How I fell in love with birds

People occasionally ask me how, out of all the possible hobbies out there, I ended up birding. The story began just seven years ago with a mother’s day present from my son.

Cooper Hawk. PHOTO: Ann Brokelman

My son, who, in his words, always struggled to find me the right gift, decided upon a lovely bird feeder. A short while later I filled the feeder and my husband hung it from the tree out front. Within hours the first little sparrows and chickadees were gorging themselves from the feeder. My husband and I happened to be looking in the direction of the feeder when a fast moving bird flashed by, right in front of us, chasing one of our sparrows. Unsuccessful in the pursuit, the larger bird landed in our neighbor’s tree. I went inside, grabbed my old camera, took a photo, and, unable to identify the bird myself, I emailed the image to the Toronto Zoo. They quickly responded, telling me I had seen an adult male cooper hawk! My son now calls my bird feeder a hawk feeder.

So began my fascination with birds of prey. I went to the library, checked out and read a book on hawks, and wondered if anyone else watched raptors. I then discovered the Rosetta McClain Gardens Hawk Watch. Little did I know it would change my life – new friends, photography and amazing birds! Now, seven years later, I go to the watch almost every day to see my friends, create new memories, and share my love of birding.

I have had many memorable moments with the Hawk Watch. Once, Lee and I were standing at the fence looking out over Lake Ontario. We watched as a big, BIG bird came closer and closer. We started jumping, laughing, and taking photos with our old cameras as our first bald eagle flew by, almost close enough to touch! Little did we realize that we would end up seeing another 50 bald eagles that year, just from that location.

On another occasion, Frank, Walter and I were at the park very early one morning when we heard the most familiar screaming coming our way. Though Frank is hard to shock, I was flabbergasted as three peregrine falcons flew over our heads, playfully touching talons as they dropped out of sight over the bluffs. Moments later they were back soaring over our heads getting ready for another drop. Wow!

For more information on the Rosetta McClain Garden Hawk Watch visit

Big Frank, Walter and the gang would be happy to welcome you. From mid-August to the end of November, on a good northwest wind day, you could see all sorts of birds migrating south for the winter.
Thanks, as always, for reading.

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Ann, that’s the eagle! I took this with my film SLR!!

I echo everything you said about love of birds, we started at pretty much the same time and it’s so great to watch the birds migrate past Rosetta year after year. The Raptor Watch is one of my favourite things in life, especially in a year with no NHL!!!

Okay so the link to the eagle picture I tried to post was stripped off. People will just have to imagine a small dot over the lake!

Ann you sparked a thought about when I first got interested in birding. It started in the fifties in our backyard under two gigantic Carolina poplars where orioles loved to hang their amazingly engineered nests on the outermost branches. Our whole family enjoyed watching them construct nests and raising their young and I haven’t stopped birding since.

What a wonderful sharing! So inspiring. And look how raptors have catapulted you into the heavens of professional wildlife photographer. One good deed deserves another. Thank you for your sharing.
Warmly, Lindsay McKenna

Thanks for the mention Ann. Thanks for all the great photos and fun times. Been life changing for us all. Think of all the sightings and alll of the adventures we have all come to be involved in. I do hope some readers will join us or just start watching what’s around them every day.

Beautifully written Ann. There is always that spark moment.
It only took 5 minutes for my 1st Bald Eagle to fly
by when I first visited Rosetta McClain Gardens.
I was hooked!
It didn’t hurt to meet Frank, Walter, Lee &
yourself and so many other wonderful people.
Frank said it, it has been life changing for all of us!
I have to try to get down more. I miss everyone & all the
thrilling moments that we get to share.


Thank you to everyone for reading the article and sharing your comments.
Hope to see you at the Hawk Watch or out birding.


I also want to take a moment to thank my son Erik for helping me write the articles. Erik is my proof reader. So you can blame all the typos on him lol.
Thank you Erik. Mom

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