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Backyard Bird Buddies

Many folks who identify as “nature people” or equivalent seem to fall in to a sort of routine, where enjoying nature is just another activity that is penciled into a rigorous schedule that is centred around a certain non-nature activity. It ends up being a task almost, a place to go, something that has to be done. All this while there is nature all around us, in our homes, in our backyards, on the way to work or school; like it or not, we are part of it, and we eventually will be re-absorbed into nature herself one fine day. Sure enough, this doesn’t mean that you should resign from your regular modus operandi and begin to live barefoot in a mud hut somewhere in the middle of nowhere. We can all start by the simple act of appreciation through observation.

On any afternoon at my home, I could easily walk outside and count at least fifteen species of bird. And I don’t live in the “bush” (as much as I wished I did), nor do I currently have any special fruit or flowers the birds fancy. After all, this was their home before we bulldozed it and put these strange blocks everywhere. I am asking on behalf of all our feathered friends, start by observing. Just spend more than five seconds looking at one of the animals around you, as you get home today – one of them may be trying to tell you something? Who knows? Maybe instead of throwing away fruit that has ripened beyond your preference, you can put it outside and let someone else have a go at it. Before long, you’ll have at least three species of tanager bickering over the leftovers. Tanagers are gorgeous, like the common “blue jean”, or Blue-grey Tanager.

blue grey tanager










Breadcrumbs and seeds would also be appreciated, by doves, grassquits and finches. Historically, we used to have many different types of seed-eating birds – most with exceptionally beautiful voices. Instead of enjoying them as they went about their lives, we decided to put them in cages. And now there are none. Saffron Finches are no singers, but they are a lovely shade of yellow.

saffron finch-2










Cloudy conditions just encouraged my high-key gland to act. At least three of these Saffron Finches were perched on these dry branches, along with Palm and Blue-grey Tanagers and Carib Grackles.

saffron finch-3










Just as I was contemplating the importance of this one tree, they all vanished. I thought I had done something to upset them, but no more than a couple seconds later I realized why they had all vanished. Falcon!

Merlins are a small species of falcon that migrate here every year, escaping the northern winter. They primarily prey on small birds – which explained the hurried departure of everyone! As miffed as I was for not realizing where the Merlin was perched initially, I was happy to see it. Then I noticed that it made a big circle, and returned from whence it came. A tall pine tree a few streets away was this bird’s vantage point. Luckily, we were able to sit comfortably and observe this fascinating raptor survey, choose a target, and launch itself like nothing else but a falcon can. He didn’t seem to secure any dinner though, unfortunately.


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