Posts Tagged ‘big bird’


Last winter, I used to see a trio of ostriches when I followed the road north to visit Ponygirl. I wrote about them in a post titled Farm Animals, linked here. I haven’t been that way in a while, as Ponygirl has moved to a new location. So this week, when an expedition took me by their field again, I had an eye out for the ostriches.


There was no sign of the ostriches, but I slammed on the brakes and pulled over when I spotted these two big birds, pacing the fenceline. Emus! The ostriches were very nervous birds, and always huddled far away across the field if you stopped your car. But the Emus were not so inclined at all. The pair of them followed the fenceline down to where I was parked to check me out.


Emus are the second-tallest birds in the world and may reach up to 2 metres in height. According to Wikipedia, their legs are among the strongest of any animal, allowing them to rip metal wire fences. This pair seemed disinclined to rip their way to freedom, probably a good thing. Emus are sometimes raised for food, so I don’t know if these two birds represent a commercial enterprise or are strictly pets.

Their feather structure is designed to protect them from the hot sun of their native Australia but they can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. The Ottawa winter will soon test their cold hardiness.


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One of the pleasures of living beside our little river is that we are often treated to the sight of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) as it hunts for a meal. I never tire of seeing these majestic birds, which can be 1.3 m (over four feet) tall. They are shy birds. If you are just driving by in your car, they stand very still and keep an eye on you as you pass by. But if you should stop and roll down a window, never mind climb out of the car, they rise silently on their great wings and quickly disappear up the river.

Great Blue Herons feed on small fish, amphibians, rodents, aquatic insects, crayfish and snails such as are found in shallow ponds, streams and wetlands. It is thought that their numbers have been slowly declining over the past 20 years and the reasons for this are not well understood. However, it may be that the heron decline is linked to that of one of their favorite foods. The numbers of many amphibians such as frogs have also been falling across the Great Lakes region.

I spotted this heron as I was walking along the road that borders the river. There is a dense hedgerow, and I had to watch for a spot that was clear enough to take a photograph through. The heron was watching me suspiciously. Once I found a little clearing, I only had a few seconds to take the picture before the bird took flight and quickly disappeared from sight.

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