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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pretty in Pink...

Spring came late to Vancouver this year. Record high rainfall and record low temperatures still cast wet, grey days worthy of wool socks over us. I usually don't complain about the weather, since it's pretty much out of my control, but this sort of weather particularly sucks if you like the cherry blossoms. There are something like 119 varieties of flowering Cherry trees in Vancouver, and too much rain shortens their life by weeks. When I lived on the corner of Charles & Salsbury, just off Commercial Drive, I lived in a big heritage house once occupied by Japanese botany students. Back in the 30's, they spliced Pear branches on the Cherry trees down the boulevard directly in front of my house. When these trees were in full bloom they were the darkest of pink, huge fluffy pompom blossoms of the Kanzan -- Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan' Cherry Tree, and then around the base of the pink, there was this delicate spray of white blossoms from the Pear branches. It was so pretty. A few years ago the city really 'pruned' the trees back and hacked off all the Pear branches. They have mostly filled out again, but bothered me a lot at the time. It seemed disrespectful somehow. Probably because I knew that not long after these branches were grafted onto these trees, the Japanese students were all rounded up and sent to the POW camps in Salmon Arm because of the 'unprovoked' attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. Of course we have since learned that there is a lot more to that one sided account.
Lucky for us, we have dogs, because we are thereby obligated to go out and walk a few times a day no matter what the weather. The Border Collie always wants to go out, the Pug likes a warm bed, but the big dog ALWAYS wants a walk. So this year, despite the rain, I took my dogs, Eliza & camera and walked amid the wet blossoms. Sometimes we were lucky and the sky would break for a few minutes. The birds were as busy as usual, maybe even more than usual actually. I was taking this Cherry Blossom shot when this little Black Capped Chickadee landed in my shot, what a guy!
This year we bought a new bird house for the back porch over at Jill's. It's really sweet. I hung it and not 5 minutes later a Chickadee popped his head in for a look at the new local real estate. They haven't moved in yet, I think they want to make sure it is in a permanent location before going to a lot of trouble decorating. This little Junko spends a lot of time under the cedar hedge next to the parking lot. I love his little Rosy breast. The House Finch is a real beauty, he feeds his fat fledgling all day long off the feeder, and this Northern Flicker proves everyone looks good in pink!
I am still carefully monitoring the Flicker nest across the street. They start their day around 5:15 AM. Their loud "PEER!" pipes up and then you hear the response from a half a block away. We saw them move their eggs a few weeks ago - you can see video in my archive - but then he mated with his other lady for a few days. Now he seems to be Pappa over 2 nests, with 2 ladies. We hope we see the fledglings. If they do hatch it should be over the next week or so...
They keep busy eating off of our suet paddles when the starlings aren't pigging out. I heard from the Prof at UBC who studies cavity nesting. She is stoked to see the video. She wondered if the egg shells were empty, but in the video you can see practically the whole egg, and as Eliza noted, when he flies, you can see the egg has weight he has to compensate for. It's all very exciting!


  1. I read all your blogs and really enjoyed the stories and photos! Great and interesting.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, readers!