"Resourceful, powerful and tougher than me,
Tiny birds foraging is an incredible sight to see."
It was the dishevelled state of the ground and needles on the walkway during a recent snowfall alerted me to this being an excellent area to monitor for ground feeding birds.
The birds who visited this site to forage were the varied thrush, black eyed juncos, sparrows and spotted towhees. You will see that these ground foragers are very aggressive with each other, preferring not to share even with their own kind. We are pretty pleased to be able to share this for those who love birds and nature to be able to enjoy. Moments like this are medicine, they help strengthen our spirits and our souls which we all need a steady supply of.
'Wandering on a snowy day,
Wondering which way,
To go and play!'
Snow is incredibly delightful but fairly rare so when it falls it is like magic. The only trouble is deciding which way to go exploring before it melts.
Down at the sea shore it began to snow heavily and was very cold but the seagulls and geese didn’t mind. It is at this time that rational people go indoors and wait for the weather to break, I however opted to pull out my sweet little wildlife camera and tripod and record a bit of the storm for everyone to enjoy.
It is always amazing to me how incredible and different the snow makes everything look, it is like taking a holiday without going anywhere. The hush and silence that the snow brings with it is just as brilliant and also a welcome change. It was a wonderful day tromping around in the snow and photographing lovely sites and getting soaked and cold. On my way back I took another short video of the same location, albeit shot from different vantage point of the same region that the snow had been falling on shortly before, what an incredibly difference and a perfect ending to a wonderful day.
Sitting on a snowy branch,
Waiting for the spring,
Dreaming of the bright flowers,
And the happiness they bring.
While I was out taking these snowy shots a man approached me to inquire about what I was taking pictures of. I responded that I was shooting a hummingbird and he looked at me like I was insane and informed me that hummingbirds do not arrive until the spring. He was not right and he was not wrong, the Rufus hummingbirds arrive in the spring, however the lovely Anna’s live here year round. They are very tiny, and people don’t expect to see them in the snow but they are incredibly tough little birds, and I am very fond of them.
“We don’t have to go to wild places to find wildlife. A surprisingly wide range of species can be found in our cities and towns, from familiar animals like the raccoon to more exotic ones like the mountain lion.“
Roger Tory Peterson
It was the crows that drew my attention to a little Raccoon in a tree that sits between a drug store and a parking lot. The crows were squawking loudly so it couldn’t get to sleep and I stood beneath the tree and just as rudely started taking pictures. I had only taken a couple shots when another Raccoon unexpectedly arrived upon the scene. This intrusion was too much for the now cranky original Raccoon to tolerate and the fur began to fly. Unfortunately I was not present at the end of this event as they ran off in a flash with the violated in pursuit of the offender. Friends of mine witnessed the pair on the next block running fast but they also are not aware of the conclusion. Who knows perhaps they are running still but it I do know it is highly unlikely that I will stumble across a raccoon fight again especially with my camera ready to shoot.
Down by the bay,
the Seagull's play,
dressed in their fine feathers,
of black, white and grey.
Seagulls are not always the most admired birds at the beach, one tends to overlook them for Eagles or Heron. The reason for this is unlike the others they are far more numerous and so common that they fail to turn many heads.
“As I watched the seagulls, I thought, that’s the road to take; find the absolute rhythm and follow it with absolute trust.”
The Seagull is not only considered common by some it is also often scorned by others but that is only because they tend to let loose unpleasant showers of their faeces that no one wants to wear. The trouble with being disgruntled with this is that it is usually human beings that instigate this behaviour in the first place by feeding them.
“Do you remember you shot a seagull? A man came by chance, saw it and destroyed it, just to pass the time.”
Seagulls can also be delightful, clever and amusing and bring many people comfort and joy. Their voices wake us every morning, they clean up our beaches and are our faithful companions on and off of the sea. They are familiar, comforting and have served as the muse and inspiration for artists and poets throughout history and with the many cultures that co-exist with the incredible seagulls.
“You do not ask a tame seagull why it needs to disappear from time to time toward the open sea. It goes, that’s all.”
One delightful little bird is the subject for many of my photographs, the tiny Anna’s hummingbird. I come across them frequently which is likely for two reasons: the first being they are native to this region and do not migrate and the second is that I grow climbing beans and they cannot resist. Growing these is easy, just a few seeds in a pot of soil will ensure you get hummingbirds for the full blooming season. Some people favour the male with his impressive red crown and would turn their nose up at this lady. However i think that the little female is beautiful and never miss an opportunity to capture that with my camera and share her beauty with the world.
Itching for a fight,
Until it gets too real,
Then he opts for flight.
This little animation was inspired in part by an encounter I had with a young grouse chick who was attempting to intimidate me with his incredible moves. Rather than flee in terror I watched the display and was impressed with this brave little chick. But also when Paul Clifford sent me his musical number Woke Dreams that my imagination was inspired and soon after this little Grouse and his moves became a video. Why? Simply for my own amusement I guess, there is no deep thought or meaning in this number, nor does it reflect actual Grouse reality or culture in anyway but is meant as a portrayal of human culture. Be aware that I did create it with a younger audience in mind, with the intent of bringing a smile to a child’s face so maybe this video is not so shallow or meaningless after all.
Several species of Grouse are common in Coastal Salish territories, they are numerous and are a food source for both people and other wildlife. Personally I love to hear the sound of their drumming coming from the edges of the forest, it is both a magical and haunting sound from a beautiful and brave little bird.
Like what you hear, Woke Dream the music from this video along with other amazing audio loops created by Paul Clifford’s Jawshop Adventure Recording Studios will soon be available at our coming soon new loop shop SpiceRack.
Little Owl sitting unseen in the shadows,
Watching the toing and froing,
Of those coming and going.
One feels them watching you when you are out and about, then you look and see those beautiful big eyes, their eyes speak volumes and can’t be kept quiet. That is how I managed to get these few shots of this little Barred Owl (Strix varia), I felt his presence first. He was trying to remain discrete less they attract the wrong kind of attention. For despite how lovely these quiet little creatures appear to us, they are in fact predators and in nature it is uncommon for species to get along.
I have seen everything from Robins to Raven’s prevent these little fellows from getting a well needed days rest. But the truth is because they are night creatures, so these shots are pretty precious. and I had to open up the exposure to be able to see the little guy. I have heard them more than seen them, but even unseen their hoots are magical and I have been blessed on many night by their songs and medicine.
Blessed are the Owls,
and all little things,
the scaled, feathered or furry,
those that fly, swim or scurry.
‘The raven once in snowy plumes was drest, White as the whitest dove’s unsullied breast, Fair as the guardian of the Capitol, Soft as the swan; a large and lovely fowl His tongue, his prating tongue had changed him quite To sooty blackness from the purest white.‘
People hold a long of different opinions about the Raven but whether you love or loathe this beautiful and intelligent creature may depend on your livelihood. Bards, poets and artists have long revered the Raven, it is often our muse, our master and our inspiration; whereas farmers have a far more dimmer view than we do and that is somewhat understandable. It did not escape my notice when once photographing a Raven that it was happily consuming a Rhode Island Red that it had acquired from a nearby newly established free range egg farm. They tell me that business is cut throat and predatory by nature and this fact also includes nature, or did in this case because the Raven’s got the spoils from that venture for sure.
‘It suits my own attitude toward the world and its people to believe that the Raven is this completely self-centered, uninvolved bringer of change, through inadvertence and accident, and so on… It’s a version of the Raven myth for today, not for the time when it was created.’
Charlie Craigan’s Raven painting, in traditional Salish Native style, is a trickster, playful and clever spiritual guide and his intimate relationship with humans is illustrated by the figure in Raven’s wing. Culturally, historically and presently the Raven has and will continue to be an important creature and symbol to people of all cultures globally. Like with this design they are commonly seen as spiritual messengers and protectors, and stories of Ravens and their relationship with people are as normal and natural as life itself it seems. It is easy to see why they are admired by us as we observe their beautiful blackness, unique intelligence, romantic natures, amazing flight capabilities as well as the incredible courage and daring they demonstrate.
‘In the battlefield men grapple each other and die; The horses of the vanquished utter lamentable cries to heaven, While ravens and kites peck at human entrails, Carry them up in their flight, and hang them on the branches of dead trees.‘
They are associated with violence and death, of ill omen and fate and a flock of Raven’s is called a unkindness in the English language. Juvenile flocks of Ravens are very common and like most gangs of youth they can and do create havoc at times so this negative association may have some foundation. Ravens, like the Eagles and other creatures, survive by consuming carrion be it dead salmon by the spawning stream or dead warriors on the edge of a battlefield and it is this reality that unsettles us so much but is not evidence of Raven’s being evil in either scenario.
‘He that visits the sick in hopes of a legacy, but is never so friendly in all other cases, I look upon him as being no better than a raven that watches a weak sheep only to peck out its eyes.’
Seneca the Younger
It is however it is something found in the eye of the beholder, more than that of the creature itself that is behind their meanings and the stories. Or behind the human culture itself because it is unfortunate that many see the misery, war, illness and even death of other people as an opportunity to profit and nothing more. Those carrion consumers illustrate the darker and unpleasant side of the human reality that we are often discouraged to explore or if we do is often snubbed or ignored for lighter fair.For the truth is Raven, or what cultures and artists project onto them is reflective of who we are as individuals, communities and societies than it has anything to do with them. Ravens, you see, are competent and content doing their Raven thing and would be fine without our presences, but we are obsessed with them which is why they are always at the top of our favourite muses and subjects to explore. And how we respect or abuse them is a fairly accurate measure for how we treat the rest of the world as well.
‘I have created the Raven in my own image over the years and insist that mine is the version of this personality that is correct – well, at least it is correct as far as I am concerned.’
This version of Raven is one of Charles Craigan’s first paintings. Raven has a human figure in the wing signifying the spiritual connection between human, the inner child, the need to keep an open mind and a Raven that is universal and significant to many cultures. Charles’ Raven is a positive figure and this is meant to be worn or displayed in honour of that relationship by any or all people who also adore this beautiful creature.
Anyone who wishes to support Charles J Craigan by purchasing some of his art his designs are available at T Spring, the images link to his store.
These pretty little berry picking Waxwings visit us annually and it is always wonderful to catch a glimpse and always brightens my day. This is why I am sharing this lovely creature with you all today, in the hopes that it also brings a little happiness to your day and a smile on your face.