The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

July 17, 2008

King's Park (Saturday --no, make that Sunday -- in the Park)


We lament the loss of green space to urban sprawl in the major cities where, increasingly, more of us live.

We talk about the importance to the planet of oxygen-producing trees and how the destruction of forests is so terrible.

We whine about living in concrete jungles, those of us that do.

Well, I rode out on my bike to my closest nearby sizeable green space last Saturday (CORRECTION--SUNDAY!).

It's called King's Park (we're still SO colonial).

Pic No. 1 below is a Google Earth image of the park itself. Pic No. 2 is a Google image from farther away, with the little yellow pin marker on the left showing where I live.

It's about a 15-minute bike ride.

It's a gorgeous expanse of green. It's beautiful, it really is. Winnipeg has many beautiful green spaces and parks. But aside from one or two of those parks, I always come away from them thinking the same thing.
Why are so few people there to take advantage of them?

Only minutes from this greenery sit houses row on row, barely 15 feet apart. As urban neighbourhoods go, it's great...mature trees, not far from the Red River.

But all of the pix I'm showing here with people in them are pretty much the only people I saw on a sunny, warm Saturday summer afternoon.
Where are all the dog-walkers letting their pets run free on the off-leash area that's as big as 20 football fields? Not one.

There was one group flying kites. There could be hundreds.

There were scattered friends or lovers (or both) out to walk the trails.
Hey, maybe they were all at home blogging on their computers or out at the cottage or watching the latest instalment of How to be a top model or something.

Hey, people are going to do what they want.

But this is their tax dollars at work. As the world pretends it's trying to go green, it's very fashionable to talk about how to be green. All the polls say the environment is one of the public's top issues.
Ask Al Gore.

Meanwhile, though, the rivers and streams and trees and huge stretches of grass that are set aside for our public enjoyment just beckon us to be with them, and in large part, it seems, we ignore them.

And I'm among those people, far too often.

And I don't know why we do that AND complain about how our environment is crumbling into a brown, oil-laden, smog-filled atmosphere that will kill us.

Who knows, maybe that will happen eventually.

But for right now, there's all kinds of beauty out there to enjoy. And it's not that far away.

Rockin' Robins and the Mounting Bird Poop Debate

Being the 21st Century's version of famed naturalist and bird-watcher John James Audubon, I regale people at work about my vast knowledge of nature and all life that abounds in it.

The picture above is my photo of one of two outdoor smoking areas where my company herds us, like cows, to our most certain demise to partake of the cause of second-hand smoke.

You will note the plastic ashtray stand. And you will note the trees where, on a hot sunny summer afternoon, I stand to seek some shade.

There's a little garden there, overgrown with weeds, but it's better than nothing.

Well, you can imagine the collective horror of the smoking populace when bird poop started amassing on the sidewalk under that first tree.

As if making us walk around to a secluded area of the building wasn't bad enough, now we had to trapse through bird poop.

I've already previously posted about the pooping pigeons on top of the building, which got me on the shoulder once.

This was too much.

Well, and this has become a major tourist attraction at Smokers' Den for the last week and half while I've been stuck in the office with all the nerdy-nerds, it turns out there's a valid reason for all that poop.

A mating robin couple built a nest in that tree in photo No. 1...

...Right above where most of us congregate to make jokes about the company and to talk about the weather and the pooping pigeons and other important news of the day.

And inside that nest, we all noticed, were three chicks, hatchlings or otherwise baby robins.

And so with all the expertise I have as the world's foremost bird baron, I mustered the thought, which I voiced to whomever happened to decide, unfortunately for them, to have a cigarette at the same time I did:

"Why would two stupid robins decide to build their nest right above the gathering location for a bunch of idiotic humans who will stare at them, threaten them just by their presence, joke about them, scare the living daylights out of them?

"And besides all that, who will exhale second-hand smoke that will be carried right up into those tree branches and endanger the health of their babies?"

I made sure this debate has continued all these past 10 or so days, driving fellow employees nuts.

The fact is, there IS no explanation for the choice of nesting site, although one woman did joke that the "crotch" in the tree must have been perfect. But couldn't they have found a safer crotch?

There have also been silly discussions about the redder breasts that male robins have as opposed to female robins, and I was proven right on that score.

The males must attract the females, you see.


The point is, near as we can tell, two of the babies have already left the nest, which is about eight or nine feet off the ground.

Technically, assuming they're still alive, I believe they are now called "fledglings" if they're not "dead things."

The last remaining baby robin -- which I studied carefully all day to document its behaviour -- looked ready to fly the coop, so to speak.

But before it did, I took the following pictures, none of which turned out.

If you can see a baby robin in any of them, you're better than me. I think the third pic below I cut off the nest entirely from the photo, while No. 4 pic, I think, is either upside down or sideways.

Anyway, nature is a beautiful thing. It just seems stupid, sometimes.
I don't know whether the mommy or the daddy robin picked this nest site or whether they made this decision in the middle of the night with no humans there or what.
I guess despite it all, it appears that all three of their babies have survived.
And they did become big stars during their fledgling process as we watched the parents fly off to catch worms, grubs and caterpillars and return to feed them.
Somehow, though, I don't think they're going to clean up their poop. And now that they've all fled the coop, what the heck are we going to talk about now?