Winter Ornithology (1 of 4)

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I arrived in Montreal in May 1999, after recently celebrating my 24th birthday. The following month I started taking French and English classes. Since that was the only activity I could do, I had plenty of time to explore the city and its vicinity. And as curious as I was, and that’s what I did.

Of course, one of the first things I wanted to do is discover the birth of North America birds, which is exactly what I did on the patio of my apartment building and during my first visit at the Montreal Botanical Garden. It is my workplace today, and the best place to see birds in the area, with 197 species spotted.

I remember the feeling of joy when, at the Mar Chiquita Lagoon, I successfully identified my first bird listed in the guide for identifying birds of Argentina by Narosky and Izurieta: the great grebe was swimming in the lagoon.

Since that day, I felt my calling as a bird watcher even though I was interested by everything. I never really felt I was a specialist, I always acted as a general naturist.

In the city of Montreal there were only three birds that were introduced and originating from Europe: the starling, the sparrow and the pigeon.

Also introduced to the city was the ring-billed gull due to their proximity to the Saint Lawrence River. At the Botanical Garden and parks, you can see the common black bird, a wide array of wallcreepers, Northern Cardinals, ducks, great egrets and more.

I was a little bit worried about my first winter, feeling it was going to be almost polar cold. People told that one’s ears or fingers could freeze sometimes, and that winter time was terrible.

Helena Arroyo

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