Time for some more grackle love – bath time

I promised to upload this video from a while back of two grackles having a great time in a fountain, sorry it has taken me so long. This was taken earlier this year while I was on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

See how lovely and charismatic these birds can be! I adore how their calls and how their whole body changes depending on what type of call they are making. They certainly love the water as you will see! Continue reading

Always an opportunity for birding in Saskatchewan

With over 350 species of birds, Saskatchewan is a solid destination for birding activities. That seems to be ringing true throughout the chilly winter months and is evident even in my backyard. As I learn more and more techniques for attracting certain types of birds into my yard, they seem to come a ‘flocking’. And they bring their friends.

I think I have even been able to get my neighbors on the bird train and there may even be some friendly competition going on for the most attractive yard for the feathery visitors.

At any given time I can see large families of sparrows can be spotted nestling contentedly in the pine tree; juncos cleaning up the fallen seeds in the snow; a downy woodpecker rapping on the maple tree; house finches hopping along the fence link; beautiful red polls who pose for me; and of course nuthatches and chickadees who have fierce speed competitions through the branches. Those are the most common yard visitors this year but certainly not the full extent. Winter birding in Saskatchewan has not disappointed.

Continue reading

Just flocking around

My husband and I headed back to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico recently. This marks the fifth visit in three years. For Stephen and I PV was love at first sight. PV has so much to offer the traveler: amazing climate, two different ecosystems, history, culture, adventure and my two of my favorite interests – art and wildlife.

My encounters with the wildlife in this visit was the best yet. The husband and I were without the kids for our first time in PV. So we did some exploring, took more time to take in the sites and spent a lot of time with nature. PV is full of amazing colour, people and plants. Here are a few shots of some local flora that I thought were pretty amazing.

We bought quite a bit of glass work this time and found an artist who would pretty much make anything we asked. So here he is making me a sea lion and he was also kind enough to make me a fox even though he had to go home and research what a fox was. He came back two nights later to our resort with the finished product – so talented. Here is a pic of some of his lizards. Too fun!

We started off our adventure in Nuevo Vallarta, which is north of PV staying at a high end five star resort. I generally like staying downtown but we thought to do something different.

The resort was great but what I really liked about it will come as no surprise to my friends – the grackles hung out there. No really, it was more like infested. The waiters cursed them and most tourists that I came across were inherently furious that the ballsy birds would snap food of their plates as they turned away, but I secretly fed them.

They were at the restaurants stealing splenda and creamer containers, kings of the beach – perching high on the cabanas and and on the sand, scouring for dirt treasures.

Wonder why there was so many? Maybe I haven’t quite let go of that emotional baggage? Could this be a sign?

Anyhow, for some silly reason it made my day to watch them, photograph them and just enjoy their company.

But they certainly weren’t the only thing I enjoyed.

We made it to Bucerias and out to Los Marietas. Bucerias, a small town just north was great. Full of interesting buildings, a wavy seashore and of course a market full of crafty items.

We made our way to Los Marietas via a catararman alongside two other couples and embarked on an adventure that included dolphin and whale watching, taking in the splendor of the Marietas island and the over 90 species of birds that call it home and snorkelling.

Marietas proved to be the gem it is built up to be. We saw dolphins, birds (including the blue footed boobybird which is only found here and in one other place in the world) and many different sea creatures. Most notable though was seeing a giant manta ray as soon as we got into the water.

So spectacular!

The caves at Marietas were really cool too! We saw the humpback whales that had arrived early for mating season in the distance which was a first for me.

One of the great highlights of the boat ride was sharing time with the two wonderful couples we were lucky enough to catch a ride with. We shared in the delight of the adventure, talked about where we were from and what we did and why we loved PV and partook in some dancing with the crew. It really was a very special day.

We headed to the zoo again even though we had just visited in March. We chose to go back mainly to visit the lone giraffe that is barely fenced in and allows you to get super close to it.

This is one time in my life where being covered in animal spit is ok.

As per usual I took a zillion pictures of all of the animals ensuring that I gave each of them adequate face time.

Then, at the end of our journey, I hung out with a cool little cappuccino monkey. It was glorious and reaffirmed my childhood dreams of always wanting to own one. Only draw back, it stunk a bit. And so did my hair, for hours I smelled of cute baby monkey.

One of my favourite things to do in PV is to rent a private boat and make our way out to the remote village of Quimixto.

On our way in the water we saw two giant sea turtles, four mantas on the surface and the humpback whales super close up! It was truly amazing. Along the way we did some fishing too.

The only thing caught that day was a small barracuda.

When we arrived at Quimixto we decided to go horseback up to the waterfall that exists there.

Usually we hike but as we were going home the next day, we were pooped. Riding through the jungle up steep and narrow pathways I couldn’t help but feel so sorry for our horses who must make that trip dozens of times a day. Even though I love riding, next time I will walk. The waterfall was beautiful as it always is and we stayed and had lunch at the waterfall restaurant and made our way back down the hill.

Oh my I almost forgot about the parrots! The resort had many resident parrots, but one captured my heart. His name was Grady. Grady is a beautiful pink parrot.

Every morning the parrots were out on display and you could walk right up to them. I fell in love. On the last day, I went to visit Grady and he put his claw through the cage and gently pulled me closer. Then he talked to me and giggled. He let me rub the back of his head and his feathers for ten minutes or so. If I wasn’t a bird lover before this trip, I sure am now.

It was a good trip and we did do some relaxing but I have come to discover that I would much rather do stuff then sit on the beach. The wildlife experiences really made this trip for me and to be so close to them made me feel so much more alive. Connecting with nature I have come to realize is a desire of mine that needs to be filled and refilled. Sometimes it is as simple as being in the backyard or taking a walk through the park, or just watching a bird doing bird things. But I love it and I need it.

Looks like we are headed back to Mexico in early 2012, but this time it will be somewhere on the Caribbean side, likely the Mayan. Should be exciting and I am sure, full of new adventures waiting to be discovered.

My love for grackles and why it all makes sudden sense

So, this is kind of interesting, at least to me. Recently, while doing some bird research I stumbled upon a note about grackles. For anyone that knows me, I have had an odd fascination with these birds for some time now.

We have many grackle visitors in the back yard during the spring-fall seasons and I sometimes can’t help countless hours watching them. Besides their obvious intelligence, they have outright personality and are very social. I love the way they call – flailing their heads back and squawking with authority.

And, they really are truly beautiful birds. Their plumage has a simply radiant sheen and shades of blues, purples and greens can often be seen in their jet black feathers.

When I chat with bird enthusiasts about my love for these birds, it is most definitely not well received. In fact, most ‘real’ bird lovers have nothing nice to say – which surprises me.

They scare all the other birds away!

Grackles are a nuisance!

Mmm, I guess I never seem to see what others see in these birds. We still have many other types of birds in the yard and I don’t find them a nuisance at all. In fact, they all seem to get along just fine so I don’t really buy into the bullying characteristic that’s often associated with these misunderstood birds.

Anyhow, regardless of what others say about my bird friends, I feel a connection to them. When I came across this grackle write up it made sense to me in more than one way. It said:

Grackle - Grackles are very happy birds that look past the emotional turmoil and find joy in the smallest of things. Black is the color of the inner and the feminine and the purple and bronze coloring about the head especially usually indicates that emotions are coloring the thinking process. Situations are not always what they appear to be; particularly when dealing with emotions. Emotions that are not dealt with can even go on to produce physical congestion in the body. Grackles love to live in pine trees and the essence of pine can be used to help alleviate strong emotional states, particularly feelings of guilt. The grackle showing up is a sign that it is time to clear away emotional congestion and to deal with your emotions.

What do I deduce from this? I feel I may be grackle like in spirit too – finding joy in small things. Or medium, grackle sized things at least. And, I think this may explain why they visit me so often – must be trying to get me to deal with stuff. Again – smart birds.

Point taken. I will get to work. In the meantime though I hope they keep coming by to keep me in check!

Excerpt taken from: http://www.spiritwalkministry.com/spirit_guides/bird_animal_spirits

For more beautiful grackle images – click here.
Image above from – http://www.redbubble.com/people/van049/works/3265453-flight-of-the-grackle