American coots are a hoot

Here’s a short tale about a neat bird with a rather unfortunate name. I tried to figure out which coot came first: the bird or the slang for a crotchety old man. tells me that the Dutch may have used the word Koet about 800 years ago when referring to the bird, and I […]

Grey Jays are a true Canadian bird

Can you believe it is December already? The past month we had both very warm and very cold weather and humans aren’t the only ones confused by it. Has anyone else noticed the flocks of geese flying south on Monday and then north on Tuesday? I think that’s the bird equivalent of trying to decide […]

What does the fox say? Look up

Fact: I love foxes. Why? I love their colour, their eyes, the way they move… and of course, that amazingly annoying song: “What does the fox say?” And how about how much fun the word fox is to say? It gives us terms like foxy, outfoxed, sly as a fox, and the foxtrot. So, yes, […]

A doe, a deer, an East End deer

What is it about spotting a deer that brings out such feelings of wonder and serenity? I’ll laugh at a chipmunk absurdly stuffing its mouth with food, or smile at a strikingly red cardinal on my bird feeder, but if I happen across a wild deer I might actually start to lose track of the […]

Wetland walks offer rich rewards

Almost every time I write one of these articles I want to begin by saying: “Some of my favourite birds are…” I then have to step back and convince myself that not every bird can be my favourite. Then, I get stuck for a time trying to think of a different way to introduce a […]

A tale of caution in the wilds of the city

According to my son it was Alfred Lord Tennyson who once described nature as “red in tooth and claw,” referring to the savage and merciless conflict of surviving in the wild. Though I admit it may not be as poetic, in my humble opinion, Tennyson should have added that nature was “red in tooth, claw, […]

Spring migration is a treat for birders

It is finally that time of year again, when the most beautifully coloured orange, red and yellow birds arrive and sing the uplifting songs we haven’t heard in far too many months. Just the other day I was at Rosetta McClain Gardens with my birding buddy Carol, and we were blessed to hear a ‘chick-burr […]

An amazing flight to Mexico

Photos x2: courtesy Terry Whittam:  Below left, c If I asked you to think about migration, your first thoughts might be of Canada geese honking overhead in their famous flying V. What else comes to mind? Robins heralding spring’s arrival? Maybe you’ve lived on the coast of one of Canada’s oceans and think about whales […]

Feathered friend is back in his box

I’ll ask you all a question that people have been asking me for years: if you could have any wild animal live in or regularly visit your backyard, what would it be? A deer? They are certainly beautiful to watch, though I feel they’d do a number on my gardens. A bear? As exciting as […]

Things can get a bit smelly on the wild side

Who else remembers Pepé Le Pew? He was the hilarious Looney Tunes skunk who chased the black and white cat, purring “‘ello bebe,” in his suave French accent. Well, he was probably adorable in the 1940s, but by today’s standards his refusal to take no for an answer and aggressive pursuit of his love interest […]