One afternoon during our recent stay in Quebec, we took time to visit a lovely park and academic center called Domaine Forget de Charlevoix, located in the village where we stayed, St. Irénée. The Domaine is a music and dance academy on grounds featuring flower gardens, open-air sculptures, studios, dormitories and a concert hall where an international music festival takes place from June to September.
The grounds also contain small practice cubicles of very basic and inexpensive construction, though each also has a small solar panel (but it was not clear what it powered).
It wasn’t clear at first what these little sheds were but when I pushed open a door, I saw they were furnished with a table, chair and walls covered in messages left by students who practiced there. Many of their comments focused on the music that they loved.
- There are people out there who would give anything to play as well as you. Don’t forget to be grateful for what you have.
- Perfect practice makes perfect
- Chill! (Responding comment: There is no chill in Paganini ☹)
- To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable – L.v. Beethoven (responding comment: If you can have both, it’s still a bit better)
- Love your instrument, but love music more! (Responding comment: Unless it’s a viola)
More of the messages left behind are interspersed below throughout the blog as I show you a first batch of birds we saw in the Canadian province. The focus here will be birds that are mainly black or black and white, their colors nicely complementing the paper birch trees (Betula papyrifera) that we saw everywhere.
The Domaine grounds proved to be a wonderful birding spot and our group was excited to see a blackpoll warbler (Setophaga striata) there. I had never seen one before so spotting this black-striped forager was a treat. Their song is so high-pitched that it is almost inaudible even to people with good hearing.
- You’re sounding great ♥
- We do not project our voices, we resonate our souls. RH
- Play as if no one is listening
These amazing little songbirds – they weigh less than 0.42 oz (12 grams) – make one of the longest non-stop migratory journeys over the Atlantic Ocean of any avians, flying non-stop for over three days!
- I count myself a king of infinite space
- If you take time, you will go nowhere/anywhere
- Endless rivers, boundless time, love flows free
Another small bird present at many of the sites we visited was the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), which looks just like the Carolina chickadee to me. Apparently, the black-capped has more white edging on its feathers but it is a subtle difference.
This pair was busy at the Tadoussac dunes where they were foraging while also collecting some nesting material.
These birds rely on tree cavities for their nesting sites (although they will also use nest boxes if available), so when trees are cut down, they are losing vital habitat features for their survival.
These are one of the animal species that hides food in order to retrieve it later; the chickadees can remember thousands of hiding places – a useful memory feature for lean times!
Whereas chickadees are only 4.7-5.9 inches in length (12–15 cm) and weigh only 0.32–0.49 oz (9-14 g), the American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos brachyrhynchos) measures 16–21 inches long (40-53 cm) with a weight of about 11.1 to 21.9 oz (316-620 g).
We saw several crows at different sites, in some cases chasing ravens. The group watched a crow that apparently had a nest nearby as well. An interesting and sad fact about them is that they are unfortunately susceptible to West Nile virus.
- There is nothing more difficult and therefore more precious than to be able to decide
- Profit du temps présent le plus possible
- Through iron and blood we solve our problems, attack them head first!
- Take a risk! You never know what might happen
An interesting fact about the lovely black-throated blue warbler (Setophaga caerulescens) is that the monogamous males all sing at the start and peak of the spring breeding season, but those who do not find a mate stop singing as the season draws to a close. The males who manage to entice a female into mating continue to sing! Their vocal virtuosity therefore indicates reproductive success!
- Let the music speak through you
- Everybody wins, just some sooner than others!!
- Smile. Maybe someone loves you 😊
- Love yourself more than anything else in the entire world
When species identification first took place, the male and female black-throated blues were classified as different species. The females (not shown here) are more muted in color than the males, without any blue feathers but a white line through the eye. Both sexes sport the “pocket handkerchief”, however, i.e., the white patch on their wings.
A warbler that we see often in North Carolina is the black and white warbler (Mniotilta varia), a bird that seems to always be in a hurry and in motion as it scurries along tree trunks seeking insects.
While birders usually see these attractive individuals in trees, they actually place their nests in leaf litter on the ground. The females can be distinguished from the males by their white throats.
The final bird in this black and white line-up is one that we can see often in the US South – the gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis). I have to admit that this is one of my favorite species – I find them to be really sweet.
In my yard, they do not chase other birds away, do not fight for a place at feeders, sing sweetly and are alert and caring parents.
- Shoot for the moon, even if you miss it, you’ll land amongst the stars (Responding comment: I don’t think you understand astronomy)
- Be happy 😊
- You can always be better – everybody that came here believes that
- Dieu ne choisit pas les gens qui sont déjà capables, il rend capables ceux qu’il choisit.
- No matter how well or badly you play, always remember you are human and therefore deserve love and support
I do have to acknowledge that not all the Domaine students were into encouraging one another.
- Don’t be a diva. Listen to Diva by Beyoncé
- You’re wasting so mutch time [sic]
- Who just wasted a lot of time reading through these walls? (Responding comment: Me! Me!)
- I don’t like inspirational bullshit
But they also reminded us about the importance of what is beautiful in our lives. And their thoughts can apply to any activities in which we choose to engage, be they jobs or avocations like wildlife watching and nature appreciation.
- One day your life will flash before your eyes – make sure it’s worth watching
- Most confuse wealth with success. Wealth means different things to different people. It doesn’t mean someone is happy or content. Ultimately your career is a concept that exists in your mind. What you really have is a series of jobs, strung together, that forms a story you are in charge of writing. Sarah Hill, performance artist
- If you suppress the arts [or people’s ability to enjoy nature], then you’re suppressing the deepest dreams of a people
Next up – some of the “flashy” birds we saw on a top birding day!