A Swainson’s Thrush (Margo Hearne/Haida Gwaii Observer)

On the Wing: Cool days and short nights

By Margo Hearne

It’s windy and wet and the birds are staying on the nest except for a family of fledged robins now feeding on the lawn. It seems early to see fledged young but it’s easy to forget that it’s the summer month of June.

Robins return to the islands earlier than most other songbirds and settle down right away. If they lay eggs in mid-March, chicks should be ready to leave the nest by mid-April, and by mid-to-late May they should be foraging for themselves. So it shouldn’t really be a surprise, it just seems like it’s been cold for a long time this year. It was only 8 C this morning, the same as it was on January 15!

Many robins will re-nest — they have time before the sun starts to set earlier in the evening. It’s all about light, heat and food. Later arrivals such as Swainson’s Thrushes or Barn Swallows don’t have the same leeway. Swainson’s came back in May and are now singing a rich melody late into the evening. Their young should be out and about by mid-July, which is when their evening song is stilled. It’s a short season, not like down in the hot countries where some species can nest year-round.

The Rufous Hummingbird is busy at the feeder. It is so territorial that one wonders how it can sustain enough energy to feed its tiny family. It buzzes after interlopers, zaps through the air on a high dive, and seems to really waste a ton of energy protecting its space. Is it one way to develop those tiny muscles for the long flight south? Who knows? Of course, if it sits on a nest all night it just might need the exercise.

Its larger feathered cousin the Sandhill Crane likely needs some exercise, too. First there were two, then five, now there are up to 20 stalking through the long grass in the Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary. They arrived this week all of a flurry, with feathers flounced and much loud protest from the “owners” of the flats: that is, the nesting pair. The pair has been pretty low-key lately, and we wait to see if any ankle-height golden chicks will appear in the coming weeks. Sandhills, being big birds, need a lot of nesting space. Like humans, they need space, and time to feel at ease.

The nesting Red-breasted Sapsucker has found a new place to drum. Our woodshed roof has a nice, ringing resonance and it’s been having a wonderful time hammering away at five in the morning. It used to drum on a metal plate at the top of a nearby hydro pole but someone took its toy away. Too many complaints from the neighbours? The bird’s season is short and their bravado and bright colours are more to be admired than not. It simply likes to let other sapsuckers know it’s the best.

Just Posted

CHN seeks injunction against logging at Collison Point

Weeks after ordering an end to a blockade there, the B.C. Supreme… Continue reading

Talking toads on Haida Gwaii

Researcher to share the latest on protecting Haida Gwaii’s only native amphibian

Divided worldviews at play in debate over ocean fertilization

New study looks at attitudes that shaped reaction to controversial experiment off Haida Gwaii

Tlellagraph: Breathing, beach parties, and being happy at home

By Janet Rigg I’m going to take you back in time, to… Continue reading

B.C. turns up the heat

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for most the province due to high temperatures

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

Port of Prince Rupert names Shaun Stevenson as new CEO

Stevenson has worked for the port for 21 years as vice president of trade development

Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Bill C-45 now moves to royal assent, which is the final step in the legislative process

Fake attempted abduction not funny to B.C. neighbourhood residents

Two teenage boys won’t face criminal charges after scaring girl

Mosquitoes out in full force already? Blame the weather

But a B.C. mosquito expert says the heat wave will help keep the pests at bay

Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of B.C. couple

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court

New GOP plan: Hold kids longer at border – but with parents

Move would ease rules that limit how much time minors can be held with their parents

Without a big data strategy, Canadians at risk of being ‘data cows’

Presentation said artificial intelligence could give Facebook and Amazon even more power

Five B.C. families stuck in Japan as Canada refuses visas for adopted babies

Lawyer points to change in American policy around adoptions from Japan

Most Read