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you can’t discuss bees without talking birds

January 25, 2011

Yesterday I told you about the bees.  Today I’d like to remediate and

cover the birds.  We have lots of them here, all around the calendar.

But I’m hard-pressed to find many photos.  Here’s one of a peahen.

She and several peacocks were dumped along our road.  They

weren’t around for long.  I’m guessing that a screeching bird

with a huge rainbow tail is like McDonald’s drive-through

for wolves, especially if you consider the wind drag on the

tail.  I can envision the “eyes” at the top of the peacock’s

train feathers bulging out as the cock-in-charge whispered

to the others, “just keep strutting and don’t look directly

at them.”

Had we spotted any iridescent wolf scat shortly after the

birds disappeared, I would have had lots of shots for you.

This is Biff and the girls, bufflehead ducks.

This is the fourth year on the ponds for them.   The first year it was just

Biff (mostly white, back to camera)  and Muffy (far right).  The next year

they came back, bringing the mysterious Yolanda (closest to Biff).  As

the photo indicates, Yolanda came between Biff and Muffy.  They drifted

apart for the season.  When they returned last year the three of them

seemed to have it worked out.  We haven’t named the new one.  She’s


These trumpeter swans dropped in for an hour or so about two years

ago.  I think they were late for a Christmas song.

The first spring we were here, Slinkee kept showing up with dead birds.

We were skeptical that she was that good a hunter, but gave her the

benefit of the doubt until we heard a TV-Batman-sized “BAP!” in the

family room one day.  This red-breasted sapsucker was sitting on the

outside ledge of the picture window, stunned and shaking his head.

This window and the large window in the kitchen are in the birds’

flight paths.  We immediately put up netting to end the carnage.

The sapsucker apparently survived.  It was still on the ledge when

we went to bed, gone in the morning.  There was no corpse on the

ground and Slinkee didn’t have bird on her breath.  It left us a

reminder for due diligence, a feather from its forehead.

Our ponds attract a lot of other ducks besides the buffles.

We get blue-winged teals, common golden-eyed, lesser

scaups, ring-necked and Northern shovelers.  We have

spotted three types of merganzers: common, hooded and

red-breasted.  The hooded females are the avian version

of the Bride of Frankenstein.

Last autumn we briefly hosted several small flocks of

brant and Canada geese.  One of the  brant flocks had a

Canada goose leader.  They grazed in the back yard and

around the garden and campground in the front.  They

did a commendable job of spacing out their scat, which

looks like greenish-grey Cheetos.

For the first two summers we lived here, a raven couple

would visit our rainbow-kissed apple tree every day at

4 pm.  You could set your watch by it.  Then one of them

must have died.  The other is still around, getting ever

nearer.  Sometimes it flies so close to us that we can

hear its wings — a creaking, whooshing sound.  The last

few days it’s been perching low in our biggest maple

tree, driving Slinkee even nuttier with a clucking


Besides the standard issue robins, sparrows and seagulls,

we have cedar waxwings, wild pigeons and grouse.  Slinkee

bagged two grouse in the blueberry patch once.  They got

stuck in the netting we keep over it so the pigeons can’t

get in.  I took one of them from her.  She glared at me and

ran off with the other one.

We also see the occasional bald eagle, harrassing the ducks.

They usually stay by the ocean shores.  I never saw a bald

eagle when I lived in the states.  I like to think that they

fled the Bush administration as we did.

The funniest looking birds we have around here are the

belted kingfisher and the Steller’s jay.  The kingfisher is

nature’s punk rocker, the jay is strictly goth.

And the most magnificent bird we see is the great blue

heron.  Elegant in a pterodactyl sort of way.  I’m certain

that humans modeled aerial bombardment after this

bad boy.  One left a six-foot splatter pattern of scat on

the front of our house once.  Another almost took out

my stepson Nathan and me.  And just look at what

another one did to our solar panels.


Thank you, Richard of thesacredpath, for telling me how

to answer comments correctly.

  1. January 25, 2011 4:50 pm

    Where did you get the netting for your windows? We have a problem here; our windows are birdkillers.

    • January 26, 2011 11:15 am

      We use commercial fish nets. Netlofts on the big island sell used ones at unbelievable prices. We can buy a 50-foot-square net for $20. Different size gauges are available. We use a large gauge so the birds get stopped but not tangled up. We also use netting around the gardens to keep deer out. This might not be much help to you. I know there’s not much ocean fishing in Saskatchewan.


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