The winter has been too long so I dug out some old photos. The quality is not good on these pictures, but the happiness scale was registering right up there, so I’m posting the photos anyway. Reminiscing about this bird sighting still makes me smile.
It was back in the summer of 2016. I heard him before I saw him. He was a bit too far away for a clear picture, but I was afraid I might not get another chance, so I snapped it quickly.
He sat high up in a fir tree. With his unusual song and bright colours, he was unforgettable. If only he would stay put long enough for me to get a picture.
The Bullock’s oriole is not a bird you often see in our area of central Vancouver Island.
I prowled around the deck, camera in hand, searching the trees for movement and sound as he flitted from one fir to another.
I phoned my neighbour, who loves birds too, to ask her to watch for the oriole as it had gone over to the trees on her place. I almost threw the phone down when I saw that it had come back to check out my red hot pokers.
I didn’t dare run out onto the deck this time and scare it away, so unfortunately this photo is taken through the smudgy glass pane of the railing.
Oh, he was nervous. A second later, he was gone.
But now that Big Bird was gone, the tiny ones returned to their favourite snack.
I tried to get him to slow down as I didn’t have the camera set up for super-high speed for hummingbird wingbeats (does the camera setting even go that high?) but he wasn’t to be held back.
With the Spanish lavender so prolific right behind him, you would think he’d go for that, but he preferred the pokers. I know the bees love the lavender so maybe that had something to do with it.
I didn’t get much work done that morning. The time spent was “for the birds.”
So today on this cool, foggy day, I reminded myself that winter doesn’t last forever, and we have good things to look forward to.
Yes, yes, it’s a white Christmas and almost everyone is happy. Snow covers the ugliness of winter.
But it also covers all the seeds and insects the songbirds would love to pick at. This fox sparrow is probably wondering how he’s going to get through the next days. He doesn’t know that it’s going to get even colder in the next few days. I’m making sure to keep the bird feeders filled and in a relatively sheltered place.
But mostly I fear for the tiny hummingbirds. Why, oh why, didn’t they fly south when they had the chance?
The hummingbird feeder was already starting to get chilled by late afternoon. In the next days, the sugar water in the feeder will try to freeze even partway through the day. I’ve been bringing the feeders inside at night and I will probably have to exchange the frozen water for warmer sugar water before the day is over. The forecast says it will get very cold at night. Meanwhile, this hummingbird was happy to find the sugar water not frozen today. Poor little thing.
I wonder how often you think about your windows and skylights and the bird traps they can be.
Yesterday the Captain was doing some jobs in his workshop. He had the regular door and the garage door to that building wide open as he was going in and out a lot. After he’d been in the house for a bite of lunch, he went back out to the workshop and saw this little nuthatch flying against the workshop window, trying to get out.
The nuthatch had come into the shop and then, fooled by the light, thought he could get out through the window. He kept flying at the pane of glass, trying in vain to escape, even though the door and the garage door were both still wide open. All he saw was the window and he couldn’t get through it.
The Captain used a soft trout fishing net to capture him and bring him outside. I noticed that his beak had a lot of spider webs on it. The Captain acknowledged that his workshop window is a bit cobwebby.
Luckily the nuthatch was only a bit stunned, and not seriously hurt. He sat in the Captain’s hand for a few extra seconds after I took the picture and then he flew away. I think he was one happy bird!
Do you have a skylight in a breezeway or in the covered entrance to your house? Check it for trapped birds.
If you hang a basket of flowers there, especially pink ones, you’ll kill countless hummingbirds. Even without the flowers to attract them, hummingbirds can fly in and then not realize that the sky above them is blocked off with a glass pane. They will try and try to fly up and out through that closed skylight, sometimes injuring themselves and exhausting themselves until they fall down and often times die.
This fellow is one of the two lucky ones that I helped rescue from a neighbour’s skylight.
It also reminded me that I should have kept my hummingbird feeder up especially in this colder weather. We have had hummingbirds overwinter here on Vancouver Island in the last several years, so it helps to supplement their diet when their natural food is scarce.
As I look out my window and it starts to get dark, it is still lighter than usual outside because of the snow. It has been falling all last night and all day today and will probably continue all night tonight. Big avalanches of snow are falling from the fir branches that have now bent as far as they can under the weight of the snow. I hope no little birds get caught in the cascades.
In the previous post I told of having to thaw the hummingbird feeders alternately to keep the sugar water available for these tiny birds. They are very hungry and I’m sure they’re cold.
Here is a very short clip of one of them slurping a last drink before night sets in. You can see the ice beginning to form again in the middle of the feeder.
A hundred times today, I’ve thought about the little hummingbirds and asked myself, “Why didn’t they migrate?”