Balcony Birding


I don’t get out much.  Even before the global pandemic made “Shelter in Place” a thing, I wasn’t going out much.  My car was on its last legs.  Half my camera gear was stolen. My health was in a steady decline.  I was trapped in a world without words.

I tried going out a few of times, but my heart wasn’t in it.  I’d come home with a couple of dozen photos and not even bother to upload them for a week or two.  For someone who likes to take roads just to see where they go, I had finally lost my way.

Not quite ready to give up, I thought about re-purposing my blog.  Other than posting random cat photos, I didn’t know what I should do with it.


But this morning the air was warm and the sky was blue.  I took my cappuccino and my bowl of berries and set out for the balcony.  As soon as I opened the door, I could hear the birdsong.  The smell of spring was everywhere.  It was a great day for “quiet sitting.”  I had my camera and my journal, and didn’t have to be anywhere for hours.


Maybe it was that lack of pressure that made it the day it was.  Or maybe it was the season.  Or maybe I was finally ready to open up and accept what was right in front of me.  There were Eastern Grey Squirrels, one a black morph, chasing each other through the trees.  There were butterflies – Mourning Cloak, Cabbage and Cloud Sulphur. And there were birds.  The Robins, of course, were the loudest.  They strutted across the lawn, their chests puffed up, yellow beaks in sharp contrast with black faces.


Warblers flitted from tree to tree, shaking the branches and hiding amid the new foliage, while White-Crowned Sparrows foraged in the shadows below.  A flock of Starlings with their iridescent feathers moved between the very tops of the trees and the lawn.


The cat joined me on the balcony around the same time that a Northern Flicker joined the ruckus in the trees.  We watched as a Magpie wandered through and a Mourning Dove bobbed and weaved along the fence line.  But the crown jewel of the day was a Western Tanager performing aerial maneuvers.  He was a hard one to photograph, almost as hard as the Warblers.  No sooner did I have him in focus than he’d fly off to a new destination.

New Growth

Eventually, patience paid off.

Tanager 3

The coffee and berries were gone.  It was almost time to go to work.  But the simple joy of finding myself truly living IN the moment for the first time in months was a sharp reminder.

Tanager 2

I ain’t done yet.

Author: Featherstone Creative

Sally Quon is a photographer and writer living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, where she is blessed to live, love and grow on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx people. Her photography has appeared in Canadian Geographic Magazine and in Nature Alberta’s various birding brochures. Sally was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul - The Forgiveness Fix and was long listed for the Vallum Chapbook Award. She is an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets. One of her photos was chosen for inclusion in the Photographer’s Forum “Best of 2018” Collection. She has two beautiful, almost grown children and a cat who loves her.

6 thoughts on “Balcony Birding”

  1. thanks for the photos & the great message along with them. Yes Backyards are great!
    Especially now
    I lived in the Similkameen for many years.


  2. What a simple, moving post, Sally! Glad you found your way back to what you do best: being in the moment, capturing beautiful details with your camera, and taking us along with you. I’m always up for cat photos, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad that spring fever has hit and you are enjoying the birds. This shelter in place has not been good for most of us. We are lucky we have lots of room to roam on our own land and no worry about social distancing.

    Hope the days continue to improve. Teri

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing photos, Sally, and, as always, words of truth. I have loved birds and nature all my life, but these self-isolation times is a reminder how necessary and captivating they are – inspiring hope, love, and thankfully, being a unique part of our existence. Thanks and take care!

    Liked by 1 person

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