I had the opportunity to visit Beijing a few years back (just before the SARS scare), and one of the tings I remarked over the 10 or so days I was there was that I only noticed two birds during the whole trip.
In Centretown, the situation is much different. Here's Bridgehead on Elgin, as taken from the 2nd storey of the Fox and Feather Pub--essentially the reverse of the first photo in this post. (Note: the steak was good at the F&F, but everything else was pretty cheap. Salad was tasteless, and dressing comes in individual Kraft packages.)
I frequently go here after work, and if it's a nice day out (or if it's freezing inside), I'll sit on the patio, read the papers, do the crossword, meet a friend, or perhaps prepare a blog entry or two. Here's a nice shot of the view from mid-June:
There is a small flock of birds that likes to hang out in the little garden next to the patio, and these birds bring much pleasure and enjoyment. Here they are this past week, one of them (presumably the mother) feeding the others crumbs off the pavement:
You can see the people inside were as enthralled by the birds as I was:
The birds like it when you drop crumbs from your cookie onto the ground. But if you leave it unattended, they will go in and help themselves! Here's a video I posted to YouTube of one bird taking some crumbs off my plate, then taking a bite out of my cookie, before heading off:
Sometimes, they're even more bold, and try to take the whole thing! This shot is from that same day in mid-June as above (sorry, my camera didn't focus in this shot):
Yesterday, I sat on the garden side of the patio and watched as the birds were having a party in the tree. Unfortunately, the party wound down before I had a chance to get my camera out (isn't that always the case!), and only caught a couple of shots of them in the tree. Here's one:
A few were hanging out on the ground, like this one:
After a bit of watching them, I realized I was not going to finish my cookie. So I tossed it in to see what would happen. They all went crazy! The one in the top-middle there is coloured differently; either he's a different species, or he's the male of the family:
In a show of lack of appreciation, they moved the cookie to where I couldn't get a good shot of it behind some leaves. It was interesting to see the pecking order (literally!). The little one in the back is flapping his wings in frustration:
At least ten birds were clamoring to get a piece of the feast I had delivered them. I took a video with my camera, which I cut short to save your boredom. You'll see how one dominates the show and tells the others to back off (like the fire truck in Family Guy), and later how one bird gets some crumbs and feeds them to her young in the sticks in the upper-left corner:
While this may not be the most astounding collection of bird photos and videos online, it does bring a sense of calm and nature to the middle of an urban area.
PS: Can anyone help identify the type of bird?
[Edit: WhatBird.com's handy bird-identifier seems to identify them as the common House Sparrow--though only because I managed to get a couple of shots of the male to compare!]