The Joy of the Birds and Squirrels

The National Post recently ran an article about birds making people as happy as money. Personally, I think they make me happier!

When the article made its way to FB, one person commented that birds make her “happier than most people do”. I giggled. Yes, that can certainly be the case! I know from the comments sent to me by each of you – either as a formal comment or a private e-mail – that since the pandemic began, the birds have really been the life line for many of you. I know a dear woman who has been quite ill who kept her focus and her fantastic disposition by watching the White-Bellied Sea Eagles. Many of you might remember, if you followed the FB of the Royal Cam Albatross, that a woman who was in hospice found solace in watching Pippa being raised by OGK and YRK. It removed her from herself and her imminent death. The birds brought her both joy and comfort. She loved that little fluff ball.

I am lucky. Every day I wake up and feel blessed. I taught my last face-to-face university class on 11 December 2019. Two days later, in celebration of my retirement, I went to Quebec City and spent a glorious time exploring the most European of all Canada’s large cities. It was only a few weeks after my return that my son alerted me to ‘something happening’ and I needed to stay home. It was not a hardship. My daughter was the one carrying the burden and my granddaughter. My daughter juggled teaching full time with alternating between virtual classes and face to face ones while trying to raise a family. My granddaughter worked with the homeless addicts in our downtown core in the depths of winter. I had it easy. I fed and watched my garden birds and animals as I had done for years. I began a blog to share that joy with others. At the same time, I hoped, now and again, to raise awareness of the challenges that the birds and other wildlife face on our planet. They have given me so much and hopefully, in a small way, I can give something to them.

There are three grey Squirrels that live in my garden. Some of you know their antics. There is Dyson who is always thinking about food. There is Scraggles whose tail is forever being torn off by one thing or another. Scraggles appeared emaciated on the deck several years ago. He sat right by a huge pile of black oil seed and water and ate til I didn’t think he could eat another seed. Every day he would come and sit in the same place. It took about 3 weeks to a month and he was back to something that resembled a healthy squirrel. There is a third, much larger grey squirrel who is always somewhere in the garden. Dyson and Scraggles seem to ignore it and like to be with one another. I think they are siblings. They live in a hole in the big Maple Tree in front of my house. Thankfully, it was not one cut down by my City because Mr and Mrs Woodpecker live in that tree, too!

Yesterday, I took the very bottom slice of the compressed seed cylinder and stuck it on a very short twig. I knew one of the squirrels would find it.

Scraggles has it! But Dyson is hot on his trail.

Scraggles has the lead. In the image below it is hard to tell who has the seed. Dyson has little fur tufts sticking up from his longer ears along with a longer tail with more silver in it.

It was only minutes later and I spotted Scraggles sitting on a tree branch. The piece of compressed seed no where to be seen. Did he drop it trying to get it up the big Maple Tree? or did Dyson catch up with him and grab it? Dyson was no where in sight.

There is lots of food for all the squirrels. Dyson is a ‘pro’ at sitting on top of the compressed suet cylinders chomping away.

In fact, I have an image of Dyson, two days ago, eating from that very piece of compressed seed that Scraggles grabbed today. I am certain that they will both be working on those two new cylinders when dawn breaks tomorrow.

Indeed, our warm weather has brought them out running freely in the garden and at the park where I go for my daily walks. When I left for my walk, there were tiny flakes of snow. By the time I finished, it was raining and +3. Just last week we were -35. It must really be hard on the animals with the temperatures flopping back and forth. There is more snow scheduled for tomorrow.

My images of the little Red Squirrel at the park are not very good. He was a distance away. A lady with her dog were approaching the squirrel on the snow. It got frightened and moved like a squeaky toy over to a hole in the snow where it disappeared.

There seemed to be squirrels everywhere today – Red ones and Grey ones.

The fur on the Grey Squirrel in the images below is very, very thick. The colours offer perfect camouflage.

I noticed that someone had left some peanuts at various spots in the snow around the flower garden where I spend my time walking. I think he had one of those. It must taste yummy on a damp day.

The Red Squirrels at the park have the most beautiful fur. They are different than Little Red who lives in my garden. These have grey underneath, a stunning coppery red on their back with a black tipped tail and ears.

The planters are all empty waiting for spring to arrive.

It is so quiet. A great place to go for a daily walk.

Scattered about are sculptures by Leonid Molodozhanyn (shortened to Leo Mol). Mol was born in the Ukraine. He studied art at the Leningrad Academy of Arts, the Berlin Kunst Academy, and the Academy of Arts in the Hague. He immigrated to Canada in 1948. He died in 2009 donating all of his bronze sculptures to the park. The intent was to create a place of quiet solitude. The trail winding through the gardens and sculptures is 1.0 km long – a perfect length for a nice brisk walk or a quiet stroll.

It is wonderful to be able to go out in a safe place and breathe in the fresh air and listen to all the chattering of the squirrels. The Cooper’s Hawks will arrive in April building their nest in the Spruce Tree along the walking paths. Eventually the juveniles will be jumping around all under these trees and around the bear sculpture looking for bugs. It is a delightful place. I hope that each of you has a place that is peaceful and serene where you can go and walk or sit or even read a book and sip some tea.

Thank you for joining me today. The news is so often full of the negative and sometimes we just need to stop and be grateful for what we have. Every day I thank the garden animals, the ones at the park, and those I see on the screen for the joy that they bring!

Take care everyone. See you soon.


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    These photos are very lovely Mary Ann !
    Love your animals and the parks animals.
    Wow! That’s a large amount of snow indeed there!
    Will read the rest tomorrow when I get up
    And going. Good night and sleep well

    1. I am so impressed by how well the animals deal with winter here. It is quite incredible. Have a great Wednesday, Linda!

    2. Oh, I forgot. Third egg at Achieva this morning. I think it was 07:36.

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