Downy Woodpecker Drama


Downy Woodpecker mother and baby
The week started so well for the downy woodpeckers in the garden. I captured this lovely moment when the mother downy, hardly any bigger than her offspring, carefully feeds him some suet from our feeder. Baby can fly a little but hasn’t quite figured out how to gain entry to the inner sanctum of the squirrel proof “suet palace”.

Baby Downy Woodpecker at Suet Feeder

Things began to go wrong for the family yesterday morning when the mother downy woodpecker ran into the neighbour’s cat. Luckily the neighbour was nearby and rescued her from the jaws of death. Meanwhile the baby downy woodpecker seemed at a loss and was sitting immobile in our lilac tree. We decided to try and reunite them. At first it seemed as if it might be a happy ending. Mom fluttered out of the box the neighbour had put her in, and made in the direction of her baby. Unfortunately it was soon apparent that she couldn’t fly. She did, however, manage to scoot up the lilac tree and even, after a major struggle, get into the suet palace for some food. Darkness was falling and I began to consult my more bird-savvy friends on the best course of action.

Injured Mother Downy Woodpecker

The consensus was that the mother woodpecker needed to be rescued because injuries caused by cats almost always become badly infected. Unfortunately she had disappeared into the high branches of the lilac and it was quite dark. Also I worried about what would happen to the baby without his mother. I hadn’t seen any sign of the male parent all week. A wet and fretful night followed, with midnight, 2am, 5am and 7am checks on the stranded birds. As soon as it opened at 8:30am, I called the Wildlife Rescue Association in Burnaby. As I was on the phone to the lovely volunteer there, a miraculous thing happened. The male woodpecker suddenly appeared. It would not in any way be an overstatement to say that their reunion was rapturous. It reminded me of one of the clips at the beginning of the movie “Love Actually” where long separated family and loved ones reunite at Heathrow Airport. Anyway, two good things came out of this. One: there was another parent so junior would not be alone with his mother gone. Two: the female was so exhausted after the excitement of her mate’s return that she fluttered to the ground. My daughter and I had a box and sheet ready and quickly scooped her up.

Injured Downy Woodpecker in boxOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So now we wait to see if she will make it. I have a case number and will call the rescue people tomorrow to see. If she does recover we can bring her back here to hopefully reunite with her family. If not, at least she’ll have been spared a lot of suffering.

 

Dive Bombed by Crows!

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If you have recently been terrorized by seemingly deranged crows — it’s likely because the crows ARE slightly unhinged. Like all new parents they are consumed by the fear that something is going to happen to their newborns. In the case of crows, the danger to their offspring is very real. Strolling along the boulevard, you may not see yourself as a threat to junior — but the hyper-vigilant parents can’t really tell you apart from real danger (cats, off leash dogs, eagles, racoons, cars etc). So please try to have some sympathy for their soaring stress level, and don’t feel too victimized. It’s not personal! Plus, dive-bombing season should be coming to an end soon as the babies become less vulnerable.

Here’s a guide I created to help you spot baby crows. They’re surprisingly adorable once you start noticing them. Don’t get too close though — remember those protective parents!

Guide to Baby Crows

In Defence of the Commonplace

Alleyway treasure!

Alleyway treasure!

I was reading a blog the other day about “bucket lists” and how too many of us put off doing things on those lists, getting too caught up in the day to day to organize and save for that trek to Katmandu, or sailing trip around the world. In many ways I sympathize with the sentiment of the message.And yet, it got me to thinking. For sure I would like to go to Italy one day … and New York and New Orleans. But, for me, it’s just as important, if not more so, to make time to really appreciate the little things every day.Stopping for a few moments to admire the robin’s joyful splashy bath in the birdbath on a sunny spring morning. Glancing at the crows huddled companionably on the power lines as the rain pours down. Spotting an amazing patch of moss and lichen that forms a whole miniature world on a lump of rotten wood. Simply noticing things. No great conclusions are necessarily reached, but I do feel rich, and as if I took a small trip outside of myself. And I was only out in the backyard, or walking to the post office.In my work I try to convey this philosophy. Most of images are taken close to home and the subject matter is not exotic – just things you can see everyday – common garden birds, moss, plants, old buildings. I work with these little moments and try to show them so that others see how I feel about them. I try to convey the ”specialness” and timeless beauty in the everyday.

Bath-time fun for baby robin.

Bath-time fun for baby robin.