Respecting others’ space…

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I went out to the migratory bird sanctuary yesterday. The day started overcast and dreary with a stiff breeze but altho it was overcast at the coast too, within an hour it had cleared off for a beautiful sunny day, even though I could see dark clouds hanging over the mountains and in the general direction of home. There were quite a few Canada geese being very territorial, the usual hoardes of mallards, northern Shovelers around every corner. I only saw 3 Sandhill cranes, one solo and one pair, and no sign of my crossbilled friend. No waders yet, but I saw a hummingbird flitting between newly opened hot pink salmonberry blossoms, and I was surprised to see tree swallows have already arrived, swooping around catching flies!

I must have been channelling my best bird energy yesterday because at one point I found myself between a gander aggressively chasing off a pair of would-be squatters, and the gander’s mate. The female that was being chased passed right beside me, and for a moment I wondered if the pursuing gander might turn his ire towards me, but when he reached me he stopped, shook himself, made eye contact almost apologetically then stood beside me for a few moments before meandering back to his mate. Later, in another part of the sanctuary, I threw a handful of grain on the ground for the ducks floating nearby and a pair of geese strolled over for a share too. The grain didn’t last long and everyone went back to what they’d been doing and I captured a few images. Then I sat down on a bench to soak up some sun and watch the territorial disputes that seemed to be going on all around me. The geese had settled down some distance away, and when I sat down the gander got up, walked over to where I was sitting and settled himself down at my feet, looking off in the same direction I was… Very unexpected. It was so tempting to reach down and stroke him, but that would have violated the trust he was extending to me. He stayed there until I moved on.

On my way back to the car I stopped in an observation area to watch a group of herons in a tree. A mallard hen landed on the railing while I was photographing, and when I looked up from my camera I found she was standing mere inches away from my face looking at me. No subtlety there whatsoever, lol! I got out some grain and she was eating out of my hand when a male redwing blackbird arrived and started harassing the mallard, trying to get her to leave. I had to laugh – she ignored him, focusing on the grain, so the blackbird became super-agitated, frantically pecking the mallard all over, but still with no success. I had some finch food in one of my pockets, so I offered the blackbird that seed in my other hand, thinking he wouldn’t eat directly from it. He was a little nervous at first, but he really wanted that seed, so eventually I was hand feeding both the mallard and the blackbird at the same time. Until a mallard drake landed on the railing, pretty much on top of the blackbird. Initially the blackbird flew away, then tried to return but the drake wouldn’t let him near. So I invited the blackbird to fly to my hand. It was clear he understood my intent, but he was quite anxious, made a couple of fly pasts, touched down briefly a couple of times, then landed on my finger and hung on for dear life while he finished the seeds. I really miss having animals at home so it was especially lovely having wild birds interact with me like that…

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23 thoughts on “Respecting others’ space…

  1. You definitely were channeling your bird energy. What a great day. I also miss having an animal at home so the birds for me are really great as well. I’ve been identifying them and last night just before it got dark I saw a Black-crowned night heron! I need a longer lens though. I love your bird pics. They are just amazing!

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    • Thanks, Cybele. The blackbird wasn’t a total surprise…the previous visit in a different part of the sanctuary, for the first time there was a blackbird that insisted on landing on my hand when I was trying to hand feed the chickadees. That first blackbird wouldn’t let go of my hand even when I tried to shake him off. I had to try to touch him to get him to let go. But that was the first time in the years I’ve been going there that I had a blackbird even look like it might consider being hand fed.

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  2. That is a beautiful story. I love my birds. I just remember dreaming this morning that the whip bird appeared to come close to me. I saw it very clearly. I have them here, but they are very elusive birds and difficult to observe.

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    • It was a lovely experience. The duck was no surprise at all, since there are a couple of mallard hens there that regularly eat seed offered by hand. The blackbird was a bit of a surprise, but it was the gander that really surprised me the most. He wasn’t looking for food. He just appeared to be sharing time with me. It was very special.

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