I am always looking for unique opportunities for my family to interact with nature. Several years ago I discovered the world of bird banding and (because of our love of birds around here) ever since we then we have been hooked. Bird banding is described as “The practice of catching birds, marking them with an identifying band around the leg, and then releasing them.” Scientists rely on banding to learn about bird behavior, migration patterns, etc.
Twice in July (in Ottawa) the public is welcome to be a part of banding Purple Martins, Canada's largest swallow. Purple Martins are community birds and there are two very large Martin bird houses by the Ottawa River that were built by a man named Peter who cares for the birds and bands them with the Innis Point Bird Observatory (see their facebook page here). This morning two of my kids & I ventured out to be a part of the action and we were delighted to see, hold and feed some new born baby Purple Martins. Here is our story in pictures, and a few words...
We arrived and watched the parents go to and fro from their nests which are located in these homes (the male is the darker bird):
Peter lowered the first house down to have access to the baby birds:
As he opened each door, we were able to see the amazing treasures that were hidden inside:
We saw babies at all stages of development. These little guys were only two days old!
They were so tiny and could not even yet see, but if you look closely you can see their feathers beginning (look at the head and the "wing")...
These were a few days older, still bunched up in their nests:
This one was almost ready to leave the nest:
It was amazing to watch as Peter fed the tiny birds ... he gave the one below a dragonfly that was nearly half its size & it had no trouble eating it!
And a little bit of water to wash down their meal:
We were able to hold and handle the babies. Here my son is trying to feed one of them:
We watched as he carefully banded the older babies:
Here Peter was checking its size to correctly assess the age:
We learned about some of their challenges ... blowflies lay their eggs in the nests and the larvae suck the baby birds' blood for food. Peter checks each nest several times a week and cleans out all the larvae.
Once the whole house was cleaned and the babies were cared for and banded, Peter raised it back up to its full height and the parents happily returned home:
Thanks so much to the IPBO for a great experience this morning! If this interests you, there is likely a bird observatory near you that you could get involved with.
Chase down your passion like it's the last bus of the night.
-- Glade Byron Addams
I love this quote as there is something so wonderful about pursuing what you love. It takes time and energy to pursue a passion, but the effort seems minimal and the pursuit a pleasure. I am daily searching for moments to pursue my passions ... I carry my sketch book, pencils and pens with me everywhere I go, I grab moments with my camera as often as I can or (as I talk about here and here and here) I regularly use my iphone camera and, whenever possible, I get lost in my little in-home studio. It is an absolute delight to be distracted in a project and I willingly assign hours (sometimes late-night hours) to work on one.
I've mentioned before that I am taking several art courses and they all come with their own assignments, challenges and projects. I'd like to show you one of those recent projects.
My canvas here was a wood block and the wood was up-cycled from an old crib set that someone had put out at the side of the road. I saw the wood and immediately envisioned it cut into pieces and painted up, so I pulled over my van and dragged it all into the trunk as my kids sat bewildered. I asked Tim to cut a few of slats into pieces, and after sanding it down I went to work on my assignment:
It was such a fun project and I will definitely be making some more of these wood block paintings! I encourage you to take time to do what you love. You will not regret a moment of it ... you were made for it!! Silvia