Friday, May 21, 2010

Birdhouses and Beavers

Flowers along the harbour front in North Vancouver responded enthusiastically, yesterday, to the recent rain, and didn't seem to have suffered too much from the wind storm.

Jonny and Jewel's nest fared a bit worse, but I think this picture shows Jewel sitting on eggs, so at least the main structure is still osprey-worthy. As I was taking this picture, a lady told me the story of this particular nest. It was apparently first built on a crane, and the workers carefully moved it to the platform. They were really happy when Jonny and Jewel agreed to the small shift in location.

I once read that water droplets on flowers make excellent photographs, and that good photographers carry a spray bottle with them. I have never tried spraying flowers, but there would have been no need for that yesterday.

For as long as my school has been at its waterfront location in North Vancouver, I have noticed and admired the birdhouse project. On occasion, I have posted pictures of some of the houses, but yesterday, I spent a little more time checking out the artists and the write-ups.

This boathouse was created by Horst Lemke. There was a little plaque for each artist, with various explanations about bird behaviour. Horst said that the entranceways are 1 and 1/8th of an inch, so that wrens and chick-a-dees can enter, but not predators like starlings.

Here is the plaque describing the project, begun in 2005. Not all of the birdhouses are shown in this post, but I hope to take pictures of the others in the future. There was clearly a lot of effort expended to arrange the houses so beautifully, and if ever you are in the area, it would be well worth your time to take a look at each one.

It wasn't clear if both of these houses were done by the same artist. I think at least one of them was done by Graham Eagle. Graham described the ability of birds to mimic sounds in their environment and to incorporate the sounds into their birdcalls.

This was done by Sarah Groves. She said that the distance from the entrance to the floor is important, to keep young birds safe while parents are hunting for food.

Noemi Koikowska did this one. I looked up some information about her. She was born in Poland in 1983, but has lived in Canada for more than sixteen years. One of her art themes is the exploration of femininity. She mentioned that chick-a-dees are territorial, and will not allow other chick-a-dees to nest in their area. However, other species are welcome.

Graham Eagle also did this one.

Strangely, I could hear chick-a-dees and swallows around yesterday, but couldn't see a single one in any of the birdhouses. In fact, in all the time I have been enjoying this park area, I have never once seen the houses being used. Most likely, I just haven't looked at the right moment, but I plan to keep a closer eye out from now on. I did see this robin yesterday. I wonder if the larger birds ever feel sort of left out when they look around at all the houses designed for more petite species.

Bill Thomson did this one. He is both creative and environmentally conscientious. His little plaque described the abundance of swallows in the area, and their ability to catch insects in their wide mouths. I try and try to catch photos of swallows, but am rarely quick enough to be successful. Ship Rock caught a beautiful swallow sequence lately. I'll keep trying.

This was done by Elizabeth Evans, who describes her curiosity about birds' response to colour.

Jacqui Berglund did this one. She explained that the loudest bird vocalizations are in the Spring, both to attract a mate, and to intimidate predators.

Monique Berglund did this very realistic impression of a human dwelling. She likes to place her houses near shrubs, so the birds will have a lookout and a perch.

So, nine (or ten, if the first picture is two houses) of the fifteen shown so far. Five or six to come soon.

After school, I joined Robert on the shoal, hoping to see Lawrence, the osprey. He didn't make an appearance, but the seagulls were fun to watch. We both commented on their amazing flying ability. The weather, although less rainy and windy, was still feeling quite unsettled, and that made for dramatic skies and water.

This seagull (I wonder if it is the same one) insisted (again?) on showing its tonsils. (I'm still wondering if birds have tonsils.)

Lawrence and Olivia's nest wasn't looking too bad after the windstorm. Perhaps, there were just a few bits missing around the edges. Still, I saw no sign of the ospreys. Hopefully, they have found a spot with protection from the wind, and will return to the nest as soon as the weather settles. They will have to do that pretty soon. My "lovebirds" seize every opportunity to take advantage of the their absence.

Black Jack and I walked at Jericho Park last evening. The light was beautiful, and these yellow birds (goldfinches?) were flitting around the trees at the entrance to the park. It was a struggle to catch them still for even a moment, and this was the best picture I could manage.

As we walked over the bridge, two beavers put on quite a demonstration of affection for each other.


I'm not sure if I caught them mating, or whether this is some sort of courting ritual.

When I use the "single-point-focus" on my camera, it is always something of a surprise to see how the background comes out. This mallard hopped onto the bridge railing as if to say, "Look at me. I'm just as interesting as those beavers." I had to admit, he was stunning in the light of the setting sun.
That was yesterday, as I saw it. The long weekend is coming, and the weather looks fairly promising. Hope it will be a good one for all of you!

11 comments:

  1. Love all your pictures, the color is amazing!!!

    Since moving to Mission I am amazed at different birds i see here verses where i lived before only 20 minutes away. There is a little blue bird who comes to the feeder , but why only one??

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  2. Carol, your excellent post shows why we call this “beautiful” BC. What fantastic photos of wildlife. One of the gull photos (where it floats on the water) actually reminds me of a swan. And the yellow bird amid the pink is SO sweet … I love the fading effect of the background!

    It makes sense but I had no idea people sprayed water on flowers to take photos of the drops. Your diligence in taking photos of the birdhouses is appreciated. I didn’t know this display existed and hope to see it for myself one day. My backyard birdhouse has chickadees nesting in it most years and I’ve always been a bit nervous that the opening is too big for such a small species. I haven’t seen this year’s resident couple back since the storm.

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  3. Romance is certainly in the air these days, catching the photos of the beavers like you did is a prize. Love the birdhouses, I never see too much activity around them but the creativity is amazing. Water droplets are very beautiful I always loved to paint them. The robin in the tree has a very regal look to him. As usual your pictures are wonderful. Keep them coming.

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  4. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Janice, I did notice quite a few birds at your new place. I wonder if the little blue bird is a male, searching for food to take to his mate, who may be sitting on eggs. You have so little time, but if ever you get the chance, it would be great to see a photo of it.

    Penelope, I hope we have had our quota of wind storms for a while, and that your chick-a-dees will return to the birdhouse. And, if ever you do pop over to see the birdhouses, or other sights around North Vancouver, I would love to give you a guided tour of my favourite spots.

    Dianne, thanks for the encouragement! I would love to see your paintings of water droplets.

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  5. That’s so nice of you, Carol. I’ll be sure to keep your kind offer in mind.

    Meanwhile, you’ve got me wondering if seagulls or any other birds for that matter have tonsils. I checked out an online nature newsletter "HANCOCK FORUM NEWSLETTER - Issue No 5 ~ November 07, 2007". The following is a direct quote from “Dr. Bird” who apparently wrote: “… while birds do not have tonsils like we do, they do have cecal tonsils which are found in their ceca which are dead-ending structures coming off the small intestine at the junction of the large intestine. They produce antibodies and play some sort of sentinel role for the lymphoid system.”

    After having read all that, I must admit, I am none the wiser. :)

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  6. Penelope, each time the tonsil question came up, I thought I would google it, and each time, it was forgotten. No, I'm not all that much wiser now either ;) but I loved that the tonsil question must have come up before, and I really loved that you took it upon yourself to do the homework. Thank you!

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  7. Hi, CC
    You write a great blog, and illustrate it very well with your camera work. Enjoy it. And it is always nice of you to hot link to my pictures.

    I too like the barn swallow sequence; got quite a bunch of them that day, but came home down cast as I actually was after cliff swallows, and they hadnt come back yet.


    With regards to the caption on the second picture in the sequence - where the male looks a little abashed because of the response of the cuter little one - I hasten to make you well aware of the fact that you have barely spoken to me at all since Lawrence came back.

    Cheers, Shiprock

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  8. My neighbour builds birdhouses, which adorn every possible spot on his fence and roofline - there is quite a cacophony of sound out there some mornings. And my favourite magazine, Birds and Blooms (http://www.birdsandblooms.com/) frequently features unique birdhouses. I've often thought I'd like to build a creative one. Your photos of the interesting ones near your school motivates me further.
    Now all I need is the time! :)

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  9. Good to hear from you, Shiprock and Jean. Thanks for your comments!

    Shiprock, I can't believe you were downcast after getting such wonderful shots! A perfectionist, huh? As for not speaking to you, I've been waiting for the chance to do that in person:)

    Jean, did someone say retirement would allow some spare time? Clearly, they have never read your blog:) I'm going to check out that magazine. Looks like a good one!

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  10. I would like to exchange links with your site bikesbirdsnbeasts.blogspot.com
    Is this possible?

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  11. Carol, your excellent post shows why we call this “beautiful” BC. What fantastic photos of wildlife. One of the gull photos (where it floats on the water) actually reminds me of a swan. And the yellow bird amid the pink is SO sweet … I love the fading effect of the background! It makes sense but I had no idea people sprayed water on flowers to take photos of the drops. Your diligence in taking photos of the birdhouses is appreciated. I didn’t know this display existed and hope to see it for myself one day. My backyard birdhouse has chickadees nesting in it most years and I’ve always been a bit nervous that the opening is too big for such a small species. I haven’t seen this year’s resident couple back since the storm.

    ReplyDelete