They’re back

The phone rang quite early just the other morning. I’m an early morning riser, and I’d been already up and was about half way through the feeding of my multiple cages full of canaries, which were now in the busy process of feeding their third batch of newly hatched young. It is not unusual for me to get several phone calls throughout any given morning, but this one, as early as it was, not long after the breaking of dawn, brought on a flash of apprehension.

But I needn’t have worried. It was a local commuter, heading to work, at some distant location, and his early morning route had taken him down what I believe to be known as Sideroad 19. Through the magic of the cell phone, at this early hour, when I answered, with my usual salutation, “Hopkins here,” he blurted, “Good, I was hoping I had hit the right numbers. I know its early but I thought you’d be interested; the osprey are back, and I’m sitting here watching them now as I speak.”

I have not been fortunate enough to have been out to this particular site as yet, but I understand that a young pair built a nest on a hydro pole’s cross arms, and through the courtesy of the members of Hydro One, who by-passed the current last year, a platform was erected up and above the danger of the wires, which the osprey have accepted as theirs. This is good news to me, for it signifies a complete change in the line of thinking of the public in general since I was a little gaffer growing up on the farm. Back then, it was the general practice to shoot any and all predator type birds if they interfered even slightly, with the so-called progress of man.

Contrary to what it may sound, being fish eaters, the osprey have been a great help to the game fishing sport of our area. They lower the population of the invasive carp, (offspring of goldfish dumped in our rivers) and suckers; both of which are bottom feeders and in addition to rooting up the protective silt catching vegetation, they suck up the eggs of the native trout which spawn, in the fall, on the gravel beds of our streams and rivers. In addition they stir up the silt which covers and smothers the eggs on the gravel beds where they are doomed to remain all winter.

Mother Nature, in her exquisite wisdom in balancing nature, has geared both of those nuisance fish to spawn in the weed beds along the banks of the river, in late spring along about the time the young osprey are demanding great amounts of food.

Though osprey are great fish catchers, which they do by diving headlong into the water, and they do feast on trout on occasion, their life is made easier by the timing and spawning habits of these slower swimming vagrants of our sport fishing streams. I have often had calls from observers telling me they have seen an osprey carrying a golden coloured fish, so if they swoop down to grab one from your lily pool, don’t panic, just consider it as a new bird at your liquid bird feeding stations.

By the way folks, I hope you haven’t put away your big marking pencil, ’cause I am busier this spring than a one armed paperhanger and I have a couple of dates that I would like you to mark down just in case you happen to be in the area at that time.

1) April 19, from 2 to 4:30pm at the Burdette Gallery, 1km south of Dufferin Road 3, half way between Fergus and Orangeville. We will be doing a make- and take-home birdhouse workshop in conjunction with their wood working show.

2) April 26, from 10am to 3pm at the Book Fair, in conjunction with their Home Show at the West End community centre, off of Imperial Road in Guelph.

3)And too, not last and certainly not least, on May 3, the week before Mother’s Day, from 10am to 4pm, I hope to be having a launching and signing of my third book, which is the second of The Best Of Bits and Pieces at Roxanne’s Book and card shop on St.  Andrews Street West, in Fergus.

I expect to see you all there; think Mom, think Grandma, think Grandpa, think Auntie, think neighbour. It will bring back a lot of memories that will certainly brighten their day.

Take care, ’cause we care.


Barrie Hopkins