Saturday, April 14, 2007

It is amazing how serendipity occurs in one's life.

Growing up in Ottawa Canada, my family had a modest treed suburban lot. We had bird houses first for House Wrens, and later I put up a Tree Swallow house. We had the swallows for a few years and then the house was taken over by Great Crested Flycatchers. Those beautiful raucous birds graced our yard for several years.

Once I found a Ruby-throated Hummingbird nest in my backyard. I was ecstatic at finding such a tiny bird nest. In winter we put out feeders and had Evening Grosbeaks by the score. We would also have occasional Redpolls, Black-capped Chickadees, and nuthatches.

We had a summer cottage near Algonquin Park in northern Ontario. I saw my only male Scarlet Tanager there and was awed by the beauty of the bird. I also saw the only warbler I was able to identify - a male Yellow Warbler. I also heard beautiful songs from the woods, but never knew what bird was making them. Now I know it was a unknown species of thrush. Maybe there was more than 1 species.

I also remember the book my father bought for ID "The Birds of Canada". I would pore over the pictures, but never saw most of the birds. 2 birds that I thought most beautiful were the Ruddy Turnstone and Golden Plover.

I went off to university in 1964. I graduated with my MD in 1970 and started a practice in southern Ontario in 1971. I started a family and then in 1977, we decided to move to the USA. I ended up in the Houston area.

My wife and I started vacationing in the Monterey CA area in the early 1980's and enjoyed the natural beauty of the Big Sur coast and seeing Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Mule Deer etc.

Birds seemd to drop of the radar screen, until I read about another Canadian physican (Dr. Michael Austin)who had moved from Canada. He selected southeast Texas as a place to relocate because of the birds! So in 1989 or 1990 I got back into birding as I happened to be in one of the hotspots on American birding, and our vacation locale in Monterey is a west coast hotspot as well. I finally found the Turnstone and Plovers on the beach in Galveston. I had never seen them in Canada. Serendipity.

I have taken some neo-tropical trips as well and birded Belize, Costa Rica, and Brazil.I have 1270 birds on my world list - a modest number. Last year I started to try my hand at bird photography. I now have about 300 species on my photo list.

I have a group of birders who get trip reports and photos of birds and mammals seen. I send these out weekly or so. If you would like to receive these, please email me at

Thsi blog will be more about bird behaviour, unusual photos etc that I discover.

David McDonald