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Gardens of Hope

A garden growing in support of others needing respite and hope

At the Feeder

Posted on February 04, 2015 by Ron Arvidson

Most of the activity that attracts my attention during these winter months takes place at the bird feeders; either those in my own yard or feeders that are in the yards of friends who have shared their sightings through social media or birding sights. However, those sightings reported by others can some times be hit or miss. Most recently, we have had reports in Stratford of a Field Sparrow, a Northern Cardinal and a Pine Warbler. Many people have seen these birds but I have had no luck. 

Downy Woodpecker 

Blue Jays 

On the other hand, at home the feeder has been fairly active with some of the winter finches as well as most of our common winter residents. We have had regular visits by Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls and American Goldfinch as well as Black-capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos, American Crows and even Common Ravens (not normally a feeder bird). 

Pine Siskins & American Goldfinch 

Common Redpoll 

For those interested in feeder birds, we have arranged and are participating in two events. The first we are participating in is the Winter Woodlot Tour, which was postponed to Saturday, Feb. 14 at Brookvale Nordic Centre. The second is a Charlottetown and Area Feeder Tour that will take place Feb. 15. 

Pine Siskin 

For more info:

Text and Photos by REArvidson

Ron Arvidson is an Artist and Teacher as well as an avid Birder.  Ron is also an Administrator for Birding on PEI.


The Kingfisher

Posted on August 24, 2014 by Bruce MacNaughton

By Shirley Gallant

Kingfishers are wonderful birds to observe. I love to watch them hover over the water looking for minnows and then suddenly dive in head first and come up with one. They are very shy birds and will fly off as soon as they see anything out of the ordinary. While observing them from a distance I noticed they tend to use the same perches, often flying back and forth between them. That gave me an idea of how I might get a good photo of one. I would build a perfect perch over a pond that was close by. I fasted a long sapling to a snag so the tip would hang out over a good fishing hole in the pond. Next, I built a blind with some evergreen boughs and a piece of burlap.

Every few days I would go back to check and without fail I would scare her off the perch. Sometimes I would sit on the woods floor, remote shutter in hand, and wait for an hour or more but she just wouldn't come back while I was there. Finally I arrived one day when she wasn't on the perch and I quickly slipped into my blind, set up my camera and tripod, and waited... she came back. I fired off the  shutter and was thrilled that I finally managed to get a closeup. This is what I got.  Hmmm, she didn't land on the spot that I had my camera pointed at. I had to rethink how I was going to do this.

I took a small stool with me so the next time I could sit and be ready to look through the viewfinder. That would allow me to adjust the camera slightly when she wasn't looking. It took a few more trips back but finally I got the shot I wanted; a full frame closeup. She fished from that perch for about 10 minutes while I secretly took photos of her. It sure gave me a thrill and an appreciation for what serious wildlife photographers must experience.

Since then I have encountered many Kingfishers while out canoeing and I still think they laugh at my efforts to get close but I know now that I'm better off to not bother trying to get close. Just point, shoot, and crop.

If you wish to follow me on Facebook, please do: Shirley Gallant Photography


Visit a Lagoon Near You

Posted on July 26, 2014 by Ron Arvidson

Cornwall Lagoon

One of favorite choices to visit at this time of year is the local sewage lagoon.  Local lagoons often attract a variety of birds and enable us to view them closer than they normally might be seen.  Birds that might be seen include ducks, swallows and a number of song birds.  With these birds present, you may also see the birds that prey on them.

Swallows are often attracted to lagoons as they are often the sight of a variety of insects.  One can often observe them as they swoop across the water or as they rest on nearby wires, fences and trees.



Waterfowl often find these lagoons as a source of food (don’t ask) and as a spot that is relatively protected.  One can often find them with young and you can see the families.



When visiting a lagoon it is often wise to be on the watch for a merlin or an eagle as they are attracted to the areas where other birds are present.

Some of my favourite Lagoons are: 

Hyde Park in Cornwall

Mount Stewart


Overview of Cornwall Lagoon

Overview of Cornwall Lagoon

Overview of Cornwall Lagoon

Text and Photos by REArvidson

Ron Arvidson is an Artist and Teacher as well as an avid Birder.  Ron is also an Administrator for Birding on PEI.

A Sucker for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers

Posted on June 30, 2014 by Ron Arvidson


One of the birds I most look forward to in the spring is the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  For me, these are the clowns of the avian world.  They wear a garish make-up and a black and white clown suit.  Also, their call reminds me of some long lost kid’s or dog’s squeaky toy.  All in all, for me this is a bird I look forward to seeing again. 

Not everyone looks forward to having these birds around.  The Sapsucker obtains their food, the sap of trees, by drilling a series of holes around the trunk.  These holes also attract insects which are also a food source.  In creating these sap wells, there are times when they will kill the tree.  This is why people often do not like having them around.  On the other hand those wells of sap and the insects are often also a source of food for other birds, such as hummingbirds and warblers. 


Another aspect of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that fascinates me is their drumming.  In my yard, he ranges around his territory to find a spot that works best for him. This spring it has included a chimney, an old steel wheel, the barn next door and the guard-rail down on the road.  Again, not everyone appreciates their drumming either. 


Text and Photos by REArvidson

Ron Arvidson is an Artist and Teacher as well as an avid Birder.  Ron is also an Administrator for Birding on PEI.

The Return of the Warblers

Posted on June 07, 2014 by Bruce MacNaughton


When spring arrives and things start to warm up there one thing that I really listened for and that the sound of Warblers singing in the morning outside my window. Every year I hear a variety of their songs as they scoot around looking for a mate and a nest site to raise their young. Lots of them just pass through and I'll hear them for a while before they move on but one or two will stay for the summer and I will hear them every morning. Last year it was a Black-throated Green Warbler. He sang to me every morning for the entire summer. This year it's another Warbler; the Ovenbird. I hear him every morning calling for a mate and I'm pretty sure he has impressed one, at least, with a perfect nesting sight.

Warblers are my favorite bird to photograph. They are very small and very fast, making them a challenge to capture in a photo but it's such a thrill when I do. We have a large variety of Warblers that nest on Prince Edward Island. Most years more than 20 are reported to the PEI Birders List, with the most popular ones being the Yellow Warbler, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, and the Common Yellow-throat.

Next time you're out around a stream or pond where there is some low brush or shrubs, listen for the Yellow Warbler's song. The mnemonic for the Yellow Warbler is "Sweet, sweet, I'm so sweet". And they are indeed sweet.

If you wish to follow me on Facebook, please do: Shirley Gallant Photography

The Gardens of Hope - Osprey Project 2014

Posted on June 06, 2014 by Tracy Gallant

For those of us who enjoy the comings and goings at our bird feeders, this time of year is so very exciting as we wait for new arrivals who have braved the long, arduous migration north. It is fascinating when one realized the thousands and thousands of miles these small delicate creatures successfully navigate yearly through some fairly extreme conditions to arrive in time to find a mate, build a nest, and raise a family. 

Situated along the peaceful River Clyde among the lush countryside of North Central Queens County in Prince Edward Island, The Gardens of Hope is not only a stop off/feeder station for many species of small migratory birds but it also becomes a summer home for many. If you visit, make sure to bring your favorite bird book, hiking boots, binoculars and camera.

This spring, we have made an extra effort to accommodate a pair of osprey, a species known as a tenacious migrator, and have erected a nesting platform by the waters edge. With the assistance Gerald MacDougall, of PEI Fish and Wildlife Division and the Maritime Electric Company, we have chosen an ideal location and installed a modified nesting platform who’s design comes recommended by the International Osprey Foundation. Now we wait for the platform to catch the attention of a new nesting pair.

The osprey is a fascinating and beautiful large species of raptor (bird of prey) that is widely distributed throughout the world. Adult wingspan is 1.5 to 1.7 meters, the osprey’s belly and underwings are light coloured and it’s facial pattern is light with a distinctive bandit mask covering it’s eyes. Females are generally larger than males and show a pronounced “necklace” of darker feathers. Approximately 90% of their diet is fish and they are expert fishers who have the added ability to hover while they hunt.

North American osprey migrate to South America and during their breeding and winter ranges in the north, thrive wherever there are shallow bodies of water with abundant fish. We can expect osprey to return to Maritime nesting sites usually from late March through May. Once the nest site is chosen and the nest completed, 2 to 4 eggs can be expected.

The exciting next stage in our Gardens of Hope Osprey Project will be to install a nest camera (nestcam) on the upper perch/bracket so that we can better appreciate and share the fascinating daily activities within the nest. Being associated with the Center for Conservation Biology and Osprey Watch, we will be participating in a bit of citizen science and contributing to ongoing osprey research. The feed will be a live and viewable online. The Gardens of Hope will work to develop an interpretive program to coincide with the nest and it’s occupants so check back soon or better yet, come visit us at the Gardens of Hope where "We Are For The Birds”.  


Special thanks to our partners, Maritime Electric.  

Hummingbirds In Sight

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Ron Arvidson


Our spring migration is well underway and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are arriving on the Island.  For me the Hummingbirds arrive shortly after the first flowers begin to bloom.  I usually look for them when I see the first forsythia start to bloom.  Another notice for me to start to look for them is shortly after the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have arrived.  While Hummingbirds are dependent on nectar from flower as a source of food, in spring, when flowers are fewer, they will also access the Sapsucker wells for sap.  The Sapsucker wells also attract insects which provide food for Hummingbirds as well as other small birds like Kinglets, Chickadees and Warblers.

If you are planning to attract Hummingbirds to your yard, you can place feeders strategically throughout your yard and flower beds.  There are a variety of Hummingbird feeders available from any number of stores and shops.  I prefer those that do not hold to much so that they can be refreshed regularly and are easy to clean.  For the first couple of feedings, I usually put out a mix that is three parts water to one part white sugar.  I feel that this with the extra sugar it will attract the hummers to stay around as well as provide extra energy to withstand the cooler nights.  Once feeding is established, I change to the regular syrup of  four parts water to one part water.  There is no need to add any source of red dye to your syrup as the birds are attracted by the color of the feeder and there are some who feel that the dyes may harm the Hummingbirds

You also should provide Hummingbirds with a variety of flowers in your yard if you wish to have them stay around for the summer.  They tend to be attracted to the tubular flowers from Daffodils, Honeysuckle and Morning Glory.  A variety of trees and shrubs will provide roosts, protection and nest areas.  Hummingbirds usually choose a protected sight in a forked brand to build a nest of moss, lichen and spider silk as well as other fine materials.  The nest are around four to five centimetres in diameter and will expand to accommodate the growing chicks.

Hummingbirds are a delight to have around throughout the season and are very entertaining to watch.  Sometimes the aerobatics becomes quite intense as the young fledge and there can be some aggressive displays.  As fall approaches, they will migrate when the time is right.   However, sometimes it is good to leave your feeders out as during the fall Hummingbirds from areas west of ours sometimes stray outside their normal range and you may get to see a rarity.

Photos and Text by R.E.Arvidson


Welcome Back Birds

Posted on May 11, 2014 by Bruce MacNaughton
It's spring! Yeah! Everyone has a first sign they look for to tell them that spring has finally arrived. For me it's when I hear the White-throated Sparrow. I know they'll soon be skitting around under my bird feeders looking to clean up any stray seeds they find. They do that because there's a shortage of insects and berries at this time of year. Soon they'll be looking for a suitable place to nest which often is under my thick shrubs unless the cat sees what they're up to, and in that case they move to higher ground.
White-throated Sparrows are one of the prettier Sparrows with their bright white throat and yellow lores. Some have white stripes on their head and some have a more buff coloured stripe. Both equally handsome.