Category Archives: summer

Season of the Miniature

Summer solstice has passed, and the earth is reborn in miniature.

Tiny helicopter seeds on the manitoba maple are the size of my fingernail.

Acorns on the oak are tiny green pebbles.

Half-sized squirrels recklessly cross the ground near me, not yet having learned the caution of an adult.

Families of fledgling foragers feast! Magpie groups of about 5 birds array themselves in high bushes and low tree branches. The young, with their tell-tail stubby tail feathers, suitable for close quarters in the nest, still with the low raspy call of a nestling demanding food – always accompanied by the anxious adult shepherd with their long graceful tail & higher, piercing call.

A nuthatch came to the seed feeder yesterday, followed by another who watched from the tree, followed by a third – half the size of the adults. A young fledgling learning life outside the nest from her parents.

I’ve felt especially sympathetic to the nestlings this spring, as I cuddle close a young fluffy-headed chick of my own.

Resident Merlin Family

This spring the raucous call of a merlin could be heard echoing through my neighbourhood. I’ve seen the small hawk perched in trees and soaring over the block throughout the season.

Merlin in our pine tree

In the past two weeks a group of three appeared as a prominent presence – perhaps a fledged family – an adult pair with a juvenile, or an adult with two juveniles? They call to each other as they swoop through the neighbourhood.

The activity is centred one block east of mine, so perhaps their nest was in a backyard tree in that block. Apparently they like to move into old magpie and crows’ nests – and certainly there is an abundance in this neighbourhood. We had a crow family raised in a pine at the park a block away, and there were at least three magpie families in the immediate neighbourhood this year, as every year.

Merlin & Magpie 2

Robins return (sort of)

Absent since spring migration sightings, a few robins have reappeared in the neighbourhood briefly.

Two juvenile robins… or possibly another type of smaller-sized, adult thrush… hopped and hunted their way through the yard – subtly rust-coloured, mottled breasts.

A single adult robin seen nearby another day. Most recently, an adult robin lying dead in the alley with a throat wound… the same bird?

Other places are alive with birdsong in the summer, while this area seems quiet by comparison.

I bear witness to the truth of this recent local newspaper article – in this neighbourhood owned by magpies and squirrels, “few town-nesting American robins ever succeed in raising a clutch of eggs to hatching.”

The Feast

In honour of the newly blossomed roses & peonies, the bees humming away in the blooms, and the season of waking to morning coffee on the patio nearby…

The Feast

The laden arms of the oak, the elm,
and the agitated hunger of the small jays,

the fat globes of white sugarmum
where bees suck love,

and you, in the morning shade,
sipping hot coffee,

the taste of the new day sharp
and alive on your tongue,

are a chorus that says,
Indulge: the world is abundant —

this loving, dying world
to which we are given,

out of which we have come —
O body of the world,

eat with joy
the body of the world.

~The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival,
By Marcia Falk

Magpie youth

Baby magpie grounded

This week baby magpies left the nest in the neighbourhood. So cute with their little tails, concentrating hard on short, inexperienced flights.

This morning I saw something I’ve never seen before – young magpies with light grey markings* where normally they are blue-black. They look so different I wouldn’t have thought they were the same kind of bird, but they were behaving like other young magpies, making the same calls with other magpies, and seemed to be part of a family of normally marked magpies. Possible!?

(*Not pictured here – didn’t have my camera with me!)