Some people don’t care for birds, even though they sing, fly and form lifelong bonds. Nor are they impressed it’s the males who are colourful or that many go south for the winter.
Other people go to Point Pelee in early May to welcome our feathered co-habitants back home. Point Pelee is a long sand spit out into Lake Erie. It is the last jump in the migratory hopscotch across the Great Lake.
On May 1-2, at the tip and in the Carolinian forest behind, we listed more than 40 species including: a Sanderling on the shoreline checking the backwash of the waves; Bank Swallows picking off insects in the updraft where the lake meets the forest; a low flying Osprey with a big fish in hand; a Red-headed Woodpecker; and the Red-breasted Merganser with its glorious headdress.
We go by The Book (Peterson). It lists birds from the first one to branch off the tree of life to the latest.
Our most ancient bird is the Loon. A Loon can stay underwater for a long time. A Common Loon was one of the first we spotted. The newest birds are the seed crunchers – sparrows like the White-crowned.
The Onomatopoeia birds – Killdeer, Phoebe and Chickadee – are the easiest ones to ID. Warblers are tough to find. Very small and constantly flitting, they are, after “leaf-in” (mid-May), almost impossible to see. We got eight different types including the Ovenbird, Redstart and Hooded Warbler. (No Ceruleans, the holy grail, as per DM and in Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.)
There were very few flowers around but enough to accommodate the heroic Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Pelee, the French word for bald, is the most southerly point of mainland Canada at just south of 42 N latitude. While there the cold, drizzly, jubilant forest was full of life and song.
On May 6 the UN reported: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’