Venting…Again!

I give up on trying to understand who has or is going to claim territory where the vent is concerned. It truly seemed that the Northern Flicker had dominated the space for a few days, anyway.

On April 29, 2018 I made my first sighting of a female, but have never seen her from the kitchen window. If she’s hanging about, she’s being very secretive.

IMG_7119

On April 30, 2018 this goofus was observed hammering away at the interior of the vent. He seemed just a little frustrated and a video of the event would be most entertaining, but this is what we have, folks.

IMG_7132

IMG_7123

I was out to the pharmacy to pick up some Buckley’s, on my father’s recommendation, and when I got home, light was fading and I saw a protrusion from the vent. THIS! I think we’d all agree that would not, in any way, represent a House Sparrow nest, so I was left thinking that perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Flicker had decided to settle down, maybe have some babies…it looks that way to me.

IMG_7169

It was a tough night of coughing and spewing, sleeping and waking and half sleeping and half waking. I found myself reading several chapters and drinking a full glass of orange juice at 3 a.m. At some point, I passed out again. I got up by 8 this morning. My son had already made a pot of coffee, so there was that comforting aroma in the air. I looked out the kitchen window to find the nesting material gone, but not on the ground below. Must be pushed in, right? hmmmm

I’ve seen our buddy only once today…and he hung for what seemed an eternity, simply looking into the black chasm of this piece of prime real estate.

IMG_7004

In the meantime, crazy shenanigans involving the House Sparrows carried on throughout my random observatuons…in and out, in and out, seeming to test fate at every entrance into the prized abode.

I think that Mr. Handsome, here, is the young fellow little Missy would like to settle down with. Remember the slicked back hairdo?

IMG_7174

IMG_7185

IMG_7175

But, this is the guy who wishes to win favour…looking a little pushy, me thinks.

IMG_7183

This little girl has been on the defense whenever I’ve observed her today, being threatened and chased by several males. It seems so violent to me. And all at the same time, it is unclear who dominates this location. It still seems there is no real winner.

IMG_7190

IMG_7188

I know this for certain, however…this is Mr. Widow Sparrow…evicted some time ago. He remains depleted on my fence, observing as I do, all of the goings-on in the very place he had once chosen for his home. You’ll hear from me again, on this subject, when we have youngsters…not a minute before.

May 1, 2018

IMG_7199

And Then There Was One!

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

February 2015 Two Eggs

Here they are on April 19th.

Here they are on April 19th.

#2 eaglet Duke Farms June 13

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.June 13 dukes reunion June 13 Visit with sister June 13 2015 siblings eaglesNow, for the student observations…read their entries…they are beautiful.

DSC_4159

DSC_4158

DSC_4157

DSC_4156

DSC_4155

DSC_4154

DSC_4153

DSC_4152

DSC_4151

DSC_4150

DSC_4149

DSC_4148

DSC_4147

DSC_4146

DSC_4145

DSC_4144

DSC_4143

DSC_4142

DSC_4141

DSC_4140

DSC_4139

DSC_4138

DSC_4137

DSC_4161 DSC_4162 DSC_4163 DSC_4164 DSC_4165 DSC_4166 DSC_4167 DSC_4168 DSC_4169 DSC_4170 DSC_4171 DSC_4172At the Decorah Nest, their #1 of three fledged today!  WHOOT!

March 11, 2015: Rumble House

I wanted to ease into my evening at Rumble.  I didn’t want to neglect Max or my every-evening litter pick up at Frank’s Flats.  I also wanted to eat something.

DSC_2892

So, with all of those things attended to, I headed north on my epic drive to the intimate, warm and magical environment that is the Rumble House.

Bronwyn Schuster had brought to mind the idea that sometimes I might paint on a more intimate panel, instead of the large sized format that is so typical of me.  And so, I worked on a beautiful 8 x 8 inch cribbed panel, perfect for fitting inside someone’s purse.

Arriving late, at 7:30, I sat down next to Priscilla who was sitting in a comfy chair next to me, busily crocheting/knitting on a self-invented slipper.  I mentioned that I was going to paint a meditation.  She mentioned how much she enjoys sitting near her son, Rich, so that she can hear the things he says to others as they walk by.  Priscilla also said that she is in awe as she watches his paintings reveal themselves.

I was more focused on the community of people that surrounded me than anything else.  Michael is always so cheerful with his greetings and it sets the tone for a wonderful experience. Paula and Brittney were busy creating their first collaborative piece, a mix of collage elements and paint. It was good to talk to Mike and to share a bit about our sadness and the loss of our friend, Loretta. Leenie!  It was so good to see her smiling face and to be around her energy!  I had opportunity to speak with Asa…hadn’t had a chance to catch up with him in a long time.  Jo and Jeff were tucked away in a small safe place, collaborating on a beautiful piece that reminded me of a book I’m reading about a mother and her daughter, pomegranates and seeds and Persephone.  Louise was back…hadn’t seen her for awhile. What a special touch that she asked me as she left if I had a ride south.  (I’ll never forget the first time we met.) I chatted with James and Enriquito and finally reconnected with Jennifer.  She was painting an awesome bird of prey.  In fact, everyone painting in our section of the space, was painting in a warm/hot palette of colour.  That intrigued me.  I felt/feel nested in this place with like-minded and diverse people.  I like it.

I set about painting my meditation.  I incorporated text in graphite first, a piece from Jewel

jewel-quotes_4474-1

(sic)

As I go about each day, picking up the plastics, the discarded cups and bags from stores, the packaging and flyers that are strewn into natural environments where birds lay their nests; coyotes, their dens; ground squirrels, their complex webs of tunnels, I feel a sense of nurturing fill me up.  I wish to create a safe nest for all.  I wish, and optimistically so, that all human beings would open their eyes to our self-destruction.  We are very lackadaisical about the landscape as we rush by, getting to the next place.  And given that we can not see beneath the surface, the oceans, more than any place on earth, are crying out to be protected.

A nest meditation seemed the right thing to paint.  Because the time with my Rumble pieces is so immediate, I practice the rituals of writing on the back of each piece and then archiving the work by taking a photo or two.  The process of painting at the house is like a bright flame lighting up and then extinguishing, all in two hours.  Funny, on this particular night, I did not sign my piece and I did not photograph it.  I’m posting a photo or two here of other works that have explored this theme of nesting.  Thank you to Sam who purchased my Wednesday nest containing three blue eggs, at auction.

P1140481 P1140505Thanks for the image, Sam!

Three Eggs and NestI treasure my place on this jewel of a planet.  I am only one…but, wish in this brief moment, to make an impact.  Here are some of artist-souls who impact me.

Jennifer

DSC_2833James and Enriquito

DSC_2886Rich (I never get a good picture of him)

DSC_2875Paula and Brittney

DSC_2870Asa

DSC_2852Oliver

DSC_2836What a place!  We’d love to see you next Wednesday night.

DSC_2847

 

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.

Mr. & Mrs. : Sparrows of 2014

Mr. was singing out from the same location today and I captured his first photo of the season.  Mrs. was more elusive, although I had made a siting before finding my camera.  She is looking tiny, after a rather rough winter season.

2014

2014

2014 Male Sparrow

2014 Male Sparrow

I wrote about helplessness last year as one of the nestlings had to be scooped up by me and placed gently back into the nest after the vent that had provided a barricade had broken off in weather.  I used duct tape to create a weaker barrier, but held out hope that the nestling would be nurtured to good health by attentive parents.  In the end, I knew that it had died because Mr. & Mrs. abandoned the nest for the remainder of the season.

Some of these nests are so precarious as they are built and perch under roofing material and in the most odd ball places.  I was happy to see Mr. belting out his mating tune.  He’s ready to go, again!  Such resolve, given the falls that his babes have made these last couple of years.

2012 Mr. & Mrs.

2013 Mr. & Mrs.

Birds!  It’s a Big World!

Life and Death

Livin’ ‘er Up at the Ritz!

The Melt

For three days, Calgary has enjoyed beautiful temperatures.  It has been a long winter…lots of snow and bitter cold.  In fact, this has been such a melt that on many intersections throughout the city, the drainage doesn’t seem to be sufficient or blocked, to the detriment to some homes.

Mike Drew of the Calgary Sun captured this image of a residence in Sunnyside.

Photo Credit: Mike Drew, Calgary Sun QMI

Photo Credit: Mike Drew, Calgary Sun QMI

In the morning, Max-walking is dangerous, given that this water freezes up and leaves the sidewalks, virtual skating rinks.

Apart from these symptoms of changing weather, there are some beautiful moments in nature.  We just got home from our daily walk about Frank’s Flats and it is absolutely breath taking.  Lately, I’ve noticed magpies flying with pieces of nesting material dangling haphazardly from their beaks as they instinctively prepare their nests.

I’m a huge fan of Duke Farm’s Live Eagle Cam.  It was an awesome thing, this year, to witness the laying of three eggs.  The notations from the site are as follows and a still photo I just saved a moment ago.  I encourage my birder-readers to follow the progress of this family.  What magic to witness male and female trading off places in the nest and sharing the responsibilities for the eggs.  The history of Duke Farms can be read here.

Eagle March 10 2014And for those who think that watching an eagle on a nest is the same as watching paint dry, be advised that last year, this particular event was caught on live cam…

Update 2/24/2014A 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.

Update 1/14/2014
Soft grasses are being deposited in the nest bowl to act as cushioning and insulation, these signs are usually a prelude to egg laying behavior.

So, today…teaching grade one…while I was tempted to make art around St. Patrick’s Day, our Lenten Journey, the Stations of the Cross or Penguins!!!  I ended up following my own muse, the nesting birds.  And the children did NOT disappoint.

Where’s our teacher?  Are you our teacher? Yeah! We get to paint!

Off with the coats there, buddies!  On with the shoes!

Who is the engine? Who is the caboose?  The caboose isn’t here!  Oh, no!  Pick a caboose, will you and take this attendance down, please.

Announcements. O’ Canada. Prayer.

I saw a magpie carrying a great big branch while it was flying the other day!

IT WAS BUILDING A NEST!

It’s so warm and the snow is melting.

IT’S GOING TO LAY A EGG!

A nest is like a bowl…do you remember what horizontal means?

WIDE!! (I notice, with this response, that the grade ones have been measuring things…they have a whole new vocabulary!)

Do you remember what vertical means?  You’re right! Up and down!

Today you may choose to build a nest on vertical sky OR horizontal sky…whatever you wish.  Remember that the nest will fall out if there are not enough branches.  I’ll show you a bowl shape in some branches. (I demonstrate a BIG drawing on a vertical piece and then on a horizontal piece of blue construction paper).  Three branches will work…or four…or five.  The nest (to repeat) looks like a bowl.

Grab your chalk…you can do your sketch now.  As I’m stirring up some earth tones of paint at the paint center I ask the children if they remember the THREE steps to painting…

DIP! STROKE!

Oops!  We forgot a step!

WIPE!! 

Yes…please wipe your extra paint off of your brushes.

The students use the paint station with finesse, two hands on buckets…walking…taking turns.  Let’s use the darkest brown for the inside of the nest.  It will show that it is deep and dark…a good place to sleep.  OF COURSE WE CAN PAINT LEAVES!  I quickly mix up five different greens. Trading off begins and the paintings are set aside to dry.

We go to the reading corner to share in the rhyming poem, Five Little Penguins…yes, readers, you’ve got it…same as the Five Little Monkeys!  We talk about visits to the Calgary Zoo.

After recess and recess snacks, we add our nesting materials into the mix…talk about birds collecting strings and grass…and talk about how penguins nest.  We talk about how the Dad sits on the egg while Mama goes to eat fish…and how Mama sits on the egg while Dad goes to eat fish.  We cut and paste and then add in the birds.  BEAUTIFUL!  Let’s set them aside so that the glue can dry.  Hailey says out loud, as she’s placing her nest gently on the corner, “I love mine.”  I think to myself, “This is what’s really important.”

Printing…letter w!  Here we go!

P1150505 P1150506 P1150507 P1150508 P1150509 P1150510 P1150511P1150515 P1150516 P1150517 P1150518 P1150519 P1150520 P1150521 P1150522 P1150523 P1150524 P1150525

Saturday Morning Sketch

Baby skunk in nest.  Deemed a nuisance species, the skunk doesn’t have a great (as in positive) reputation for anything.  Regardless, I see all species as connected and requiring management.  The link I’ve provided gives sound advice, I think.

Just deliberating about how to paint a baby leather back turtle in a nest.  It seems to me that turtles make more sense in multiples, so I’m deciding if I’m going to paint more than one in a nest.  I’m suffering a bit of a back injury recently due to a hard fall on ice two weeks ago, so my days are quiet days, but very fulfilling.  My cousin Margy has headed south to Arizona, so this is a bit of a retreat…quiet…Rita Macneil Christmas music…toast in the toaster…hot coffee…and more quiet.

P1140508 P1140509For those of you who are watching for these wee guys…this.

skunktracks

Today’s Baby

Seems appropriate to look at a wee polar bear and stick him in a nest.  It’s so cold outside…so grateful though, for today’s blue sky.  I wish we could protect our wildlife…do something differently.  I read an article today that explained that mature polar bears are often so hungry that they turn on their own offspring for sustenance.  Some of these truths make me very sad…but I carry on, using the only medium I have at my finger tips to enter into the conversation…my art.

I haven’t left my house for two days except to shovel and throw the frisbee for Max in the back alley.  I feel as though I am in my own nest.  A bit of Christmas music, though…a bit of baking…and time at my kitchen table, painting, and I’m a pretty happy camper.

P1140503 P1140506