To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

Blake, "Auguries of Innocence"

Take a second look …

The yellow eyes of the Saw-whet Owl are so startling, their gaze so steady, that we tend to ignore everything else. It’s easy to miss the trace of blood just below the owl’s bill, a smear of something that changes the way we look at the bird, that deepens our understanding of it. What discoveries might we make if we took that second look more often, if we trained ourselves to see?


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Virichic tulips


My wife and I spent a week in Amsterdam last August, and one day we walked over to the Tulip Museum on Prinsengracht. The museum occupies the first floor of an old house. When you come in off the street, there’s a souvenir shop and a counter where you buy tickets to tour the rest of the museum. When the woman by the cash told us how much tickets cost, I asked if they offered a senior’s discount. “What’s a senior?” she said. “Anyone over 65.” “Are you over 65?” “Yes.” “All right. Then you can have a discount. How … Read more

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Spring migration

Well, there went May in its hurried fashion: the height of spring migration and the busiest month in the garden allotment. Here are highlights from that first field of activity. Those from the garden will come later. I keep a list each year—part of a friendly rivalry with a fellow-birder—of the spring warblers I see. This year the total was about average at 24, and the undoubted star the Kentucky Warbler that inhabited the Wet Woods on the Leslie Street Spit for a full week. I had to go twice to see it. First on a Friday afternoon, when I … Read more

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Saw-Whet Owl Leslie Spit Toronto

The Saw-Whet Owl

I was walking the Leslie Street Spit last December with binoculars in hand but no camera, when I found a Saw-whet Owl sitting in a spruce. The bird surprised me for two reasons. First, its size. All Saw-whets are tiny—on average, about eight inches tall—but this was the smallest, most fragile specimen I’d ever seen. Second, its position, uncharacteristically perched at the end of a branch, in the open, rather than close to the trunk, within the tree’s sheltering shadows. Saw-whets are known for their ability to disappear within an evergreen:     or to insert themselves into the thickest … Read more

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Winged Creatures Photo Gallery