Bird-Free Zone


That was the sound of the banhammer descending: my building is now a bird-free zone. From this day forth, no-one may feed the birds, put out nestboxes, or otherwise encourage birdly visitation.

For me, this is a huge disappointment. Due to limited mobility and lack of transportation, the majority of my birding is of the backyard variety. When I’m not at home, looking out at my own backyard, I’m in the backyard across the street, which has much the same birds as mine. Only, I’d get a few interesting extras, here, because of the feeders: Anna’s hummingbirds, a variety of woodpeckers, the occasional bird of prey. And, of course, Loudenstein and Noisenberg (who are out there right now, staring at the spot where the food always was, and making the most plaintive of noises; I can’t even look at them!).

So. What are my options, here?

Learn to drive; bird in the parks

PROS: Learning to drive would be good for more than just birding expeditions. I could go…well, anywhere, really, within the confines of my petrol budget.

CONS: I’ve tried this before. I wasn’t good at it. My vision and reflexes are both dreadful; I’m the only person I know who got into an accident during my driver’s exam. Furthermore, I can’t afford a car — and even if I could, I’d have nowhere to park it.

Buy some sort of remote-control plane with a camera attached; use it to fly above birds, and gaze down upon them

PROS: It might be fun, I suppose…. Nobody else would be doing it. My tiny plane could get close to birds I’d never be able to approach, in the flesh.

CONS: It rains all the time, here. I’m not sure what would happen to a remote-control plane on a wet day, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t be good. Also, it would cost a fortune to buy, and then another fortune in batteries. And, worst of all…well, if you were a bird, and this buzzy electric thing kept flying above you, wouldn’t you be a little irritated? The idea’s to admire, not annoy.


PROS: I could get a place with a washer & dryer. Much as I enjoy the fluff-and-fold service, sending out my washing gets expensive. Also, I hate the fact that I only get to wear my favourite cardigan once every two weeks. If I had my own W&D, I could stick it in every evening, and have it ready to go the next day. Furthermore, living in a house, with a garden, I could fill up the flowerbeds with hummingbird-friendly blooms, hang a feeder from a tree, and get a much nicer selection of birds.

CONS: Maintaining a house and garden is time-consuming, and possibly difficult. (I’ve never gardened. I don’t know.) Moving is the worst; the absolute pits. I might still get a landlord who doesn’t want birds on his property — though, if I asked in advance, got permission in writing for a birdfeeder, that could be avoided. I’d lose my beautiful view of False Creek.

Maybe I will move. Maybe it’s time to buy, rather than rent. I hear it’s quite nice, up by Queen Elizabeth Park — and there are ravens, in the area.

F. this, though. F. it hard.

I blame Mr. Dolgonosov. Dollars to doughnuts, this is on him. :-(


This morning, nice and early, I was still in bed, watching my starling strutting up and down the railing, near the feeder. He’d just frightened off a pack of sparrows, and was gloating — y’know, puffing out his little chest, making self-satisfied chortling noises, all that sort of thing. I felt a certain kinship with him, at that moment. I behave in much the same fashion, when I’ve just made some little accomplishment. I opened my mouth to say “Good on ya, Mr. Starling,” but even if I’d made it that far, he’d never have heard it: in the very instant I thought to speak, down came the falcon. It was the most graceful breakfast grab I’ve ever seen; I’ll give him that. He never even landed, all the way. He swooped in, sank his talons into the starling’s back, and was off on the next wingbeat, up and away. I think he must’ve pierced something vital, with those great hooked claws of his. The starling never made a peep.

Now, I recognise that the falcon’s got to eat, and indeed, wish him happy dining, but I’ve two little beefs with his behaviour. All falcons on the Internet — peregrine, gyr, and otherwise — take note, for future reference:

1) That starling you ate was the fruit of months of coaxing, tempting, seedbag-shaking, whistling, holding up plates of suet, and otherwise courting its attention. It had not yet had time to whistle up other starlings. I may never coax a starling to my balcony, again. Couldn’t you have had one of the sparrows, or maybe a nice, plump finch? I’ve got loads of those.

2) This balcony is a sit-down restaurant, not a drive-through. You eat; you get photographed. That’s the deal. No grab-and-runs, particularly if you’re beautiful. Which you are, Mr. Starling-Eating Peregrine Bugger.

3) If you absolutely must nosh on my less common visitors, at least wait till I’ve added a few good shots of them to my collection! I’d been avoiding photographing the starling too much, so it would get comfortable coming here, and bring more starlings. See what patience gets you!

The last (rather mediocre) picture I took of my starling, before the neighbourhood falcon got him.  A rather poor memorial, I must say!

The last (rather mediocre) picture I took of my starling, before the neighbourhood falcon got him. A rather poor memorial, I must say!

(Regular updates on birdie high society, and on my outdoor adventures, shall resume tomorrow. I’ve been languishing under the rigours of a miserable cold, but I’m now…languishing slightly less.)