Sunday April 16, 2017

A big year: what urban birdwatching reveals about being human

Kyo Maclear finds humanity in watching birds 0:55

Listen 17:09

At a time when she was trying to balance caring for her ill father, raising her young family, and trying to find time to write, author Kyo Maclear needed an outlet to unwind from her stressful surroundings. Enter birdwatching.

"What you really learn even if you spend an afternoon with birders or with birds is that all the things you usually apply to life like rushing, impatience, self-optimizing - all those will get you nowhere when it comes to looking for birds," Maclear tells host Mary Hynes. "Actually the lessons of birding are that you need to learn and cultivate patience and you need to wait and you need to endure disappointment because often you won't see the thing that you came to see."

Kyo Mclear

(Courtesy of Kyo Mclear)

Maclear set out into the wilderness of Toronto's urban sprawl in search of birds with musician and photographer Jack Breakfast.  What she found was a slower pace of life and an appreciation for the "common bird."

Birds Art Life Kyo Maclear

"A lot of people don't like the house sparrow, people think of it as a pest or a flying rat. I marvel at their robustness, their sturdiness, the fact that you can spot a sparrow at the top of the Empire State Building and also at the bottom of a mine...Whenever I see a shrub shaking with sparrows I feel cheered on in my life. There's a kind of stamina and fortitude that they have that I feel like I can learn from," she says.

She wrote about this incredible year in her memoir, Birds Life Art. You can read a short excerpt here.

Bird pics

Mountain bluebird in Calgary

(Submitted by Jeannette Ridley)

Have you been able to capture a beautiful moment with a bird? 

We'd like to see your photograph.

Send us your best bird photo taken anywhere in the world and it may be selected for our online gallery.

Please include your name, the type of bird (if you know it) and the name of the place where the photo was taken.

Send it to us at tapestry@cbc.ca.


Click LISTEN above to hear more about how the tranquility of watching birds can teach you to slow down and honour the beauty of the "common" in our lives.