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The Owl and the Tanager

It was one of those perfect late spring evenings. On a whim one June day, I talked my mother into joining me on a post-dinner jaunt to Thomas Francis Regional Park in Victoria, B.C., in search of a reported Western Tanager nest. We arrived in the park at 7:00 pm and...

A Pelican in the Backseat

The call came as my son Travis and I were halfway around our trap line. We often care for injured owls from the Strathcona Raptor Shelter, and to feed the owls as natural a food as possible, we have set up a mouse trap line to collect mice for the owls. Milo S. was on...

A Memorable Visit

One year the students in our school had developed a great interest in birds. All through the winter we worked at a mural depicting a winter scene in which were shown all the birds any of us had actually seen. And if you think the winter bird population is made up of...

A Bush of Woodpeckers

In September of one year, while looking out the window of our house, which is located on an acreage near Armstrong, British Columbia, I noted a Pileated Woodpecker eating chokecherries. We see Pileated Woodpeckers frequently, and are close enough to observe them from...

The Hawk and The Train

You’ve heard of racing pigeons; how about racing hawks? While the Goderich-Exeter Railway Company’s freight train was passing through a valley near Mitchell, a hawk decided to follow along. The train was traveling at 25 mph and for some time, the hawk was...

Me and the Ovenbird

A few years ago my wife and I visited Florida for a couple of weeks during the winter and spent a wonderful day birding at the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. My wife is not a birder but is generally pretty patient about birding with me. We were at the...

Dead Mice and Other Light Snacks

You shouldn’t go into our freezer without explicit instructions as to which containers are safe to open and which are not. That’s because there are dead bodies in our freezer. Short dead bodies, only a few inches in length, with long tails. Mice bodies....

Drama on Ice

Loons return to the lake where we live in eastern Ontario soon after the ice goes out in April, yet they do not always nest nearby. This year (1990) was to be different; for the first time in over twelve years a pair of loons built a bulky nest on a low rocky islet...

Waiting for the Fruit to Fall

In August one year, I looked out the kitchen window to see a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks fly across my yard and land in a tall saskatoon bush. As it was late summer, the bush was heavily laden with ripe berries. The grosbeaks began to pluck the fruit off the...

White Birds

Long ago when we first came to this farm, I remember the flocks of birds all about the place. They were always there; they went with the landscape but we were always too busy to be serious birdwatchers. Very few people in those days were birdwatchers and I don’t...

The Hawk and the Crow

I was walking across our 20 acre property near Armstrong, British Columbia, in September a few years ago when I heard, then saw, a typical confrontation between a Crow and a Red-tailed Hawk. In my experience, this kind of confrontation generally happens between a...

Listening for Owls

One spring a few years back, we were out looking for owls in the Columbia Valley, in southeast  British  Columbia. We had pulled off to the side of the road and had the windows down, listening to a Pygmy Owl. Well, a car was approaching us and, just to keep my eyes...

An Unforgettable Experience with a Bird

Never shall I forget the sheer delight and exhilaration of this one magical moment, even though it happened way back in 1932. As I trudged home from school, down the dusty road on that sunny, sultry June afternoon, I was longing for a cooling drink of ice-cold...

A Rainbow of Blackbirds

This story happened near Ciudad Guzman, Mexico. It was about noon on a calm, sunny day in late February, the height of the dry season. Fine powder dust lay inches thick everywhere. Before me was a large, flat corn stubble field; not unusual in Mexico. But what was...

A Long Way to Not See a Warbler

The moment I signed on as a participant in the Alberta Bird Atlas Project, I was no longer just a birdwatcher, content to wait for new species to appear on our acreage. I had become a bird hunter. My life for several weeks each spring was devoted to tracking down as...

A Great Blue Heron Comes to Visit

One day in late summer a Great Blue Heron came stalking along the edge of the Rideau River. Gradually, he came closer until he arrived at the small spillway we had installed at the edge of our garden. Up he came, passing within a few feet of the two of us who were...

Our Kingfisher

Some years ago, our family, along with my brother’s family, were building a new cottage on a small lake south of Parry Sound, Ontario. We had the pier foundation put in by a contractor and were busy erecting the log walls on a clear, hot July day. The six...

The Sparrow and the Waxwings

A pair of Cedar Waxwings built a nest about 5 feet above the ground in a spruce tree adjacent to my workshop at our cottage at Kendleston Beach. It’s located about 50 miles north of Regina, Saskatchewan, on Last Mountain Lake. From the window in the workshop, a...

One Odd Bird

My older daughter, Marie, and I were hiking along the Hurricane Ridge area of Olympic National Park in Washington state one day in early August. We had been enjoying the wildflowers, and assorted birds such as Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles, Gray Jays, Common Ravens,...

A Strange Friendship

My husband has always had a great love and respect for wildlife and has a great knowledge of their ways and habits. But a little Ruffed Grouse had him scratching his head. One day as my husband was walking along a path near a stand of poplar trees, he heard a rustling...
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