Monday, May 29, 2006


Every year we put up a couple of nesting boxes in our garden for the birds, but we never really saw any action until now. This year we were delighted when a pair of our favourite little blue and yellow birds starting building a nest in the box right next to our deck. They would go in out all day, carrying feathers, twigs and bits of fluff in their beaks, making a nest for the female to lay her eggs in. About a week ago, we started hearing faint chirping noises and we knew that the eggs had hatched.

These birds look like what I would call a chickadee, but when I did some research, I found that the chickadees I know from British Columbia are the black-capped variety. We have similar ones here, but the small ones that are nesting now are in fact known as European blue tits. Heh. ( yes, yes, insert myriad jokes and puns here.) I think I'll still call them chickadees.

I adore these birds. They're always so cheerful and full of energy and love to hang upside down on a branch and swing away. They are so tame that we have sometimes had them hop from the deck right into our living room to pick up stray crumbs (of which there are plenty!). Once in a while when I'm sitting outside on a garden lounge, they will even come and land on my toes! These guys have definite personalities.

Anyway, this particular pair has been busy feeding their offspring many, many times a day and keeping the nest meticulously clean, often scolding us if we get too near. We can't wait until the chicks actually emerge so we can take a look.

Mr M took these photos and I think they turned out really well. (As usual, click on the pics to biggefy)

a little rain won't stop me!

Mmm...a crunchy daddy-long-legs

And even better...a nice green worm

must. find. more. bugs.

bird on a mission

The colours in the pictures reminded me of the West Coast and then I got started thinking about the differences in the birds here and there.

When I first moved here, my mother kept sending me hummingbird feeders. We lived in an apartment for the first five years so we didn't have any use for them, but when we moved to this house we hung the feeders outside and waited. And waited. Where were all the hummingbirds? Well, guess what, Mum? There ARE no hummingbirds in Europe. Hmmph!

My parents have lots of hummers whizzing around in their garden in Vancouver, and my kids loved watching them when we were on vacation. Once in a while one would fly into the house, but usually found its way out again with no trouble. Last time we were there, however, one did get stuck high up on a beam at the back of the living room one day and needed our help. We caught it in a small net and then I held it in my hands until it calmed down. It was quite awesome to feel a heart beating in that warm little body.

Black-chinned hummingbirds are common to southern British Columbia, the western U.S. and northern Mexico and I believe the one I got to hold was a female because of the white colouring under the chin and on the tail feathers. These tiny birds (about 3 in/7 cm long, at most) are suprisingly feisty and pretty fearless when it comes to humans and this one was no exception. She sat there for a while and rested, cool as a cucumber, and then took off back into her favourite tree without even a backward glance.

Ain't Mother Nature grand?


At May 29, 2006 3:40 p.m., Blogger J said...

I have to admit that I pictured Hummers flying around your garden, which would be a bit odd.

Those birds are very cute.

At May 29, 2006 4:12 p.m., Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Christina - wow - those bird shots are great seeing how hard it is to capture them. We had the treat in montreux to see a bird nest right on our deck. When I climbed up on a chair I could see the babies.

Here is the result! I feel very lucky considering what camera I had.

At May 29, 2006 4:22 p.m., Blogger Antipodeesse said...

Birdie pix! You've won my heart Christina! We could be bloggie soulmates! (just don't tell Ms. Mac).

At May 29, 2006 8:48 p.m., Anonymous amy said...

how sweet! now D and I have made our minds up to walk down to the local outdoor-birdie store today and get that hummer feeder we've been talking about. lovely pictures!

At May 29, 2006 9:14 p.m., Blogger traveller one said...

Hummmmmmmmmmingbird you say??

I once discovered a frozen little hummer in my MIL's freezer! I guess it flew into a window and bit the dust so she stuck it in a ziplock bag and stored it in her freezer for some unknown reason.

At May 29, 2006 9:38 p.m., Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

Those picts are really great, Christina! Yep! Mother Nature sure is grand!

At May 29, 2006 9:39 p.m., Blogger The SeaWitch said...

Mr. Mausi is quite the photog! You're so lucky that you see species of birds other than the pigeons which love to come into my kitchen and eat the dog's food. Many of our neighbours have birds but they're the caged variety. To see beautiful wild birds make homes for themselves and their hatchlings in your garden is absolutely splendiforous. It beats Animal Planet any day of the week.

At May 29, 2006 9:47 p.m., Blogger christina said...

J - LOL - yeah, there's hummers and there's Hummers. :-)

Expat - thanks! He sat outside for a couple of hours and took tons of pictures. Your picture of the baby birds is SO sweet. You caught them perfectly.

Antipo - Oh yes! We can sneak around behind Stella's back and compare birdie pix. :-)

Amy - it's really fascinating to watch the hummingbirds feed and interact with each other

SeaWitch - Actually, he rarely takes photos but he did good this time. And yes, I much prefer wild birds to those in cages.

At May 29, 2006 9:48 p.m., Blogger christina said...

traveller - that sounds like something my mother would do!

CS - Thanks! We're really lucky to have so many birds in our yard.

At May 29, 2006 11:25 p.m., Blogger Dixie said...

Oh Christina! Those photos are so gorgeous! Watching those sweet little birds must be so fascinating.

At May 30, 2006 9:41 a.m., Blogger christina said...

Dixie - They are just so adorable. I can't wait until the babies leave the nest.

At May 30, 2006 11:41 a.m., Blogger EuroTrippen said...

awww, so cute! I love animals of all kinds...

At May 30, 2006 3:24 p.m., Blogger Haddock said...

There are a whole family of Tits in Europe, the most seen are the Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, long tailed Tits, Crested Tits, Bearded Tits........all provide a myriad of schoolboy jokes.
Tit is actually short for Titmouse :)
Lovely photos.

At May 30, 2006 5:08 p.m., Anonymous J.Doe said...

Those birds are beutiful. How cool that one sat in your hand too.

At May 31, 2006 7:14 a.m., Blogger Karen said...

Beautiful fotos and a lovely post!

At May 31, 2006 9:11 a.m., Blogger Knitting Painter Woman said...

Lovely tits indeed.
Do you have anything akin to orioles? THEY like humming bird feeders! My best bird-feed store went out of business... do I may order on line.
Sorry I've been so absent... Happy late birthday, etc.

At June 02, 2006 2:33 a.m., Blogger Tim Rice said...

These are neat pictures. It must have been fun watching them.

At June 09, 2006 9:33 a.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

What a wonderful story,Christina, especially the one at the end with the bird in your hands. You'll never forget that, I know!


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