Birds and Blooms

Cel­e­brat­ing nature’s glory, from ma­jes­tic owls and del­i­cate hum­ming­birds to boun­ti­ful blos­soms.

More of Our Canada - - Contents - by Lor­raine Oakes , Black­falds, Alta.

As a novice birder and am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher—and after see­ing ev­ery­one else’s beau­ti­ful owl pho­to­graphs—i longed for “my day” to come along. Here in our small town of Black­falds, we don’t of­ten spot th­ese birds nearby, so on a week off from work, I headed to Cal­gary in hopes of get­ting the op­por­tu­nity of a life­time.

A friend of mine took me to two Cal­gary parks, Shan­non Ter­race and Fish Creek Pro­vin­cial Park, and, at last, my dream day had ar­rived. I was first given the gift of spot­ting north­ern pygmy owls; in the world of photography in Cal­gary, this was the bird equiv­a­lent of a celebrity sight­ing—what a de­light! After the ex­cite­ment of see­ing a pair of pygmy owls, we then headed to Fish Creek Pro­vin­cial Park, where I was blessed to see a male great horned owl sleep­ing soundly in a tree. I was danc­ing with glee and had joy in my heart, what a day!

As we walked, I cher­ished the scents and sounds of the life around us. After be­ing given a small amount of seed, I held out my hand and my heart sang with sheer hap­pi­ness when chick­adees and nuthatches gath­ered to feed.

On the re­turn trip, the fi­nal gift I had long waited for ar­rived. I spot­ted my first snowy owl, a fe­male sit­ting proudly on a fence line in ru­ral Alberta. I was speech­less and pro­foundly grate­ful.

A few miles fur­ther down the road we were lucky enough to see yet another snowy owl, this time a male. Could all this be real? There it sat, perched high on its lofty pole, al­low­ing a few pho­to­graphs to be snapped by this dreamer. Me­mories to last a life­time.

My heart was full of grat­i­tude to th­ese beau­ti­ful and mag­nif­i­cent crea­tures. One more male snowy owl ap­peared, grac­ing my eyes with its sheer wild beauty. My dream day con­sisted of not one owl sight­ing, but six! I bow in thanks­giv­ing to grand Mother Earth. ■

A great horned owl catch­ing 40 winks.

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