Portrait of John James Audubon by the Scottish artist John Syme, 1826. The White House, Washington D.C. Public domain.

I spent a year at the University of Toronto reading the epic poem Beowulf in the original Anglo-Saxon. The prof for that class was Laurence K. Shook, a Basilian priest who had a special interest in the riddles contained in an Old English manuscript called the Exeter Book. These riddles…

Portrait of John James Audubon by the Scottish artist John Syme, 1826. Public domain.

When she stops him on the Rue Royale, she’s wearing a dark veil that makes it impossible to see her face. Even so, he can tell she is “a femelle of a fine form.” She speaks to him in French because she knows it’s his native tongue. Is he the…

Photo credit: Edward O’Connor

John James Audubon fashioned two portraits of the Great Black-backed Gull, one written, the other painted. He began his written portrait of the largest gull in the world by evoking the terror it inspired in other creatures whenever it took to the wing to hunt.

This apex predator, what Audubon…

Most birders I know have a weakness for woodpeckers. It’s partly the drumming that seduces us: that monotone hammering woodpeckers make every spring to claim a territory and find a mate. But it’s also their shape and color. …

A female King Eider

I biked down to the Leslie Street Spit the other day to look for winter birds and brought a camera with me in case anything good turned up. “The Spit,” as it’s known in Toronto, is a former landfill in the east end of the city that juts into Lake…

A Saw-whet Owl roosting in a cedar.

With the approach of winter, the owls have returned to Toronto. Every year at this time, they come down from the boreal forest and northern tundra looking for food. …

Edward O'Connor

Has worked as a freelance writer and book editor for more than 30 years. Author of the novel Astral Projection. https://edwardoconnor.ca

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