This past weekend, during an overnight stay, I was able to get a sampling of bird behaviour in a South Shore urban area of Montreal. It was amazing the amount of bird activity there was too, with many of them in the process of feeding their young, as can be seen from my pictures. I sat in the garden of a house which abutted onto two or three other such gardens which were all adorned, courtesy of Quebec Hydro,with many interspanning cables and transformer boxes! Unlike our “rural” birds, the “urban” ones have put all these provided conveniences to use for their nests and perches. Familiar to me and you were the Robins, Mourning Doves and Grackles which have obviously adapted to this sort of life. A couple of the Robins were very busy feeding their young after having landed on the overhead wires and then dropping down into their nest, which I couldn’t see, so I don’t know what sort of location it was in although there was a cedar hedge right below their lofty perch.

Other very busy birds were the House Sparrows which were accompanied by some of their current offspring, but also still feeding “nest-bound” youngsters. These, believe it or not, were in a nest which was actually located inside one of Hydro’s devices straddling some very “live” cables, but still relatively safe, providing they didn’t touch one of them while touching something that would go to “ground”! The birds have  obviously worked this one out for themselves, but more likely are working on the theory that “ignorance is bliss” and long may it safely work for them too!

It was the House Sparrows, which eventually gave me the biggest surprise and a real head scratcher, when two of them landed on a neighbour’s garden shingle roofed shed and started to rub themselves on the gritty surface of the lowest tiles to the eavestrough! I have never witnessed a bird doing this before! Dust baths, yes, but never a grit bath in this fashion! I thought that the small gritty surface of the tile had become loose to provide such a bath, but looking at my pictures, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The roof’s surface seems to be in very good shape, so no loose grit is evident to support my theory, but they were definitely rubbing themselves into the rough tile surface to relieve themselves of something, which were probably tick or mozzie bites, yuk!

Having had a very interesting few hours watching our semi-city avian friends, it was time to journey home, but not before calling in on some other urban friends.Because of the excessive heat, there wasn’t too much to see in their garden, although their surrounding trees echoed to the sound of young Crows up in the green foliage. However, a ubiquitous bright red Cardinal put in an appearance, just to show that they too can survive the hustle and bustle of  what to us “country folk” is  far too busy an existence. Ah well, it takes all sorts but that’s life and I hope that yours is continuing to be eventful too. Stay safe and well.


John Baldwin


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here