Gyrfalcon

Just about everyone knows I am fanatical about horses – but did you know I also love birds?

My grandfather raised pheasants and hunted wild birds of various variety.  Bird books have always been within arms reach at any house I have lived in, just like there is always a dictionary.  I notice their songs and their fluttering always catches my eye.  It was something I never really noticed until I worked on a ranch as a wrangler after university.

One of the head ranchers, Brian Davies,  at Echo Valley Ranch in Jesmond BC trained birds of prey.  Here is one of the Echo Valley Gyrfalcons on Brian’s hand.  I had the unbelievable experience to help him train falcons while I worked there.

I would put on the leather glove, hold a bird until Brian was ready, and take the hood off the falcon.  When she saw the prey she would take off from hand and hunt.  This isn’t something most people get to do in their lifetime – so I consider myself extremely lucky to have had this opportunity.

Western Tanager

Anyway, it really brought to light my love of birds.  I knew a lot about game birds from my grandparents.  My mom loved to watch for and record sightings of all kinds of song birds.  And now I spent months, up close and personal with birds of prey.

I have been in BC for 16 years now and I have become familiar with the birds in the area.  But recently some new ones have shown up that I am surprised to see here or have never seen before.

  • In the past week a Chukar walked across the road while I was driving – I had never seen one before.
  • Just previous to that a grouse wandered into the garden while I was gardening with the kids.  Grouse never cease to amaze me how they can survive – it walked around while the kids chased it.  They even touched its tail feathers a few times.  After about 15 min of alternating between freezing (“if I am still you can’t see me”) and walking briskly it finally flew away.
  • They are lots of Western Tanagers this spring – their colours are spectacular and they are everywhere right now.
  • I grew up listening to the song of Mourning Doves.  When I left Ontario I never heard anymore – but lone behold, they showed up in Kamloops last year.  I now often here their song while running and it instantly reminds me of my childhood.

I feel like it all means something.  The sounds of birds are the first thing that make me feel connected to nature when I go outside.  When I notice new birds I feel like change is in the air.  When I hear a song from my past, it makes me nostalgic.  Is that too much emphasis on a bird?

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