Tag Archives: avian art

Hello! Since 2014 I have “written” and “published” two books. They are the first two volumes from a series called SMALL BIRDSONGS, hardcovers both industrial and vaguely elegant in design. They are sturdy and pleasant and look different, bless me, than the sort of books you’d find in bookstores. They are small-run signed-and-numbered affairs, you understand.


Both books contain many unorthodox and vaguely artful bird photographs. Both books contain many prose-poetries written by a “character” who is obsessed by these things:

1) problems and solutions

2) the birds of one’s birthplace

3) other people and how to live among them



4) the hopeful idea that in this life, little things mean a lot

5) brains and hearts and how they compare to stone and water

6) obsessions and compulsions and how these potential problems can be reexamined and reconstructed so as to help instead of hinder



7) dreaming while asleep and awake

8) the sweet science of repetition and routine

8) love (yes, love!) in its many bonkers forms

9) purpose, possibility, piety, and perspective!



If any of the sweet beans or polished mulchers wish to get hold of these birdbooks, please do let me know. Scant copies remain and I am eager to get them into hands both agreeable and appropriate. Thank you always; love only!


In pursuit of education by the waterside, etc.

Some of the good local whimbrels, in May. It’s no grand skyline here in T.O., but hoo boy, those whimbrels don’t worry about architectural aesthetics so probably neither should I!


Yes yes, we see mallards everywhere and by now I’ll bet they bore you worse than geese or pigeons, but if you saw one today for the first time, you would be astonished by that marvelous greentop, you’d be singing devotional duck songs all the way home!


And finally, an early migrant from early Springtime! The most common of warblers, yes yes, but if you’ve given up on the common birds then you’ve given up on life and love and education and you might as well get yourself a spoon and bucket of worms and tell yourself “This is the only dinner I deserve”. Please remember every day: the common birds have the most to teach us, as long as we let ourselves learn from them!



Wrens are easy to hear but difficult to see, or so I’ve found, and thusly I was especially glad to have encountered this tiny trilling monster near a snaky hibernaculum in southeast Etobicoke.

When I was a young man I was often accused of being a luddite, but in truth, I love much of this new technology, and find it very useful indeed! I am a great fan of electricity, for example, but if suddenly there was no more electricity, I feel I could adjust quickly and without vexation. Anyhow, the horned grebe is lovely in all plumages, and here we see “old red eyes” well into his breeding blacks and golds along the semi-sapphire waterways.

This sorry sapsucker must have smashed into the Sheraton. I picked him up and moved him away from the pedestrian traffic. HIs neck was broken and of course I was astounded by his impossible lightness! He was very fresh, and I wanted to pick him up and keep him, but don’t worry, I didn’t. I will admit that I gave him a few pats and examined his feathers for a little while.

Falling in love with wild birds, for me, was different than falling in love with a person. It was different than taking on a new hobby or discovering a new purchasable item to collect. The love was a revelation because it was a safe love; the birds could never love me back, which eliminated the pressures that usually come with reciprocal love, and so I was free to love freely.

Falling in love with wild birds made the other aspects of my life feel richer, sparkier, easier. The discovery seemed endless, and so I was falling in love not just with wild birds but also with art and knowledge all over again. Everything was new; I was nowhere near mastery; I couldn’t sleep; I had birds on the brain. I began to re-appreciate the city I once loved, then hated, then tolerated. These days I don’t worry too much about what Toronto’s become; we have many fine parks, and reasonable access to many lovable species. To wander with a camera and lens in delusion is good enough for me!
P.S. Northern saw-whet owl, impossibly tiny, seen among the low-lit trees and twiggeries.

Unfortunately, this picture is pretty disgusting, I guess!
When I lost my heart to wild birds in 2009 and began to photograph our local alar with a compulsive gusto, it’s true that I saw beauty everywhere. I still do, but perhaps my self-directed immersion has curdled my brain, because I see beauty also and especially in pictures like this one?

Redpoll, with Alder Fallings, among the Easy White Highlows. As seen merrily in March, in scenic Port Credit, Ont.

I am just now remembering the redpolls among the easy white highlows, as seen in Port Credit, in early March, when snow covered everything.
I was sitting on the ground and delightedly photographing the streakier redpoll, when suddenly the paler redpoll jumped in. I had less than a second to work with, and this is what happened. It is very true that our eyes will almost always prefer to see the closer bird in focus, but the more I look at this picture, the more my eyes adjust, maybe. Perhaps this picture would be infinitely superior (or at least less bad) were the closer bird in focus, but it behooves me to share this picture with you anyhow.

And finally, another hibernal remembrance: the toothsome green-winged teal along the icy waterways.

Normally, a cutesypie picture like this can give me some pretty bad problems, but perhaps today I am less uptight than usual? Hello!

I spend a lot of time, too much probably, looking at, and even studying, bird photographs. Other people’s, of course, and my own, of course! I’m willing to admit that this self-guided immersion, which began in 2009, provides me with daily doses of delight and dolor, served concurrently!

When I spend “too much time” among the creatures, my brain goes bonkers and all I can think about is life and death and life and death and significance and insignificance and purpose and meaning and time and love and family and life and death! But listen, I’m not stupid, I know that EVERYBODY thinks about these things, they’re thinking about these things whether they realize it or not, but usually, blessedly, it all lies below the surface, in dormancy, until intermittently it bubbles up, and each time it does, we decide whether or not we should push it back down again?
The cozy upshot: I’m happier than I used to be!

In my muckpants, shitboots, and prone along the odoriferous rockways in the sunshine, I did remark “Well just look at this dumb little stander!”
P.S. Lying face-down in front of foraging tree sparrows = cheap thrills, etc!


Gentle squawko, seen in the “fake tundra section” of Toronto’s Old Country Spittoon.
In my books, lying face-down in one’s muckpants and shitboots along the fetid groundways is the acme of emotional excitement, etc.


Long-Eared Owl in a strange sweetpocket, yes yes.
He was perched perhaps two feet off the ground, as is the wont of this species. Many of us saw him, and quite a few photographers ventured around the sides and front of him, so as to get a closer, or better, or different look. The human ruckus perturbed the owl, who needed to sleep. The allure of owls causes many people, photographers especially, to behave very badly indeed. I will spare you the specifics, lest I sink into vitriolic indignation. I believe myself to be “one of the good ones” but I often worry that even at the best of times I am causing undue disturbance to these creatures I care about, and that really I should focus on other things and leave them to live their lives.
THEN AGAIN, I’m too sensitive! Even my own mother thinks so! Some bird photographers are tough guys, believe it or not. They snarl and grimace, wear full-body camouflage, carry around $15,000 worth of equipment at a minimum, and throw petstore mice to raptors so as to get the killer shots they need. Grrrr, etc!