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  • April | 2011 | Birds and Words
    but they re orthopedic shoes right so really I m just investing in longtime foot care and working to offset a future podiatrist bill that I ll invariably have to cope with in my 70s or 80s Really I m being frugal I fight gray weather the only way I can with shoes Apart from my shoe related shopping spree I should have married a cobbler clearly I ve also been buying books with a certain abandon The best thing I ve read this past week has been Jessica Westhead s fabulous short story collection And Also Sharks The stories are hilarious and devastating at the same time the characters are lovable for all their quirky flaws and insecurities I couldn t put the book down The second best thing I read was Bossypants but I assume the entire universe is talking about Tina Fey with good reason so I won t go any further And while I m on the topic of short stories have you heard of this amazing initiative called YOSS that promotes short fiction Why it s YEAR OF THE SHORT STORY Check out the website and while you re at it how about reading a few short stories this year And next year and for the rest of your life If you need reading suggestions just email me Some of my favorite collections are in no particular order anything by Chekhov and I do mean anything because he s a master of everything especially weather which is always topical Alice Munro Jhumpa Lahiri s Unaccustomed Earth Raymond Carver s Cathedral and more recently Light Lifting by Alexander McLeod and This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky So read a short story And while we re YOSSing I d love some recommendations for short fiction that features BIRDS Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on April 20 2011 by Julia Zarankin 906680202 2T by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on April 20 2011 by Julia Zarankin Mallard 1 by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on April 17 2011 by Julia Zarankin More Magic by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply It s no secret that here at Birds and Words we love birthdays mail and especially packages Imagine my utter delight when I opened my mailbox and found this gif t It s a Hooded Warbler Wilsonia citrina and when you press on it the bird sings its distinctive call I ve been listening to it nonstop trying to memorize the distinct notes and it brings me back to Solfege class which I had to take before my gr 10 Royal Conservatory of Music piano exam because my sense of pitch was too awful

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2011/04/ (2015-09-25)
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  • March | 2011 | Birds and Words
    hadn t even considered check out the inimitable Rick Wright s review on the ABA blog But all possible criticisms aside Crossley is a genius The field guide contains more than 10 000 of Crossley s photographs of Eastern birds of every type imaginable and in their natural environment The effect is amazing especially for a novice birder such as yours truly since I often have a hard time imagining where a particular bird might hang out or what it would actually look like in flight rather than in the form of a hand drawing It really is a revolutionary field guide and not just revolutionary because the author himself says so But have no fear this doesn t mean that I m giving up Sibley just that the two work really well in tandem I think My only problem with Crossley is that the book is far too heavy and large to actually carry as a field guide So I ll stick to Sibley in the field and Crossley once I return to the comfort of my home I do wish it were a more portable volume but perhaps that wasn t Crossley s design I love birding but I also find it frustrating because it s now been a year and I still can t identify more than about 8 birds To me most of them look grayish brown especially if they re of the hawk variety Unless they happen to be warblers in which case they fly by so quickly I can t keep up with them and the overall effect is dizzying Of course there are the show stopping cardinals tanagers and goldfinches to whom I m eternally grateful for their fearless display of color I m glad that Crossley s magnum opus acknowledges my color issues No wonder birding is so challenging There really IS a disproportionate number of grayish brown birds It wasn t my imagination More than anything the ID guide has gotten me excited about Spring which may or may not grace us with its presence one of these days And my latest discovery which I ll only see if I travel to southern Florida is the Smooth Billed Ani Crotophaga ani The bird looks fabulously prehistoric and the streaked hair ok plumage is something I ll one day have the courage to emulate Photo from here Crossley aptly refers to Smooth billed Ani s weird honker of a bill I couldn t have said it better myself and I have a feeling that Crossley and I are going to get along famously Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on March 12 2011 by Julia Zarankin Ani Smooth billed Napo WR by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on March 12 2011 by Julia Zarankin Hello March by Julia Zarankin Leave

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2011/03/ (2015-09-25)
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  • February | 2011 | Birds and Words
    in Uncategorized on February 7 2011 by Julia Zarankin What I Saw by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Bird Loving Readers I think I may have already said this and pardon me if I did but my absolutely favorite part of going out birding is the very first question my husband asks me when I come home so what did you see today It s a question I love because it gives me the chance to relive my day spent in nature to revisit the newly discovered birds I ve added to my roster to look up pictures for him in Sibley s magnum opus for all my issues with Sibley s calendar and the fact that he chose Canada Geese as the bird to represent my birthday month I still love Sibley Who doesn t have a bird crush on David Sibley to replay the day one more time along with all its almost seen moments my binocular mishaps and anything else I can think of About ten days ago on the coldest winter day Ontario has seen thus far in 23 Celcius weather I went to Amherst Island with my intrepid birding pals Amherst Island is an island on Lake Ontario near Kingston I never even knew it existed before The island is famous for its owls usually one can get five or six species in a single day We of course only managed to catch a glimpse of two owls and one of those was an owl flying over my head so we didn t exactly make meaningful eye contact but the day was still worth it Even though I nearly froze my feet and we ended up stuck on the 401 in one of the ugliest snow storms I ve ever seen Even though my feet were so numb I couldn t feel them Here s who I did see That would be a Northern Saw Whet Ow l Aegolius acadicus I think his eyes may have been closed and of course instead of green leaves on the trees there was only snow and more snow to be seen but I stood right under him and marveled I was partly stunned by the bird s particular coloring but mainly couldn t get over the fact that I had woken up at 4 25 that morning was standing in weather so cold that my binoculars froze and became useless and that I was nowhere near getting bored of birds I wanted to tell the Saw whet owl that we would see each other again That this was only the beginning And then on our way out of the woods I saw a strange looking bird that looked like a cross between a peacock and a chicken OK that s perhaps not the most observant or sophisticated way to refer to a bird but that s seriously what it looked like at first glance It turned out to be my first sighting of a Ring Neck Pheasant Thanks

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2011/02/ (2015-09-25)
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  • January | 2011 | Birds and Words
    in the 9th century because it s the first time a robust exciting female character appears Olga is fearless and means business once poor Igor is killed by the Derevlians she invites all of their ambassadors to Kiev gets them rip roaring drunk in her steam bath banya and sets the place on fire She then proceeded to massacre 5000 other Derevlians before coming up with her ultimate revenge She asked the Derevlians to hand over three pigeons and three sparrows from each house which they did without suspecting anything I m gathering at this point that the Derevlians are a somewhat SLOW people and she had her soldiers attach a match and a piece of cloth to each bird Once the birds reached their porches coops and houses they set the entire town on fire The Primary Chronicle writes There was not a house that was not consumed and it was impossible to extinguish the flames because all the houses caught fire at once Go pigeon go And that was pretty much the end of the Derevlians Olga went on to become the first woman of Rus to convert to Christianity and was instantly canonized by the Orthodox Church I love her for her ingenuity and fearlessness she adds dramatic tension to the Chronicle and arms me with great cocktail party tales of medieval Russian lore Hopefully no pigeons and sparrows were harmed in this story The Primary Chronicle doesn t tell us either way Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 24 2011 by Julia Zarankin 800px Rock dove natures pics by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 24 2011 by Julia Zarankin Owl Season by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Beloved Birders Thanks to the illustrious Rick Wright I now know that what I saw this past Saturday was in fact a Northern Hawk Owl Surnia ulula and not a Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata since those are virtually unknown in the Americas as they hang out mainly in south Asia and southern China I made a few other gaffes in my previous post but I ll correct those in due course There he is in all his majestic glory I m afraid we didn t make eye contact but I did get a hearty look at his plumage The coloring in this photo reminds me of a fabulous cake I recently ate layers of sponge cake smothered in vanilla hazelnut custard It tasted a whole lot better than it sounds and looked exactly like this Hawk Owl s furry torso In honor of Owl Season here is a great take on the bird by the awesome poet Mary Oliver The Owl Who Comes The owl who comes through the dark to sit in the black boughs of the apple tree and stare

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2011/01/ (2015-09-25)
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  • December | 2010 | Birds and Words
    Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on December 29 2010 by Julia Zarankin IMG 2337 by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on December 29 2010 by Julia Zarankin Slight Heartbreak by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Perhaps this post should have been called Making Room for New Books but whatever the title the element of heartbreak remains Yesterday I packed up seven boxes of books to take to storage I m fairly used to packing up my bookshelves but I usually bundle them up in their entirety and leave their ultimate fate to movers Never before have I not lived with my bookshelves intact even if that meant that there were books everywhere in multiple rows some collecting dust others bent into submission to fit on the shelves Even though I only ever leafed through a fraction of my books I felt reassured by the fact that we were together Huddled in one place But recently my bookshelves started to stress me out I could never find what I was looking for and the randomness and disorder on my shelves that I had formerly cultivated and admired began to grate on my nerves I had let my bookshelves grow out of control the books overflowed But I loved the fact that I had a book about bunny rabbits don t ask next to a primer on typography next to Randall Jarrell s poems next to the Cat in the Hat in Latin I loved my bookshelves for their restlessness and their resistance to any kind of order Going through my bookshelves felt like walking aimlessly through the stacks of a library and accidentally stumbling across the book you were unconsciously looking for The only problem with my particular form of utterly disorganized bibliophilia is that my husband and I live in a two bedroom apartment and there is only so much wall space for bookshelves Not to mention the fact that my husband and I haven t merged bookshelves because how could his 1000 identically sized fantasy sci fi books EVER feel comfortable next to my Yiddish Bird dictionary Carol Shields Unless and Chekhov s stories No we definitely haven t reached the stage of book cohabitation yet And I can t seem to live without acquiring new books I could buy a new book every day of the year and it wouldn t feel excessive So yesterday I took the plunge I began to trim my shelves to make room for the new books that I am excited to acquire in 2011 I retired many books I love to our basement storage unit Many of the Victorians went downstairs Middlemarch and Bleak House remain but Wordsworth didn t make the cut this time There wasn t really a system to my decision making I chose to keep whatever books speak to me at this specific time

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2010/12/ (2015-09-25)
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  • November | 2010 | Birds and Words
    me for my kindness I might have even seduced another chickadee into my little green polar fleece clad hand if I hadn t out of sheer hunger and I admit slight fear devoured the remainder of the trail mix In other chickadee unrelated news I discovered thanks to Pickle Me This the great website of writer illustrator Patricia Storms who evidently shares my love of the avian world and introduced me to a fabulous artist Ellen Sereda who paints absolutely stunning birds Aren t inter blog connections amazing I ll leave you with Ellen s Great Horned Owl which should whet your appetite for discovering more of her art work Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on November 18 2010 by Julia Zarankin il 570xN 183165095 by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on November 18 2010 by Julia Zarankin black capped chickadee lg by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on November 18 2010 by Julia Zarankin Milestones by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Just to let all of you know I m about to take the plunge It s 99 9 decided I ve been mulling it over for a few months now deciding whether it s worth telling The World about and have finally come to the conclusion that this is News I should be proud to share I m going to buy myself a new pair of binoculars If you never thought I d come this far you re not alone I too never thought my bird THING would last this long You see bird watching isn t really something I had imagined would be in my future It s not like I imagined I d go see a fortune teller and she d tell me WOW YOU WILL BIRD WATCH Beware There is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it from happening The thing is and I ll be honest here bird watching makes me happy I have no idea why I couldn t tell you why watching a Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca roll around in the leaves in Whitby of all places is more than enough reward for three hours of basically standing still and a 6 30 am Saturday wake up call What made this fox sparrow so completely awesomely gratifying was that I saw it rolling around in the leaves in the company of another smaller more ordinary looking sparrow and a junco and a couple chickadees It was a total bird party out there somewhere in the middle of the woods in Whitby I had never noticed how much fatter the Fox Sparrow is than all the others but then again maybe he s bulking up for winter who knows how

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2010/11/ (2015-09-25)
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  • October | 2010 | Birds and Words
    every single leaf in 3 D for the first time the most stunning sensory overload I had ever experienced I guess I knew that trees were there all along but hadn t expected them to be so alive I remember that moment often when I m out birding staring up at trees through my binoculars hoping to catch a glimpse of some evasive bird or other and suddenly being thrown off guard by the texture and intricate design of leaves or branches Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on October 22 2010 by Julia Zarankin P1010605 by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on October 22 2010 by Julia Zarankin Algonquin by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply First of all dear Bird Enthusiasts thank you for enlightening me and teaching me a new word The big ceramic spoon upon which one rests dirty utensils while cooking is called a SPOON REST How utterly logical Now on to more pressing matters On Saturday morning I did what I never thought I d be capable of I set the alarm for 4 30 am in order to meet my stellar bird group at 5 15 and be at Algonquin park by 8 30 By the time we reached the park and I stood face to face with a Spruce Grouse Falcipennis canadensis I had totally forgotten what mental effort it took to set the alarm for 4 30 Turns out this gorgeous grouse is also nicknamed Fool s Hen or Stupid Chicken in Alaska only The bird is so convinced of its powers of camouflage that it stays still even when people approach it from 1 or 2 meters away Ah well poor spruce grouse In any event ours was splendid I swear I think we made eye contact Next was the Grey Jay Perisoreus canadensis which I think I saw on my last trip to Algonquin so I wasn t nearly as excited Everyone in my group proceeded to feed the Grey Jay since the birds are intrepid and will eat out of your hand I held trail mix filled hand out for about five minutes but then proceeded to quietly devour all the trail mix First I started with the peanuts then the raisins and then just piled everything I could into my mouth Have you ever woken up at 4 30 am Well I was starving by 9 15 and in absolutely no mood to share my loot with a Grey Jay Besides their beaks were looking mighty sharp that day The highlight of my day was a Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus sighting How nifty are those colors In real life the pink was even brighter and almost matched my new hot pink fall jacket I ve always wanted to see a pink bird Apparently Roger Tory Peterson

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2010/10/ (2015-09-25)
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  • September | 2010 | Birds and Words
    that every bird feels like a fabulous discovery I had this terrible fear that bird watching would be completely boring and that I d be stuck behind my binoculars for hours on end It turns out I m riveted by specimens such as the Sanderling I can t help but wonder what they re thinking about as they tiptoe along the shore I d love to tell them that today is the first day of my favorite season that hot and humid summer is blissfully behind us that I m learning a new Beethoven Sonata and that tomorrow I m going to eat an incredibly delicious pie baked by Pickle Me This Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on September 22 2010 by Julia Zarankin sanderlingNB by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply Share this More Email Press This Share on Tumblr Like this Like Loading This entry was posted in Uncategorized on September 22 2010 by Julia Zarankin Philistine birder by Julia Zarankin Leave a reply I was recently told that real birders don t use the word seagull Apparently the only people who refer to gulls as seagulls are readers and not birders In other words when I falsely identified a Ring Billed Gull Larus delawarensis as a Seagull I was exhibiting true signs of my identity as a philistine birder I guess I ll chalk it up to another birding misdemeanor Here he is in all his glory I might now start referring to Chekhov s Seagull as the Ring Billed Gull Infinitely more precise that way don t you think We re currently in the throes of fall migration which is a wonderful thing except for the tiny detail that the warblers all look exactly the same And I m hardly kidding when I say exactly the same Yellow belly olive greenish brown back a few black stripes here and there there you go that could describe any one of over 20 different species Have a look at this bird blog for a fall warbler ID quiz if you don t believe me If you re into screech owls you ll want to become a diligent reader of the blog I just mentioned the author wrote his PhD dissertation on screech owls I did get a great look at the Magnolia Warbler out at Hanlan s Point on Toronto Island The magnolia warbler Dendroica magnolia was perfect It chirped it eyed me from above and most importantly it sat still for about 4 seconds which was long enough for me to get a good look at it The problem with warblers for a beginning somewhat birder is their speed and the fact that they blend in with the foliage Warblers move around so quickly I swear they must have ADD And in mid September things are compounded by the fact that it s also Monarch Butterfly migration season Almost every time I thought I

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/birdsandwords/2010/09/ (2015-09-25)
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