Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Grass, Sky, Song Illustrated:
"Waiting for the Pipit"

Photo with the kind permission of Stephen Davis.

"Waiting for the Pipit" is a chapter that introduces one of my favourite birds--the Sprague's pipit. The setting is Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Saskatchewan.

Poet Don McKay has joined me for a day of prairie birding. We stop in to visit Canadian Wildlife Service biologist, Stephen Davis and his pipit researchers on the pastures just east of the north end of Last Mountain Lake.

The first non-Aboriginal person to become aware of this most elusive of prairie birds was John James Audubon.

Audubon's gunners collected the first Sprague's pipit in June, 1843 on his Missouri River expedition. He described it as "a lark, small and beautiful."

Stephen Davis gave Don and I a close look at a male pipit that day after he captured one to band. Here is what one looks like in the hand.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Davis

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