American Robin sings in the sun. (Margo Hearne photo)

On the Wing: Pocket Birding and Being Insignificant

by Margo Hearne

We are letting the sunshine in. It’s been lovely for a day or so after the rain. Changeable weather can bring the birds down from the sky so we did a little ‘pocket birding’ in spots where songbirds might congregate. Of course, they have such a large territory to hide on island that there is no place in particular to go to find them. It’s usually a matter of luck and timing. In one patch of shelter, a group of Dark-eyed Juncos flitted low through the spruce. Then a few Orange-crowned Warblers appeared, some Lincoln’s Sparrows and a few chickadees. There they were, and there they were not. Had we been in that particular place a few minutes earlier or later we wouldn’t have seen them at all. That’s the thing about birds, they do what they like, go where they like and don’t give a darn about how we feel about it. It’s so liberating not to be in charge of anything.

A recent book by Kyo Mclear “Birds Art Life” (Anchor Canada 2017) landed in the house recently. A gift from Peter. The author decided to learn about birds following a family illness that ‘unmoored me and remained the subtext of my days.’ A chapter entitled ‘love’ was ‘on falling in love with birds and discovering other lessons in insignificance.’ She contacted a birder and arranged to meet him for a bird walk. He told her that he took up birding to get him out of his studio and out of his head. “I wanted to be admired,” he said. “I wanted to be significant! I wallowed in a real sense of insecurity most of the time. Now I spend hours trying to spot tiny distant creatures that don’t give a s..t if I see them or not. I spend most of my time loving something that won’t ever love me back. Talk about a lesson in insignificance.” Her birder friend had managed to separate himself from the competitive world and from the imperative to feel tragic about things, but otherwise he was still a familiar duck who lived in the world like the rest of us. So, she wandered the paths with him to learn what she could from birds about life.

In another distant pocket we found another group of birds. Townsend’s Warblers, robins, chickadees, other things. Again, we had about a three-minute break and the conditions were perfect. Calm, cool, sunny; some bush, some open areas. The birds fed busily and kept flitting through the brush and there was hardly a second when they were motionless enough for us to even see them. Warblers do that on migration. They land quickly, fill their tiny bodies with nutrients and keep going. They don’t have time to waste, there’s a Sharp-shinned Hawk on the wing; the weather’s going to change. It did. The wind rose, the leaves shook and the birds left.

Like the Haida Gwaii Observer on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Prince Rupert’s ferry issue is a North Coast issue, MLA Rice

Prince Rupert not alone in fight to save ferry to Ketchikan: Alaskan Rep. Ortiz

Brand new vessel for Massett Marine Rescue

The Tagwaal was unveiled to the public Sept. 6

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Council Briefs: Village of Queen Charlotte

Child care and clean-ups on the agenda

Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

On the Wing: Small Yellow Flying Things

by Margo Hearne Distance doesn’t seem to deter migrating birds; they travel… Continue reading

Winnipeg student, killed in bus crash, remembered as passionate, kind

University of Victoria student Emma Machado, 18, was killed in the bus crash near Bamfield on Friday

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Largest driving factor is the province’s complex stumpage system that results in high fees, expert says

20 day search for missing Labradoodle in Princeton, B.C. ends with tears of joy

The search brought out bloodhounds, and groups hoping to find Mordy

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

Most Read