Bts and Bites of Everyday Life

Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

Geese in flight, image.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. (Frank Lloyd Wright)

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

12 April 2013 — Fed up with winter? I hear you! I came home from an eleven-day Barbados vacation in mid-February to delays in Toronto because of snow and -22C weather. The next day was a chilly -29C. I wanted to go back to Barbados’ sunny weather of 27 to 30C.

And I wasn’t the only one complaining! A Citizen’s March 23 article read: “Punxsutawney Phil indicted over spring forecast”. Amanda Lee Myers and Mark Scolforo suggested Phil, the Ohio groundhog, might want to go back into hibernation.

Wild turkeys forage, image.This is precisely how some people in Ottawa felt… sluggish, tired and worn out. I even heard the word “winter burn-out”! This winter, I wore my heavier Columbia boots instead of last year’s short leather boots. You were either knee deep in snow or trudging through slush.

Enough said, I’ve made my point and thank God for distractions! Right now, I am keeping an eye on two huge wild turkeys who are scavenging for food under my neighbours’ pine trees. Bird watching has always been one of my favourite pastimes, one I share with my grandchildren who love to take the binoculars out and check on local birds. This winter, a partridge would come over and feed under the feeder. The children got to see my special guest during New Year’s brunch. We pulled out the binoculars and the camera but didn’t get close enough for a good photo.

Before the grandkids were born, I shared this passion with my husband, Brian. I called him my “birdman”. He set up a huge birdfeeder under the spruce trees in the backyard. It is no longer in use because it attracted lots of doves and pigeons who proceeded to poop all over the eastern part of the verandah. We also had no control over pesky squirrels who thought they were “king of the castle”. Today, I use a small mixed-seed feeder for chickadees and sparrows and a bigger sunflower-filled one for blue jays and cardinals. Juncos often prefer to feed off the ground. I also have a tube feeder for finches. This winter, I have had the privilege of seeing the cardinals more often. They are very special to me! The male usually shows up first and checks if the area is safe while the female waits close by. She will then come to the feeder while the male keeps watch. I love to hear them sing and chip and, at this time of the year, listen to their mating call.

One sure sign of spring, despite the lingering snow, is the robin. I first saw them around my daughter’s property. They looked a little confused. Now they are all over the neighbourhood. I have been hearing the redwings sing their sweet “O-kaLEEEE”! They showed up with the starlings and other blackbirds. The male redwings are staking out their territory and mating season is starting.

I marvel at the huge flocks of wild geese that are flying by. You first hear them honk, then see their famous V-formation. Nathan and I got a close look at the geese and ducks at the Frank Kenny watershed. He was interested in the different colours of their plumage.

Our dear Elizabeth Le Geyt, who was the Citizen’s “Birds” columnist for 39 years, has now retired at the venerable age of 99. Her love of nature, gardening and her passion for bird-watching made the challenges of raising five sons on her own more bearable. I’ll vouch for that! And we both added writing to our passion for nature.

Forget about April Fools’ cold and windy weather and its snow flurries! This spring, why not go for nature walks? Bring your binoculars, your camera and enjoy! I will.

Happy spring!

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