My partner in birding, Elaine takes an annual adventure to one of Canada’s favourite islands to visit family and friends. Elaine recently returned from a three week sojourn in Courtenay, located near the central east coast of Vancouver Island. Elaine’s mom, who we affectionately call “Izzy”, looks forward to Elaine’s arrival knowing full well that she will be engaging in the perpetual search for the next great bird photograph. Indeed without skipping a beat, Elaine and Izzy visited both old and new birding sites, sharing the experiences of feathery finds.
Elaine also hoped a plan to attract birds to a feeder she had cached at her mother’s home a few years ago would increase her chances of success. Elaine placed the feeder on a brick retaining wall that she could easily see from the guest bedroom. Additionally, the motion activated light located between the back door and guest bedroom window might increase possibilities for a desirable picture in the evening. Over the course of her stay the most common species that visited the feeder were house finches, chipping sparrows and the spotted towhee.
On one of the last nights of her visit, during the predawn darkness, Elaine heard the sound of the feeder moving across the retaining wall. The security light came on for its time sequence and then dimmed. Peering out of the bedroom window, Elaine thought that the solar lights in the flower bed appeared to go off, temporarily it seemed, but in truth they had not. A silhouette of something larger than a bird had made contact with the bird feeder. It became clear that the “night bandit”from the neighbourhood had arrived. Elaine watched as a raccoon extend one hand into the feeder slot to grab some seeds. Being successful, seeds were now a part of its meal. Eager to eat more, the raccoon put both of its hands to work, increasing the size of its treasure– a wholesome breakfast. As the light of dawn brightened up the backyard, it was indeed time to put the camera into action. The whir of the lens focus motor and the soft click of the shutter combined to reward Elaine’s capture of the “night bandit”, nabbed holding the evidence. During the nearly hour long encounter, Elaine came to realize that the raccoon was likely aware of her presence, looking in her direction from time to time. With the distant bark of a neighbourhood dog breaking the silence, the raccoon’s attention changed, its ears tuned into the sounds of the morning. After a moment had passed and with its breakfast needs fulfilled, the raccoon sauntered off without a care in the world.