Ode to the Nuthatch – Annie Pang

Oh, what a grey, rainy start to November we have had indeed!  For us in Victoria, though not as cold as other parts perhaps, the cool and damp just sink into the bones it seems and makes one wish to crawl under the bed and hibernate for several months!  The house is cold, and I go outside to rake leaves just to warm up, exhausting myself in the process.  But the fresh air and hearing the birds in the trees restores my spirits to a degree, while picking up chestnuts from four separate Horse chestnut trees most certainly does not!  What a relief to put the rake and bucket away and come inside again to carry on, and glancing out the window, to see my little feathered friends.

 I recently heard of a sighting of a Western White butterfly in Medicine Hat, Alberta and it nearly made me cry to see the picture of the lovely creature.  Ironically, I have not seen a butterfly of any kind here in so long now I can’t recall and ….well …this is Victoria!!  We’re supposed to be the “Oasis of Canada”… but it would seem, not for butterflies.  And so I turn to my beloved birds to bring me solace now.

 I call this blog “Ode to the Nuthatch” because these little birds are such remarkable and resilient little characters and they cheer me up from the foulest of moods when they come to see me at the suet feeder daily outside my kitchen window.  Unfortunately, the lighting has been so very poor these rainy days and my time so limited, it is rare that I get what I would call a “good” shot of them so I settle for what is passable and am just grateful I can get any shots at all as these little ones move so very fast, like the bushtits and chickadees.

P1310107 Nuthatch Nov 2nd rev

P1310109 Nuthatch upside down Nov 2 reva

P1310105 Nuthatch November 1st good shot rev

Having said this, a day later the sun came out and I managed two much better shots with the improved lighting and was able to add them to the blog.

P1310171

P1310173

 But as it gets cooler, the Nuthatches have been coming more often. I say “they” because there are a pair, a male and female, often coming at the same time, and sometimes I even manage a shot of them both on the feeder.  They dart in and out at what appears to be the speed of light. I once was at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary and heard a loud knocking on the side of the Nature House only to discover a tiny nuthatch banging away at the wood on the side of the building like a tiny woodpecker, no doubt looking for insects.

P1310132 two nuthatches end pic

 The camera I use is not a DSLR, but my same old point-and-shoot 18x optical zoom Lumix from years gone by.  At the time it came out, it was the best (in my opinion) camera of its kind on the market and any so-called “improvements” by Panasonic since then have just not been as good.  My friend in Saskatchewan and another friend in Alberta ironically both have the identical model of camera and they are both seasoned photographers with far more experience with cameras than I have ever had.  How funny to have met them through the Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild and to discover we had this in common.

 Below is a poem I was inspired to write in the wee hours on November 2nd after managing to get some decent shots of these little birds.  Enjoy and may November show us some more sunshine along with the rainy days.

Ode to the Nuthatch

Oh little character so small,

you entertain me now in Fall,

a comic piece of Nature’s art,

your body streamlined as a dart.

Upright, sideways, upside down,

you acrobatic, tiny clown –

sharp upturned beak and bandit eyes,

each day you come to tantalize

and lift my spirits from the grey

of sadness on a rainy day.

And even strolling through the park,

I catch you clinging to the bark

just out of range on tallest trees,

your “Yank! Yank!” call upon the breeze!

You make me laugh, you make me smile

and savor freedom for a while.

Then back, outside my window’s pane

you join the Juncos once again,

oh little character so small –

Come! Entertain me now in Fall…

© Annie Pang November 3, 2014.

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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 5, 2014, in Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Do you ever get starlings? I removed this type of suet cage, because starlings hogged them and scared all the other birds away. A friend advised me to buy a special woodpecker suet cage and it attracted one orange-capped warbler, but other than that, nothing as returned. I live in Courtenay.

  2. Hi Marilyn. Yes, Starlings are a real pest for sure and we get plenty of them! They are introduced from Europe and I am constantly chasing them away from my suet cage as well. This year, so far, they have not scared away other birds. As for other feeders, I have not found anything that keeps them away as they are quite persistent. They also go for berries and I have heard tales of them destroying berry crops on the Lower Mainland of BC. I have seen them strip my Mountain Ash of its berries which I don’t mind because I don’t eat them.
    Starlings are also known to raid the nest of other birds including Northern Flickers. They travel in such large flocks that they can overwhelm the Flickers and then destroy their nests and young. I imagine they do the same with other birds unless the nests are inaccessible (small openings in birdhouse or tree cavities.

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