For the Birds again, November 26, 2012 – Annie Pang

I’d like to say how thrilled I am that Terry was able to see and photograph so well the extraordinary visitation of the Citrine Wagtail and update his blog and photos as his news progressed and opportunities for closer shots presented themselves.  My hat is off to you, Terry, for your perseverance on this incredible story!  Such was the import of this sighting and Terry’s recounting of it that we decided my blog could easily wait a few days as it was not nearly so time sensitive.  I would invite those of you who have read Terry’s blog the first time to go back to the site and revisit it as he has updated it with four fabulous pictures and more news.

And so let’s hear it “For the Birds Again” – and onwards with my own meanderings about some of our common ones back here at home in Victoria where the only rare sighting we’ve had the last few days is the sun!

The world, it seems, goes through one upheaval after another, and it can drive a person to despair listening to the news every hour when all I want is to hear the music!  I wander restlessly from room to room doing the tasks of the day, and I usually have a number of radios going so I don’t miss a favourite piece of music as it keeps me good company.

But after a while, I find the opinionated human voices wearing, and the news is always bad, so I turn to my salvation which, of course, is the divine in Nature.  As I must be indoors for a good part of the day, I want to thank John again for keeping the feeders filled, knowing how much joy the birds bring to my isolation while he is gone (and even when he is home!).  They constantly inspire, surprise and amaze me.  I keep records of all I see and never tire of watching them.

The male Downy Woodpecker, which I showed in my previous blog, has been joined by his mate and I was finally able to get a serviceable shot of her, good enough to show the difference in that she has no red markings on the back of her head.  I only saw her the one day and then she disappeared, probably to one of my neighbor’s yards.  A messy eater indeed, she did stop long enough for me to get her picture, but failed to wipe her mouth first.  I didn’t mind one bit!

There are at least three Chestnut-backed Chickadees who have become regulars, down from the number of six I counted last year.  Perhaps more will show up as the seasons change.  I can only hope they have not been taken by Starlings or neighborhood cats.  They are hard for me to photograph through the window with my point-and-shoot but here is one that landed on my lilac bush that didn’t turn out too badly.  They have such sweet and cheery voices that are a delight to the sagging spirit to hear.   Perhaps I will come up with better shots later in the season, but this will do for now.

The most abundant birds are, of course, the House Finches, but this year I have had the surprise of two orange variants.  The picture in my blog “For the Birds” shows a typical House Finch with bright red plumage (only the males), but the orange variant is a paler orange and has its own charm as you can see.

Now I have to say that the tiny birds are very special to me.  They symbolize something within that is fragile and playful….like a child.  Perhaps it is an innocence that we seem to have lost.  No bird seems to capture this for me as much as the wee Bushtit.  I have tried so hard to get decent shots of them but they move so fast and are very tiny.  I lucked out getting this one at the suet feeder.  He was still long enough so it was not too blurred a shot.  Isn’t he a darling?

Another species that comes daily to “fill up” is the “Oregon” Dark-eyed Junco.  Because the male has a very black head and neck, he resembles a hangman to me!  The back of this bird is a rich chestnut brown I find very attractive.   The female is somewhat more faded in appearance and has a white eye-ring the male lacks so getting a good shot of the male where the eye is fairly bright in this dull, grey light has been a challenge, but this one turned out okay.

Here is a so-so shot of a female.

Getting back to the smaller birds, another of my favorites is a little clown of a bird, the Red-breasted Nuthatch and each year for several years now we have had a pair of them show up.  They make a variety of calls, often sounding like chattering little monkeys, and other times making a “yank, yank, yank” call that can carry quite a distance.  But my goodness, they are fast as the dickens and most attempts at photographing them are frustrating failures at best.  But perseverance and patience are the best approach, although knowing when to give it up for the day is also sometimes wise.  Today, however, I got lucky enough to get this shot.  Their poses are often sideways or upside down and was I glad I had my camera in hand when this little character landed!

It is late now and I must close for today, but I wanted to leave you with a poem and one more poetograph afterwards.  Let us all hope for more peaceful and happy times and make the most of each day as it comes.   As more and more of our beloved natural habitat disappears my birds help me focus on the present moment and cherish it all the more.

All life is precious and priceless, and never to be taken for granted….ever.  May you find something in these pictures and words that bring you some cheer.


The Balm that Nature Gives


As storms are brewing around the world

there’s comfort in the birds

and, as the news spins off in a whirl,

I hear their singing words.

It is the balm that Nature gives

within each shining eye;

beneath the fluttering feathers lives

my dreaming to the sky.

So by my window, patiently,

I watch them come to feed

and watch their flighty antics

as they bicker over seed.

Through them, I see humanity,

I see it at its best,

and for a moment Nature wins –

my worries take a rest.

I drink in all these feathered folk,

forgetting wars and death,

for Nature gave this gift today –

the healing of Her breath…

© Annie Pang November 21, 2012.



About annieandterry

This is a blog shared by two friends who have never met in person, Annie Pang and Terry Thormin. We both live on Vancouver Island, Annie in Victoria and Terry in Comox. All communication to date has been either by email or telephone. We are both passionate about nature and conservation and we are both nature photographers. Annie is also a very fine poet and was a concert violinist, while Terry worked as an entomologist for the Royal Alberta Museum until he retired in 2005. We hope you enjoy this joint effort to share our nature musings with anyone who is interested.

Posted on November 27, 2012, in Nature, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I did not know that Starlings would kill Chickadees.. that is scary to me as there has been a Starling hanging around my suet feeder which is normally visited by many Chickadees.

    • Hi Vicki. Starlings are an introduced species and have spread all across the continent. They prey on smaller birds and baby birds as well. I am not all that crazy about them and chase them away from my suet feeder as much as possible, but unfortunately they are a reality we have to deal with now. If I knew more about them I’d do a blog on them (I still may anyhow). Annie

  2. There’s so much to like about this, Annie, but the idea of turning to your salvation, the divine of nature, really hits me. I saw my first ever red-breasted nuthatches this autumn – they seem to have as much personality as the white-breasteds that are far more common in our yard.

    • Hi Sid. I have never seen a white-breasted nuthatch but imagine they would be the same personality-wise. I love these little birds and they really have attitude. Watching them outside my kitchen window is indeed a link to all the is wondrous in the present moment, and all that is divine in nature. I’m glad you feel the same way. Annie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s