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.

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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.



Fiddler’s Green
One, two, three, four, one, two
September seventeen
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
Oh nothing’s changed anyway
Oh nothing’s changed anyway
Oh anytime today
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

Today’s Birds: May 13, 2017

I should be out gardening.  I am typically well ahead of the neighbours, but with owwies in the elbow this year, I’m lagging.  That doesn’t stop me from feeling fired up, however, as I listen to the sound of the neighbouring trimmers, lawnmowers and the stchhhh stchhhh of their sprinklers.

It’s pretty nice getting outside for long hikes, without the lawn work, I’ve got to say.

Here are today’s birds…all at Frank’s Flats.  I continue to hope that the pond on the other side of the chain link fence isn’t drained until the fledge happens.  We’ve a lot of nesting water birds at the moment.  We have one widowed Goose (female, I think), as well as a widowed Mallard (male).  They were hanging out together for quite a bit today. However, as I snapped a photograph, the Mallard flew out of frame.

No smiling at the pond these days!  If I smiled, I would eat my weight in bugs.  Must be the reason for the excitement on the water.  The gulls, laughing in a wild frenzy, are annoying the other birds.  The Yellow-headed Blackbirds seem to be pecking away in the huge batch of blooming dandelions.


Giving me the Stare Down!


Female Blackbird


Female Blackbird


Black Headed Gull


More than a few…and Noisy!


One of the Male Grebes Having a Float


Overseeing his possibilities.


Female Blackbirds checking out the Men. So many visible, while for weeks, the men were out there doing the soft shoe on the cat tails on their own.


Cranky Pants


Widowed Two Weeks Ago


This must be my O’ Canada Photograph


Looking Up


Chain Link Fence and Wigeon


Gadwells and Gull


Savannah Sparrow


Male Red-Winged Blackbird Giving a Shout


One Photograph was edited today. Guess which one? (Not this one)

Bird Tails From the Hood #3

I didn’t capture any images of the two wee sparrows that feasted well as a result of Mrs. and her dedicated care and concern.  I watched them from the kitchen window, though, and knew that they would fledge soon. Sure enough, just two days ago, in late afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. seemed to be having a huge squabble inside the nest.  Wings were flying everywhere.  When the dust settled, I didn’t hear the little guys at all.  I don’t know if the two youngsters had come to some sad demise (a crow has been hanging about lately) or if they had successfully left the nest.  I prefer to choose the latter.

Instinctively, the very next morning, yesterday morning, Mr. dominated the nest again, calling out repetitively for the next brood to be started.  Sparrows can manage two or three different broods in a summer season.  It was/is apparent that he had no time to be messing about.

Yesterday afternoon I watched him clean out the previous nest or nest lining, one piece of grass at a time…sometimes yanking an entire chunk of nest out and onto the ground.  This was something I had not observed before.

Kath's Canon Male Sparrow Emptying Nest July 7 2015 007 Kath's Canon Male Sparrow Emptying Nest July 7 2015 006 Kath's Canon Male Sparrow Emptying Nest July 7 2015 004Kath's Canon Male Sparrow Emptying Nest July 7 2015 005

Bird Tails From the Hood #2

Originally, Mr. was widowed.  I had seen the female and male sparrows very early in the spring, but after one of two brutal snow storms, the female disappeared. He remained at the nest, lamenting and frustrated, crying out for days and then weeks, trying to attract a new lady friend.  Finally, the courting began and I started to see the new little Mrs. coming and going.

Well, it now appears as though she is managing the nest on her own.  This, I think, leaves her vulnerable as she races in the heat, back and forth from the feeder, tending her little ones who now make their presence known redundantly through the day and into the evening.  Mother sometimes appears to be panting at the nest opening.  I haven’t seen Mr. around for over a week.

But, I HAVE seen the aunties…a whole string of females on my eves trough, that every time Mrs. leaves the nest untended, take turns flying in to look at the youngsters.  I’m wondering if this, in nature, is a malicious thing or if they are curious on-lookers.  I just feel very sad for how busy Mrs. is and wonder how she will manage to see her way through this time.

Just this morning, my daughter and I had our first siting of one of the young birds.  I would love to place a trampoline under the vent location because in the past, we’ve always lost one or two to their fall onto the hard ground below.

Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 103 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 100 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 095 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 081

Coming to Know a Single Place

I visit the same place, Frank’s Flats, daily…it doesn’t matter the weather.  It’s been five years now and I like the intimacy that comes with knowing this single place well.  For some, traveling the world is satisfying.  I feel as though I ride on the seasons as others might ride on an airplane and I gain such perspective and understanding because I look closely.  If one tends a small piece of the land, with gratitude, it is possible that one becomes more keenly aware through all of the senses.  This is just what I’m thinking.

Along with my written archive, I’ve posted a collection of images over the years that partners with the words, however, with no room in the budget for a camera these last two years, I’ve been using my phone.  Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to get up close enough to some of my subjects because they (the coyotes, magpies, red winged black birds, osprey, muskrats and all types of water fowl) have been doing the most amazing things and doing them quickly and everywhere.

So…today, I got myself a camera.  And this was my first photo.

Kath's Canon May 20 2015 001Within minutes of picking up my Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, I sorted out some of the technical aspects of the camera.  While doing my research I knew that I wanted something with greater zoom than my former Lumix point-and-shoot.  While I’d had two Panasonics, in time, the same component had failed on both.  In both instances I was told that replacement value would be equal to a new product.  This was disheartening and I really didn’t intend on buying another camera.  Once I had decided that a good camera would make my experiences more enjoyable, I decided I still wished to have the convenience of Auto settings and that I didn’t wish to invest very much time learning the science of photography, given that I have pledged to get back to the easel consistently over this decade. (Praying for continued good health.)

This afternoon, the female osprey was surrounded by a wall of nesting material, her head peeking again and again over the edge.

The male was enjoying the sunshine on his back…hanging with his buddy, the magpie.  This was taken from quite a distance away and I know that the image is fuzzy edged, but I so enjoyed capturing these two buds hanging in the thick brush.  It wasn’t long after this shot that he lifted off, delivered another large branch to the nest and then settled in to watch over Mama.

Kath's Canon May 20 2015 005Kath's Canon May 20 2015 018I really enjoyed the fact that the sky was seamless. The waves on the water were actually pounding, it was so windy.  There was a smell on the air of life.

Kath's Canon May 20 2015 060Kath's Canon May 20 2015 057Kath's Canon May 20 2015 068I will have to pour through the photos to find ones that have the better compositions, but these few demonstrate the difference between using my phone…

Can you see her?

Can you see her?

…and using this beautiful gift to myself.  What joy! This one legged stand was my surprising capture.  It makes me smile.  I am blessed by this beautiful location and discover something new every day.

Kath's Canon May 20 2015 032

Birds Carrying Sticks

It was so cold and windy this morning, that I didn’t capture photos so much as I observed and sat with and enjoyed nature and her glory.

Spotted carrying sticks…osprey, heron, crow and hawk.

Birds are nesting and it is wondrous.  Nothing gives me more peace then seeing their instinctual determination.  I’m going to post a couple of my phone photos (YUCK!  I take them just to maintain an archive) and a few that I snapple from the web.  I saw a new couple today.

My photo of a Canvasback couple…lol.

Cell May 1, 2015 Birds Osprey Franks 009Here’s the real deal…Photo Credit: Craig Turner through the Chesapeake Conservancy.

CanvasbackI watched the osprey nesting for a good hour early this morning.  I remained in the car as it seems this is a very important time in the nesting schedule.  Max sat quietly the whole time.  The male kept leaving and coming back with more small twigs and tucking them in around the female.  It was so beautiful.  This was the period of time when I saw the heron gathering, as well as the hawk and crow.  It was so beautiful.

My sad little photo archive.

Cell May 1, 2015 Birds Osprey Franks 008

As I rolled away very slowly, five vehicles pulled up some distance away…the tripods and cameras came out and Calgary’s finest, the bird watchers and photographers were lined up and at it.  They seemed to be focusing on the huge gaggle of gulls that had arrived, as well as the variety of water ducks and geese.  I will watch the Birds Calgary blog site closely over the next while and hope to see some wonderful photographs.

The Enmax Osprey cam is on the nest located near the zoo…you can view activity here.

In the meantime, my grade threes continue to watch, daily, the activities at Duke Farm’s Live Eagle cam, recently noticing that the dark feathers are coming into replace the white baby fuzz on our two eaglets.  The student drawings are scientific observations and so darned sweet!

Cell April 26 and 27 Osprey Elm Tree 010Today, the pond and Frank’s Flats were overwhelmed with bird sounds and activities.  Max was on leash for much of the time because things are ‘happening’ and I don’t want him to create havoc.  The red winged blackbirds are busy courting; the crows are hanging closely around the nests and feeding areas of other like-minded hunters.  I saw one crow incessantly pick away at the osprey, perched on a telephone pole, tearing apart a ground squirrel.  What an amazing world we live in!

Did Mr. Take a Mistress?

I know!  You thought that because Mrs. and her fledglings seemed to be goners, that I would stop watching their nest, right?  Wrong!  Mr. sat and howled redundantly for two days and then disappeared for a day.

He looked like this.

P1170634I will never know if the nestlings fledged…any of them, successfully.  I have no idea if Mrs. was just off with them, doing flight lessons.  He appeared to be widowed by all of his behaviours, but what do I know?  Of course I then went to a variety of sites to read about the widows of the nest.  Interesting stuff.  I learned that even while building a nest and establishing a family unit, Mr. goes off routinely and messes around.  It isn’t unusual for the male sparrows to go off and find a mistress when they have been widowed and visa versa for the female sparrows.  I’m guessing with the huge magpie and grackle populations and with a lot of outdoor cats, the incidents of loss are also huge

I’ve looked at the images and I can’t really tell if Mrs. is Mrs. or if it is in fact, a new partner at the nest, but today…after days of beating around the grief bush, there is another.

This is the last photo I have of Mrs. the day before Mr. was spotted alone.

P1170590 P1170622This is lady-friend (Mrs.?) this morning.

P1170882They all look the same…right?

I’m just happy that Mr. is wearing a smile again.

P1170891P1170892 P1170893He’s doing a bit of performance puffing…she’s doing this jittery thing with her wings.

In following them to the feeder, I DID see a juvenile in high branches and a female feed it and then encourage it higher, into the branches above the house.  I’m wondering, of course, if the female and maybe one, two or three successful fledges weren’t just held up in high branches.  One will never know…but certainly, it makes for a good story!  lol

P1170889 P1170890Above…the lady of the house doing her wing shakes.  The story continues.


My Feathered Friends

Bird Business!

Mr. and Mrs. moved in some time in April, but little did they know that two huge and blustery spring storms would move in.  I think something happened that one or both sparrows didn’t survive because I didn’t see them again.  Some time in May a new couple occupied the cozy apartment and have been seriously nesting since the melt and the warm sun has been shining.

Mr. and Mrs. May 25, 2014b Mr. and Mrs. May 25 2014And, yes!  I was the one who supported last year’s vent with duct tape as previous tenants were losing offspring early after hatching, given that the bottom two flaps are missing on the vent. You know the song…

I’ve been surprised at the front yard nest a couple of times this year.

Early in May, I had a visit from a single male Rose Breasted Grosbeak.  I was so excited to see the brilliant red chest of this bird and the stark black and white.

P1160782 P1160781 P1160779

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I was also surprised by three pairs of American Goldfinches.  Their songs were beautiful and they hovered in front of the picture window, looking at themselves.  I’ve heard them a few times since, in a neighbour’s flowering tree, but don’t have any idea if they are in transit or if they will settle on this area.

American Goldfinch

P1160935 P1160933 P1160929 P1160927 P1160924 P1160922 P1160921 I anticipate many stories surrounding events at the bird feeders and at Frank’s Flats where I routinely watch the water birds and their interactions.  The three eaglets at Duke’s Farms are also very ready to fledge, although they have had something happen, recently, with one of their cameras and will not be able to remedy the situation until after the babes have gone.

It is an awesome thing to have opportunity to watch birds.


As Easter approaches and we anticipate the end of our Lenten journey; as we live in hope that snow will soon disappear and be replaced by green, my grade ones have been exploring eggs and new life.

Each morning, after attendance, I sign on to the Live Eagle Cam of Duke Farms and we see what the eaglets and their wonderful parents are up to.  It is most common for eagles to lay two eggs each season, but this year we got three.  I’ve been following Duke Farms for a few years now, simply because it is great entertainment to see the antics at the nest, the determination and the utter devotion.  Sometimes bad things happen.  Life is just like that.  But in the meantime, it is quite something to observe a live fish being dropped into a nest and the amazing care that is given to these fuzzy critters that seem clumsy and disproportioned!

Eagle 54This was a screen shot I took after the second egg came along.  A running commentary is located so that viewers can observe the scientific timeline of events.

Update 4/1/2014
The 3rd egg has hatched. The 3rd eaglet is smaller than the other 2 who hatched on the same day.

Update 3/31/2014
The 3rd egg appears to now have a pip (hole) in the shell. Hatch should occur today or tomorrow.

Update 3/29/2014
2 chicks have hatched in the nest. Parents are starting to leave food in the nest such as fish and waterfowl to give the nesting parent and young food. The 3rd egg has not hatched yet.

Update 2/24/2014
A 3rd egg was laid on 2/23/2014 in the afternoon. Thanks you viewers for your valuable observations throughout the nesting season.

Update 2/20/2014
A 2nd egg was laid the afternoon of 2/20/2014.

Update 2/18/2014
An egg was laid in the afternoon of 2/17/2014*. Snow in the nest should begin to dissipate as temps rise during the day over the next few days. The cam will remain zoomed close in on the nest bowl to aid in detection of additional eggs.

Each day, my grade one students are writing a sentence in their journal about the new thing that happened that day.  Their pictures are AMAZING and I will include those next week when I record our discoveries.

This morning, I took this screen shot.  Mrs. is sitting on a fish that she brought to the nest yesterday.  This is the sort of thing that the grade ones love!  They also enjoy when both adults spend time together with the eaglets.

Eagle April 12, 2014This past week, in art class, we painted eggs to represent new life…all with tints.  This was an exploration of straight lines, curvy lines and zig zag lines.

P1160097 P1160098 P1160099 P1160100 P1160101 P1160102 P1160103 P1160104 P1160105 P1160106 P1160107 P1160108 P1160109 P1160111 P1160112 P1160113 P1160114 P1160115 P1160116 P1160117


Two Voices: Mr. Finds His Mrs.

Life for two small birds in a Bridge Street back yard.

The struggle of two small birds in a Bridge Street back yard.

In June, I wrote a post (One Voice) about an elusive bird that was calling out repetitively, seeking out its mate.  I thought there was no hope for this spritely male, after weeks of June crooning.  This post is a record of a partnership.  What my readers will hear is a defensive chatter as both birds try desperately to ward off ‘the enemy’.  Bridge Street is inundated with black birds and squirrels.  I don’t know how many small birds actually fend off such a huge number of predators.  This nest was abandoned a short two days later and at the time of this recording, I had already heard the hungry chirps of hatchlings, their demise, unknown.