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Birding close to the farmette

It's a grey, cold and rainy day at the farmette. Unlike yesterday, when it was sunny, warm and lovely.

The pandemic surges on. I'm getting vaccine envy, because most of the people I know and love have their first shot. Don't get me wrong - I'm thrilled that they are getting protected. I also have pre-registered with a bunch of pharmacies. I just wish I was in the ranks. Oh, well. I can be patient.

So, onto to more optimistic thoughts. Yesterday, on my hike and in the farmette back yard, I really noticed the birds. So today, it's all about our feathered friends.

First, the Canada geese have come back in their numbers. Several pairs are nesting and it won't be long before we see roving bands of chicks toddling around the neighbourhood. These lovelies nearly went extinct in the 20th century due to over-hunting, egg-stealing and general habitat destruction. Now, there are millions of them, and some would say they're a bit of a nuisance. On our little Douglas Street, people in cars have to regularly stop at the goose crosswalk to let them get to the other side. I, personally love them. From afar. A brief, nearly violent encounter with a domestic goose when I was a child has made me wary of getting too close.

The robins have also been back for a few weeks. They're the sentinels of spring, and I always feel better when I spot them pulling worms from the rain-soaked soil. Their rather off-putting scientific name is Turdus Migratorius, and that's about how I felt about the one that used to wake us up at about 4:30 a.m. back in the old days on Foster Avenue in Guelph.

Honestly. Nothing like the loud noise of a rusty gate to get you going. Still, they're pretty cool, especially since they're actually from the thrush family and were mis-named by English settlers because they kind of, sort of, look like European robins with their brick-red breasts (which are waaaayy smaller, but cute, as well).

After making almost the entire circuit of my daily walk, I spied several redwing blackbirds in the swamp (okay, marsh) at the top of Douglas Street. Right now, the old cattails are still pretty dead and the new growth hasn't appeared yet.

But the birds are back. I especially like the way they kind of sway back and forth on the tops of the plants.

Per usual in the bird world, the boldly coloured sleek black ones with the red and yellow slash on the wings are males. The girls are a muted brown colour.

Finally, as I was pulling in the laundry from the clothes line after my walk, I noticed a woodpecker up in the tree on the east side of the property. Actually I heard him hammering away, which made me look up.

The photo is not great, because I didn't want to spook him. But he was pretty concentrated on getting whatever insect was hiding in the bark. Woodpeckers are ubiquitous to North America and they are related, unsurprisingly, to sapsuckers. We hang suet blocks just outside the east door all winter long to attract these lovelies.

So there you have it - a bit of an avian respite in the midst of this rotten pandemic. Hope everyone stays safe and sane. Until next week.


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