Home sweet home.

During a walk earlier this summer, my daughter and I spotted a small, coarse, brownish lump in the grass. Upon closer inspection we realized what it was: an empty, tattered bird’s nest, likely blown out of a nearby tree.

Nowhere in the vicinity could we see any remnants of actual birds or eggs, so we picked it up gently and brought it home, tucking it safely in the shelter of a patio flower pot.

And there it sat, forgotten, until yesterday, when I asked my daughter if she’d hold it while I made a photo. For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, Structure, we’re invited to share a picture of “the structure of something typically overlooked.”

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And this gave me the opportunity to observe and reflect on this little construction in my child’s hands.

Imagine the time and ingenuity it required for a tiny bird – innately a master builder – to weave this thing, strand by strand, maneuvering materials with its mouth. All this work – despite the fact that most bird species, if I’m not mistaken, don’t re-use an individual nest once the babies have matured. Both the task and the product have a specific purpose, and no time or effort is wasted.

Which makes it even more wonderful when I spot a bit of avian interior decorating:


This was snapped last winter, when the barren landscape exposed this bit of chic nest décor, which would’ve otherwise been hidden throughout the rest of the year.

I find it liberating and also a bit disheartening that a bird can – once the function of its nest has been served – part with this handiwork (seemingly) without much fanfare. Here, of course, I’m presuming to understand, or possibly invent, a bird’s emotional connection to its nest.

It makes me wonder about our own attachments to the buildings we call home, and how much the structures themselves, aside from all the practicalities and conveniences, influence our emotions related to them. Why do we consider them more than just material things? Would we feel any differently about them if they had no cost? Would we be willing to build them from scratch, with found materials, and using our own hands? Would we be willing to abandon them and start all over again next spring?

I think that’s enough pondering for now. The structure I’m currently sitting in needs to be vacuumed, and I don’t think I’ll find any birds to help me do it.

Thanks, as always, for your visit 🙂

They’re back.

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Two young, gleaming trumpeter swans have returned to our local pond. To better appreciate their spring makeover, have a look at the way they endured the bitter cold of early winter.

At some point, they must’ve gotten fed up with that business and made their exit – perhaps settling somewhere that didn’t necessitate hiding their beaks in their feathers to keep warm.

(I’d like to run away every winter, too, I just haven’t figured out how to make it work. No matter! Spring is here, and I have another six months to devise an escape plan.)




Looking up.

The photographer was mildly injured during the production of today’s photos (more about that in a second).

The exterior of this old building features two perfectly straight rows of rectangular indents in the stone. I’m guessing they once supported wooden ceiling beams for a room that no longer exists. The notches aren’t useful for holding up beams any longer, but they sure make great nesting areas for the birds.

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For a half-hour, I watched dozens of these birds chatter and flit around. Birds and wildlife are not my photographic strengths, but it seemed like an opportune time to practice. Unfortunately, the birds are pretty much the same colour as the wall, so my photos were lacking impact (that’s a nice way of saying they were crap).

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So I changed tack. I pressed myself right up against the wall in a manner that surely looked inappropriate (or at least odd) to passersby. I pointed the camera up and rested it flat against the wall. I waited. I made my shots when my subjects landed in the notches above me. I know the results aren’t award-winning or anything, but I liked the effect of the unusual angle.

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Which brings me to my injur(ies). Holding this position – standing while pressed flat against a stone wall and looking up at an angle of 90 degrees – is not ideal for promoting neck comfort (I may need a heating pad tonight).

I’m not sure whether getting hit in the head with bird excrement counts as an injury (I may need a shower tonight, too).

Friend, or foe?

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Here’s an odd talent of ours: we’re often able to obtain the information we need to correctly identify something, based on the shape of its silhouette alone.

I’ll bet you guessed this was a bird, and not a dog or a squirrel. Even if you don’t know much about birds, I’m guessing you know it’s not a sparrow or an owl.

A quick Google search brings up numerous types of “silhouette identification guides,” collections of silhouettes grouped together and labelled to easily compare their shapes and sizes. Some guides include those related to birds, trees, watercraft, Pokémon, leaves, insects, more birds, and aircraft (including an unsettling image of a WWII-era poster encouraging the public to familiarize themselves with the silhouettes of in-flight aircraft in order to determine whether they’re hostile – and therefore whether or not to take shelter).

This led me to feel thankful that aircraft identification is not a life-or-death worry of mine in this particular place and time (it then led me to feel distress that someone, somewhere, is likely worrying about it right now).

I’m fortunate enough that the only immediate concern present when I made this photo was whether or not I’d be attacked by a pissed-off goose.

The goose could technically qualify as “hostile,” but all things considered, I really can’t complain.

Well, hello there.


The cats, safely indoors where they can’t terrorize small creatures, were transfixed by the birds at the backyard feeder this morning. I watched the busybodies out the window for awhile, too. I’m not great at recognizing birds, but I could spot the chickadees and juncos easily.

When I looked up again, this cutie was perched on a branch… so I grabbed the camera and tried to capture it. I had to scramble because the felines nearly made their escape while I had the patio door propped open to make the picture. Sorry, cats, you’ll have to make do with hunting jingle balls and very unrealistic-looking stuffed mice.

I wonder if this is a house finch? If anyone knows birds and cares to share their thoughts, please do…