Raccoon family in backyard

Raccoon family in backyard

January 23, 2014

Tuesday Tale

Nothing matters but the weekend, from a Tuesday point of view!  Well, that is unless you have news reporter Laura Zilke from Global News coming to your home that morning.

"What what what?!?!?!?!" you ask.

Ya, that was me too earlier that morning.  I woke up in usual fashion, got the Budgies out of bed, made a coffee, ran an errand and had a brief stop in at a park down the road.  It wasn't a very exciting morning, but in the back of my head I was very happy I was not dealing with the aftermath of something horrible like I did last Tuesday.  See why here.  It's definitely good to have some plain ol' Rob's average kinda days, hanging with the critters week days when my wife and I cannot be together due to work schedules.

I was leaving the park when I noticed I had a text message.  It was from my friend Jimmy Vincent at the Humber Arboretum.  He basically said "Hi Rob.  How you doing?" and then cut to the chase about someone from Global News will most likely be contacting me shortly about how to help the birds out in the extreme cold winter days like we've been experiencing this winter.  He said he thought I would be a great resource.

I was like "huh, what?" in my head but replied with a simple "Cool!  Thanks Jimmy!"  My head was wondering about this Global bit but we were in chit chat about some other stuff I brought up.  I had no idea what was going to happen next.

I texted Angie and told her the news.  She immediately got back to me and said "you should do it!"

I'm home now, noticed a missed call and listened to the voice message from Laura at Global.  She explained her reasoning for the call and asked me to call her back.  No sooner did I hang up the phone that she tried me once more.  Of course I answer and my pulse picks up pace a little bit as she tells me about the story she is working on for the evening newscast.

It's a bit on the extreme cold and our feathered friends living outside, how we can help them through these difficult winter days.  She asked if they could come over to the backyard and see it in action, the birds, the feeders, and have me talk about what I do for them.  Now my pulse is really racing, and I'm getting all freaked out.  Being in the spotlight is so out of character for me.  I think I pretty much said "no" because of my nerves, that shy side of me coming out.  But Laura talked me through this, asked me some simple questions about how this all started, etc and I calmly answered.  She then said something about how I could do this in person with her.  And with Angie in the back of my head saying "you can do this" and Laura in my ear saying the same thing...  I said "okay, come on over".

She had to rearrange her schedule for this because of me having to go to work soon.  And said they'd be at the house in 20 minutes or so.  Twenty minutes...  holy!

I texted Jimmy Vincent once again and said "Global News is coming over to my house right now.  I am shitting my pants!  I need a shot of something 40%!"  I also texted my friend Murray Shields keying in similar words, heavy on the pants part and really needing a shot.

And I did just that...  threw back one shot of Jack Daniel's to take the edge off (not shit my pants... LOL!).

I kept myself busy so I didn't just sit and get nervous with my thoughts.  I cleared some snow, looked for birds out back, threw seed around to hopefully entice some Juncos in.  It had been a very quiet few days out back; and earlier I warned Laura over the phone, in my clever attempt to maybe have her change her mind and go to another option for the story (glad that didn't pan out).  I recall last year when the Toronto Star came to do an article on The Great Backyard Bird Count and how we saw no birds until I finally spotted a Coopers Hawk scoping the yard from a neighbour's tree.  Some may recall the blog and the article, how it ended up being Moonie, our blue Budgie, and I in the newspaper edition because of that Hawk.  Here is the online edition without Moonie and here is my blog after the fact with a photo of the newspaper edition including Moonie.

Back to the tale... before I knew it, a small blue SUV was coming up our street with Global News across the side of it.  I greeted Laura at the side of the road and met her cameraman, I think his name is Patrick...  if not, so sorry man, but surely you can understand the mental block I had.

We went out back and I showed them around.  It wasn't long before the camera was set up, Laura had me hook up with a microphone on my jacket and we were talking.  At times I really couldn't figure when "the tape was rolling" or not.  I answered questions the best I could, I think I only lost my speaking ability once when I gathered my memory on something.  I know I told a few short tales, explained some of the seeds I use, filled a feeder for them and kept hoping for some birds to fly in.

I could see a small gathering of Pigeons on the neighbour's roof.  They knew all about Pierre and the flock by this time.  But from our view, it was too hard to tell who was up there watching us.  It started with 2 birds, I figured to be Walter and Skye (they always come first and together), after that the numbers slowly grew.

I think we were maybe 45 minutes outside by this time.  I had a sweater, a hoodie, jeans and just my runners on, and that -20 something chill was starting to hit me.

And then, just like that, the birds started to show up.  A few Juncos and House Sparrows, then a male Downy Woodpecker, then a Blue Jay and then the Pigeons.  I scoped the crowd but Pierre wasn't present.  I could see little Jesse but he wasn't taking to my hand.  And then everyone flew off.  Something was up, a Squirrel was crying in the tree (alarm call).  It felt like forever at this point for something to happen again.  I thought for sure we were done, it was so cold and we were all uncomfortable by this time.

Suddenly the birds started coming in again.  It's obvious it only takes one or two brave souls to pave the way for the others and everyone was back.  A bright red male Cardinal was in next door's tree which was a highlight.  The Pigeons flew in, running around like the comical stooges they can be, and finally, to my surprise and delight in came Pierre.  Woo hooooooooooooooooo!

photo courtesy of Laura

It's a bit of a blur now because I got lost in the moment, hoping so hard he was going to do what he does with me all the time, come to my hand.  And he did.  But soon after something spooked everyone again and they all took off.  A false alarm and in a minute or two they were all back and Pierre was right back in his spot and then with me.

Laura asked me if she could try to mingle with Pierre.  I said "of course".

Pierre flew to his perch by the backdoor on the clothes line rail.  I gave Laura some peanut bits for him and told her to walk slowly up to him and see what would happen.  It was funny to see Pierre, as expressionless as bird's are in the face, but we knew what he was thinking.  He watched Laura, then he'd look around her at me, then at Laura, then at me.  Laura slowly raised her hand towards him.  He gave me another look.  Maybe I said "it's okay", maybe I gave a nod of approval, maybe I just thought this stuff but whatever it was Pierre took a few nibbles and then jumped into her hand.  How freaking awesome this was!  What a stellar ending to their visit to our little piece of land in Toronto!

I took this shot from the video over the computer screen.

Of course right after they left, I was on the phone with Angie, and then I let this bit out on my Facebook page.  The rest of the afternoon while I worked away, my phone was going nuts with notifications, messages, texts about the story, when it would be on, how cool this was, etc.

As evening came closer, Global News went to air at 5:30pm, I was getting excited even though I could not watch it.  6pm, my phone is still going as the anticipation from my friends grew.

The story airs and I thought my phone was going to explode.  Angie gave me a great detailed play by play of the story.  My mom and our friend Lee were taking pics of their television screens as the story went on and sharing their shots with me.  I felt like I was there.  The comments from so many friends came pouring in afterwards, all who took the time out to watch it from where they were.  It was great!  Then the online links started showing up soon after, allowing others who missed it or not in the area, could give it a view.

TV shot of Laura and I talking about the real Christmas trees we try to collect for the birds after Christmas, they love to use them as shelter both day and night.

So cool Pierre flew in.

If you weren't watching Global News that night, here is a link to the online version of the story.  I am not sure how long this link will work as I know they eventually take the stories down over time.

So, this typical Tuesday turned into something not nearly that thanks to Jimmy at the Humber Arb and Laura from Global News.  It wasn't just a thrill for me but for Angie and a lot of my friends.  A feel good story to so many and I hope someone in Toronto who saw the story learned something from it, not just from me but the other person who was interviewed.  Maybe another bird feeder or two will pop up?

Send some love to these fine folk through Facebook or Twitter.  They rock!

Just copy/paste any of the below links into your search browser...

 https://twitter.com/lzilkeglobal
 https://www.facebook.com/GlobalNews

 https://twitter.com/HumberArb
 https://www.facebook.com/HumberArb

2 comments:

socurly said...

Wow Rob, how wonderful! Your backyard is so lively! You should have a weekly animal report on Global!
Most people do not think of putting water out in winter. We put out a heated dog bowl in our birdbath for fresh winter water.
Congratulations!

Karen said...

You may not see this comment as this is an old post but the link still worked! Wonderful!