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Dream Bird

June 4, 2011

Today was a day of many firsts.

  • I finally decided it was time to start a life-list. I’m definitely still a somewhat birder, but from now on I’d like to be a somewhat birder who counts what she sees and keeps track a bit less haphazardly than writing a blog post here and there. I’d like to be that birder with a snazzy red notebook (yes, I’m a total bourgeois-liberal-writerly stereotype; here is the notebook in question).
  • I went to the ultimate bird store called Wild Birds Unlimited and bought a pound of Bird Friendly coffee from The Creemore Coffee Company,  which I hope to visit this August (after I visit the fabulous looking bookstore in Creemore and possibly even after a beer at the incredible brewery in said wonderful town, which I now can’t wait to visit!). I look forward to posting about Creemore birds after I’ve purchased a beer, a book, and a coffee (perhaps in slightly different order), but you’ll have to stay tuned until August for that! I chose the Wild Bird Blend coffee, mainly for its Viennese style and its rich, smooth flavor. I’ll definitely be returning to Wild Birds Unlimited; not only is it a bird nerd’s paradise, but the staff is friendly, smart and wonderfully knowledgeable!
  • I FOUND MY DREAM BIRD! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long. I initially fell in love with birds the day I saw a Red-winged Blackbird, back in April, 2009, but today I finally saw a Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea), which may be old news to some of you, but let me just say that NOW I know what love really feels like. This bird has absolutely everything I am looking for in a bird: it’s red in the most brilliant way possible and contrasts wildly with everything around it, it’s utterly festive and I can’t believe we didn’t meet sooner! The Scarlet Tanager matches my red boots and about five of the seven sweaters I currently own, and my clogs, and, ahem, my Sony Discman, which I bought in 2003 and still use when I’m at the gym (the elliptical machine always feels better with a Mahler symphony) — but I probably shouldn’t have admitted that last bit. Everything feels better and brighter now that I know I’ll get to see another Scarlet Tanager before long.
  • I enjoyed my first colossal thunder storm in Waterdown, Ontario, a town I never even knew existed. It rained so hard we had to take refuge in a Tim Horton’s and I ate my first Hot Breakfast Sandwich, which I don’t think I’ll be repeating any time soon. I realized I liked all the constituent parts of the sandwich (egg, cheese, ham, bun), but didn’t care for them all lumped together into one meal. The general Waterdown community has a number of local curiosities, including a nudist colony, evocatively named Ponderosa Nature Resort. But, we eschewed that establishment.
  • In other bird news, we managed to see a fabulous Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia ), three Blue Winged Warblers (Vermivora cyanoptera) chasing each other, singing feverishly, bouncing from branch to branch, and there were at least a half dozen Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum), which I immediately recognized by their inimitable spiked hairdo that they manage to keep in place without an ounce of gel. There were, of course, other sightings, but everything paled in comparison to my Dream Bird (see above point).
  • My Tilley hat got its first workout of the season — a little late in the game, I realize, but we’ve had such a wet, grey, hideous spring (which followed on the heels of an even greyer, more hideous winter) that there wasn’t any reason to wear it before today. And even today, I had to retire it after birding for an hour and a half, at which point thunder and lightning forced us out of the woods, towards Waterdown with its many curiosities including an all you can eat bbq beef luncheon at the local church, and back to Toronto.
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2011 7:15 am

    I don’t blame you for falling in love at last! If I could see that bird in person I’m sure I’d swoon too. Gosh, definitely time to start the list. Our birds here are super cute, but not nearly so colorful.

    We’ve had 3 swifts fly into our house this spring, including this morning. This is a really great improvement to bats flying in, which is what it was for the last two years.

    • June 5, 2011 12:16 pm

      Thanks for reading, Nancy! Wow — bats have their own charm, don’t they? perhaps not when they’re flying into your house! The Scarlet tanager was incredible — really does feel like birds are magic, somehow!

  2. June 8, 2011 2:09 pm

    Great birds, great birding!
    Just a note or two about scientific names (this is Birds and W o r d s , after all): Mourning Warbler is in the genus Geothlypis, Blue-winged is Vermivora cyanoptera. I know, I know, it’s hard to keep up!
    I’ve always been fascinated by the tanagers that are named for female plumages. Scarlet is one of them (olivacea), Swallow Tanager another (viridis).
    Best from Tucson,

    • June 8, 2011 2:56 pm

      THANK YOU for spotting that! You know what? Allaboutbirds.org has the wrong latin terms on their website! (that’s where I got my info). Of course, shame on me for not noticing that Vermivora pinus has absolutely NOTHING to do with “blue-winged” hm…. isn’t vermivora pinus a pine warbler? oh, Wikipedia said that the Blue winged warbler was FORMERLY called the vermivora pinus but the name is now invalid. Anyhow, I’ll fix the terms!

  3. June 8, 2011 3:02 pm

    Setophaga pinus, actually, for the Pine Warbler, once the July 2011 Supplement appears. I’m really going to miss the name Dendroica.

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