-of-focus photo…will try to get a better archive. Most of the art has been collaborative to this point. This Klimt tree will be evolving over the seasons. A place to publish descriptive words and elaborative detail.
Students collect bling for all sorts of everything and post them on their plain-jane brown paper wrap Super Three frames. By end of year, these will be the most highly decorated frames in existence. The students are wildly motivated.
My brother and father both sent explanations of their military medals and ribbons so that I could share with the students what an honour it is to be decorated. I showed these to my students and explained what a sense of pride is felt with such achievements. They were very excited about the possibility, as Super Threes, of receiving such as these. While having gold star days are an every day occurrence, receiving a ribbon is more special and rare. I’ve got a huge stash of them and jot down the reason for each ribbon presentation on my note cards. The children have to then share with me what they are going to do to earn the next. Again, every child receives recognition and praise.
Our class medals and ribbons.Our gathering place.
We keep many different publications going…books of THREE (a place to look at why Three is such a powerful number), WHEN-THEN books When__________ (teacher provides an action) Then___________(what action results, giving students opportunities to explore how choices and results connect) and Save the Day booklets (students explore how they want to use their super powers for good).
The students are engineers. After the students tested for stability in a large, medium and short cylinder, they had opportunity to explore how to increase stability. Whoosh! They are some sort of inventors. At the end of the frenzy, they decided that the base of a structure should be wider and heavier and include some sort of connecting material in order to be more stable. :0)
Thanks to all of you peeps who have supported me and shared your wisdom. You know who you are! And, no, you won’t be seeing many updates! Now, “Come, MAX! Let’s go!”
Once the shoveling was done and Max taken care of, I put on a fresh pot of coffee, filled the bird feeders and sat down to watch the magic. One of my favourite things to do is to sit and enjoy nature while eating something…anything…like an apple or a piece of cheese or blueberries OR drinking something…like red wine or coffee or water. The taste buds are heightened outdoors and it is magical.
It wasn’t long and the word was out…likely a hundred sparrows landed at the back yard feeder. Surprisingly, they don’t tolerate my presence as well now that it’s cold, but the little darlings came and went and came and went while I sipped my steaming hot cup of coffee. At the front, the ‘three pilgrims’ were pecking underneath the feeder. People have told me to chase pigeons from the feeders…well, this family has been visiting my feeders ever since the spring as the grey fledgling was struggling to find his clumsy way. When something is struggling so hard to make sense of the world, how can you not appreciate the natural selection of things? It’s hard to reject any being in nature when so much is against them.
Every now and then when they get greedy, I chase them away, shaking a kitchen towel at them. Sometimes I wonder where they roost and why a zillion of their friends don’t join them. So far-so good.
Cold weather brings different friends and enemies to the bird feeders. Just recently, I’m seeing more chickadees, jays and northern flickers and a few days ago, I saw my first woodpecker of the season.
Do you remember when I was posting about Duke’s Farm’s eagle cam? I watch them routinely in the spring. This past season, I watched intently as there were three eggs that hatched. The grade ones that I was teaching at the time recorded notes about the three hatchlings each morning after prayer and O’ Canada.
Well, some time shortly after I left that contract, the eagle cam went down. As a result, I didn’t see the three youngsters fledge, but the monitors of the activities at the nest and the biologists making observations, left notes that assumed that they had fledged successfully after a very positive banding. Well, sad news to report recently and I’ll copy the notes right from the Duke Farm’s Eagle Cam site.
11/25/2014 Today the eagle camera is scheduled to be placed back in the tree and coaxial cable will be reconnected to conduct tests. Along with corrosion issues the camera and cable also appeared to suffer some damage from a surge or loose connection that melted an internal component.
10/20/2014 We have pulled down the eagle camera and found out the main issue currently appears to be a corroded connector. We will be cleaning/replacing the connectors and run tests and hopefully have the camera up soon again.
8/25/14 We are sad to announce news that one of our eaglets from this year’s nest was found dead at Sebago Lake, Maine after a fight with an adult eagle that was guarding a nest; From Conserve Wildlife NJ biologists discussions with biologists and observers in Maine;
“On July 27th the juvenile male, D-98, was found dead by residents of Little Sebago Lake, Maine. He was one of the three Duke Farms chicks banded on May 14, 2014 and assumed fledged in Mid-June.
While it is very sad news, such is the remarkable and frightening circumstance of life itself. I highly recommend that you join me this spring in observing the two majestic parents that will make a home of this same nest, regardless of the loss or successes of previous years. It is through vulnerability and struggle that we find our way. We have much to learn from watching birds. Lately I am feeling, more than ever, that it is essential that we slow down and make observations of the world that surrounds us. We must listen to the stories that nature is telling us.