The morning was overcast and, more than any of my previous visits, I felt an odd blend of anxiety and acceptance. Many of the chicks are close to leaving the nest, exposing them to a multitude of new challenges and dangers. I can do little but act as a witness.

One of my qualms about birding is how easily it slides into a game of checking species off a list. There is an uncomfortable disjunct between watching and listening to birds and transmuting that into a number or check mark. Don’t get me wrong – collecting data for eBird or iNaturalist is vital to empower research and protect birds and their habitats. But I worry we lose something when we focus so narrowly and forget we are in the presence of other beings who possess mysteries we will never fully grasp.

Henry Beston said it far more eloquently in his book The Outermost House:

“In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

Pyramid nest

Pyramid nest

Pyramid nest

Nest visits for Aug 6th

- 4 mins read

Series: Nesting Gulls

I had a quiet Sunday morning visit to a good portion of the nests. The sky was overcast, sparing the gulls and myself from the full strength of the sun. It gave me the opportunity to see some of the chicks that are usually tucked away in shade and hidden from view.

Pyramid nest

The chicks at Pyramid nest are doing well. Here they are with a parent. Given their lack of excitement and begging, I suspect they were fed shorty before this photo.

Pyramid nest

Pyramid nest

Aug 3rd nest updates

- 3 mins read

Series: Nesting Gulls

New! Beach Ave nest

Now that we’re far into the breeding season, all the chicks are larger and more mobile. As a result they’re much more visible, making it significantly easier to spot nests that were otherwise invisible due to barriers that blocked my view.

On my way from the Burrard nests I heard the excited chipping of some chicks about to be fed. After a quick scan of nearby rooftops, I spotted the heads of three fledglings poking out above rows of anti-bird spikes.

The building is located on Beach Ave, so that’s what I’ll be calling this nest.

New! Beach Ave nest

New! Beach Ave nest

Nest watching, July 30th

- 3 mins read

Series: Nesting Gulls

I arrived at the Burrard Street Bridge to a chaotic scene – five or six gulls were circling near the bridge, calling out loudly. I soon spotted the silhouette of a hawk cutting erratically through the air.

Though it easily out-manoeuvred the gulls, the hawk knew it had no chance of finding a meal and vanished before I was able to get a good look at it. I suspect it was a Cooper’s Hawk, but it was little more than a blur to my mammalian eyes. I have seen Peregrine Falcons hunting in that area before, but the shape didn’t look right for a falcon.

In any case, with the gulls alarmed and defensive, I spotted a new nest with at least one chick located on top of the bridge architecture.

This brings my the number of nests I’m monitoring to 18.

Burrard nest #4

Burrard nest #4

Burrard nest #4