I’d like to take you inside a daily practice that I have. I live on the south side of Riding Mountain National Park. We have several bird feeders hung from aspen trees in our south-facing yard. I grab a coffee early in the morning….
8:15 the first black-capped chickadees arrive. Each one has a separate little perch. They grab a seed and pound it between their little feet with a tiny bill and take the powerful package of protein inside themselves, puffing out their feathers with success and return to gather another one.
8:40 the first blue jay arrives; then three more. They are smart. One gathers suet droppings under the suet feeder; another uses its bill like a shovel to sweep away snow and reveal particles of seeds; another one feeds a shelled seed to a juvenile. Smashingly colourful, strikingly loud, they arrive with flair and depart quickly. Insight: These colourful birds must be recorded. Grab my camera with 100 – 400mm IS lens and take photo. Backlighting creates a halo around the adult feeding the juvenile. Stunning image! Reminder: I am doing this from my living room. Post photo to my online photo gallery and share with the world. I live in beautiful part of this province, and yet am connected to the world via the Internet. Isn’t that called, “having your cake and eating it too?” Access to the Internet and its communication highway has levelled the playing field. It’s not where you live; it’s how you live life daily.
8:45 a large flock of evening grosbeaks descends at the top of the aspen trees. They descend through the trees kind of like leaves in the fall touched with frost and flutter off the tree in a light wind. They gather around each hanging feeder, squawking, tussling and engorging on sunflower seeds.
8:47 a white-breasted nuthatch arrives. Now, here’s a striking bird. It’s kind of like a guy in a tux arriving for breakfast. He stands out. He quickly darts in, grabs a seed and flies close by to consume it. Insight: I like rebels; I like people who advocate; I like Manitoba as a place that celebrates diversity, where we can be different and by and large we are not ostracized for being different. We may not be well understood by others, but we are not rejected.
This feeder observation daily practice is good for me. It connects me to life outside myself. It connects me to winter. These birds have all kinds of neat adaptations for not just surviving winter, but for thriving in winter.