Drew Hayden Taylor

Drew Hayden Taylor
Meet the Playwright

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

At the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory

Every spring, thousands of birds from the south arrive in the boreal forest .The bird banding season at the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory at the tip of the Sleeping Giant will welcome some of them.. One spring, I spent an amazing week there.
At Thunder Cape Bird Observatory
By Joan M. Baril
At  five o’clock in the morning, the mist on the rocks is ankle deep.  Far out across the lake, an island floats above the rosy haze as if levitating.  We three run along the rocks of the shore, leaping from log to rock to patches of sand, clapping our hands.  A song sparrow emerges from the weeds and flies ahead of us straight into the mouth of the trap.
He’s an old customer.  He already has a band on his leg so we lift the back door and shoo him out. Then back and repeat: run, jump, clap, three humans springing like clumsy deer.  Another bird startles out of the underbrush.  Then two more flutter into the wide wire maw, sparrows all.
Again clapping, tired now.  We want breakfast, coffee in the cabin.  No more birds appear. We measure and weigh the sparrows, band and release them, put up the nets, catch an angry blue jay who screams as he is untangled showing us his long tongue. 
The waves kiss the beach slipping between the rocks.  The mist vanishes in an instant and the island settles down into the water. The pink globe turns on its fire.  Another cup of coffee on the deck. Smell of water, dewy grass.  Three mergansers bead the air and are duly noted in the book.  A posse of cormorants wing by full of black intent. The net shimmers and a warbler as golden as the sun lies still as I untangle him and hold him in my palm.  He does not struggle as I slip him into a cloth bag.  When I take him out, he regards me with a dark eye. I weigh and measure him and set the narrow band on his impossibly thin leg. He flies off without a backward look.
After lunch, I walk back into the bush looking for mushrooms.  It’s then I notice a miniscule nest in the crook of a cedar.  The size of a thimble, it contains a single egg like a tiny white candy.  When I lean closer, mama hummingbird appears in a whirr of wings, angry as only hummingbirds can be.  She buzzes around my head as I back away and chases me all the way to the cabin.

Later, I take my colleagues to see the nest.  But once off the path, I’m not sure where it is.  We spend an hour searching, but we do not find it.
photo Damon Dowback

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