Odd Thoughts: Circle of life takes flight in a Langley back yard

Bob Groeneveld retired as editor of the Langley Advance in 2015 but continues to be a columnist.

One was trying desperately – comically – to find purchase in a mat of cedar twigs, while his/her sibling appeared almost confident atop the adjacent fence… the confidence betrayed by the bit of wobble in the wire to which it tenaciously clung.

This past weekend, the two youngsters became the latest additions to our elite garden pest control corps.

They had just made their first flight out of the bird house that their parents had graciously accepted as their primary abode some time ago.

Mom and dad picked their home from a number of choices we offered when they were house-hunting in preparation for raising a family.

At first we thought they’d go for the red-barn-style cottage in the chestnut tree, just one limb over from where they had started building their own accommodations, taking over a construction project that a woodpecker had started and abandoned nearly a year earlier.

They also showed considerable interest in an A-frame bungalow nestled among a tangle of grape vines, next to a clematis that offers great shade from mid-spring and a beautiful shower of thousands of tiny white flowers in late summer.

But in the end, they picked one of the duplex homes that bracket our garage, one in front (the one they picked this year) and one in back.

It’s not really much to look at – a sort of square wooden box with a round hole drilled into it, and tacked up against a corner, just under the roof. Its mirror image sits at the back of the garage, empty this year, but one or the other often attracts our migrant workers most years, often preferred over some of the upscale properties located in the aforesaid grape arbour and chestnut.

It was fascinating watching the young couple inspect the varied possibilities.

The fascination continued with the little ones. Long before we saw them, we were privy to their conversation – which like that of human babies consisted mostly of strident requests for food, followed by a few moments of gurgling indications of contentment.

But most fascinating is when they emerge – when they make that important decision to fly.

Once upon a time, many years ago now, we found a robin chick huddled on the ground beneath a spruce tree whose branches seemed to attract newlywed robins the way our garage duplex attracts chickadees.

How did he fall out of his nest, from way up there? Was it an accident? Was he pushed? We couldn’t be sure, but we soon learned a likely scenario.

To protect Albert (his hairdo reminded us both of Albert Einstein) from the neighbourhood cats, we placed him in an old hanging basket from the garden shed, lined with some moss and hung as high in the tree as we could reach.

His parents watched out for him there, but he didn’t stay long. Albert, it appears, was quite a precocious little character. The very next day, we saw him perched on the edge of his makeshift home, staring fixedly at the ground, flexing his knees and his nearly featherless wings.

He looked for all the world like a youngster contemplating a refreshing first dive into an inviting but cold swimming hole on the first day of summer.

He made several such false starts, and then, one morning he was gone.

When we think of Albert, even these years later, we express a hope that, like the sibling chickadees in our front yard, he made the plunge successfully and is out there right now, protecting someone’s garden.

Maybe ours.

 

Just Posted

Cyclist injured in Langley hit-and-run

Rider was taken to hospital

Phasing plans for Brookswood defeated

Council voted against staggering neighbourhood planning in Brookswood-Fernridge.

Vigil to eliminate violence on women

Annual vigil observes International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

LETTER: Canada should not be selling weapons abroad

A Langley man is critical of Canada for selling arms that are being used to kill civilians.

Langley author pens tribute to the men and women of Canada’s military for Remembrance Day

‘A soldier, a sailor and an airman … stood before the Pearly Gates’

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read