Keeping Our Facts Straight

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Although I’m not eager to encourage bears near the house, I love to watch birds. Unfortunately, attracting them with strategically located bird feeders has the side effect of also catching the attention of hungry bruins looking for tasty granola-style morsels, as I mentioned in a earlier post. We no longer keep the feeders out during the summer, but wait until hibernation time before refilling them.

Natural sources of food around here also appeal to both birds and bears. We have a row of blueberry bushes bordering the garden, but rarely get to enjoy the berries before they are stripped off. I sometimes wonder why we bother to keep the bushes, but when they burst into their autumn colours I remember why.

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Our garden wasn’t planted with wildlife in mind, but it still seems to provide a menu enjoyed by butterflies, birds and black bears. One tree, not on our property but in the neighbourhood, is often host to a number of varied thrush – a ‘Pink Pagoda’ mountain ash. They weren’t visiting when I snapped this shot, but I’m sure they’ll be back, and even without them the tree is glorious.

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As I worked through the revision of a novel scene, I was reminded that it helps to have knowledge of the local flora and fauna when including them in a story’s setting.  Author credibility is jeopardized when we place grizzly bears instead of black bears, or wild scarlet indian paintbrush flowers in the suburbs of a southern BC city. We’d better go back and do our homework if we think we can show a heavily spotted bobcat racing over deep snow on his large paws.

We may resent the constant admonitions to write what we know, but there’s no disputing we’d better have our facts right.

Did you know it’s the lynx that has large feet and can cope with deep snow, not the bobcat? What kind of localized details are important in your current w.i.p.? How do/did you research for their accuracy?

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