How do they do it? How do wild birds survive in the dead cold of winter? We all know as humans that when the thermometer hits -20 C or colder we hurry from the car to the house. Even as we are adorned in thick, down-filled coats with toques and mitts, it is still bitter and unbearable. When the wind chill kicks in, it can even be life-threatening to humans yet wild birds carry on each day seemingly unbothered by the brutality of winter. What do they have that we don’t?
Birds have the highest body temperature in the animal world, ranging from 105 to 112 degrees F compared to about 98 degrees for humans. Keeping these temperatures up requires a lot of calories in winter. Continue reading Surviving the cold of winter→
One of the biggest animal migrations on earth is the arrival of billions of birds at the boreal forest in northern Canada. This luscious zone of mixed vegetation accounts for almost 60 per cent of the country’s land mass, reaching all the way from the Yukon and northern British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador. The region is dominated by many species of trees but also includes wetlands and lakes. This pristine habitat hosts 325 species of birds each summer which rely on this forest as the place they reproduce. Continue reading Canada’s boreal forest plays key role in world’s air quality and temperature control→
A careful choice of food and feeders can make your home a sanctuary for birds of spectacular colour and song offerings of great sweetness.
Nature, in our own back yards, provides a precious tranquil space in summer, offering among other blessings the best medicine we have for de-stressing. For people who combine the hobbies of gardening and feeding wild birds, the rewards are many. The beauty and fragrance of flowers along with the colours and songs of birds are food for the soul.
When it comes to attracting wild birds in summer, there are specific feeders and foods as well as plants that can help you draw in some spectacular species. Here are some tips that can bring great results. Continue reading Bring the songs of summer home→
We don’t need lush, immaculate lawns – when it means more greenhouse and toxic gases in the atmosphere and growing menace to life on earth.
The health of the environment is a hot topic throughout the world. Climate change is a leading concern with scientists and environmentalists. There are many other areas of concern like pollution of our air and lakes, deforestation, drought and the effects all of these combined problems on songbirds and beneficial insects.
Through time, birds have been honoured for their association with gods and good deeds.
October is the month of Halloween and that invokes a time of mystery and magic. In the world of nature there is no creature more magical than a bird. Some of the most ancient cultures celebrated or honoured birds, many of them having their own version of a bird goddess. Many of the earliest artifacts ever discovered were carvings of birds or a bird goddess – a female body with a bird head. The pagan and wiccan religions along with native Americans, Druids and ancient Greeks all have fascinating histories that speak to how they honoured and adored our feathered friends.
Crows have the reputation of being one of the world’s smartest creatures with their ability to use tools and work together to problem solve.
In early times, the Greeks thought of crows as messengers of the gods, holding wisdom and secrets. Hindu legends speak of the crows’ ability to deliver messages and offerings to ancestors. In India, the sight of a crow perching in a tree signals good luck to come. In Celtic lore, the goddess Morrigan was represented by crows and ravens; in that guise she warned of approaching enemies, and after a battle carried the souls of the dead to the after-world.
The much-loved American robin is revered most for being a true symbol of the arrival of spring. In folklore, robins were said to be present at funerals to sing last rites. It was believed, too, that when you saw your first robin of the year perching in a tree, you could make a wish and if you made it before the robin flew away that wish would come true. English legends call the robin a bird of good fortune and to kill or harm one would bring bad luck for the rest of your life.
Known for its soft cooing sounds, the mourning dove earned its name from the mournfulness of its call. Doves were first domesticated by the Egyptians in 2600 B.C. and have since been a part of history and mythology as a symbol of peace, divinity and spirit. Greek mythology says doves carried messages for Zeus, and goddesses Atargatis and Astarte were always adorned in doves.
The dove is recognized widely as being a sign of peace; it is hard to believe it could ever be associated with anything dark, but in medieval Europe this was the case. Some believed the devil could take the form of a dove and lead people unknowingly to the dark side. Others insisted the dove was so pure the devil could never succeed in this, and the theory was eventually altered.
This tiny bird has more history attached to it from more cultures than any other bird I researched! Wrens meant much to the Druids and were said to hold magical powers, often being called the”’sorcerer bird”. This was deemed so powerful a bird that most Druids wore a wren feather as an amulet to protect against magic spells. In Rome it was said that a wren predicted the murder of Julius Caesar through its oracular powers. The Greek writer Aesop wrote of how a wren outwitted an eagle to become the king of all birds.
He told of a great avian assembly that chose the smallest and largest bird to compete to determine who would be their sovereign. The bird which could fly the highest would win. It was generally assumed the eagle would soar above the tiny wren and would then hold the highest power. As the eagle gained in its flight high into the sky, the tiny wren jumped out of the eagle’s feathers where it had hidden. It climbed even higher into the sky and became king.
Birds have played a role in the lives of humans as far back as history can show us. They also gifted us with the beauty of music and the inspiration to take flight. They are creatures truly to be honoured and respected. Sadly, climate change, habitat loss and over-use of chemicals have resulted in a steep decline in bird populations in the past 40 years. Hopefully changes can be made to keep the magic of nature and all its creatures alive and well for future generations to enjoy, too.
Sherrie Versluis owns the Preferred Perch on St. Mary’s Road in St. Vital. Phone 204-257-3724.