journalism that swims
against the current.

Send Us Your Best Backyard Birding Photos!

As we traverse the depths of winter’s slumber, let’s celebrate the dinosaur descendants flapping around our neighbourhoods.

Michelle Gamage 16 Jan

Michelle Gamage is a Vancouver-based journalist with an environmental focus who regularly reports on climate for The Tyee. You can find her on Twitter @Michelle_Gamage.

I come from a family of literal armchair birders.

My mom spreads birdseed on her front steps to create traction and avoid a third ER visit due to a nasty combination of concrete steps and winter ice.

This biodegradable anti-slip material comes with secondary benefits — birds visit the steps to help clear the scattered seeds.

This practice means I’ve spent many winter mornings bundled up, quietly finding solace in the twittering birdsong as the rest of the natural world hunkers down into its deep winter slumber.

Apparently I’m not alone in this practice.

In a recent article about gathering and cooking with friends, the comment section was taken over by two stalwart Tyee commenters, somesweetday and puppyg, sharing pictures of birds that had visited their backyards.

This photo exchange was kicked off by commenter somesweetday.

“Each day before dawn, I hoist myself from my couch and head out to a gathering of my own,” they wrote. “I sprinkle millet under the spruce trees, hang the feeders of sunflower seeds in their places, take my usual seat and sip my morning coffee. Gradually the dinosaurs gather. Chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, juncos, goldfinches, woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals and mourning doves — all eager to 'break bread.’ We make our appropriate noises and despite occasional kerfuffles have a good visit.”

In these dark, soggy months it’s comforting to remember nature isn’t dead — just resting — and despite the rain our feathered friends are out and about every day hunting, foraging and flashing their pretty plumage at the camera.

Send your favourite photos of the birds who visit your wintery neighbourhood to editor [at] thetyee [dot] ca with the subject line “Backyard Birds” by Feb. 1, and we’ll run a flock of them next month in a Tyee photo essay.

A good size for the photo is around 1,000 pixels wide. It doesn’t have to be a super dense file. A megabyte or two is fine for internet publishing.

We’d also welcome your thoughts about the photo. Tell us in your email where it was taken. What it says to you. And make sure to let us know if it’s OK to use your name and mention the area where you live — or if you’d like us to keep those details private.

While winter in parts of B.C. is sometimes (always) mocked by the rest of Canada as being warmer and therefore easier to deal with, locals know the difficulty of waving goodbye to the sun and hunkering down under dark drizzly skies for the next several months.

Let’s celebrate the tiny and the tough, the brightly coloured in this colourless winter world. These are winged relatives who have the power to pause pipeline construction and who devour twice their body weight in food daily to survive.

We’re excited to show off the diversity and abundance of the avian world.

If those dinosaur descendants can make it through these drizzly cool months, so can we.  [Tyee]

Read more: Environment

  • Share:

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

How Do You Read Your Books?

Take this week's poll