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Plus d’oiseaux…

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This is really a continuation of a previous post where I described riding past a tree and some bushes loaded with these little birds.  Well I was riding past this same location today and heard them chirping away again. And this time I had a better camera with me so I thought I’d take a few more shots. Click any for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Just a goose…

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This post could easily be titled “more things (or another thing) I saw while riding my bike today.” I love seeing nature in the city. It is all around us all we have to do is look. And often I don’t see it, or at least take it for granted. This morning, for example, while I was riding around taking these photos, I stopped at the edge of Hoyt Lake and sat on a stone wall to rest for a few minutes. And as I sat there my mind was preoccupied and elsewhere (as is often the case) and knew that there was a small gaggle of wild geese nearby but paid them no attention. They were eating dandelions and one came so close to me as I sat that I could hear it chewing. I turned and looked and saw a dandelion hanging out of it’s mouth (or is it beak?), pictured above. I snapped a shot and it turned to me a started squawking (pictured below) then went back to eating weeds. It made me laugh. It didn’t seem to be afraid of me so I snapped a few more. It was a pleasant respite on a cool spring day.

Urban Simplicity.

Angry Bird…

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No, I am not referring to the internet game, Angry Birds. And I don’t know if this bird is actually angry at me, though it does look like it in the bottom two photos. But I do know that it is a proven fact the birds can remember you. These photos are in the succession they were shot. I saw the bird foraging for food as I walked to work yesterday and it was close enough that I thought I’d take a few photos. It acknowledged me straight away, and after a minute or so it turned to me as if to say, “will you get that camera out of my face.”  Anyhow, whatever its little birdbrain was thinking, I put my camera back in its bag and kept walking.

Urban Simplicity.

A Building and a Bird in the Rain

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When I left work today cold air was blowing out some of the warmer air we had yesterday, creating some fog. As I rode home I could see the top of our city hall shrouded in fog and thought it would make an interesting photo. So after stopping home I rode downtown. But by the time I arrived most of the fog had lifted and it had given way to a rather heavy rain, but I thought I’d still take a couple shots. I had my camera bag wrapped in plastic, and I walked the bike under a tree for cover from the rain to get a camera out (it was unsuccessful…I still got wet, but protected the camera–mostly–by holding it in my jacket. Anyhow, as I was wrestling with the plastic bag I glanced up in the tree and there–just a few yards from me–was the bird you see in the below photo. It seemed to be posing for me. That was the real prize. I snapped a few shots of it before it flew away. It made the short ride in a heavy rain worth it.

Urban Simplicity.

Aerial Ballet…predators looking for food in the city

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This is pretty cool (I think)…birds of prey looking for food in the heart of the city. I first posted about these birds last year, when one of them took up residence in a garden where I work. At the time I thought it was a falcon (our city does host does have them…click here, here, or here) but a reader suggested that it may be a Cooper’s Hawk. Whichever they are they certainly are impressive…and graceful. They were circling above a large construction site where the earth is being excavated. I can’t help but wonder if they weren’t on the prowl for mice and rats. They were, for the most part, hundreds of feet up just circling, then dipping a little, then circling some more. I watched for about 10 minutes or so as I snapped photos, waiting for the strike but it never happened. Anyhow, I thought I’d share a few of the photos. 

Urban Simplicity.

The Birds on my Porch (final post)

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This is the continuation and sixth and final posting regarding a bird family that took up residence on my front porch a few weeks ago, just outside a window and a few feet from where I type these words. My apologies if these posts have been tiresome; I personally have found the whole process fascinating. This is the final story of what happened on their last day there when they quite literally flew the nest. To read the previous posts in chronological regression, click here, here, here, here, and here. The following story happened a few days ago; I’ve been waiting to see if anyone has returned but they haven’t. The entire story–from hatching to flight–took just a little over two weeks. Amazing! Anyhow, here’s the last day.

I hadn’t taken pictures of the baby birds for a few days and thought I’d snap a few. For them I would stand on a chair and hold the camera a few feet from the nest and zoom it. They never seemed really scared, but I also didn’t get right up to them. On this day I noticed papa bird sitting on a branch next door; it’s a tree the parents would often retreat to. I found it odd that he didn’t fly away when I came out. I was able to snap the above picture. As I was taking his picture, momma bird showed up (first picture below). That’s odd, too, I thought. The parents are usually skittish and wouldn’t allow me to take their photos.

After snapping a few photos of them I placed the chair on the front porch in front of the nest, removed the lens cap from my camera and turned it on. And as I did this I looked up and noticed that momma and papa were now next to each other talking in their secret bird language so I snapped another photo (I’m not making this up…it’s pictured below). Hmm…I thought again, this is a bit strange. Sort of like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. But I’m too thick-headed to listen to my own intuition sometimes so I proceeded.

So I climbed on the chair and focused the camera in the nest. Because of the height of the nest and the angle I had to stand at it was always easier for me to see into the nest through the camera rather than with my naked eye. Anyhow, as I looked into the camera I was surprised by a couple things. The first was that I couldn’t believe how much they had grown in the last few days since I photographed them–they no longer looked like babies–and the other was that they looked afraid as I pointed the camera at them (they never did before). The below photo is the only one I was able to get before the parents arrived…I felt them before I saw or heard them.

I was standing on the chair with the camera raised when I simultaneously felt the wind of something go so close to me I could feel it passing and I saw something out of the corner of my eye like a shadow fly past. Something so quick I wasn’t sure if I saw anything at all. And then I heard them. The parents started flying back and forth directly in front of me–in between me and the nest and around my head–squawking, chirping, flapping. I almost fell off the chair (which is likely what the parents wanted). I realized later that the parents were probably not so much going after me as they were telling their babies to fly away…maybe it was a little of both. Anyhow, as a synchronized motion, all four of the babies simultaneously flew from their nest and the parents followed. Leaving me there in silence slightly dazed and confused. The entire thing lasted maybe 10 seconds. A photograph of the empty nest is pictured blow. It’s the closet I’ve been to the nest; I took the photo today. This weekend I’ll remove the nest and wash the poop from the shade to which it is attached, and reclaim my front porch. The natural world–even in the heart of the city–is an amazing thing.

Urban Simplicity.

More about the Birds (numéro cinq)

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So I was finally able to capture a couple pictures of the papa bird feeding the baby chicks (the top and bottom photo). And second from the bottom is the mother bird keeping a watchful eye as usual. Their breed was also identified…House Finch (thanks Rita!). And the image below is a closeup of one of the babies…they have become so full and chubby–and full of feathers–in less than two weeks. I’m pretty sure there are four in the nest. The reason the pictures of the parents are somewhat blurry are that I’ve had to take their photos not only from a distance (they hear the camera turn on, I swear) but also through an unwashed window (I really do need to clean my windows). Anyhow, to see previous pictures of the birds–in chronological order–click here, here, here, and here.



Urban Simplicity.

Mother and Child Reunion

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A few things first. In the event this is the first you’ve seen these birds this is a continuation of a post I started a week ago regarding birds that have taken residence on my front porch. To see previous posts, click here, here, and here. I’ve been somewhat concerned because I haven’t seen anyone tending the babies in the past day but I think they (the adult birds) have simply been sneaky about it. The image above is the best shot I’ve gotten of the elusive mother. She’s skittish and sees or hears me as I approach the window. Actually, as it turns out, I’m not sure if the above bird is the mother or the father…it turns out there have been two of them taking care of the baby chicks. Both are small birds–likely not taller than four or five inches–but the other bird has bright red breast and neck feathers. It’s amazing watching them feed and tend to the little ones. But speaking of them…they’re not that little any longer. It’s amazing how quickly they grow. The best I can figure is there are four or five of them pictured in the pile of feathers below…pretty soon they will be overflowing from the nest.

Urban Simplicity.