Over the past several years, my husband and I have taken great interest in feathered friends. Walking the trails and beaches of Prince Edward Island, the sights and sounds of these animals fill your senses if you but stop for a few moments. This past year, with the pandemic limiting our lives as it has, birds have helped us cope as we enjoy their behaviour, sounds and beauty at every opportunity. They have expanded our appreciation of nature in general and birds in particular.
This winter, a few Tree Sparrows have taken to visiting the boardwalk.
The little birds pick up seeds on the ground by the bridge, blown there from those left for the animals by walkers. Prince Edward Island is the winter stopover for the little birds and they head north to breed as the snow melts. This is the first year my husband and I have seen these birds with their two toned beaks which is unusual, at least among the birds we know.
Some of our favourite winter friends are the woodpeckers, Downy and Hairy. They peck away at the trees along the boardwalk in the winter, but they also frequent the feeders and eat seed left along the bridge.
Most recently, the Hairy Woodpeckers were co-operative for a few photos.
On a recent visit to the Grand River, we saw a huge flock of Mallards, both male and female and a few American Black Ducks.
They don’t react if a car slows in the area but if you park the car and walk, they swim or even fly away if you walk towards their area, even a distance away. Using the car as a blind was helpful this time. This would be a dangerous practice during tourist season when the roads are always busy.
A stream which flows under the boardwalk, flows into a saltwater marsh which at various times of the year floods and becomes a small pond. There are several Black Ducks which live and breed in this marsh. When everything freezes, the ducks move to open water at the head of the bay at Summerside, so we don’t see them for a few months. We were surprised to see a pair of the ducks, checking out the old stomping ground...uh, nesting marsh, one day recently.
The harbour ice was breaking up and I imagine the birds dropped by to check out their warm weather home. I wonder what they thought as they looked out over the frozen marshland? Maybe the open sea ice will be enough to keep them in that area.
Periodically in winter, the noisy talk of American Crows fills the air around the boardwalk. During these lean times, the crows sometimes resort to taking peanuts left along the boardwalk. We enjoy watching and listening to the crows and this pair of birds sitting back to back along the harbour’s rafted ice was a curious sight.
These two sharing a branch made a nice silhouette too.
I caught a glimpse of a crow which has some white feathers. This is the best photo I could manage of one such bird near the boardwalk.
Finally, these two Bald Eagles were sitting around at Grand River, watching the proceedings.
They often hang out at the river and ignore the ducks who float and dive nearby. Their eagle eyes don’t miss much.
We are fortunate to be able to enjoy such beautiful animals as we go about our lives on this little island.