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  • July | 2013 | Birds and Words
    and reimagined so very much alive And the Robin s name It turns out to be a diminutive of Robert and apparently derives from the prefix Rob hrod in Old Germanic which means fame and the Old French suffix in a diminutive suffix And how is it that Robins feast on earthworms Wells enlightening explanation is that settlers reintroduced Lumbricidae worms to North America they d disappeared during the ice age The American Robin population increased in response to the earth worm proliferation For those of you seeking fabulous robin earthworm related factoids Wells informs us that a baby robin can consume 14 feet of earthworms in a single day Slightly repulsive yet deeply admirable Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 12 2013 by Julia Zarankin The Problem with Expectations by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply In a sense birding is all about having expectations and then adjusting and resetting those same expectations Because nothing ever transpires as you d expect it would This past week my husband and I traveled to Winnipeg and I got it into my head that I would see a Yellow headed Blackbird I couldn t resist the bird s bumble bee attire and remarkable sounding scientific name Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus which translates even more remarkably to yellow head Photo by Gemit Vyn from here I even wrote our hosts who assured us that I d have no problem seeing the bird since the Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus except our host referred to the bird by its more pedestrian name which I totally understand often made an appearance at their bird bath This thrilled me to no end not only would I lock eyes with a new life bird but I d also have the chance to experience bird bath exposure Full disclosure not only did I grow up with very little exposure to nature as a child but my current living arrangement in a condo in Toronto means that I had to Google Bird bath because I began to imagine all sorts of peculiar scenarios involving bath tubs and birds and suffice it to say that a few Google images cleared all of that up for me My poor husband The days leading up to our trip overflowed with yellow headed blackbird xanthocephalus this yellow headed blackbird that A bird bath weaseled its way into even our most banal conversations Let s just say that my expectations ballooned We arrived in Winnipeg and headed straight for Grand Marais on Lake Winnipeg The striking bird bath didn t disappoint I should have snapped a picture but it looked much like this one here A BIRD BATH Ours boasted sculpted birds rather than somewhat inexplicable turtles And I waited And waited In my brand new Tilley Hat should you be wondering about my attire I watched a Catbird interrupt a flirtatious encounter between two House wrens They tried their luck again a few seconds

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2013/07/ (2015-09-25)
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  • June | 2013 | Birds and Words
    celcius heat The park didn t disappoint though my husband would have been happier had the promised Iberian Lynx made an appearance for him as our tour guide had promised But we won t hold that against the wonderful people at Discovering Donana who operate a first rate tour company It s not their fault the Lynx was busy breeding the day we were there in fact for an endangered species one couldn t wish for anything better We did manage to see her footprints however For a full trip report feel free to read my essay that s up on Nature Travel Network s new site Let me just say that the flocks of Greater Flamingoes and Storks and Glossy Ibises exceeded all expectations The brilliant European Bee Eaters Merops apiaster looked like they were painting rainbows in the sky as they flew past And the Hoopoe Upupa epops The extravagant bird is zebra patterned from the back and has a face that is nothing short of regal with a bold crown of feathers adorning her monochromatic fox colored head For some reason the Hoopoe reminded me of Queen Elizabeth I Do you see the resemblance or is it just me Portrait by George Gower Image from here In any event the trip was lovely every single bird I saw was a lifer and I believe I uttered oh my goodness this is so incredible so many times that my husband stopped reacting I also bought four stupendous pairs of shoes and the trip was an overall success The Alhambra was pretty great too As were the van der Weydens in the Prado and even Titian s puzzling painting where he seems to have OD d on both pudgy babies and angels all at once Titian what were you thinking In other birdy news I wrote my first book review for Birding The book was fabulous and I m thrilled to have my review up on ABA s site Perhaps the most exciting part of this spring involved the hours I spent volunteering at the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station It s a banding station in downtown Toronto in a park at the foot of Leslie Street that is actually a man made structure built in the 50s to be used as a breakwater for harbor expansion which alas never happened and has turned into a dumping zone for debris from development sites I can t seem to write about TTPBRS without resorting to superlatives Here are some highlights holding a cedar waxwing in my hand and seeing its red waxy tips up close watching the sun rise over Toronto every Saturday morning at 5am ish seeing my first yellow billed cuckoo helping a Yellow Warbler fix its hair before letting it fly off seeing the red patch on an Eastern Kingbird s head falling in love with the Magnolia Warbler all over again and learning a grand total of four bird calls have I mentioned that birding

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2013/06/ (2015-09-25)
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  • February | 2013 | Birds and Words
    been quite kind to me but I m still glad it s over Something about grey days the lamest Academy Awards Ceremony in recent memory a dearth of good movies and the absence of properly insulated boots brings out the worst in me I m officially ready for March Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on February 25 2013 by Julia Zarankin Etc by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Beloved Birders Since you re all dying to know I LOVED Jeffrey Kimball s BIRDERS You can read my mini review right here I ve been recommending the movie to everybody I know Watch it You won t regret it Even my nonbirder husband couldn t tear himself away from the couch I hope you all celebrated World Wetlands Day February 2 in appropriate and lavish fashion I spent a fair bit of time researching the Donana National Park which happens to house Europe s largest wetland and which my nonbirder husband my Tilley hat and I plan on visiting this coming April If you have any tips on birding in Spain do let me know Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on February 7 2013 by Julia Zarankin Magical Wood Ducks and Other Miracles by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Beloved Birders I think I might be starting to believe in miracles Miraculous event 1 I saw my first Wood Duck which is cause enough for rejoicing My enthusiasm was just about boundless when I saw this marvel of a duck that looked like it had been painted by a brilliant meticulous first rate artisan I was so impressed that I wrote about the event here and here The wood duck also happens to be the state game bird of Mississippi Clearly I m not the only one who s obsessed Miraculous event 2 The second of the two links fellow birders is another blog that I m thrilled to be a part of BirdCanada now features contributing writers from all across the country and I ll be writing there on the 26th of each month Miraculous event 3 As my faithful readers know I ve been dying to see Jeffrey Kimball s BIRDERS since the documentary came out on HBO earlier in July As Rick Wright suggested I could have gone to the January meeting of the Linnean Society to watch the film but finances better judgment and work commitments intervened Instead I called my video store yes I still frequent a video store and asked if they had the film on release day January 22 ok truth be told I got a bit obsessed with the idea of seeing this movie and the friendly video store owner kindly asked me to describe the movie which I proceeded to do in a slightly hyper and perhaps overly effusive manner Five minutes later the

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2013/02/ (2015-09-25)
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  • January | 2013 | Birds and Words
    Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 16 2013 by Julia Zarankin Literary Sightings by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Back in October 2011 I encountered my first Pine Grosbeak in Clea Roberts fabulous poem and knew it was love at first sight In fact our initial meeting felt so vivid so colorful so entirely real that I assumed it had actually taken place Photo by Mario Belanger from here Seeing boreal birds yesterday morning both male and female though yesterday s male wasn t nearly as stunning and bright as the fashion icon on this photo felt like a moment of recognition alert birds feasting on the remnants of berries unexpected patches of color illuminating a drab grey winter morning The sight was immediately familiar to me but it took me about an hour to place where I had last seen the bird I thought it might have been Algonquin park but it turned out to have been a purely literary encounter The words of the poem had rendered the bird real My first birding day of the year also included watching a Cooper s Hawk terrify a bunch of Mourning Doves They looked more robust than usual to my eye possibly the result of excess holiday eating but they had no trouble darting into the sky as soon as they sensed the hawk nearby Saw dozens of chickadees nuthatches white and red breasted a downy and hairy woodpecker cardinals blue jays and most of the usual suspects for January Came across a rather unsightly conglomeration of 3000 or so Canada Geese huddled together by the side of a pond they looked like large rocks from a distance I know the geese must have been freezing but I still couldn t warm up to the sight and sound of them all Nor could I forgive David Sibley for including a Canada Goose as the September bird in his calendar a few years ago my birthday month has yet to fully recover I ve decided to start keeping a bird list in 2013 Wish me luck So far I ve seen 14 species that s only 330 less than the illustrious Josh Vandermuelen who broke the Ontario Big Year record last week Hearty Congrats to Josh and fear not dearest readers I won t be planning a Big Year any time soon I m just starting with a list with the modest hope of being able to remember what I see inside and outside of a poem and possibly recognize the bird when I see it again But really in all honesty my Big Goal is just to keep looking Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 4 2013 by Julia Zarankin Search for On the Coyot es Network Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist Coyote Crossing Published on September 19 2015 by

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2013/01/ (2015-09-25)
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  • December | 2012 | Birds and Words
    seasonal food and keep cooking healthy meals thanks to my fantastic food share for making this possible As I said lots more of the same Happy New Year everyone Wishing you a stellar birdy New Year full of good health and happiness Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on December 31 2012 by Julia Zarankin Where I ve Been by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Beloved Birders I ve just returned from a week in paradise That s the beach in Turks and Caicos where I spent a week watching the ocean swimming staring at sunsets walking along the 20km beach cooking eating and repeating the cycle for seven days I had grand intentions of reading Bleak House but ended up opting for Nabokov s Pnin which seemed more my pace Dickens will have to wait until I acquire a greater attention span I had meant to go on a birding trip but it seemed that staring at the ocean took up the bulk of my time and I didn t quite get around to accomplishing any serious avian feats I did however see a grandiose Brown Pelican and watched him fly close to the ocean and then land on a scraggly branch of a tree no stronger than a small twig Not only did the pelican land on the twig like branch with grace and style but he sat there for at least ten minutes scratching his breast by opening and closing his giant bill in a scissor like movement It was entrancing and I bemoaned the fact that my camera was an hour s walk away lying on my towel next to poor Pnin I did manage to take a picture of a congregation of what I think are Semipalmated plovers relaxing on a pier Please tell me I managed to identify these birds correctly If not please correct me Hopefully I ve ID d these birdies correctly and they re Semipalmated plovers They re talking politics And I saw this lone mystery bird on the next pier which I should be able to ID but can t seem to Let me know what it is There he is staring out into space pondering the meaning of life He almost looks like a night heron but that couldn t be could it And I am And there were warblers galore colossal quantities of Common ground doves Columbina passerina egret type species a glorious Osprey and a majestic Cuban Crow Corvus nasicus who made the loudest strangest door screeching sounds imaginable There were dozens of other species but between eating sleeping swimming and staring into space that s all I managed to accomplish bird wise in paradise In other infinitely more exciting bird news I started blogging over at Ontario Nature earlier this month Feel free to read my stories over here Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/12/ (2015-09-25)
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  • November | 2012 | Birds and Words
    fastest flying in level flight bird in Canada The winner will be profiled on Birds and Words All in all a fantastic morning Hooded Merganser long underwear coffee and all Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on November 11 2012 by Julia Zarankin The Moment You ve All Been Waiting For by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply In my non birding life beloved birders I m also a writer and I guess it s about time I give you glimpse into that other parallel universe of mine There s a game of virtual tag going on among writers called The Next Big Thing where writers are invited to answer 10 questions about their work in progress and then pass the baton over to five or in my case four other writers And on it goes Many thanks to the awesome writer and martial artist Laure Baudot for tagging me 1 What is the working title of your book Migrating Home 2 Where did the idea come from for the book I lived and worked in Mid Missouri for a few years and couldn t quite get my head around the place Everything about it eluded my understanding and I never felt at home there I started writing about what it felt like to be displaced misplaced out of place removed from a place and slowly the material developed girth and I began to sense it was robust enough to craft into a story 3 What genre does your book fall under It s creative nonfiction with a great deal of emphasis on creative It s part memoir part travelogue part Bi ldungsroman Definitely a hybrid of sorts Some days it s a memoir with a whole lot of fiction thrown in and other days it s fiction with a strong component of memoir I m still working on pinning down the genre 4 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition Oh fun I would want Sarah Polley to direct the movie Since the book is structured as a series of vignettes I would need a great ensemble cast Perhaps Michelle Williams could play the protagonist I d love to have Bob Costas play himself Perhaps Jeremy Irons would grace the screen with a cameo as an older professor with a predilection for competitive ping pong Hopefully Ewan McGregor would agree to play the protagonist s eventual husband though he would need to undergo an intense weight training regimen Judy Davis and Colin Firth would play the protagonist s parents and Helen Miren would shine as the grandmother Sarah Silverman would get the role of her life as a midwestern Gym recruiter Oh my goodness I can t wait to see the movie 5 What is the one sentence synopsis of your book Migrating Home follows the trials and tribulations of a displaced 30 something year old Russian literature professor who tries unsuccessfully to make a home for herself and find love in mid Missouri It s also about family food Russian emigre identity and an unintentional crush on Bob Costas oops that s 2 sentences 6 Will your book be self published or represented by an agency This is still a work in progress I m just trying to write the best book I can write and I ll start to worry about the agent publication issues when the time is right 7 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript Longer than I d like to admit I was actually going to skip this question The manuscript keeps changing and growing and shrinking and veering off in a new direction and circling back again and I guess that s just my writing process It s the story of a particularly challenging moment in time and I m still working on articulating its strangeness in ways that are both honest in terms of its pain and compelling to a reader looking for a satisfying story 8 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre There s a fabulous tradition of Russian emigre writers writing out of the US and Canada David Bezmozgis Lara Vapnyar Sana Krasikov Irina Reyn Gary Shteyngart to name a few and parts of my book have strong ties to that tradition Isabel Huggan s Belonging andJonathan Franzen s Discomfort Zone both interrogate the notion of home and have broadened my own understanding of what it means or doesn t to be at home 9 Who or what inspired you to write this book The extraordinary Maureen Stanton was the first person to read excerpts when we both lived and worked in Missouri and she encouraged me to push the material further She was the first to see that I had a story worth telling I write a great deal about my family and they continue to inspire me in their strangeness their tenacity their fearlessness their success in making a home for themselves in a new country and their captivating identity which I m constantly striving to understand 10 What else about your book might pique your reader s interest You can read excerpts in the upcoming winter issue of the Threepenny Review and in the next issue of PRISM International And yes the book does feature some migratory birds The book is both funny and sad with a healthy dose of the absurd kind of like life And now find out what these awesome writers are working on Robin Spano Aga Maksimowska Sandra Jensen Mark Sampson Message for tagged authors Rules of the Next Big Thing Use this format for your post Answer the ten questions about your current WIP work in progress Tag five other writers bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing What is the working title of your book

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/11/ (2015-09-25)
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  • October | 2012 | Birds and Words
    and terrified the bunch I think he left them trembling This morning I went out birding in search of Cave Swallows Petrochelidon fulva which were apparently seen in large numbers yesterday due the inclement weather a prelude to Hurricane Sandy Alas the rain was so heavy that all we saw were about 20 Canada Geese a lone Bluejay the highlight of the day a bunch of gulls a red tailed Hawk and a bunch of starlings The rain was beating down horizontally and we only managed to venture out of the car for about 25 minutes which left me chilled to the bone Ah well Another character building extreme weather birding experience Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on October 27 2012 by Julia Zarankin Me and the Tufted Titmouse by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Devoted Birders An unbelievable thing happened yesterday I held a bird in my hand for the first time ever It was a sweet diminutive remarkably complacent Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor yet I was terrified Rick the generous banding expert at Ruthven Nature Park insisted I hold the Titmouse after I adamantly refused to handle the stunning Golden Crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa for fear that the miniscule creature would attack and eat me Rick keeps a fabulous blog with ample photographic evidence of spring and fall migrants in the Cayuga area in Southwestern Ontario basically between Hamilton and Lake Erie Here we are Photo taken by the good people at Ruthven Nature Blog If I look slightly dazed and moderately shell shocked it s because I was In the end the Titmouse and I got along just fine In fact the banded Titmouse intimated that he d like to be held again any time that I was willing It turned out to be a glorious day bathed in fall colors The birds fluttered around weaving their way in and out of trees and I was once again reminded of the challenge of autumn birding I frequently mistook falling leaves for birds they frequently float through the air just like birds The greenish greyish golden reddish rusty color scheme of the leaves also tends to camouflage the trilling avian creatures Basically the only birds I could safely ID were Turkey Vultures flying overhead in large numbers At the banding station I saw a Red Bellied Woodpecker up close and found myself simultaneously mesmerized and terrified by his immensely sharp bill and long slithery lizard like tongue that kept poking out while the bird shrieked with frustration It s a different sensation to see a bird in someone s hand or to hold a bird in your own hand a sense of precariousness of fragility of utter dependence so unlike a bird s usual soaring fearless demeanor I m not sure how I feel about it all and haven t yet figured out the words for it but I can tell you that holding

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/10/ (2015-09-25)
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  • September | 2012 | Birds and Words
    quote by Paul Valéry which is a motto for my other non birding life Que faire d un passé Mais tu le sais bien des phrases Loosely translated as What to make of one s past But you already know Sentences Happy New Year Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on September 23 2012 by Julia Zarankin The end of summer by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply It feels official The weather in Toronto has turned colder we re back from our marvelous trip to California work has started up again and summer suddenly feels far away It s hard to believe that one week ago we were here We spent so much time staring at the phenomenally tall Redwood trees Sequoia sempervirens in Humboldt Redwoods State Park that it felt like I d been afflicted by Warbler neck all over again The trees were wondrous and we couldn t get enough of them We walked through the Rockefeller forest John D Rockefeller donated a million dollars to the park in 1927 and in return he got the largest concentration of old growth redwoods named after him a fair trade did the Founders Grove trail and a few others I don t think I ve ever felt so entirely miniscule in the grand scheme of things A good reminder I suppose Here s an upturned tree root Did I mention how miniscule I felt I couldn t even climb on top of this one it was so unwieldy and colossal We drove along the Avenue of the Giants where natural beauty and sheer magnitude completely dwarfed us After a quick shopping break in Eureka we drove north to the tiny coastal community of Trinidad where I ate the best smoked fish ever and walked along the most stunning beach I ve ever seen The fog wove in and out of the trees and boulders as we made our way to Trinidad State Beach The next day we traveled north to Prairie Creek Redwoods state park along the somewhat treacherous one lane 101 where we were humbled by more redwoods and in response to humility proceeded to devour the most delicious picnic lunch I ve ever had magically sweet tomatoes lemon cucumbers tree ripe pears all purchased from a farmer s market stand somewhere near Pepperwood California and cheese purchased at the Loleta Cheese Factory located in the eponymous township of Loleta which is wholly uneventful place where we managed to encounter a bearded driver who had a predilection for driving on the wrong side of the road but oh the cheese the cheese We paid our dues to dear Fern Canyon home of Steve Spielberg s Jurassic Park an enormous canyon with 60ft walls covered in ferns on either side of you Yet another oh my god this is so beautiful who do I find the words to blog about it moment In retrospect I think I

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2012/09/ (2015-09-25)
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