Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hummingbird story

I'm posting today to Eileen's Saturday's Critters and to Stewart's Wild Bird WednesdayThank you so much, Eileen and Stewart!  
New Pup at my Sister's House
A very big happy story is that my sister adopted a new puppy that was being "re-homed" (!) at the tender age of 14 weeks after an adoption gone wrong.  Apparently, the original adopters had Chihuahuas and the puppy was carrying them around proudly in his mouth, thinking they were his very own playthings.  I'll let you guess his breed mix.  
As my sister wrote in her email, "His name so far is Rocky but I think that might change. He has a bit of Zoe's brindle and sweetness, some of Tova's confidence, the white tail tip that Katy had, and a bit of Penny's devilishness that we all enjoyed."  Because of the white tail tip and the prominent upward-pointing ear, they have considered the name Tipsy and the suggestion of Hamilton came up as well (most likely to be rejected because of the inevitable shortening to Ham or Hammy).  Of course, if any of you have suggestions, it would be great to hear them.  As I write this, I've had a flash of brilliance (just kidding) that we should try to come up with a name that incorporates a letter or two of each of the family's former dogs. Let's see: Kazotopen..  or, ZoToPenKa..  hm.. well, maybe not.  I'm rather partial to Rocky myself, (he just looks like a Rocky to me) and the most recent message from my sister suggests they will probably stick with that name after all, though name suggestions are still welcome.  What matters most to me is that the whole family is already in love with him.  My sister says he is a wonderful little dog and doing really well with his adjustment to a new home.  He and her grandson are already very bonded.  
A long, happy, healthy life to you, sweet Rocky!
We rode our bikes to the heronry on Monday.  
It's a very busy place right now.  We met a professional photographer named Jack using an 800 mm lens. (!) He shared lots of stories with us and gave me a few photography tips as well.  When he said, "There's nothing to see here," I was shocked.  "You're kidding, right?" I responded.   To me, there was so much to see that I couldn't decide where to look first.  
He explained that what he meant was that the many branches made decent photographs impossible.  The point was driven home to me that as much as I love taking pictures, I will never have the mentality of a professional.  For me, the photographs illustrate the stories and record the moment and I'm happy when they turn out well, but ultimately, they are secondary to the thrill of seeing the subject in the first place.  As we stood talking, a loud clap of thunder seemed to come out of nowhere, and so we put the camera away, bundled Black Jack into her basket, and made our very wet, windy way back to Yaletown.
A ride to Vanier Park on St. Patrick's Day
I am told that the eagle pair has been preparing the nest for a family, but the male has his work cut out for him to adapt to a much more aggressive female than he was used to in the past.  I am not sure what happened to his first mate (they raised healthy chicks together for quite a number of years before she disappeared, but it is thought that his second wife succumbed to an injury caused when she collided with a power line.  I caught sight of the new couple sitting together for a few seconds, but then they took off, chasing a juvenile (most likely last season's offspring) away from the nest.
We stopped by the pond beside Charleston Park on the way home.  Bill's sharp eye had noticed this turtle and we both were hoping to get a better look at him/her.
The seagulls meet every afternoon in this pond for public bath time.
The "Grand Central Station" analogy really came to mind.. 
as we watched a steady stream of arrivals and departures.
There was the occasional mild disagreement, but for the most part, 
everyone got along well.
Black Jack watched the action from her basket, but clearly wasn't impressed that..
not a squirrel could be detected in the area.  It wasn't one of her finer moments when she.. 
yawned and then her lips got sort of stuck behind her teeth :)
She looked a bit embarrassed at first, and then..
distinctly unimpressed when Bill and I laughed at her expression.
"Ah well, back to seagull watching.  Ho Hum."
This seagull appeared to be dressed up..
for a fancy ball as she shook out the water droplets from her feathers.
This young seagull dove over and over again.  S/he was the only one using that technique..
and I wondered whether bathing methods can be traced along family lines.
Feather care is one of the prime activities of most birds.  This site gave me quite a bit of information about the various ways birds bathe and preen.   Plunging head first at quite a high speed spreads the feathers, and that, I guess, gives a more thorough cleaning.  Apparently, it is the favoured bathing technique of King Fishers.  
One blue heron arrived.  It struck me that I've never seen herons bathing together, nor have I ever noticed them socializing with seagulls.  They really are loners except for those of breeding age during the couple of months when they move to the rookery.
Ride to Lost Lagoon
The next day we rode along English Bay, parked our bikes at Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon and were lucky to see our second turtle of the season.  
I caught a feathery shot of a Canada Goose and liked the feeling..
of its birds-eye view as it passed over the water and along the edge of the pond.
We had walked almost around the lagoon (one of Black Jack's favorite walks) when we came across this American Coot.  
S/he seemed to be posing for me, rather like the seagull in the party dress.
Black Jack was excited to see this Douglas Squirrel..
but it was this Snow Goose that really caught my eye.  We don't usually see them at Stanley Park and there was only the one.  I had caught sight of it when we first arrived at the park,
foraging for food in a grassy area..
 and seeming to want to get to know this Canada Goose a little better..
 though the goose didn't appear to be keen.  That may have been wise.  I have just discovered this news story saying that thousands of snow geese fell from the sky in Idaho, during their annual migration to Northern Alaska.  Avian Cholera was suspected.  I wonder if this was a lone survivor.  
The Snow Goose swam up to us as we completed our walk around the lagoon.  Such a beauty.  I hope s/he is not ill and will make it to Alaska. 
I have to add just one more party-dress shot.  This cormorant was on the sculpture close to our apartment (where I never tire of watching them).

RIP - Dalrey
We learned some very sad news two weeks ago when we attended a Jazz Vespers concert.  Dalrey, a regular and favourite concert-goer had succumbed to suddenly diagnosed Cancer.
Dalrey was not a therapy dog but could well have been.  I don't know the details of her story.  She arrived with her two humans every single week, was quiet during the musical performances, but sometimes barked her approval during the applause (I think she had to be particularly impressed to grant that honour.) She was loved by those who sat near her and admired from the other side of the church (where we sat with Black Jack) by many others.  Her presence was often acknowledged by the liturgist, Reverend Dan Chambers, and when it was announced that she had died, there was a gasp of shock from all of us.
These photos were taken just a few weeks before her death and she was definitely feeling well at that time.  She greeted her favourite people and moved, as was her habit, from the floor to the pew, with perfect confidence that she was welcome wherever she chose to rest.
Bill and I expressed our sympathy to her human when he walked by us and stopped to pat Black Jack.  We still don't know his name nor even his relationship to the man in the wheel chair.  But, we do know that Dalrey was deeply loved, and that her period of illness was very short.  She had a couple of pain-free weeks after her diagnosis, but the end came quickly.  Her suffering was short-lived and her passing was gentle.  The tears rolled down his face as he described her last days, but he told us that is okay.  He knows it is a good thing to be able to cry.  You are deeply missed, Dalrey, by everyone who knew you.  RIP  
One of the most beautiful aspects for us of the Jazz Vespers concerts is that dogs are not only accepted, but heartily welcomed.  Black Jack gets hugs and kisses by several regulars each time we go. This is another dog who comes every once in a while to the concerts.  
There is something else that I love about Jazz Vespers and that is the welcoming attitude.  Between each musical selection, the liturgist speaks.  Sometimes, there is a reading from The Bible, sometimes, a story is told, and sometimes, a poem is read.  We never know quite what we will hear, but Reverend Chambers thoughtful words always come from the heart and they always carry a message that can be applied to daily life, no matter one's beliefs.  Two weeks ago, he told a story about a hummingbird.  It was a true story and a powerful one that described what happened when a hummingbird mistakenly flew through the doors of a church during a service.  I liked it so much, I went on line and found the full transcript of the sermon that you can read at this link (the document will load at the bottom of your page).  I've copied the part here that applies to the hummingbird.  I think you will love it.  Even if you don't have time to read it now, perhaps you'll come back to it later.  In the mean time, here is a hummingbird we saw on one of our recent treks, 
and here is Reverend Dan Chambers.  Below his photo is the story (with the hummingbird making an entrance in paragraph 4).  Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone.  Thank you so much for stopping by!

Reverend Dan Chambers: The Hummingbird Story
I.                The Way Forward
As we attend to our own work of integration, our work of faith, we do so in a social context that is dramatically changing.  While the road of Christiandom buckles and crumbles under our feet, we’re driven to be open to new ways of being disciples of Jesus in the world: we need, for example, to move from a culture of collegial competition to collaboration and cooperation.  We need to think creatively and as entrepreneurs.  We need to want to be better than we have been because something we care passionately about is at stake.
I care passionately that Canada has a vibrant and faithful progressive Christian community; I care deeply that children can attend a church where they’re accepted and loved for who they are, and where their spiritual life is nurtured by our Biblical story, questions and affirmation of wonder.  It genuinely matters to me, as I suspect it does to you, as well, that there is a Christian voice that speaks out with respect for women, for gays and others with minority status in our society, for people of other faith traditions, for the place of science, and where the heaven we hope and pray for is not only after this life but more importantly in this very world of God’s, right here, and right now.
We know that we cannot live as if it’s still 1964 and most of society either attends church or at least has respect for it.  This is no longer our reality, and this is not ground-breaking news.  But we do need to find a way forward.  And I don’t have the map.  National has not yet provided each of us with our own GPS, so I’m not sure exactly how you should be or in what direction I should start sprinting.  But I think it has to do with how we integrate our faith, how we bring together prayer and public witness.  I think it has to do with how we work creatively together, collaborate and care for each other.
There was an event that happened on one of my visits that embodied how we might find our way ahead.  The people from Fraser Presbytery have heard this story, and those from Kootenay Presbytery are likely to remember this event as I was visiting a Presbytery there about a year ago.  In the closing worship service, I was asked to offer the sermon, which I did.  In the middle of the sermon, I heard something fluttering above my head.  I also noticed several people in the congregation had shifted their attention from me to the ceiling. 
So I, too, looked up to the ceiling to see a wild thing flapping about.  It was small, and at first I thought it was a Kootenay- sized moth.  But upon closer examination, I saw that it was a tiny hummingbird.  On this fine May morning in Nakusp, we had the doors of the church open, and a hummingbird had flown into the sanctuary to grace us with its presence.  I thought this was really cool and perhaps a lovely symbol of the Holy Spirit descending upon this faithful crowd.
But it became quickly apparent that this hummingbird was in distress.  It was not thinking about blessing or prayer.  It just wanted to get out.  You could feel the attention of the whole room focus on the  hummingbird, who was now bashing itself against the florescent light thinking that was a window for escape. 

We didn’t know what to do.  Someone tried to reach up with a broom and guide the hummingbird out, but that only freaked him out even more. 
Someone else suggested we turn out the lights so it wouldn’t be fooled by the light.  We did that.  Someone else suggested we all quiet down so we don’t startle it even more.  We did that too.  Some else suggested we pray and imagine the bird to safely fly out the door.  We did that. 
As you can see, by now my sermon was trashed.  We had another sermon on our hands and talking wouldn’t do; we needed to act.  One person had the clever but wishful idea that perhaps if we took the red flowers that were at the front of the church and lifted it to the hummingbird, the bird would be attracted to red and follow the flowers outside. So they tried it.
It didn’t work.  It also probably didn’t help that the flowers were plastic.
Then someone had the smart idea of mixing sugar with water, and baptizing the flowers with sugar water.  Very clever.  So we tried it.  It didn’t work. 
Easily ten minutes had passed by this time.  The person with the plastic red geraniums sprinkled with sugar water was standing by the door, trying to visually entice the hummingbird while the rest of us concentrated on imagining the hummingbird safely making his exit.
Suddenly Jeff Seaton had an idea.  It too was a far-fetched idea but why not try it?  Jeff remembered that just the other day he had downloaded a “bird call app” on his iphone.  So he checked to see if he had a hummingbird call.  He did.  But he didn’t know if it was the right kind of hummingbird or if it was perhaps a competitor who would mostly scare the bejeebers out of our already dazed and petrified bird. 
So Jeff walked back to the plastic red geranium sprinkled with sugar water and let his app do its thing.  Still quiet, we all heard, “tzch, tzch, tzch!”  It got the bird’s attention.  Again, “tzch, tzch, tzch!”  And incredibly, amazingly, it worked.  It was a wonder to behold.  The hummingbird flew to the flower, perched, and allowed itself to be carried out the door like an emperor on a throne.
We all broke into wild applause.
That was the sermon for the day.  And the message is this: a familiar way of being church was suddenly and unexpectedly interrupted.  We were presented with a challenge to which no one knew the answer.  We collaborated, cooperated, people brainstormed, we tried several ideas, several of them didn’t work on their own, but we kept building on the ideas until, to our amazement, all the pieces came together and the bird was rescued, leading to a spontaneous celebration.  Beautiful!
That’s how we’re called to be Church in the 21st century.  There it is, in the story of the hummingbird: when we work creatively and passionately together with one heart and mind, we may by the grace of God stumble upon a way forward.
We might all be encouraged by the words of Wendell Barry:
It may be when we no longer know what to do,
We have come to our real work,
And when we no longer know where to go,
We have come upon our real journey.

I believe we’re called to the life-work of integration.  I believe we’re in a time calling for collaboration, cooperation and creative thinking.  I don’t know exactly what we should all be doing to discover the life-giving path for the United Church in the 21st century.  But in our not knowing, I sense we’re being ushered into our real work, and it’s possible we have come upon our real journey.


  1. so sorry for the loss of dalray, but i'm glad it was quick. truly what we all wish for. loved your birds and waterfowl shots. congrats on the new pup in the family. boston terrier mixed with...

  2. Enjoyed all your stories, oh he'd at new pup, laughed at Black
    Jack's expressions and ah he'd at the loss of that special dog.
    Great seagull series Carol, thanks,

  3. There is a little punch to that pup, so Rocky does seem like the perfect name.

    I did not know where the hummingbird story was going but I am so glad that I read it and can now digest what it says. From personal to global, the world can only become better with such keen attitudes of cooperation, persistence and a willingness to push creativity to the edge.

  4. Welcome to new dogs adopted into families, goodbye to dogs who are loved and die, and pats for Black Jack, the dog of many expressions! I am very interested in the sole snow goose; they usually travel in huge flocks so this is very unusual. Today I saw at least 30 herons fly overhead and learned later that there are many collective nouns for herons. Which one do you like the best? A hedge, siege, sedge, station, rookery, flight, colony of herons? Phyllis

  5. Very thoughtful. Nice image of the hummingbird he presents.

  6. I enjoyed all those shots of "nothing to see." I'm all about the experience, too.

  7. You got some exceptional shots of the birds in their 'fancy dress', I wouldn't have recognised them.

  8. Lovely writing and images yet again, Carol, I will have to come back later and read about the humming bird as I've had so many new visitors on ABCW, so must get over to them,,, all good stuff!
    Your sister's dog looks like a French Bulldog, my daughter has one and he's called Gismo, she also has a little pug called Roco, I think Rocky suits that gorgeous little chap just fine !
    Loved all the pictures of the various birds in the park, I felt as if I was there with you!
    Oh and Black Jack's yawn/smile is superb, quite a little character.xx
    Best wishes,
    ABCW team.

  9. Hello, Carol! What an awesome critter post.. I love all the doggies. Your sisters new puppy is adorable. And it is sad news about the passing of Dalray. The Herons, Eagles and the gull are wonderful captures.. Sorry, I am late commenting, I was away till today.. Thanks for linking up, enjoy the rest of your week!

  10. Nice post. I think that a number of my better bird images contain twigs and branches - seems a bit narrow minded on Mr.800 mm to say they were in the way.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  11. What a lovely, adorable puppy! I love the turtle too!
    Sorry to hear of the loss of Dalary

  12. Hi Carol, just stopping by to see if all is Ok. I have been missing your post!

  13. Thank-you all for your kind words about Rocky. He is a Boston Terrier/Pug mix (good call TexWis) and we have decided to re-name him Wally. Something about Rocky just didn't quite fit his personality. So sorry to hear about Dalray but happy that he had such a good life with folks who loved him. Really enjoyed this post, Carol. I love you.

  14. Carol, haven't seen you on ABC Wed for awhile, thought I'd check out your most recent post. Rocky is a cute name and he seems to match it. Hope all is well.

  15. Hi Carol! I've been distracted by travel and a lot of things going on at home. I suddenly realized that I haven't see your blog recently. Now I'm worried. I do hope that you, Bill, and sweet little BJ are okay. BJ's series of photos was darling! And the hummingbird story was inspiring, the "sermon" thought-provoking. As any teacher knows, sometimes you just have to toss the lesson any go with what is happening in the classroom! Sending you positive thoughts and hugs!

  16. Carol, glad I went on your blog! I didn't write comments, but I was happy to read your beautiful writing and magnificent photography. I hope you are all okay. So much for you guys. Jarka