I’ve held a love for feathered friends lifelong. Growing up, we had a budgie as Dad was allergic to dogs. It wasn’t uncommon for Dickie Bird (I didn’t name him) to be flying free and playing with us kids. Here’s my brother, Marty, pictured with him, way back in 1959. Birds were part of our family.
Even on vacations, birds seemed close by. Here’s Mom and my sister, Sara, in Halifax. I remember the moment like it was yesterday, with the birds landing on us.
I think always being around feathered friends made me easily hear birds outdoors, and to seek them out on nature walks. It’s like my hearing sense was heightened. I’ve even encountered birds that sat on my finger!
Backpacking through Australia, at age 20, my Greyhound bus passed for days through the desert. When a bus stop appeared at Victoria River Crossing, I was delighted to view a river with immense trees alongside it.
But, what caught my attention was the sound of a flock of birds chirping. I looked up and saw two-foot-tall white parrots filling the tree branches. I later learned they were called sulphur-crested cockatoos.
I navigated the whole of Australia and loved it all except for a time, entering Melbourne, with a friend. It was chilly, rainy and crowded after a lengthy time spent in the peaceful desert. However, Phillip Island was nearby with colonies of fairy penguins. At sunset, we watched the twelve-inch-tall penguins surface from the sea, after spending the day fishing. Four thousand of them waddled up the sandy beach to their nests. How exciting to hear them greet each other with funny sounds! Sort of like a meow crossed with a trumpet, with a shriek and the whine of a car engine starting thrown in for extra effect. All coming out of a tiny, slate-grey body with blue flippers.
When I was a new bride, my hubby bought me a budgie. I know he gave me jewelry as gifts over the years, but that sweet budgie, Iggy (after Iggy Pop; yes, I named him!) is the gift I treasured most.
A duck became our family pet when we had two young daughters.
You wouldn’t think a pet duck could be cuddly, but then, again you never met Walter.
We learned Walter was female when she started to lay eggs.
Another interesting avian memory is from a time spent in Haiti. I’m sure you heard how animals were unsettled before the Tsunami hit Southeast Asia in 2004. Elephants raced for higher ground. Dogs refused to go outside, and captive zoo animals rushed into their shelters, and couldn’t be coaxed to come out. Similarly, I happened to be in Haiti two weeks after the disastrous earthquake struck there. Every night, the roosters would fly into trees and crow all night long! They were definitely shook up!
I’ve come to treasure birds, wherever I chance upon them. Whether it’s at a beach—
or in a parking lot—
I admire their flight patterns and activity. I listen for the distinctive chirp of a cardinal when I’m in the backyard, and often find one easily. You should try it! You will see far more birds once you start to listen for them.
And, that is why an event last week was truly magical. I had been taking photos every thirty minutes or so of the developing lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth, sun and moon perfectly align in space, with the Earth positioned between the sun and the moon. When the Earth’s shadow falls on the full moon, it turns red!
I received a call from my daughter to ask if I could pick her up at a nearby restaurant. Her friend had been a no-show. In the car, I told Monique I needed to hurry home—it was 11:30 p.m.—as I didn’t want to miss the full lunar eclipse. She asked whereabouts in the sky the moon was, and we saw it through the sunroof of my car, framed with frost all around the windowpane. Monique’s a photographer as well, and we both agreed it truly was a unique sight to behold. I regret I never caught a pic of that!
I dropped Monique off, and hurried home, to venture outside once more. It was -27°C with the windchill. I wore mittens, with half-finger gloves inside, to free my fingers to use my camera.
The price of chapped hands was worth it for the opportunity to capture the special lunar eclipse.
I had been outside at least a half-dozen times, but at midnight, with the moon a coppery-red colour, I was absolutely thrilled to hear birds chirping. You could say I was over the moon! And, not just one or two birds chirping but a multitude of them. While my hubby teases me that the birds were simply annoyed that I kept going outside, I think differently. They were either bewildered or excited, I don’t know which. All I know is that it made me feel like all was right with the world, that God was controlling the universe. I felt an incredible peace with it all.
May 26, 2021 will be your next chance to see it again! Don’t miss out!