Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vancouver Bird Stories

This week I had the dubious pleasure of seeing an eagle drown a seagull.

The gulls try to dissuade the eagles from feasting on their nests, so whenever the predators fly into their neighborhood the seagulls usually take to the air to behave more like a swarm of bees than a flock of birds, hoping to annoy the eagle enough to leave them alone.
This time, however, it seemed that one seagull got a little too close during the swarming, and it wound up in the iron grip of the eagle's talons. The methodical eagle dunked the seagull below the unforgiving waters, again and again, sitting on him somehow to ensure that there would be no escape from being submerged at the eagle's whim.
The unexpected sight got me to thinking about how much we take our birds for granted, as decorations in our busy city. And so, a tableau dedicated to the fine feathered friends that we share our city with:
It's a sign of just how laid back things are in Vancouver that even the birds prefer walking to flying. The human residents aren't the only ones who enjoy a casual stroll along Stanley Park's Sea Walk.
Crows, pigeons and seagulls prefer solitary hikes, while the more social Canada Geese tend to walk as a family.
The very symbol of perseverence, these herons give all fishermen a new standard for patience.
If you happen to be watching one when they actually catch a fish, you're in for a treat, as they allow themselves a rare trace of emotion to flash across their otherwise resolutely stoic facial expression.
On the opposite end of the scale, we have our ducks, the squawking icons of impatience. Every encounter with a duck seems to involve them warning me: "Get away from there, mac, can't you see I may want to walk there soon."

As winter turns to spring, many birds turn northwards, their migratory season at an end. That is the fate of the snow chicken, destined soon to lay its eggs once again in the arctic tundra. Fare thee well, friend, fare thee well...

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