Page 4: Karine Duffy to Stéphanie Gagnon
Photo: Megan Boucher
Photo: Jared Maida
One of my first jobs with the Canadian Wildlife Service was as a species at risk field assistant in Atlantic Canada. I had the amazing opportunity to see first-hand some of our most endangered and threatened avian species. In particular, I got to spend some time on Country Island, just off the coast of Nova Scotia. Here we got to track the nesting Roseate Tern colony as they built nests, laid eggs and fledged chicks. This was a rare and great moment to witness nature and help ensure the success of this species. It was a unique experience to live on this island and be part of something bigger.
Photo: Céline Boucher
Photo: Daniel Dupont
I started surveying the American Woodcock in 2000, and I intend to continue participating in this volunteer survey for a long time. I collect data at dusk or dawn by listening for its call, the characteristic “peeent.” I love this little known, very discreet migratory bird. Its mottled plumage gives it an uncanny resemblance to a small pile of dead leaves. Its long, membranous bill is perfectly adapted for catching earthworms, and its eyes, which are located towards the back of its head, give it almost 360-degree vision.
Photo: Madeleine Papineau
Photo: John D. Reynolds
In the summer of 2000, I spent a few weeks in Ungava for work. A Northern Wheatear pair was nesting close to the house we were staying at in Kangirsuk. It was lovely to see one of the members of the pair every morning when leaving the house. We also found a few Snow Bunting nests. In addition, we occasionally saw Parasitic Jaegers and Long-tailed Jaegers. It was truly special to see all of these species—which we usually only see when they’re migrating south—at their nesting sites.
Photo: Jason Gadoury
Photo: Yves Guillot
When I see birds soaring above city streets, fields, forests, tundra, the ocean, I think of freedom. The freedom to live within the ebbs and flows of nature,
The freedom to go out into the world and discover, Then fly home again. Perched on a branch, hiding in bushes, nestled in grasses, floating through the waves.
Photo: Hélène Gaulin
I find nature and birds to be a source of pure beauty. A beauty that makes you feel good, that brings you back to basics. Birds remind me to take a break from my routine and to simply stop for a few seconds and appreciate the life and beauty surrounding me: a flock of Snow Geese, the plumage of a Harlequin, the swallows that return to the nest box every year, the song of the thrush, clumsy chicks, the chickadees that are present year-round in both the forest and the city, or a hummingbird up close at the feeder… all you have to do is stop for a minute…
Photo: Jean Ford
Photo: Carole Labbé
A few years ago, while on an owling trip to Amherst Island, I got out of the car to scan the roosting platforms off in the distance. I was proud to locate a Snowy Owl that my young son would be able to see. I called him over and gave him precise location instructions. He seemed more interested in looking at a jumble of rocks close to the car, but he humoured me and dutifully found it. It was then that he protested: “Nice owl, Dad; but this one over here by the rocks is a lot easier to see!”
Photo: Cecilia Fung
Photo: Charles Francis
I never really feel that spring is here until I’ve spent at least a few days participating in spring bird migration studies. I have a particular attachment to Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, Ontario, where I first participated in spring banding 37 years ago with the Kingston Field Naturalists. I have since helped teach dozens of university students about banding, field research techniques and bird identification there. There is something magical about seeing more than 20 species of warblers and dozens of other bird species amidst the budding leaves, with spring wildflowers all around and the lake in the background.
Ella and Alexandre Gadoury
Photo: Jason Gadoury
Drawings by Alexandre and Ella
Drawing: Ella and Alexandre Gadoury
I like birds because they’re really pretty. I like the red of the cardinals and the long beaks of the woodpeckers. They make holes in dead trees. This is a good thing and it doesn’t hurt the trees because they’re already dead. I also like Canada Geese, especially because in fall and in spring, they fly in the sky to fly away, and they almost always form a V. I also like to feed chickadees and watch the birds eat at our bird feeder.
Alexandre and Ella Gadoury (7 and 10 years old)
Photo: Pierre Sigouin
I was in the Magdalen Islands and hoping to see some shorebirds. I was always on the lookout, my binoculars at hand. And then, one evening, a tiny bird appeared silently on the balcony: it wasn’t moving and had undoubtedly hit the window. I came out quietly, despite being barely able to contain my excitement at the idea of seeing what seemed to be a Yellow Warbler up close. It wasn’t moving; it was stunned. I was praying that it was unharmed and that it would fly away. And when it saw me, it did fly away. What a relief! I still savour this fleeting, magical moment of fragility.
Photo: Michel Gendron
Photo: Stéphanie Gagnon
I have experienced some intense moments because of my work as a wildlife technician, particularly during bird surveys. One highlight undoubtedly occurred during a survey of owls at the Lac Saint-François National Wildlife Area. In the middle of a beautiful dark night in February, something suddenly hit me in the back. A bird landed on a branch close by, looking as surprised as I was. A pretty Barred Owl had, in its own way, warned me that this was its territory…
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